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Mostly Food & Travel Journal

Fiz Bar

Black Roe – Poke and more

Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati - The Definitive Guide

Jacqui Pickles – President, Les Dames d’Escoffier London – in conversation

Thai Square Fulham

Bōkan for Bottomless Prosecco Sunday Brunch

Best of England Vineyard Tours

Mark Hellyar at Chateau Civrac and Honest Grapes

Risotto! Risotto! by Valentina Harris

Trolley in the Lobby - Bar at One Aldwych

Taruzake – cedar difference

Recipe: Banana Bread

Champagne Taittinger at Luton Hoo

The Swan at the Globe

Hotel TerraVina Dining

Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour

Umami Kelp and Wasabi – an introduction


Remelluri Organic Winery

Mele e Pere for Vermouth with a Master

Markopoulo recommendations

Domaine Papagiannakos Winery

Maribor – wines, gastronomy, bikes and hikes

Sake Cups – or perhaps a glass

Cinnamon Collection Masterclasses

Reims - Tasteful Souvenirs

Rijsttafel in The Hague


The Sparkle of Vilmart & Cie

Umbria’s Autumn Gastronomy with Valentina Harris

Hisashi Taoka of Kiku – Fish aficionado

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Donna Margherita – pizza and pasta know-how

donna margherita vitaleWe might say we love Italian food because we buy pizza. It arrives in a box on the back of a moped. We choose from dozens of toppings at the supermarket, and we buy it frozen on every high street. Yes, we love Italian food – but these are not Italian, and one taste of the authentic product will turn your head and have you singing ‘That’s Amore’ quicker that the waiter can open a bottle of Chianti

“I wanted to create a menu which we are able to enjoy, full of flavour yet still remaining healthy for our bodies,” says owner of Donna Margherita, Gabriele Vitale. And he showed his skills and that of his pizza chef in this popular restaurant on London’s Lavender Hill.

This was an Italian cooking class with a difference. Gabriele demonstrated how to make the perfect gnocchi, while his pizza chef introduced us to the method for making the essential dough for the base. This is a flavourful and light bread which only takes seconds to bake in the red-glowing wood-fuelled pizza oven. It’s those bits of tree that make all the difference, but it takes years of practice to make the perfect pizza with just the right amount of char on the bottom and a bubbling top of tomatoes and molten cheese.

donna margherita pizzaThe event was a celebration of the restaurant’s collaboration with the Italian PIA Association (Italian and International Pizza School). The organisation’s president, Arturo Mazzeo, was on hand to support the occasion. This group is responsible for training some of the finest pizza chefs. It truly is an art. Pizza here is made from scratch from a home-made starter, so plenty of flavour in the long-proved dough.

The course showcased the new healthier recipe for pizza and tempted us with the finest Italian pasta. This is an ingredient which is so often overcooked elsewhere. Gabriele presents dishes which are rich in protein, easier to digest and have a natural taste of wheat. He is also passionate about the benefit of Himalayan pink salt, which has 84 minerals to help detox.

donna margherita ovenDonna Margherita has long been a favourite restaurant (read my review here). The owner doesn’t just want to feed his guests – he wants them to savour every element. He takes trouble in sourcing everything, right down to the humble egg. Many of his ingredients come directly from Italy and others are artisanal products from nearer home. Gabriele wants diners to leave Donna Margherita satisfied that they have had a delicious and substantial meal which won’t have them feeling bloated.

A must-try is E’spaghett’ A Carbonara which is the real thing and not often found in other restaurants. It’s spaghetti with cured Italian guanciale (an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks), organic eggs, parmesan and pecorino cheeses. Please note that this version doesn’t contain cream, but relies on the other components for richness.

Donna Margherita
Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria
183 Lavender Hill
London SW11 5TE

Tel. +44 (0) 20 7228 2660


Visit Donna Margherita here.

food and travel reviews

Lily O’Brien’s Caramel Jewels Collection

OBriens chocs These really are little gems. Anyone who loves caramel will appreciate these beautifully crafted and delicious chocs.

Lily O’Brien’s Chocolates are made by a real O’Brien, although actually a Mary. It all started as a mini enterprise launched from her Kildare kitchen in 1992.

