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Mostly Food & Travel Journal

Montcalm Hotel - Finsbury Square

Vietnam Eye – Contemporary Vietnamese Art

Penrhiw Hotel St Davids

Mark Hellyar at Chateau Civrac and Honest Grapes

Eneko at One Aldwych

The Garden House Restaurant, Beaverbrook

Trolley in the Lobby - Bar at One Aldwych

The Garden House – a stay with friends

Castle Hotel Windsor

Mainz – arrive by River

Risotto! Risotto! by Valentina Harris

Taruzake – cedar difference

Savini of Milan – at home in London

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, Windsor

Bali – more than a beach

Travels in Germany with MS Jane Austen

The Hague’s fashion souvenirs

Recipe: Banana Bread

Jamavar comes to Mayfair

Luton Hoo to Stay

Castle Hotel Windsor Afternoon Tea - Sofitel Sensory Storytelling

Givenchy and Hepburn at Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

The Homemade Curing Kits from Ross and Ross

Montigo in Batam Indonesia

The Montague Hotel – best après-skiing in London

Heidelberg - Elegant and Sweet

Champagne Taittinger at Luton Hoo

Parlay Ultra Black Rum

Castles and Clans with The Majestic Line

The Swan at the Globe

Hotel TerraVina Dining

Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour

Donna Margherita

The Talbot to Stay

Umami Kelp and Wasabi – an introduction

Balmer Lawn – New Forest Stay

The Talbot for fine dining

Balans Soho Society – Seven Dials

Anise Bar at Devonshire Square

Keats Brownie Recipe

Olive Tree - Southampton

Salsa Verde from Olive Tree Southampton

Patty and Bun – Old Compton Street

Rafute

Canela Café at Seven Dials

Beresford’s at Balmer Lawn for a touch of Thai

The Meat Co, Westfield, Shepherds Bush

Hotel TerraVina for Bed and Breakfast

CAU Kingston

Remelluri Organic Winery

Mele e Pere for Vermouth with a Master

Hanger SW6

Markopoulo recommendations

Mele e Pere – a steak in Soho

Brunch Counter – Vauxhall Arches

Romulo Café London

Stuzzico in London’s village

OXBO for Saturday Brunch

Forman’s Restaurant

Le Garrick – Steak with je ne sais quoi

Talli Joe

Domaine Papagiannakos Winery

Cream Tea Cruise from MBNA Thames Clippers

Gillray’s at County Hall

Maribor – wines, gastronomy, bikes and hikes

Benares for dinner

Sake Cups – or perhaps a glass

Kurobuta Marble Arch for Sunday Brunch

Forty Dean Street

The Mayfair Chippy

Bó Drake

The Balcon, London

Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte

Arabica Bar and Kitchen – Borough Market

Lotus – Charing Cross Road

Cinnamon Collection Masterclasses

Patara – Berners Street

Sindhu by Atul Kochhar

Langkawi – more than beaches

Reims - Tasteful Souvenirs

Rennes – living with history

Rennes

Bayeux – A stitch in time


 
 
 
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Black Garlic Ketchup by Hawkshead Relish

black garlic Black garlic isn’t a special variety of garlic – like black-leg chickens, etc. This is actually caramelised garlic and has long been used as an ingredient in Asian dishes. It is made by heating whole bulbs of garlic slowly for a few weeks. Over the heating period the garlic naturally darkens in colour and changes its pungent raw flavour to something more rounded and mellow.

Black Garlic Ketchup by Hawkshead Relish is a rather unique condiment. It is truly black, making this a striking garnish for white meat or even some fish dishes. Black garlic bulbs are crushed and combined with fresh tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, along with spices and Anglesey Sea Salt. It’s rich and quite aromatic with a tang from the balsamic. It has lost the harsh edge of raw garlic but the ketchup imparts depth to any dish in or on which it is used. This would look and taste spectacular as a finishing flourish to grilled king prawns over white rice. Very dramatic.

