Argentine wine and ponies at the HPA Gaucho International Polo tournament

May 29, 13 Argentine wine and ponies at the HPA Gaucho International Polo tournament

Posted by in Argentina, Lifestyle, restaurants

Last week I was invited to the HPA Gaucho International Polo Tournament at the O2. You may be wondering what exactly this has to do with wine? Well, as the Argentine restaurant chain Gaucho is one of the main sponsors, of course Argentine cuisine and wine were going to be involved. The day started with a fantastic lunch at Gaucho at Tower Bridge. The upstairs dining room/bar has great views of Tower Bridge and City Hall. I haven’t eaten at Gaucho in quite some time but the Bife de Chorizo I had was one of the most succulent and tasty steaks I’ve had in a long time. Lunch was paired with wines from Terrazas de los Andes, the rich but elegant Selection 2009 malbec and the savoury Selection 2009 cabernet sauvignon.  Both wines tasting very well, the malbec having deep blueberry fruit notes and the cabernet being an altogether elegant glass of wine. Afterwards we headed to the O2 by Thames Clipper to taste more Argentine wines and chat with Cheval des Andes wine maker, Nicolas Audebert. I’ve known Nicolas for a few years now, and even visited him and the winery in Argentina, so it was great to see him again and find out how the vineyards are doing at the foot of the Andes. We were there for the polo and after watching an exciting match between England and Argentina, Argentina won and was presented with a magnum of Veuve Clicquot and the trophy. Afterwards, there was plenty of Veuve, Terrazas wines and dancing to end the night. Great wines from Argentina, exciting polo and drinking and dancing afterwards, a good night all around. A big thank you to Gaucho for this invitation, looking forward to next year’s match! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Nino Franco Prosecco. Prosecco but not as you know it…

May 24, 13 Nino Franco Prosecco. Prosecco but not as you know it…

Posted by in All, Italy, Sparkling Wine

Cheap and cheerful. Big fat bubbles, sweet tasting. Famous for being the bubbly in a Bellini. All these things are commonly said about everyone’s favourite Italian sparkler, prosecco. But that’s not the only kind of prosecco being produced. I had lunch earlier this week at Locanda Locatelli with the owner of Nino Franco Prosecco, Primo Franco. Prosecco is traditionally made from the glera grape, goes through a secondary fermentation using the charmant method (in tank rather then bottle) and comes from the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano regions of Northeastern Italy. Franco make their proseccos this way but do much more. They are one of the few producers to make single vintage and single vineyard proseccos. For them, it’s very important to show the “terroir” of the region. It’s so important to them that they left the appellation in 2009 so that they could make their prosecco without having adhere to the rules and regulations put down by the Italian government. They want to differentiate themselves from the regular ‘prosecco’ made by their neighbours. Besides being single vineyard and single vintage, the wine is left on the lees and goes through battonage, none of which is allowed by the AOC, to give them complexity and body. They also wait 2 to 3 years before they release their proseccos to the market. The results are wines with complexity and depth. Another characteristic that I noticed straight off were the tiny bubbles – not something usually associated with prosecco. During lunch, I asked Primo if he would still call his wines ‘prosecco’ or would he prefer them to be called sparkling wine? This brought on a rather lively debate of what IS prosecco. We decided in the end that they were prosecco but …”not as we know it.” We tried Nino Franco’s Rustico prosecco, the 2009 Grave di Stecca, single vineyard and vintage, and the Vigneto della Riva di San Floriano, single vineyard. The Rustico was a delicious aperitif, dry but with balanced fruit on the nose and...

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Lunching with Concha y Toro at Novikov

