I know this great little place in Covent Garden…Dalla Terra

Aug 04, 12 I know this great little place in Covent Garden…Dalla Terra

Posted by in Food and Wine, Italy, wine bars

I know this great little place in Covent Garden, it’s called Dalla Terra. It’s easy to miss even though it is in the heart of Covent Garden, just off Long Acre as a matter of fact. Dodging my way past the throngs of shoppers and tourists, I turned off on to a sleek corridor of shops which ended in an open stone courtyard, surrounded on all sides by some very beautiful architecture. Dalla Terra’s glass fronted facade announces its presence in big white blocky letters. Stepping inside though, it’s very inviting, warmly lit with walls of wine lining both sides of the interior. One side of the room has individual tables  whilst the other side has a long communal table, ending with a table for two situated right next to the glass walled wine cellar. There’s also a long bar at the back of the bar if you just fancy a few bar snacks. It’s a wine bar that specializes in small Italian wine producers. They range from the big boys like Banfi and Gaja to small, natural wine producers. As many of you know, I am sceptical of natural wines but there are enough good ones to justify having them on a list and Dalla Terra has some winners. We were there for some wine and food matching. Dalla Terra has a full menu as well as cheese and charcuterie platters.  We tried  a fab dish of marinated hake before moving onto a “board” of meat as it’s termed at the restaurant. Dalla Terra sources as much of their food from Italy as possible and the charcuterie plate was a bonanza of salami! They offer a salami and cheese board paired with 5 different red and white wines and is available for only £20 – bargain and well worth it! The cheeses as well were all Italian. We picked a red wine to go with the cheeses, a Valpolicello, Kairos  from the producer, Zyme. A rich, textured wine, bursting with flavour, a succulent...

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Malmaison’s Olympic cocktails

Jul 27, 12 Malmaison’s Olympic cocktails

Posted by in Hotels and Spas, restaurants

Just  a quick post today seeing as it’s the beginning of the Olympics. If you find yourself in Clerkenwell and fancy an Olympic themed cocktail, head over to Malmaison Hotel. They’ve come up with a string of cocktails for their guests. Going for the gold? Try the Gold Martini, vodka based with elderflower cordial, it’s finished off with a garnish of edible gold powder.  Second prize goes to the Silver Martini, a very fresh gin based cocktail, it reminded me of alcoholic lemonade and was waaaay to easy to drink. Although it’s called the Bronze Martini, it was my favourite, a whiskey based cocktail, it was very similar to my favourite –  a Manhattan, and was garnished with edible bronze powder. There were also a few other cocktails on the list, including the Olympic Flame, a long,tall and quite fruity drink, the very pretty Team GB Martini and, the most enticing to me, although I didn’t order them, the 5 Olympic shots – pretty much pure liquor shots. If you’re curious, here’s what they’re made of… Blue: 15ml Blue curacao, 20ml Absolut vanilla Black: 35ml Patron XO Cafe Red: 15ml Grenadine, 20ml Absolut Citron Yellow: 15ml Galliano, 20ml Absolut Mandrin Green: 15ml Midori, 20ml Absolut Apeach Malmaison will be running these cocktails throughout the Games so pop in if you’re around Clerkenwell. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Taittinger and Indian cuisine – can it handle the spice?

Apr 30, 12 Taittinger and Indian cuisine – can it handle the spice?