Black Garlic Ketchup by Hawkshead Relish is gluten free, it contains added sugar, and is suitable for vegans.

Nutritional Info: Vegetarian, and 100% GMO-free.


food and travel reviews

Mezcal Amores

mezcal Mezcal? Isn’t that a brand of tequila? No – they are slightly different beverages but with great similarities in both taste and production methods.

Tequila and mezcal are made from agave which grows in many parts of Mexico. Most mezcal is made in Oaxaca. Tequila must be made from blue agave and mezcal should not be made from blue agave. Mezcal can be produced from more than 30 different varieties of agave but agave espadin is the most popular. Mezcals will vary in flavour much more than do tequilas, due to the range of agaves from which they can be made.

In Mexico, mezcal is generally consumed straight rather than being mixed as part of a cocktail. It is often served with sliced oranges sprinkled with a mixture of ground fried larvae, ground chili and a salt called sal de gusano, which literally translates as "worm salt". Yes, a dried version of the ‘worm’ sometimes found in bottles of these distilled drinks – and those are the ones I avoid!

The agave plant is resilient and adapts to changes in climate. Through the process of photosynthesis it turns water and CO2 into starches (inulin). Once the plant reaches maturity it produces a flower. It does this only once in its long life of perhaps two decades. The flower has to be removed as soon as it appears; the main leaves are cut leaving just the fleshy inside cone or piña which is dug up. This vital ingredient of mezcal can weigh up to 100kg.

For most tequilas, the piñas are baked in steam ovens. Mezcal can also be produced in this manner although, traditionally, the piñas are roasted in an underground pit filled with burning wood and rocks. It’s this process that gives mezcal its distinct and lingering smoky taste. Tequila agave is shredded, but mescal agave is pressed to extract the juice.

The brand Mezcal Amores was founded in 2010 by a group of friends who, after making several trips to different mescal-producing states in Mexico, developed a love for the drink. The adventure encouraged them to create a product that showcases the best of its traditions and quality. They wanted to find a smooth and balanced mezcal but one which still displayed characteristics of the classic spirit.

I tasted the unaged Mezcal Amores from Oaxaca. This was a surprisingly smooth spirit with great character for such a youthful mezcal. This would be a perfect drink for sipping – no shots in this house. Its smoky finish makes this the drink of choice for a night by the log fire.

Tasting notes: Complex with hints of hazelnuts, sandalwood and cinnamon. It has a long finish with plenty of smoke. Delicious!


food and travel reviews

Donald Russell Lamb Saddle stuffed with Spinach and Garlic

Donald Russell It’s Spring, and Easter is just around the corner. That’s a time for family lunches, and often lamb is the centrepiece!

Sunday lunch can be a pain. Family are gathering and they all want something seasonal and memorable. But complicated recipes and a long list of ingredients don’t do the home cook any favours. What’s needed is a ready-stuffed roast which is appropriate for the holiday.

Donald Russell Lamb Saddle stuffed with Spinach, Feta and Garlic will impress. It’s a definite Greek theme with the salty feta cheese seasoning the meat. It doesn’t melt and become gooey as would a cheddar cheese, but incorporates itself with the spinach into the stuffing, and allows for easy slicing.

Donald Russell Lamb Saddle is no trouble to cook. Just sear in a hot oven for fifteen minutes and then reduce the heat for the remainder of the cooking time. For best results allow the joint to rest – just cover with foil and a tea towel and allow it to stand for 20 minutes or so, while your side dishes continue to cook in the oven. Slice the lamb thinly and serve with roast potatoes and a platter of oven-roasted veggies such as a melange of sweet potatoes, red onions, carrots and parsnips.

Donald Russell Make Easter lunch memorable by serving this tender and flavourful stuffed lamb. It serves 4 hungry people and looks so tempting. It’s succulent, juicy, grass-fed UK lamb and is topped with a sprig of fresh rosemary. It’s fully deboned (except the foreshank bone) for easy carving. Serve slightly pink for best eating and for the sheer beauty of it! This roast will also make a wonderful addition to a Spring buffet!

