Dining (literally) Up in the Air

Sep 24, 14 Dining (literally) Up in the Air

Posted by in Food and Wine, Lifestyle, London

Last weekend I was invited to a London in the Sky pop-up dining event at Canary Wharf. The event is part of the global Dinner in the Sky series with events in 43 countries.  The event in London took place over 10 days and featured 5 Michelin starred chefs cooking for guests high up in the sky. I was wondering how they were going to do it all in one hour but the evening that we were there, they pulled it off without a hitch. We had the pleasure of Executive Head Chef Xavier Boyer of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon cooking for us way up in the sky. Chef Xavier and his assistants managed to seamlessly serve up an amazing meal. Dinner started with a champagne aperitif on the ground courtesy of Taittinger. I have to say, I was needed a bit of Dutch courage before daring to let myself be buckled into my seat. The seats are very secure however. They’re like car bucket seats and your strapped in very securely. The open air dining platform has a centre area for the chefs and then ringed around it are 22 seats and NO floor. I was a bit unnerved, especially when we started to ascend but the ride up is so smooth as to be almost unnoticeable, except for the slight swaying of the platform on the way up. Once we arrived at our destination of 100 ft up, Chef Xavier and his team started dishing out our meal. The food was fantastic and the views were amazing. It really has to be one of the most unique dining experiences I’ve ever had. The wine was flowing along with the conversation and in between courses, Chef Xavier and his crew were happy to chat, pose for pics and even take pictures of us! Before we knew it, our hour was up and we were gently sent back to earth. It was a great night and if you get the chance to dine in...

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Sherry Masterclass and visit to The Sign of the Don

Dec 12, 13 Sherry Masterclass and visit to The Sign of the Don

Posted by in All, London, wine bars

As many of my readers know, I am a huge fan of sherry. Not the typical sherry your grandmother sips on Christmas Day. I’m talking about the dry, nutty and aged sherries that have recently gained renewed popularity in the bars and restaurants of London. It seems that more and more people are appreciating the nuances of sherry and I’m always happy to see new sherry bars in town. I attended a sherry masterclass at the recently opened The Sign of the Don in the City a few weeks ago. Located within throwing distance of the old Stock Exchange in the City, St Swithins Lane isn’t hard to find and there you will see the shadow of the famous Don of Sandemans Port and Sherry  etched onto a sign hanging over the door of the bar. TSOTD is the little brother of the long established restaurant, The Don next door. TSOTD also has a full restaurant but the main aim is to be a sherry bar. I liked it so much that I returned the next night with a friend for more tapas and dinner. The building has been part of the Sandeman family for generations and the cellar is unique in that it has been there from the beginning, over 200 years ago, it was being used as a sherry cellar. The cellar used to reach all the way to the Thames but nowadays there is only 30 metres left. Luckily, the cellar has been preserved and is now used by TSOTD for their wine cellaring. But back to the sherry masterclass. Led by the 5th generation of La Gitana, Javier Hidalgo, we were in for a treat. Starting off with the classic Manzanilla La Gitana NV, Javier told us that this was the first sherry to be included in the Wine Spectator’s best Fino of the year. A light and fine sherry, at £10 a bottle, it’s a bargain. One of my favourites of the evening was the Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana NV....

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Chino Latino special menu for New Years Eve

Dec 09, 13 Chino Latino special menu for New Years Eve

Posted by in All, Food and Wine, London

Chino Latino at the Park Plaza Riverbank is celebrating their 10 year anniversary with a special menu. Executive Group Chef Werner Seebach has created a ten-course Tasting Menu, featuring a retrospective of the Pan-Asian restaurant’s signature dishes of the past decade, to end off the year in fabulous style. I was invited to preview the New Years Eve dinner a week ago. At first I got a bit confused and went to the Park Plaza Westminster but the Park Plaza Riverside London is just a few minutes down the road and is even closer to the Thames.  The first thing that strikes you is the cherry red restaurant sign. It’s rather dark in the restaurant but each table has it’s own spotlight so you can at least see what your eating. The New Years Eve menu starts off with a series of  Small Dishes of: Beetroot, yuzu cream, port reduction a plate of silky Kampachi sashimi and the Tenkasu roll – tuna, salmon, seabass and avocaodo That’s followed by the Next Course : Marinated blowtorched salmon Grilled scallops and Wagyu beef taquitos The Main Dishes are a choice of Chilean Seabass and Lamb Cutlets. The menu finishes off with Passion Fruit cheesecake and Moshi ice cream. The New Years Eve menu is available for £79 per person, drinks not included. My friend and I went a bit off piste and order the Pekin Duck which was prepared for us table side and had just the right bit of crispiness to it. We also sampled the calamari and  tempura prawns in shiso leaf. I really enjoyed the Tenkasu roll as well, but I do love a good sushi roll. If you haven’t booked your New Years Eve dinner yet, the Park Plaza Riverside would be a great location and as an added bonus, you can probably see the Eye and the fireworks from the hotel front door.   Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Mead cocktails to beat the heat at Northbank