The new chocolate box includes 10 unique recipes:

Sea Salted Caramel – Creamy caramel paired with sea salt, set into a milk chocolate shell

Himalayan Salted Caramel – Pink Himalayan salt blended with caramel, encased in a dark chocolate shell. This is my favourite!

Butterscotch Caramel – Caramel with rich buttery and scalded brown sugar tones, smothered in milk chocolate

Irish Burnt Caramel – Toasted dark brown sugar, caramelised to a deliciously rich and full flavour, enrobed in rich dark chocolate

Maple Caramel – Aromatic, sweet maple, perfectly paired with indulgent creamy caramel, inside a dark chocolate shell

OBrians chocs Passion Fruit Salted Caramel – Tart and fruity passion fruit superbly partnered with rich caramel for a sweet/sharp balance, captured in a dark chocolate shell

Dulce De Leche – Classic Argentinian flavour of mellow caramelised milk, merged into a soft luxury caramel, in a beautiful blend of white and dark chocolate

Chilli and Lime Caramel – Zesty lime oil and guajillo chilli team up to create a wonderful dark chocolate full of vibrant heat

Hazelnut Caramel – Whole toasted hazelnut nestled in soft caramel, surrounded by milk and white chocolate

Sticky Toffee – Sticky, rich, gooey and delicious caramel wrapped in a combination of milk and dark chocolate

Learn more here.

food and travel reviews

Fiz Bar

Fizbar This is a PopUp so don’t spend time reading the rest of this piece. Just go before it closes!

One might think that sparkling wine is for the connoisseur, those with money and a dictionary of posh wine terms. Fiz Bar aims to encourage a new generation of sparkling-wine lovers – those who aren’t interested in the hype but love the taste …and the fizz.

This is a casual bar which has found its temporary home in a former neon-sign shop, and there is still plenty of that stock on show. It’s contemporary with hints of an older Soho: one of the signs beams ‘Peep Show’! The founders had originally expected that folks would stand and drink, but now there are pine benches and stools for a more comfortable event, as there is food on offer here, too, including one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in London! The plates and platters do, where possible, reflect British seasonal produce.

Prosecco, Cava, English sparkling and Cremante from far and near are available, and many by the glass. This is about delicious discovery at a reasonable price. It’s about friends and fizz. It’s just as much about the folks who visit as it is about the menu. They are an eclectic bunch: cyclists with helmets and dubious shorts; office workers with laptops; meeters and greeters.

Fiz Bar I trust that Fiz Bar will find a permanent home in the near future. Yes, I think it’s a sign of things to come. It’s time that we enjoyed fizz more and stopped drinking it just because we think we look good doing it. Fizz shouldn’t be thought of as posh but should be appreciated by a wider audience for its bubbly personality – and Fiz Bar has plenty of that!

Summer PopUp from 20th June - 13th August

Fiz Bar
The Lights of Soho
35 Brewer Street

Monday to Thursday 10:00am - 23:30pm

Friday to Saturday 10:00am - midnight

Sunday 12:00noon to 16:00pm

food and travel reviews

Black Roe – Poke and more

Black roe images Black Roe is tucked away in a side street in the heart of Mayfair. It couldn’t be better located for transport and diners. This is a neighbourhood with plenty of restaurants but it is making its mark, attracting visitors who want quality food and something a little unique.

Pacific Rim cuisine is what’s offered here in this small but marvellously formed restaurant. It’s been opened by Kurt Zdesar, owner of Chotto Matte. It has seating for 60 with tables and banquettes. But it’s the décor that impressed me. Huge black and white portraits line the walls to great effect. The bar at the far end welcomes with warm amber light.

Black Roe's key to culinary distinction is poke. That isn’t pronounced as a dig in the ribs but rather po-kay with an accent on the ‘e’. It’s basically is a raw fish salad, a deconstructed sushi with garnishes and dressing. In the restaurant window there is a tapestry of poke fixin’s. It is served as a starter in Hawaii and as a main course. A large proportion of those islands’ populations are descended from Japanese so this is a Pacific Rim fusion, and has already taken the West Coast of the US by storm.