Donald Russell foods never disappoint. They are ideal for entertaining without stress.

View this delicious roast here http://www.donaldrussell.com/lamb-saddle-stuffed-with-spinach-and-garlic-l805.html

Read more Donald Russell product reviews here.

food and travel reviews

 

Montcalm Hotel - Finsbury Square

MontcalmLondon attracts tourists and it has done for generations. The city is still an international financial hub, and London has a vibrant creative arts scene and an energetic restaurant industry. But where can one stay to be within easy reach of both work and play in this cosmopolitan and magnetic corner of Europe?

Finsbury Square is in central London. It is a grassy open area which was originally developed in 1777 on the site of a previous green spot near Moorfields. It’s conveniently close to the transport links of Moorgate station, Liverpool Street station and Old Street station. Lots of bus routes connect the Square with other parts of London. A 76 bus can be found just around the corner, which will take a visitor past St Pauls Cathedral, down Fleet Street, past the historic Law Courts (often seen on BBC broadcasts) and across Waterloo Bridge to the eponymous train station via the South Bank with its numerous festivals.

Anyone keeping an eye on trending eateries and bars in London will have discovered Shoreditch. It seems like every new restaurant or drinking establishment is opening its doors to this buzzing neighbourhood, and it’s not far away to the north.

Montcalm Hotel - Finsbury SquareThe new Montcalm is close to the financial district, offering quick and easy access for those unfortunate souls who are here to work. Go to the 10th floor Aviary bar and restaurant and stand out on the open-air terrace to see how close those iconic city buildings might be. That’s a glorious place to be on a sunny day. Breakfast is served here, and a very fine one it is, too. They offer all the usual suspects – everything from a Full English to fruit and yoghurt – but don’t miss the breakfast bars of considerable dimensions, which are packed with grains and cereals and dried fruit.

This hotel exudes sophisticated chic. There is a spa, a gym (likely appreciated by those chained to the office), two restaurants, meeting rooms – everything a discerning business guest might expect from this standard of accommodation. But it’s the wall treatments and use of leather and unique light fixtures that impress. It’s rather masculine but in no way tacky or testosterone-driven. It’s a hotel that will likely have near-universal appeal.

Montcalm Hotel - Finsbury Square The relaxing neutral shades punctuated by dashes of bold colour and the twinkle of contemporary chandeliers speak of accessible luxury. The rooms are well-proportioned, and appointed with state-of-the-art technology and fixtures to inspire anyone considering a home-remodelling. Bathrooms are spacious with shower cubicles in which to roam in rain. The technology extends to wall-pad controls for lighting and air conditioning. All very sleek and marvellously understated.

Montcalm Royal London House is very much to my taste. In the end a reviewer can only express that, and its outstanding location speaks for itself. It’s perfect for those needing access to the city but it’s also ideal for the family which might be travelling with them. There is plenty to see and do just a short distance from the hotel, and the transport links will allow the visitor to enjoy much of iconic London from the top of a red bus.
I am happy to recommend Montcalm Royal London House for its attractive and polished presentation and individual charm.

Montcalm Royal London House City of London
22-25, Finsbury Square
London, EC2A 1DX

Tel: +44 (0) 20 3873 4000
Fax: +44 (0) 20 3873 4249

Email: info@montcalmroyallondoncity.co.uk

Visit Montcalm Royal London House here.


food and travel reviews

Vietnam Eye – Contemporary Vietnamese Art

This is the most comprehensive tome on contemporary art in Vietnam today. It is a page-turner for any art lover but it also appeals to the traveller.

Vietnam eye Vietnam has developed in every way over the past decade. The world has access to its culture, food and landscape, along with its traditional art. But Vietnam also has an evident and thriving contemporary art community and much of the work of those artists is showcased in this superb book, Vietnam Eye – Contemporary Vietnamese Art. There have been more than half a dozen other volumes in the “Eye” series, covering Malaysia, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, and this one is dedicated to dozens of emerging Vietnamese artists.

