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Donna Margherita – pizza and pasta know-how
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
supermarket, and we buy it frozen on every high street. Yes, we love
food – but these are not Italian, and one taste of the authentic
turn your head and have you singing ‘That’s Amore’ quicker that the
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
Margherita, Gabriele Vitale. And he showed his skills and that of his
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
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
wood-fuelled pizza oven. It’s those bits of tree that make all the
but it takes years of practice to make the perfect pizza with just the
amount of char on the bottom and a bubbling top of tomatoes and molten
event was a celebration of the restaurant’s
collaboration with the Italian PIA Association (Italian and
School). The organisation’s president, Arturo Mazzeo, was on hand to
the occasion. This group is responsible for training some of the finest
chefs. It truly is an art. Pizza here is made from scratch from a
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
overcooked elsewhere. Gabriele presents dishes which are rich in
easier to digest and have a natural taste of wheat. He is also
the benefit of Himalayan pink salt, which has 84 minerals to help
Margherita has long been a favourite restaurant (read my review here). The owner doesn’t just want to feed his guests – he
to savour every element. He takes trouble in sourcing everything, right
the humble egg. Many of his ingredients come directly from Italy and
artisanal products from nearer home. Gabriele wants diners to leave
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
Italian guanciale (an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork
cheeks), organic eggs, parmesan and pecorino cheeses. Please note that
version doesn’t contain cream, but relies on the other components for
Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria
183 Lavender Hill
London SW11 5TE
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
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
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
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
Black Roe – Poke and more
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.
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
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!
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.
Sorbets and Gelati - The Definitive Guide
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
Cookbook review: Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati - The Definitive Guide
Authors: Caroline and Robin Weir
Published by: Grub Street
Jacqui Pickles – President, Les Dames d’Escoffier
London – in conversation
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
‘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
‘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 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 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.
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).
Restaurant review: Yes, dear reader, this is a chain restaurant and I make no
apologies for reviewing a Thai Square. Why do chains become chains? Because
they become popular. And why are they popular? Because they’re good.
Thai Square has been around for a few years now and they have not dropped
their standards... Read More
Bōkan for Bottomless Prosecco Sunday Brunch
Restaurant review: It’s
in London’s vibrant Docklands – or more accurately high above that
sought-after neighbourhood. It’s up a depth at a considerable 37
floors! This is an elevated restaurant in every sense of the word. This area glistens with glass and polished
metal and exudes an air of sophistication... Read More
Many a cookbook reviewer will start their article with
statements of impartiality, even-handedness and cool, professional aloofness.
Not me. On this occasion, at least. I am pinning my culinary colours to
Valentina Harris’s gastronomic mast with a degree of unashamed pride... Read More
Trolley in the Lobby - Bar at One Aldwych
Bar review: One Aldwych and its Lobby Bar occupy one of the most
important Edwardian buildings in London. One doesn’t have to have a degree in
architecture to be impressed by this hotel. One might remark that it has a hint
of Paris about it and indeed it does... Read More
Taruzake – cedar difference
Drinks review: There is one variety of sake that has always intrigued me, one with a
very pronounced flavour – of wood. No, not the taste of knotty pine nor
the richness of mahogany (although I have never had a chew of either of
those). Here we are talking cedar... Read More
Recipe: This is
great for using up those quickly-browning bananas. The over-ripe ones
are perfect for this recipe as they are both soft and sweet. Throw in a
handful of nuts or dried fruit if you have them... (opens printable page)Read More
Champagne Taittinger at Luton Hoo
Hotel review: Luton Hoo is
arguably one of the finest examples of its genre. A stay laced with dinner and champagne was likely to be memorable, and
indeed it was. Luton Hoo offers several wine dinners every year and
they are understandably popular with regular visitors, those who are
celebrating, and others who are interested in learning more about the
best of wines... Read More
The Swan at the Globe
Restaurant review: The Swan fits perfectly with the area. The small windows
remind one of Dickensian homes, although I suspect this is all much newer. One
mounts the stairs to the contemporary restaurant which at 6pm was filled with
tourists... Read More
Hotel TerraVina Dining
Restaurant review: Hotel TerraVina is a gem. It’s a well-appointed house – well, it seems like someone’s home (read the accommodation review here). A line
of colourful wellies in the hall welcomes the arriving guests. The rooms are
individually designed and the beds... Read More
Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour
Restaurant review: This isn’t a bar for the feeble of limb. It has a staircase more associated with a lighthouse than a drinking hole. The deep red walls
and the perfume of incense sticks combine to present an expectation of
something truly exotic at the top of those stairs... Read More
Umami Kelp and Wasabi – an introduction
Japanese food review: We in the UK find the concept of umami to be somewhat elusive. We need educating in this element of flavour which can be recognised in all
manner of foodstuffs – even those common and definitely not Japanese,
such as Marmite... Read More
Rafute - Okinawan braised pork belly
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?)
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
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
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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