Summer sipping on the Thames with Billecart-Salmon 2006

Aug 13, 15 Summer sipping on the Thames with Billecart-Salmon 2006

Posted by in Champagne

For the past few years, a group of my friends and I get together and spend a (hopefully) sunny afternoon floating down the upper Thames, sharing our food and wine. As many of my friends are wine bloggers, of course, we have to show off with our special wine finds. This year was no exception. As I’m a big champagne lover, I brought along the Billecart-Salmon 2006 (amongst other wines) to share with my friends. It was a gorgeous day to be floating on the river and we had chosen a route that took us from Henley to Reading. As soon as we got underway, I popped open the Billecart-Salmon. The 2006 is an extra-brut dosage and is composed of 75% pinot noir with the remainder being chardonnay from the Cotes du Blancs. As we sipping along the river, I could hear words such as “creme brulee”, “vanilla”, “red apples”, “pamplemousse” and “spice” being bandied about the boat by my fellow drinkers. I have to agree, the champagne was all that and more, a rich a fine wine, with delicate bubbles and a long finish. A refreshing drink to have on a warm summer’s day floating down the Thames. It’s difficult to bring gourmet cuisine on a small boat but we did have some very good Scotch eggs and I have to say they went very well with the 2006 Billecart-Salmon, the champagne cutting through the rich sausage. A lovely way to spend the day and the 2006 Billecart-Salmon was a great way to kick off the cruise. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Cocktail Club at The Royal Horseguards Hotel

Aug 12, 15 Cocktail Club at The Royal Horseguards Hotel

Posted by in All

The mixologists at the Royal Horseguards Hotel like to mix up a new cocktail every month but this month they’ve outdone themselves with the launch of The Cocktail Chapter. They’ve developed 4 new cocktails for the month of August, The Aperol Sorbet Spritz, Berry Crush, Gin & Jam and the Inverness Cocktail.  The Cocktail Chapter is a new club that the hotel is launching from October. Food & Beverage Manager, Shudhanshu Kaushak explained to us that the hotel will be offering cocktail masterclasses every month. The idea behind the club is to ‘make cocktails easy’ , to not only show how to make great cocktails but also to use ingredients that are common in the house. To wit, the Gin & Jam is made with house made strawberry jam (although that’s not to say you can’t use Bonne Maman’s jam) and Portobello Gin. A tasty combination of gin and jam topped off with soda, it wasn’t too sweet or too bitter. I’m a fan of gin anyway but this was utterly delicious. That was quickly followed by the Berry Crush, a mix of tequila (!) and elderflower infused vodka with lots of fresh crushed blackberries. The elderflower vodka is also made in-house, macerating for 24 hours before it’s ready. Despite the addition of tequila, it worked really well, so refreshing and morish. There was also a dash of lime and soda water to finish it off. Those were deceptively easy to drink. The Aperol Sorbet Spritzer was homemade orange/Aperol sorbet topped with prosecco. I was a bit dubious because I’m not a huge fan of Aperol but this was a tasty combination, not too sweet nor too bitter, just heaven! I also liked the fact that this was a cocktail you could eat as well as drink. Lastly we finished with the Inverness, so named because apparently when it was first created, one of the mixologists commented it reminded him of Inverness. I’ve never been so I wouldn’t know but this mix of 2 different...

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Summer cocktails at The Four Seasons Park Lane

Jul 02, 15 Summer cocktails at The Four Seasons Park Lane

Posted by in All

We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave…”Whenever I hear that word, the classic song pops into my head. Usually it’s Marilyn Monroe singing, she sang it in one of her movies, can’t recall which at the moment. Anyway, there’s lot of ways to cool down but I do like the tropical-fruit-cocktail way on occasion, makes a change from my usual. It just so happened that The Four Seasons on Park Lane had invited me down to try out their new summer cocktails. They’ve created 4 special ones for the summer months and 3 for Wimbledon fortnight. So after surfacing out of the Hell that is the London Underground whenever the temperature goes above 20C, I was greeted by the lovely folks at the Four Seasons with an amazing selection of cocktails. The new menu uses ingredients synonymous with a great British summer, perfect for enjoying on Amaranto‘s stunning terrace in the heart of Mayfair. Although because it was soooo hot we opted to stay in the air-conditioned hotel. I tried the Italian Job job first; a classical combination of Aperol and prosecco with elderflower St-Germain liqueur and finished off with mint, sugar and grapefruit juice. Very refreshing and finishing off with that slightly bitter taste that Aperol is famous for. My companion had the Summer-ita, a floral take on the classic Margarita, with Ochoa tequila mixed with hibiscus cordial, peach liqueur and lime juice. It was served very interestingly in a big round glass and was being topped with a  specially-made rose foam which was served in a cone shaped glass that nesteled within the round glass. It looked very stylish but my friend preferred to have the foam mixed in with the margarita. I also tried their version of a Mojito which was made with blueberries and watermelon and a strong dose of rum. Delicious! I loved this one and could have had a few more! But we still had the special Wimbledon themed cocktails. Every year, Head Barman Ivan Arena and his team create special...