The book is edited by Serenella Ciclitira and published by SKIRA. Alongside detailed information on each artist is an in-depth look at Vietnam’s burgeoning and popular art scene. This is an essential book on the fresh art of Vietnam. It will appeal to artists of every genre but also to those who have visited this remarkable country.

There is so much between these pages that is both beautiful and thought-provoking. I love the sensitivity of the realist art of Tran Van Thuc. These life-like models of old women speak volumes on the passage of time and the aging human condition. Le Thuy presents silk painting of outstanding quality: the ‘Order’ series is subtle and beautiful. Le Vu offers humour in the guise of instant noodles posing as a bed – a full-size bed!

Vietnam Eye – Contemporary Vietnamese Art is a joy. It’s sumptuous and disturbing in equal measure. It presents stories on bright canvases. It looks at Vietnam through the eyes of the Vietnamese. It begs the viewer to ask questions. It touches on tradition and innovation – and displays local materials and techniques along with those from the west.

Editor Serenella Ciclitira has an honours degree in art history from Trinity College, Dublin and has worked extensively with artists and galleries throughout the world.

Vietnam Eye – Contemporary Vietnamese Art
Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: Skira Editore
Price: £38.00
ISBN-10: 885723360X
ISBN-13: 978-8857233604

food and travel reviews

Penrhiw Hotel St Davids

penrhiw St Davids will tick so many boxes for those looking for a quiet retreat for a few days. A corner of the UK with natural charm, history, fresh air, good food and quiet – at least outside peak summer popularity.

St Davids has its beautiful Cathedral, making this small town technically a city and the smallest city in the UK. It’s perhaps at its most beautiful in the spring with a backdrop of blue sky and the yellow sheen of daffs all around. And autumn brings its own tapestry of rust hues. The coast isn’t far away, with its magnificent beaches and walks.

But where to stay? Penrhiw Hotel St Davids is just a few minutes’ walk from the cathedral door. That isn’t estate agent speak for a brisk canter of a brace of miles. This former vicarage truly is conveniently placed for both town and cathedral, but with the tranquillity of nature as far as the eye can see.

Penrhiw was acquired by the Griffiths Roch Foundation in 2009 and reopened as a luxury eight-bedroom hotel in 2012. It’s a hotel but with the persona of a home. Granted, that home is grander and better situated than the abodes of many of its visitors, me included, but it has that air, nevertheless. It was built in the 19th century amid acres of private gardens, with mature trees, woodland paths, a river, and views over the surrounding countryside.

Penrhiw Hotel is a lovely example of Victorian architecture in a style which has been described as Tudorbethan, although the house dates back to an era before that phrase became popular at the turn of the 20th century. There are also two beautiful fireplaces with decorative tiles by William De Morgan, the celebrated Arts and Crafts ceramics maker. Its interior has been splendidly restored, retaining features of its semi-ecclesiastic past. There are niches, gothic doors, woodwork aplenty and neutral colours.

penrhiw The public rooms are cosy and all rooms are well-proportioned. The walls are hung with contemporary art canvases and all mod cons are here, as one would expect from 5-star accommodation. There is an honour bar in the dining room, and a tea and coffee station. There isn’t a restaurant, although a cooked breakfast is served here. Don’t miss the Welsh speciality of laverbread. There are complimentary transfers available to the AA-2-Rosette Blas Restaurant at Twr y Felin for dinner; it’s also part of this group of notable hotels. Luggage transfers are available for guests staying at either of the sister hotels, the abovementioned former windmill Twr y Felin, or 12th century Roch Castle. (See my reviews here.)

penrhiw The staircase is carpeted with leather and there are rugs of the same material in some of the bedrooms. The owners have made all three of their hotels comfortable for those with allergies. There are six rooms in the main house. Our room sported a large and comfortable four-poster but a modern take on that bed. The bathroom was as big as many a lesser hotel bedroom, with a shower cubicle of considerable size. Penrhiw Hotel, St Davids, was awarded AA Five-star Gold guest accommodation in 2016 and it’s easy to see why.