Black roe poke We started with Prawn and Pork Pot Stickers with chives and ponzu, a citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese dishes. These were perfectly-made dumplings which are both steamed and fried. They had a beautiful crisp bottom, and that delicate char gave flavour as well as texture.

A bowl of the celebrated poke was always on the cards. The “Black Roe” Ahi and Yellowtail Poke with spicy yuzu salsa was our choice from a selection of poke dishes. There was indeed some of the eponymous black roe along with cubes of the abovementioned fresh fish. The ratio of topping to rice was generous and the presentation was beautiful. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit and created a tangy dressing for both rice and fish. This is a must-try here.

Octopus Aioli with chilli salsa and coriander was the best dish of cephalopod I have had in ages. I would go as far as saying it’s one of the best dishes of any style I have enjoyed in a while. The mollusc was meaty and the sauce was outstanding. This is one of my ‘dishes of the year’ so far. Yes, I know it’s just a matter of taste but I think it’s that good! Executive Chef Jordan Sclare should be proud!

Whole Lobster “Mac ‘N’ Cheese” is at the opposite end of the menu from the light and refreshing poke. This is a stunner and a real ‘celebration’ plate. It’s rich, flavourful, creamy with cheese and well-punctuated with chunks of lobster. It’s a visually striking dish but you will likely order it again, and not just for the picture on Instagram!

Black roe octopus But I have pointed out that bar, and it serves some rather decent cocktails. Cherry Pistachio Sour made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, pistachio, lemon, egg white and cane syrup was deceptively mild, timid and addictive. Remember, this is actually alcoholic.

Quiet Storm with coconut cream, passion fruit, lime, lychee and apple juice with a garnish of mint was a non-alcoholic souvenir of those characterful Tiki bars in California and Hawaii of a few decades ago. This thirst-quencher was served in a bright green Tiki mug.

Black Roe is my cup of tea, it’s right up my alley …and a bunch of other superlatives. The location is perfect and the menu for both starters and main courses is an eclectic fusion that fits so well with the vibrant London restaurant scene. I’ll be back for dessert and to explore more of that cocktail menu.

Opening times:
12:00noon - 4:30pm, 5:30pm - 10:45pm

Black Roe
4 Mill Street

Phone: 020 3794 8448


Visit Black Roe here.

food and travel reviews

Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati - The Definitive Guide

cookbook review Ice Creams It’s summer even in the UK and a book-buyer’s passion turns to frozen desserts and all things deliciously cool.

Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati is a huge tome and amazing value for money. It offers more than 300 large-format pages, over 400 recipes, iconic illustrations, ice cream lore and information on one of the world’s most popular food groups.

The progress of ice cream has taken it from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again. It was once the preserve of kings, emperors and the very wealthy. The secrets of its manufacture became more widely known and the raw materials became more reasonably priced, resulting in an inferior and often unhygienic product being made available to all. Penny Lick glasses filled by unscrupulous vendors and enjoyed by one eager buyer were returned unwashed and filled ready for the next victim. Several epidemics of fatal diseases have been attributed to the practice. Laws were tightened to give ice cream lovers a sporting chance at long life, and then the boom was in full swing.

These days we enjoy good quality frozen desserts along with an even larger choice of shoddy goods, but at least many of us have the opportunity to make some truly delightful ices at home. The best and freshest of ingredients are used, and these ingredients are few and, for the most part, readily available.

Plenty of history here and it’s amusing and fascinating but you will likely buy this book for the recipes. They are a fine and eclectic bunch and there is truly one for every occasion and every taste, including a few savoury examples (although they are not my favourites).

I have been particularly taken by some ices that would be a perfect end to those enormous holiday dinners. Decadent but full of festive flavours. Cranberry Sorbet is tangy and refreshing. Good for a dessert or a digestive between courses. Terry’s Chocolate Orange Ice Cream is bound to revive childhood memories for those of us who only had those chocolate novelties as a Yule-tide treat. Crème de Marron Ice Cream is the ice of choice for those having a Continental Christmas.

Mincemeat Ice Cream has become popular over the last few years but this book suggests an alternative which might be even more appealing: Christmas Cake Ice Cream. This honestly does contain Christmas cake, although omitting the icing. This might not be the lightest ice around but it will offer a hint of tradition.