Jul 22, 13 Mead cocktails to beat the heat at Northbank

Posted by in All, Food and Wine

Now that the sun has finally agreed to cooperate, it’s time to find some cool and refreshing drinks to deal with the mini-heatwave we’re having at the moment. I usually turn to a nice Provencal rose or zesty white but I was recently introduced mead cocktails. Mead is usually associated with Merry Olde England and to be frank, I didn’t really know what it was but after a bit of research (ok, I googled it), I discovered that it’s a honey flavoured wine that was a staple during the Middle Ages and produced by English monks. That is, until Henry VIII outlawed the monasteries and the production of mead fell out of favour. Happily, the folks at the Cornish Mead Co. revived production 50 years ago and their mead is now featured in Northbank restaurant’s specialty mead cocktails. Northbank is an “modern British restaurant” right on the Thames almost directly under the Millennium Bridge with fabulous views of the Thames and the Shard as well as a deck to enjoy the sunshine. I tried all 4 mead cocktails and they were refreshing and tasty. I was expecting sticky sweet cocktails but the mead cocktails were none of the above. Mead on its own can be quite sweet and syrupy but with the addition of gin (Chamberry Mead),vodka (Honey Mead Rise),  cachaca ( Elderberry Caiperina) or frangelico (Cherryelico) delish. The restaurant has a seasonal menu available for both the bar and restaurant. As it was quite a hot day, I tried the fish dishes, whitebait, Thai fishcakes and skate wing. Skate can be difficult to cook properly but Northbank’s was tasty although a bit heavy with the accompanying butter sauce. For a change of pace in this hot summer weather, try a mead cocktail at Northbank. I really enjoyed them. NORTHBANK Millennium Bridge One Paul’s Walk London EC4V 3QH         Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Tikves, Macedonian wine coming to London

Jun 03, 13 Tikves, Macedonian wine coming to London

Posted by in All, Food and Wine

Last week Tikves Winery held a dinner in Central London to introduce Macedonian wines to the UK market. It was an interesting tasting to be sure as I wasn’t really clear on WHERE Macedonia was but I was interested to see what they were offering. It turns out that Tikves is one of the oldest wineries in the Balkans (that’s where Macedonia is) and they’ve been making wine sine 1885. They are also one of the biggest, making over 35 million bottles as  year. Their primary market is the US but they are now looking to grow their UK market. They grow indigenous grapes (temjanika, rkaciteli, smederevka, stanosina, vranac, plavec krastosija) along with international varieties –  chardonnay, grenache blanc, sauvignon blanc and riesling. We tried a range of both their whites and reds at a tasting before sitting down to dinner at Baku in Knightsbridge. In general, I found the wines to be well made, the wines made from  indigenous varieties being the most interesting. Rkaciteli Special Selection 2012 (white) was aromatic with slight honeyed notes, having  good acidity and balance. I could easily imagine this to be an excellent summer quaffer. One of the international blends I did like was the Barovo White 2012 (grenache blanc and chardonnay) a juicy but dry wine with plentiful citric notes. However, it was on the high end of the scale pricewise and I think I would wait for the price to come down on that one. The reds were interesting but again, the standout of the bunch was the single variety, Vranac Special Selection 2012. Fruity, easy drinking and very approachably soft, this wine was a winner. The Belavoda Red 2011 (50% vranac and 50% plavec) was enjoyable with our main of smoked Barbary duck breast, washing down the flavoursome duck easily but again the price was a bit steep as far as value for money is concerned. As I was sitting next to the wine maker, Marko Stojakovic, during dinner I asked him where he...

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