Penrhiw Hotel is an ideal bolt-hole for a quiet weekend away but one can also hire the whole place for a family reunion, a wedding or celebration of anything for the discerning. It offers privacy with amenity and seclusion, with all the trappings of a city, albeit the smallest in the UK, just 10 minutes’ walk away. We will return.

Penrhiw Hotel
St Davids
Pembrokeshire
SA62 6PG
Wales

Phone: +44 (0)1437 725 588

Email: stay@penrhiwhotel.com

Visit Penrhiw Hotel 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

Current articles

Eneko at One Aldwych

Eneko
Restaurant review: Eneko opened in London last year and is a sibling of one of the Basque region’s most celebrated restaurants, Azurmendi, by Eneko Atxa, outside Bilbao. That has three Michelin stars and is listed on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants... Read More

The Garden House Restaurant, Beaverbrook

beaverbrook Restaurant review: Head Chef Kaz Suzuki was born in Japan and moved to New Zealand at the age of 14. He brings a unique flair to the Garden House Restaurant where he offers fresh and seasonal ingredients in both classic and innovative dishes... Read More

Risotto! Risotto!

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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

lobby bar 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

The Garden House – a stay with friends

Garden House
Hotel review: This truly is a ‘garden’ house. It was originally a small building (in comparison to the mansion up the road) but has been extended, although it still retains the character of a cosy cottage. Many of the public rooms are intimate, giving the impression of home rather than hotel... Read More

Castle Hotel Windsor

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Mainz – arrive by River

Mainz by river
Travel review: This is a beautiful and cultured city and accessible from the river. One walks a few yards from the Rhine and the history of Mainz unfolds. There are 2000 years of human habitation here so plenty to discover... Read More

Taruzake – cedar difference

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

Savini of Milan – at home in London

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Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill, Windsor

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Bali – more than a beach

bali
Travel review: It was once only visited by Australians but these days, with regular flights with Singapore Airlines and their subsidiaries, Bali is open to the whole world. The very name ‘Bali’ conjures visions of palm trees, azure sea lapping on golden sands... Read More

Travels in Germany with MS Jane Austen

Jane austen Travel review: It sounds like the title of a Victorian novel - Travels with MS Jane Austen! Well, it is actually a few words about a delightful cruise, rather than about a literary excursion with a famous author. All the cruises in this collection from Riviera offer return travel and transfers, so it couldn’t be easier to connect with your cruise and start enjoying the experience... Read More

The Hague’s fashion souvenirs

the hague fashion
Travel review: We are going on a well-deserved city break, but what does the discerning and well-turned-out shopper bring back? Well, usually nothing apart from a bottle of duty-free. But the fashion-conscious will find so much in the stylish and elegant Hague to bring home. There are design souvenirs aplenty... Read More

Banana Bread

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Jamavar comes to Mayfair

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Luton Hoo to Stay

Luton Hoo
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Castle Hotel Windsor Afternoon Tea - Sofitel Sensory Storytelling

Castle Hotel Windsor
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Givenchy and Hepburn at Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

Givenchy and Hepburn
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The Homemade Curing Kits from Ross and Ross

Ross and ross salmon
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Montigo in Batam Indonesia

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The Montague Hotel – best après-skiing in London

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Heidelberg - Elegant and Sweet

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Parlay Ultra Black Rum

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Champagne Taittinger at Luton Hoo

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Castles and Clans with The Majestic Line

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The Swan at the Globe

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Hotel TerraVina Dining

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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

Opium
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

Donna Margherita

Donna Margherita Restaurant review: Donna Margherita is an Italian restaurant and wood-fired pizzeria, and it launched my restaurant reviewing career a few years back. This was one of my first review visits and I was taken by its intimate ambiance as well as its authentic Italian food. But would it be a case of ‘you can never go back’?... Read More

