Dining at Mamounia

Jun 23, 15 Dining at Mamounia

Posted by in All

The first time I ever had hummus was here in London, of all places, and I have to say I was not overwhelmed. As a matter of fact, it took me a few tries before I came round to the delights of Middle Eastern food. However, I’ve come to love Middle Eastern cuisine and am always looking for good restaurants. There are loads of them in London but it’s often hard to find really good ones. I’ve found a good, reasonably priced one though, in of all places, Knightsbridge.  Mamounia specializes in Lebanese and Morrocan cuisine as well as featuring wines from both countries. They’re also known for their mezze and shisha terrace. Don’t let the shisha terrace in front put you off or the rather exotic Middle Eastern decor. The food is seriously good. The menu is not extensively long but features many of the traditional dishes of the region, including shish kebabs, tagines, couscous and grilled and charcoal cooked meats. I ordered the grilled chicken and it was one of the juiciest and flavourful grilled chickens I’ve had in a long time. My dining companion ordered the lamb shish which was expertly seasoned and so good. It was a bit of a pity that we ordered the mezze beforehand, even though it was delicious, as we barely had room to finish our mains. I also had the kibbeh which is one of my favourite starters and this one was a winner. I almost ordered another plate but luckily decided against it. The wine list is features wines from Lebanon and Morrocco. We had Chateau Ksara with dinner, two of the better red wines from the region. You know what they say, wine is made to go with the food of the region and this wine from Lebanon certainly did the job. I would not normally think that Knightsbridge would have good authentic Middle Eastern cuisine but Mamounia is good and the next time I’m feeling peckish in that part of town, I...

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A Piper-Heidsieck Rare Experience in the VIP room of Whisky Mist

Nov 19, 14 A Piper-Heidsieck Rare Experience in the VIP room of Whisky Mist

Posted by in Champagne

Last week I made it back to London in time to attend the launch of the Piper-Heidsieck Rare Experience in the VIP room of the Mayfair nightclub, Whisky Mist. The champagne houses have started to concentrate their efforts on nightclubs but Piper-Heidsieck has to be one of the first to have a dedicated VIP room in a Central London nightclub. It’s called the Cuveé Room and is a separate VIP room in Whiskey Mist. Piper-Heidsieck commissioned the Giles Miller Studio to create a room based on the intricate design of their Rare Cuveé. The room’s centrepiece is an installation that runs the length of the ceiling and features “…hundreds of metallic components of varying depths, applied by hand to a ceiling structure…” the design was inspired by …”the original vine design produced by the Parisian jeweler Arthus-Bertrand.” The result is impressive but elegant, bling but not too much bling, if you know what I mean. The VIP room will feature The Rare 1998 in magnum and the Rare 2002. The Rare is their prestige cuvees and  is always a vintage champagne. I’ve only recently been introduced to the Rare collection but in my opinion, they are very well done champagnes. For those who might want a younger wine, the 2006 vintage is available along with the non-vingage Rosé  Sauvage. One of my favourite things about the bar was the special menu on display for the champagnes. A dedicated Rare electronic menu, it’s like an elongated iPad menu, very cool and it certainly does add to the Rare Experience. It’s not cheap to drink but vintage and prestige champagne’s never are and the VIP room at Whisky Mist is a beautiful spot for a bottle of Rare bubbly or two.   Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Murano and Krug Champagne – a seasonally paired menu