My pick of this book isn’t a seasonal delight but an intriguing confection of, well, confectionery. Werther's Ice Cream is made with Werther's Original Butter Toffee (candy). Those melting and moreish sweets are put to good use in this recipe which produces a rich dessert that is bound to become a regular in those colder months.

Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati is a winner. The weather is hot and our thoughts turn to cold treats. This could be a welcome present for those with an ice-cream machine, for those who aspire to such a thing, and for those who love frozen desserts. The recipes here are inspiring and simple.

Cookbook review: Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati - The Definitive Guide
Authors: Caroline and Robin Weir
Published by: Grub Street
Price: £18.99
ISBN 978-1-910610-46-8

food and travel reviews

Jacqui Pickles – President, Les Dames d’Escoffier London – in conversation

Jacqui Pickles les Dames logo Les Dames d’Escoffier London are enjoying a vibrant calendar of events and are welcoming new members who are eager to participate in activities and raise funds for other women in hospitality. President Jacqui Pickles is one of the Chapter’s founding members and in 2015 took the helm from Valentina Harris, who did such a fine job as the first London President.

Who is this calm and measured lady who manages to instil enthusiasm in such a diverse cross-section of leading women in UK hospitality? She has a successful catering company and has spent almost all her career working in food and wine.

I asked how she first came to hear of Les Dames d’Escoffier. ‘I met Valentina Harris in the early 90s. I was doing some work for an importer of kitchen equipment, and met someone who wanted to set up chef demonstrations. I put some programmes together for her, and got some really good chefs who would go down to her kitchen shop. Valentina was one of those chefs, and we hit it off. I helped her set up a cookery school in France, and we built up a good relationship. It was she who invited me to become one of the founding members of the London Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier.’

What are some of Jacqui’s early memories of food?

‘As a child I do remember it was simple food, Northern food. It was my Grandma who taught me the importance of making something taste good. She really only had three seasonings: salt, pepper and butter. She was a natural cook, and couldn’t make pastry to save her life, but she just knew how things should taste, and how to put them together. My mother was a good cook, but she was much more precise. She had been a nurse, and ran the household as if she was running a ward – we had to scrub down before each meal! She worked as hard at being a mother and housekeeper as she had as a nurse in the 1950s.

Jacqui Pickles ‘My mother went to Cordon Bleu evening classes once a week and so, suddenly, when I was about ten years old, we were being given pork fillets stuffed with prunes and anchovies, and stuffed peppers… We all embraced this, and these were the days before anyone had seen an avocado pear!

‘My father had a small farm and he set up a market business selling eggs and cheese. His first market stall was in Barnsley, which was odd because we lived in Preston. In those days there was no motorway so he had to get up very early, feed his pigs and whatever, then drive over the Pennines, and clear the snow from Market Hill in Barnsley to set up his stall. He built a successful business of about 30 shops in the end, and it kept my grandfather, father, my uncle and my elder brother going for 50 years.’

How did her career start?

‘I went into the family business. But there were too many ‘chiefs’ there, and one day I told Dad that I was handing in my notice. A week later I left and headed south with no plan. Eventually I found some work at Bourne & Hollingsworth. Then I went to the Cordon Bleu school for a week (which was as much as I could afford), and my interest was piqued.

‘I got a job as a secretary and actually my love of food started in that company. One day my colleague, Mike, asked me to lunch, and took me to the Connaught Grill. In those days it was all silver and waiters in tails – the poshest place I had ever been. The parents of my boyfriend Guy (now my husband) suggested that the next time he invited me to lunch I was to ask to go to Le Gavroche. So we went to Le Gavroche, and I still remember exactly what we had for lunch. We ate so well, and what a performance, a ballet – so fantastic! After that, we always went to Le Gavroche. I remember peeking at the bill, and in 1980 it was £78 for the two of us – quite a lot!

‘Guy and I would take our holidays in the South of France. Coming back we would always stop at a little place called Le Cheval d’Or, which had a great dining room. In1982 I said to Guy, “I really want to learn how to cook!” So I handed in my notice, and left my job in January 1983. I told Mike that I would look for a cookery course, and he took me for a last meal at Le Gavroche. He said, “You never know, you might end up working here.” I laughed, but by May 1984 I was working there!