Posted by in Champagne, Food and Wine, France, restaurants

My regular readers know of my fondness for champagne, some might say obsession, but can I be blamed when champagne is such a versatile wine? Just when I think I have found the best food matches for champagne, along comes a new combination that makes me add another feather to champagne’s cap. I was invited to dinner at Moti Mahal to see what Taittinger could do when paired with Indian cuisine as well as meet Clovis Taittinger, the next in line at Taittinger. Clovis was in town last week to show off what his family champagne can do when paired with Indian cuisine.Clovis is known as a bit of a wild man and upon meeting him, I could see why – rushing down the stairs, slightly disheveled hair with impish smile and friendly air. He’s like a French, slimmer, darker version of our Mayor, Boris Johnson – and just as amusing. He had us all chuckling within 1 minute of opening his mouth,  something about the Kama Sutra and champagne, I think. Anyway, Clovis went on to tell us a bit about what he thinks makes Taittinger special – the quality and consistency of their wines is their calling card. Their wines are made with a high percentage of chardonnay which they believe gives them the finesse, elegance and delicacy that one expects from Taittinger. When queried about the best years, he replied he doesn’t remember the years, just the moments. A good way out of giving a straight answer he later admitted! While nibbling on an assortment of canapes we sipped the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc Brut 2000. Made from 100% grand cru chardonnay it’s a charming wine, Clovis defining it as a “dancing champagne” and if any champagne would do that, it would be the Comtes, great as an aperitif. Roasted beetroot and peanut salad with a lentil dumpling and yoghurt Chaat was served with the Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé NV. The sweetness of the beetroot was enhanced by...

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A Rose night in Soho…

Apr 23, 12 A Rose night in Soho…

Posted by in Food and Wine, France

There’s something about a glass of rosé from Provence that is so pleasing to the eye, a seductive quality in it’s shimmering hues that makes me just want to dive right in. I remember when I was first introduced to Provençal rosé, I was immediately smitten.  Professionally, we are trained to judge a wine by its colour but way before I got into the wine trade, I knew that there was something evocative and special about the rosés of Provence. Many British holiday-makers associate those pink tinged wines with long, lazy, hot summer days on the beaches of Southern France. Having grown up in California, I don’t, but they still have a siren call for me. Before you ask, no, I wasn’t hitting the rosé bottle before I sat down to write this post. I did, however, attend a dinner recently at Bistro du Vin Soho sponsored by Provence Wines, the generic body that promotes all wines Provençal. Wine has been made in Provence since 600 BC when the Greeks brought it over after colonizing the coast and founding Marseille. The Greeks were making wine long before the Romans had ever set foot in France, although, it was the Romans who spread the cultivation of vines to the Rhone and beyond. The first wines made by the Greeks were in fact a pale pink colour because at the time maceration was unknown and so the wines produced had little contact with the skins – just enough to give it a rosy shade. Wine making has progressed and we now have wines that come in various shades but the vignerons of Provence still carry on making their beautiful rosés. Provence is made up of 3 appellations, Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence. The region itself produces 88% of all rosé produced in France with Côtes de Provence producing primarily rosé wine. There are more then a dozen varieties allowed in the production of rosé but the majority use a combination of grenache,...

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Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Apr 19, 12 Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Posted by in England, Food and Wine, Lifestyle

I was invited down to Brighton recently to check out the Brighton and Hove food and wine festival. I’ve been to Brighton a few times and it is relatively easy to get there from London. If you can’t be bothered to do all the legwork yourself you can find Brighton Holidays online. The last time I was there for a winemaker’s dinner at the Hotel du Vin Brighton, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that part of the festival was being held at the hotel and that they would be putting me up for the night there. This isn’t my first time at HdV Brighton, I’ve stayed there in the past and always enjoy walking into the comforting decor of the hotel, alternating between dark and blonde wood, cozy couches and chairs scattered around the main bar and a bustling bistro next to it. From the outside, the building dates back to the 16th-17thth century, complete with timber and whitewalls on certain parts of the hotel.  The interior though has all the mod cons and the suites come with giant bathtubs for a soak after spending the day at the beach, which by the way is literally across the road from the hotel. There’s also a charming courtyard as well as a suntrap of a terrace on the first floor. The hotel was putting on a small wine festival and had local producers and wine shops on hand to show off their wines. There was a large proportion of English wines available, including Ridgeview, Bolney’s and even Plumpton College had their local sparkling on offer. I also tried a fantastic pinot blanc from Stopham Estates. They are located in West Sussex and are the only producers of pinot blanc in the UK. The wine was not at all what I was expecting, not tasting like an English wine. By that I mean it didn’t have the telltale elderflower aromas or flavours nor was it slightly off dry. Bright and chipper, balanced fruit and...

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