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Fish & Fizz with The Wine Trust

Jun 24, 15 Fish & Fizz with The Wine Trust

Posted by in Champagne

I do like to indulge in a glass or three of champagne now and then and it’s even better when it’s paired with something good to eat. Did you know that one of the best foods to pair with sparkling wine is none other than that quintessential British dish, fish & chips. So, I happily accepted an invitation by the Wine Trust to their recent Fish & Fizz dinner at Hook in Camden. The Wine Trust is an online only retailer who have a hand picked selection of wines from exceptional producers. They have a team of Masters of Wine winebuyers headed up by Nick Adams MW. Every week Nick and his team choose their wines from a selection of 100’s for their customers. The range is constantly being refreshed, if they find a better example of a particular variety, they’re not afraid to replace it; and if the latest vintage isn’t the best, they’re not afraid to take it off the site. The dinner took place at Hook in Camden. Hook is an Irish owned company although they first started in Belgium. They are all about sustainability and new style fish and chips. That evening we had a selection of their trademark dishes including,  panko crusted Seabass, champagne tempura Mackeral and ink and tarragon tempura of Plaice. Each dish was paired with a champagne and an English sparkling wine. We started with the Ayala Brut Majeur and then moved onto Charles Heidseick Brut and Brut Rose and the 2010 Nyetimber Brut and 2009 Nyetimber rose. We had one of my favourite cremant de Loire’s made by Langlois-Chateau to start. All of these sparkling wines are available from Wine Trust. I quite enjoyed the matches. The bubbles working so well with the fish and the twice cooked chips. One of the funnest utensils they had was the spray bottle of malt vinegar. I would have taken that bottle home with me if I could have! I think that both teams at The Wine Trust...

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Callooh Callay debut a new menu

Jun 10, 15 Callooh Callay debut a new menu

Posted by in All, Lifestyle

I remember when Callooh Callay first opened, back then I was living in Dalston before it was cool and Callooh Callay was one of the early ones to hit close to Kingsland Rd. I loved it but moved not long afterwards and so haven’t really been back in a few years. That is until I received an invitation in my inbox to come and check out their new food menu. Although they may have had nibbles in the past, they’ve now teamed up with local restaurant, 1oo Hoxton and Ziloufs to offer patrons more than just crisps and peanuts. The menu consists of various small plates that are Asian inspired. According to Callooh Callay, “Thai-trained Aussie chef Tim Yates and Francis Puyat, formerly of Nopi, have together delivered a concise sharing menu offering a clean, fresh take on Asian fusion and focusing on their combined passion and extensive experience with Thai and Vietnamese flavours in particular.” The idea of small plates is only natural as drinking in  a cocktail club is usually a shared experience (and when it’s not, well, let’s not go there right now…). Anyway, the evening I went we sampled various dishes from the menu along with a few signature cocktails from the list. We started with MSG Chicken Salt popcorn. I was completely mystified as to what that was but my friend, Jason, had lived in Sydney for a year so he was beyond excited to see Chicken Salt. At first I thought, weirdo, but upon popping a handful of this popcorn in my mouth, I was hooked. It’s very savoury and moreish, well, what do you expect from something flavoured with MSG?At least they’re not trying to hid it! I sampled a few other plates. The prawn toast consisted of fried wontons and the plumpest prawns, very tasty. I also had the soft shell crab roll, I love soft shell crab and it was cooked to crispy perfection. The boneless chicken wings that followed were salty sweet but perfect...

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