‘Fate played a big part: I applied to the school at La Petite Cuisine in Richmond and that was such a stroke of luck, because Lyn Hall was a brilliant teacher, and knew every great chef in France. It was a wonderful school and I fell in love with the whole thing. She was such a hard taskmaster, but after just three months with her you could go straight into a professional kitchen. From there I went to France, in May 1983, to the Chateau de Montreuil, near Boulogne.

‘Then Lyn Hall came to visit, and asked me to come back to the school and be the chef’s assistant. I did that, but within a month the chef had left and I was chef! I did love teaching, and building relationships with the students who came through. But I did miss the restaurant.

‘Steven Docherty, the sous-chef at Le Gavroche, was asked to come and give a lecture one evening, and I said to him that I would love to come to the Gavroche kitchen sometime. He said, “Just visit one evening after work, and just peel vegetables or whatever.” So I did that, standing there with a crate of carrots, just watching everything that was going on. So I thought, “I’ve got to get back in!” and one day I asked Albert Roux for a job. He asked, “How serious are you? How long are you going to cook for?” and I replied, “I’m going to cook for life!” so he said, “OK, you can have a job!”

‘I started at Le Gavroche in mid-1984. That was the hardest job of my life! Very tough, and I was the only woman in the kitchen. From Le Gavroche I went into their outside catering business. Then Albert gave me a job of looking after all the chefs in the contract side. When they started to go for the big contracts I was brought into the meetings to help them. I was with them until 1986.

‘I set up my own company, and my first contract was with John Frieda, the up-market hairdresser, so I called the company Head Chefs Ltd – we provided food for their clients and we did his opening party in his Mayfair salon. The outside catering work began then.

‘I travelled a lot. I saw the world in style – Japan, Canada, The States, and all round Europe, and it was fabulous. The only place I actually cooked was in Iceland: a merchant bank client used to take their guests for a fishing trip and I cooked in a fishing lodge for a week every July, and it was really hard work. We started at 6 in the morning and finished at 2 in the morning, but it never got dark so you didn’t notice how tired you were.’

Jacqui Pickles

Jacqui Pickles continues to be involved with catering and hospitality, and organising international events. She is charismatic, quietly spoken and persuasive. She has already encouraged many women to get involved with the increasingly influential Les Dames d’Escoffier London Chapter.

Learn more about Les Dames d’Escoffier here.

food and travel reviews

Best of England Vineyard Tours

Best of England Many of us have become interested in wine. Yes, drinking it and pairing it. Remember the days when we in the UK drank just a few different wines? It wasn’t that they were so good that they became popular; truth to tell, it was all we had. Red or white from ‘various countries’. They were not different bottles from various countries but often bottles made with a blend of grapes from various countries. Rosé came in the guise of Mateus Rosé in its distinctive flat bottle. OK, I admit it, I still have a taste for that retro classic; I guess it’s familiarity.

Things have changed. We are more discerning and we are interested in not only what’s in the glass but where it came from. If it’s delicious then we want to learn more, and one might discover that the crisp sparkling white in our glass actually comes from England! It’s documented that Christopher Merret used the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a second fermentation, 40 years before it was claimed that Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon had invented the process which came to be called the Champagne method.

Best of England is a young and vibrant company which publishes English county guides, and now they have tours to offer visitors from the UK and across the globe. The company has quality at the heart of both books and tours. They research so you don’t have to, and they offer well-tailored trips to delight the novice wine buff as well as those with a more professional wine interest.

An English vineyard tour with Best of England is a tasting delight. One can opt for a short tour with afternoon tea, which might sound like something of an oxymoron but what better backdrop for a classic afternoon tea could there be than a lush vineyard …and a glass or two of something chilled, sparkling and reviving!

For those who are looking for an intense 3-vineyard experience then Best of England has a tour to satisfy that want. One will see how these wines are made, from growing vines to corking and labelling the final product. Visitors will meet the winemakers and hear their individual stories, and there will be an opportunity (of course) to sample the wines.


Best of England Bolney have been making wine since 1972. Their wines are well-regarded and can be enjoyed in this family-run winery. The estate is 39 acres and has a café offering gourmet lunches, as well as tastings.