May 18, 13 Lunching with Concha y Toro at Novikov

Posted by in All, Chile, Food and Wine, restaurants

I’d heard a few things about Novikov before I went there for lunch recently but wasn’t really sure what to expect other than it was 2 restaurants in one ( the upstairs being Asian cuisine and the downstairs Italian, along with a Lounge) and that it would probably be full of Russians as it’s owned by a successful Russian restaurauter. I had been invited to lunch there by the Chilean winery Concha y Toro to sample their premium wines with the dim sum of Novikov. The decor is what I would call modern Asian, lots of dark wood and spotlights scattered around the dining room. What caught my eye was the long bar of fresh fruits and veg in baskets and seafood on ice that lined the back of the dining room. A glass wall separated that from the chefs who were all busily cooking up a storm. Alvaro, from Concha y Toro was our guide for lunch and he immediately launched into the tasting with a trio of Chilean white aromatic wines. Normally, I wouldn’t automatically think that Chile would produce wines to go with Asian cuisine but CyT have been working hard in the Bio Bio and Casablanca Valleys of Chile to find the best spots for cooler climate varieties. We tried the Maiden Flight 2012 riesling, the Los Gansos 2012 gewurztraminer and the Amelia 2012 chardonnay. The Bio Bio Valley soils (where the grapes for the first two wines come from) are full of calcium and it was apparent in the first two that there was a strong streak of mineral notes running through them along with balanced acidity. The riesling was quite aromatic, honeysuckle, orange blossoms in character with very lots of fleshy white fruit flavours. We had a variety of dim sum to pair with the foods. I found the riesling a good match to the spicy shrimp dumplings, the fruit in the wine tempering the chilies in the dumplings. It was also a winning combo with the salmon...

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Aveqia – Swedish cooking classes

Jan 28, 13 Aveqia – Swedish cooking classes

Posted by in Food and Wine

I seem to be going to cooking classes a lot lately. I don’t know if that’s because I need lessons or not but they are a lot of fun. Swedish cooking seems to be on a lot of radars these days and having recently visited Malmo, Sweden myself recently, I was very much looking forward to cooking at Aveqia. They call themselves a “new restaurant concept”. So, if you want to do more than just sit there and wait for your food, this is certainly for you. All kidding aside, it really is a great evening out. We started off with glasses of sparkling wine, so it can’t be that arduous. The venue of Aveqia is, while not exactly hidden, there is no outside signage to let you know you’ve arrived – only a red velvet rope. Hmmm, maybe that does mean you’ve arrived… They primarily focus on cooking classes as a corporate activity but Saturday nights are turned over to private parties. The evening I attended, there were mixed groups of people, from singles to groups of 3 to 4 friends. After welcome drinks, we were ushered into the dining area/kitchen space and given a tour and health and safety brief by the 3 chefs who would be supervising our cooking experience. Aveqia has been running in Sweden for the past 3 years and has proven very successful, with 2 sites in Sweden and now their third site here in London, in Farringdon. It was founded by entrepreneur Johan Kadar and Chef David Berggren, who has experience in both Michelin starred restaurants and 5 star hotels. Our chefs for the evening,Peter Hencz, Celine Fauvelle and Daniel Johanssen (you can read up on the chef bios here) all have been based in the flagship restaurant in Stockholm but have now relocated to work here in London. We paired off in groups, my friend Jeanne had come along with me, and we volunteered to make the starter of foie gras with winter apples, brioche and almond...

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North 52 Bar & Kitchen… British food and wine in Soho

All things British is what’s hot in London, what with the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee and of course, the ever present eat/drink local. There’s a new spot in Soho specializing in modern British food, 52 North Kitchen & Bar on Poland St. where all the ingredients are sourced from Britain, including many of the wines. A big open space, with communal tables and interestingly, wooden roof shingles instead of wallpaper covering the walls and columns. There is a long bar at running from one side of the room to the other and several old Chesterfield leather chairs and sofas in alcoves scattered around the room. There’s also a cozy basement with another bar to hang out in. What drew me into 52 North was the wine list, more specifically, they are one of the only places in Soho that features English wine by the glass, both still and sparkling. They have 5 still wines and 1 sparkling at the moment but are going to be adding more in the future. I’ve been a bit dubious about English still wines but the Biddenden Gribble Bridge ortega as well as their Bacchus were both refreshing, tasty and easy to drink. The menu consists of trad dishes like mushrooms on toast, scotch woodcock, Cornish mussels, English pork chop and Arbroath smokies fish cakes among other choices with prices about the same as many a gastropub around Central London.  I had the mushroooms and mussels which were delicious with the Biddenden Gribble Bridge 2010. The Gribble Bridge had plenty of bright citrus fruit on the nose, full of fruit but dry nonetheless. I found it very easy to drink. The Bacchus was another light wine, a good substitute for pinot grigio it has a bit more substance to it, more flavour then the average pinot grigio. Priced at £25 quid, I thought it might be a bit pricy, but Tony Ho, part of the operating team, told me that the Bacchus and Gribble Bridge have been flying out...

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