Nov 05, 12 Murano and Krug Champagne – a seasonally paired menu

Posted by in Champagne, restaurants

I remember the first time I had Krug. It was a few years ago, it was a magnum from the mid 80’s and I was blown away by the richness, the intricacies,the balance of the champagne. Ever since then, I’ve had a weak spot for Krug although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people find it too rich, too big, too substantial. While it is a substantial champagne, it’s because it’s a champagne that needs food, more so than many others. Angela Hartnett has partnered up with Krug and created a menu to complement their complex champagnes at her restaurant, Murano by Angela Hartnett in Mayfair. Krug Grand Cuvee was served as an aperitif – savoury and very mineral in character, you could taste the older vintages that were used in the blend. The Grand Cuvee is a very generous champagne, blended from a variety of vintages and has a very umami-ish character, perfect with parmesan cheese crisps and the brightest,meatiest green olives I’ve had in a long time. Arrancini with a truffle cream was another of the nibbles and if my tastebuds could, they’d probably have cried tears of joy – just thinking about them is making me salivate… We had a scallop and bream ceviche with vegetable tempura next with the Grande Cuvee. The flavours of the champagne integrated so well with an orange slice tempura – citrus city but really tasty. And the sweetness of the scallops was overcome by the Grande Cuvee. Good match. The 2000 Krug is a different creature altogether, much more linear and aromatic. Served with a ravioli of king prawn with a shellfish vinaigrette and fennel puree, the 2000 was fresh and had a delicate note to it, the sweetness of the prawns serve to highlight the fruit in the wine. Taking a further step back in time, the 1998 Krug is full of spices, mushrooms and the autumnal smells of the forest.  I really enjoyed this wine and with the roasted English rose veal,...

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One of the most expensive bottles of wine in the world? Penfold’s Ampoule

Aug 10, 12 One of the most expensive bottles of wine in the world? Penfold’s Ampoule

Posted by in Australia

One of the most expensive bottles of wine in the world will soon be on sale here in London. It’s from Penfold’s Winery and is called the Ampoule (rrp £120,000). Made from the oldest continuously producing cabernet vines in the world from Penfolds Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon, and only produced in the best years, the 2004 has been chosen to be bottled in the Ampoule. According to Penfold’s,  “…the wine is contained in a hand blown glass ampoule that provides an ideal wine environment and a bespoke glass plumb-bob that suspends the ampoule within a wooden Jarrah cabinet – all produced by South Australia’s finest craftsman…” The most eyebrow-raising aspect is that for that £120,000 price tag, “…a senior member of the Penfolds Winemaking team will personally attend a special opening ceremony for the owner (essentially your very own master-class). The winemaker will travel to the destination of choice, where the ampoule will be ceremoniously removed from its glass plumb-bob casing and opened using a specially designed, tungsten-tipped, sterling silver scribe-snap. The winemaker will then prepare the wine using a beautifully crafted sterling silver tastevin…” Sounds a bit over the top but you will be getting your money’s worth (I hope)! There’s only been 12 bottles produced and this will be the first one displayed in Europe. It will be at the new wine shop opening soon in Mayfair, Hedonism. R un by the aptly named Alistair Viner – formerly of Harrod’s wine department, where he spent 16 years including Chief Wine Buyer before leaving to start Hedonism. Who will buy this wine and is it worth it? Stay tuned…. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Canapes and Champagne at Texture

May 06, 10 Canapes and Champagne at Texture

Posted by in Champagne, Food and Wine

Lately, The Winesleuth has been getting around the London restaurant scene. Last week I could be found in the bar of Texture, a recent winner of a Michelin star (Jan 2010), Texture was founded by Xavier Rousset and Agnar Sverrisson. Xavier was awarded UK Sommelier of the  Year at the tender age of 22 and met Agnar while they were both working at Le Manoir Aux Quar’ Saisons, the oldest double Michelin starred restaurant in England. Agnar hails from Reykjavic, Iceland and did his tour of duty in such places as Petrus and Le Manoir Aux Quar’ Saisons before joining up with Xavier to open Texture in 2007. The unique selling point of Texture’s food is the fact that Agnar doesn’t use butter or cream in his cooking. He prefers to use vinegars and even eschews salt as much as possible. I asked him why he doesn’t use butter or cream and he most sensibly replied, “Because I don’t like them.” Fair enough. If his restaurant just won a Michelin star, who am I to contradict him? Agnar believes that he gets cleaner,fresher flavours without the addition of butter and cream. He’s going for purity of flavour, using vinegars as seasonings to get that fresh, clean taste. I asked him if Xavier ever complains about the use of vinegar and how it’s going to match with the wine. He laughingly replied that yes, they do sometimes have “discussions” about  how the  food is going to match with the wine. I was there for a little champagne and canape event and the champagne was flowing. We were served with the Jacquesson Cuvee 732 Brut NV to go with the canapes and it was a lively companion. The Cuvee 732 while not a vintage champagne is made up primarily of wines from 2004 with the balance from coming from older vintages. A rich and complex drink, red apple, ginger and a bit of lemon showing through, it was served at just the right temperature and was...

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