Ridgeview is another family-run vineyard, outside the picturesque village of Ditchling. It has outstanding views over the dramatic South Downs Ridge. They produce award-winning sparkling wines using traditional methods.

Rathfinny Wine Estate is found in the Cuckmere Valley and three miles from the sea. The vineyard is 600 acres and over the past three years they have planted 72 hectares of vines; by 2020, they will be one of England’s largest vineyards. All the buildings here have been constructed with locally sourced materials, using sustainable technologies such as photovoltaic cells and wastewater recycling. Rathfinny Estate have worked with the National Trust and the South Downs National Park Authority to open the ‘Rathfinny Trail’ so that visitors can arrive by foot or by bike.

All of these established and thriving wineries show different philosophies of production and growing, giving an impression of the progress made in English viticulture over the past decade.

Best of England make wine education fun and accessible, whether you are novice or professional. They arrange everything for a stress-free day of tasting in the most delicious fashion. Just turn up at the railway station and leave the arrangements to this imaginative company.

Learn more about Best of England here.

food and travel reviews

Mark Hellyar at Chateau Civrac and Honest Grapes

civracWhat a kind invitation! A food and wine pairing evening at impressive Lutyens, off Fleet Street… and Cornish wine! Well, no, not really – the wine is French and very good too. The maker is Cornish and that, strangely, might give him some advantages: he has an appreciation of the British wine palate.

Cornishman Mark Hellyar changed careers a few years ago to start producing wine in Bordeaux. He is from Padstow where his family have farmed for a couple of hundred years, so he does indeed have a connection with land and cultivation. Cornishmen have long had a reputation for being independent and rebellious, and with that genetic sense of adventure Mark sold the software company he was running in order to start a new phase of his life. Now the resulting wines are found at celebrated Michelin-starred restaurants and in the cellars of the discerning.

Mark Hellyar of Chateau Civrac is a Cornishman in Bordeaux. The wines are contemporary and made with the British consumer in mind. Mark’s wines are hand-made in small quantities thus giving the opportunity to tailor wines for individual and complex character and ever-changing nuances. There is nothing dull or banal from Chateau Civrac. Mark wanted to make wines that were different from classic Bordeaux and his wines have a New World quality about them, with more subtle tannins, and which perhaps have more in common with those he discovered while working in California and South Africa.

civrac Chateau Civrac has developed a noteworthy Sauvignon Blanc called Wild White which isn’t a hippy-inspired vintage as the name might suggest. The ‘wild’ element comes from the French Sauvage and Blanc for white – a little linguistic toying. We tried this and several other outstanding wines at the Honest Grape food and wine tasting, and everybody was impressed by Mark’s offerings.

But what are Honest Grapes? It’s actually more of a bunch of who’s rather than what’s. They are a group of wine enthusiasts, wine professionals, and friends who have created something of a one-stop wine site which offers suggestions and invitations to events. They hold regular pairing dinners and single-variety tastings which will excite anyone who enjoys good wine, and anyone wanting to learn more.

Honest Grapes supports independent growers, small producers and importers, allowing their guests to taste wines that they won’t be able to find easily elsewhere. There are wines for quaffing with Sunday lunch and others suitable for celebrations and impressing the in-laws; there might even be a cheeky bottle or two appropriate for an evening in front of the television enjoying ‘The French Connection’ or ‘Julie & Julia’. This is a marketplace for interesting bottles, well-chosen vintages – and delicious diversion.

civrac I am no wine expert and I am not a chef but I really enjoyed this pairing evening. Honest Grapes presents events that will appeal to food lovers who will appreciate learning more about how wines not only accompany dishes but actually enhance them. But any dinner party is just as much about those folks sitting around the table as what’s on it. These evenings are convivial. One might not know the others but everyone has something in common – love of great food and excellent wine, as furnished by Lutyens and, in this case, the charming Mark Hellyar (whom I hope to interview in the near future).

