The Gallivant – an English Seaside Hideaway

May 20, 15 The Gallivant – an English Seaside Hideaway

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I’ve always loved to visit the seaside. As a kid growing up in Central California, we would often take road trips to the beach and stay overnight in little seaside hotels. The Gallivant just outside Rye in Sussex aims to capture that easy going California vibe – and I think they are quite successful at doing that. Situated across from sand dunes so big that you can’t see the long sandy beach on the other side, The Gallivant is a little coastal hideaway on a two lane road that runs past the dunes. The single storey building has been around for 25 years and started out as a beach side café. Roughly 5 years ago, Harry Cragoe bought the hotel and has transformed its into the lovely boutique property it is today. They like to refer to it as ‘a restaurant with rooms’ and the restaurant and terrace are a focal point of the hotel. It’s all very cosy, comfy with a sky blue and white colour motif running throughout the hotel. The rooms are a good size with plenty of lovely little touches like old fashioned black telephones, canvas beach bags and very fluffy bathrobes. I especially liked the ‘Larder’, rather then have a mini-bar in every room there is a large pantry at one end of the hallway that is stocked with artisanal snacks, soft drinks and wine. It’s all done on the honour system, you just write down what you’ve taken and hand in the chit at the end of your stay. I think having it at the end of the hallway is genius – less temptation and all that…. The hotel focuses on offering outstanding products in a relaxed but thoughtful atmosphere. One of their main USP’s is that fact that they strive to provide local, seasonal, high quality produce – 95% of all the ingredients used come from within a 10 mile radius. I love the fact that everything is fresh and seasonal. While I was there, I had...

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Nye-TIIIIMMMMMBER!! or do Londoners ever venture to Kent to eat?

“Denise, might it transpire that you could accompany me to a dinner on Friday in the deepest, darkest hinterlands of Kent for a repast of succulent British cooking paired with the ever so delightful English Sparkling wine, Nyetimber. We will be dining at the Michelin starred restaurant, Chapter One, on the outskirts of Bromley.” Ok, that’s not exactly how my friend Douglas (Intoxicating Prose) worded it but you get the idea. He is so eloquent and he actually does speak like that! I deeply admire someone who can use words like transpire and succulent in everyday speech. He had me at ‘Michelin starred’, but Bromley?!? This I had to see to believe. Pulling out of London Bridge with a half bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse to sustain us on our train journey to Bromley or therebouts we were off to the wilds of Kent. Chapter One is actually between Bromley and Orpington in a place called Locksbottom Common, anyway you look at it, it’s not London, which is a bit of a shame because it is excellent. They are one of the few restaurants in England that currently hold a Michelin star and we were there to review a spring menu that Executive Head Chef Andrew McLeish had paired with each vintage of the award winning English sparkling wine, Nyetimber. Finding it was a bit of a chore. Once off the train and onto a local bus we were directed to get off the bus “when it passes the big Sainsbury’s,” which is a fine marker if the big Sainsbury’s was on the main road instead of tucked about 200 metres off the street behind an even bigger building. Luckily, the locals are very friendly to “foreigners” and helpfully shouted to us and the bus driver when we were supposed to disembark.  A short walk up the hill, negotiate a very busy 4 lane  road and we were there! I’m beginning to see why Londoners don’t venture out. Happily, we were greeted with big smiles and...

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Funky English varietals at the annual trade show(w/ video)

Huxelrebe, Siegerrebe, Regner, Schönburger. The ill-fated cast of characters from an little known Wagnerian opera? “Reichensteiner and Würzer are dead” -The original title? Rondo, Ortega, and Phoenix. The Mexican villains from a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western? Madeleine Angevine. Latest X-Factor winner? Triomphe. A sports car? Orion – oh, I know that, that’s a constellation, right? Well, yes and no. Orion is a constellation but it’s also a cool climate hybrid varietal used in England to produce wine.   In fact, all of the above are just some of the rather esoterically named varietals that have been put into use to produce English still and sparkling wine. Along with the more familiar müller thurgau, dornfelder, and bacchus, and the downright prosaic chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. I just love the monikers of this cast of characters but what have the English been doing with their wackily named varietals? There are two opinions about English wine. One, the still wines are a work in progress. Two, the sparklings, though, are winners. I had the chance to put the wines to the test at the recent English wine producers Annual Trade Tasting. The show was an opportunity for us to see what those English have been up to and the launch of English Wine Week 2009. English Wine week will be held at the end of May (23rd-31st) and encompasses a variety of activities including tours, tastings, and special events in vineyards around the country. There are also plans for a Welsh Wine Week and a Devon Wine Week alongside the English events. All events can be found on their website, www.englishwineweek.co.uk  I found that the whites were not quite ready for prime time. They were competently made and drinkable but nothing really shouted out to me except the one varietal that I discovered and actually liked, the Madeleine Angevine, a white grape that produced some lovely dry and fresh wines, aromas of orange blossoms and white flowers with nice acidity and rounded body but no flabbiness. It reminded...

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