Learn more about Honest Grapes here

Learm more about Mark Hellyar and his wines here

food and travel reviews

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Rafute Recipe: Rafute is flavourful, tender and moreish. It’s a dish popular in Okinawa in the far (very far) south-west of Japan. It’s traditionally made with two local staples – Awamori, which is Okinawa’s celebrated spirit, and the island’s brown sugar, which is often made into candy... Read More

Remelluri Organic Winery

Food & Drink review: In the 14th century, a monastery was built that gave birth to this farm, producing cereal and wine for the monks - La Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri (Our Lady of Remelluri)... Read More

Mele e Pere for Vermouth with a Master

mele vermouth
Food & Drink review: Vermouth has been ubiquitous in and on cocktail bars since mixed drinks became popular more than a century ago, but many of us have no idea what it actually is, apart from being the bottle that stands at the back collecting dust... Read More

Markopoulo recommendations – Attica’s food, wine and welcome

Markopoulo recommendations Travel review: Most travellers to Greece seem to arrive in Athens with a long journey still ahead. They are looking for small restaurants where the locals eat, perhaps a secluded beach, no other foreign tourists in sight. Yes, that must be a small island, and a boat ride away from the mainland. Well, all those elements are nearer than you think... Read More

Domaine Papagiannakos Winery

Domaine Papagiannakos Vineyard
Winery review: A few years ago one might scoff at the prospect of a visit to a Greek winery. The memory of old-school Retsina lingers on. That wine had more in common, to non-Greek taste buds at least, with that in which one might clean paint brushes. But those days are gone and now Greek wineries are taken seriously... Read More

Maribor – wines, gastronomy, bikes and hikes

Maribor Slovenia travel review: Slovenia is a small country in Central Europe. Small it might be but it has natural beauty, with mountains (Slovenia's highest mountain, the three-peaked Triglav, is depicted on the national flag), vine-strewn hills, thick forests, historic cities and a 46 km long coast on the Adriatic. It is, in some regards, Europe in microcosm... Read More

Sake Cups – or perhaps a glass

sake cups Japanese culture review: For those of us who love the delicious complexity of sake, the vessel from which we drink is often something of an afterthought. But it shouldn’t be... Read More

Cinnamon Collection Masterclasses

cinnamon collection masterclass Restaurant Masterclass review: It seems a bit early for pondering Christmas presents but, trust me, it’s not. If you have a passionate food lover in your near vicinity you might want to ditch the summer holiday brochures for half an hour and consider a masterclass... Read More

Reims - Tasteful Souvenirs

Reims - Tasteful Souvenirs
French travel review: Reims is a beautiful and historic city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. It is only 130 km from Paris with easy access by train. Excursions to nearby Chalons are a must and there will be not only the delightfully ubiquitous champagne to taste but also... Read More

Rijsttafel in The Hague

Rijsttafel in The Hague
Indonesian Food review: I love The Netherlands and am an unashamed supporter. It’s an oft-disregarded tourist destination even though it’s easy to get to from London. Short breaks are more usually taken in Paris or Berlin. That’s a shame as Dutch cities offer history, architectural charm and delicious food... Read More

Rennes – second capital of food (or is it third?)

Rennes food
French travel review: Rennes Market is considered to be the second- or third-largest in France, depending on whom you are speaking to... Read More

The Sparkle of Vilmart & Cie

Wine review: The Champagne house Vilmart & Cie was founded in 1890 by Désiré Vilmart and is considered by many an authority to be perhaps the leading producer of quality Champagne in the region of Northern France which bears the same name... Read More

Umbria’s Autumn Gastronomy with Valentina Harris

Valentina Harris Umbria interview Chef interview: Valentina Harris doesn’t have many free moments but I cornered her on a return flight from a culinary tour of Umbria. She is an unashamed supporter of the country of her birth, and conducts gastronomic adventures to Umbria and other regions... Read More

Hisashi Taoka of Kiku – Fish aficionado

Hisashi Taoka of Kiku interview Chef interview: Kiku was first established in Mayfair in 1978 and has gained a reputation for serving authentic Japanese cuisine. The owners, Mariko and Hisashi Taoka, are dedicated to presenting the freshest of food in a calming cocoon of blond wood... Read More

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Capital Spice - chefs, restaurants and recipes
By Chrissie Walker, foreword by Sanjeev Kapoor.
21 great London Indian chefs, over 100
stunning recipes.
Available from bookshops and Amazon.
ISBN: 9781906650728

Marks and Spencer wine