The Talbot to Stay

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Umami Kelp and Wasabi – an introduction

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Balmer Lawn – New Forest Stay

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The Talbot for fine dining

The Talbot
Restaurant review: The Talbot has history. It’s typical of coaching inns all over the country and this one, in particular, has a story – well, probably many. It is said to have provided the venue for assignations between Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton in 1798... Read More

Balans Soho Society – Seven Dials

balans Restaurant review: I have had many a vibrant Brunch at Balans and I am drawn there for the Eggs in Hell – 2 eggs poached in a tomato chilli sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan, and Balans potatoes. It should be a signature dish... Read More

Anise Bar at Devonshire Square

anise Bar review: One might not have heard of Anise Bar but it’s likely the discerning diner will have heard of Cinnamon Kitchen by Vivek Singh. Perhaps one might not have heard of Devonshire Square but everyone has heard of the City of London. There are associations with India in the very fabric of the buildings here... Read More

Keats Brownie Recipe

Keats Recipe: Perhaps the best Brownie you will ever eat. This comes from the popular Keats Restaurant in Romsey... (opens printable page) Read More

Olive Tree Southampton

Olive Tree Southampton Restaurant review: This was my first visit to Southampton but finding good food wasn’t going to be a challenge: I had a recommendation! A French/Seafood restaurant called Olive Tree, on the popular Oxford Street, had a major refurbishment last January and now has a new inspired Head Chef called Todd Higgs... Read More

Salsa Verde from Olive Tree Southampton

Salsa Verde fron Oliver Tree Southampton
Recipe: By Head Chef Todd Higgs. Salsa Verde is a labour of love: all the herbs must be chopped by hand to achieve the best texture. Then simply add the mustard, olive oil and as many anchovies as suits your taste... Read More

Patty and Bun – Old Compton Street

Patty and Bun – Old Compton Street
Restaurant review: It’s a menu of burgers but don’t be a food snob: a burger is as good as its meat and the meal is as good as the burger and its garnishes. Trust me, you need to eat here, or you do if you are any stripe of burger aficionado... Read More

Rafute - Okinawan braised pork belly

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

Canela Café at Seven Dials

Canela Café at Seven Dials Restaurant review: Canela Café is small and cosy. Its high ceiling and Victorian urban windows add character to this eatery. Its paintwork and marble-top tables and chandelier remind one of such places all over Europe, but the map on the wall points emphatically to Portugal!... Read More

Beresford’s at Balmer Lawn for a touch of Thai

Balmer Lawn lobster Recipe: Don’t miss a visit to Beresford’s, and Lobster Lemongrass Lime Leaf Risotto is a must-try. It has all the aromatic flavours of traditional Thai curries but without the heat. There is nothing to overpower the delicate taste of the seafood. If you can’t get to Beresford’s for a while then here is the recipe... Read More

The Meat Co, Westfield, Shepherds Bush

Meat co
Restaurant review: I live in West London and I can say with a degree of authority that a decade ago Shepherds Bush was, on a good day, seedy. But since it opened in 2008, Westfield shopping centre has transformed the area and the improvements continue, revitalising a whole neighbourhood... Read More

Hotel TerraVina for Bed and Breakfast

TerraVina Hotel review: We are blessed with many fine hotels in the UK. All the 5* chains are well represented in all major cities. But we also have a wealth of boutique and Country House hotels and each is unique and characterful. The New Forest is beautiful and mostly unspoilt and it also has hotels which reflect the area’s style... Read More

CAU Kingston

CAU Restaurant review: People say it’s all about location. That’s probably true, as there is no finer spot than CAU in Kingston on a hot summer evening. Sitting outside with just a footpath between the diner and the Thames, one can bask in warm contentment, lifting a glass and the silverware being the only exertions... Read More

Remelluri Organic Winery

Remelluri
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

Hanger SW6

Hanger Restaurant review: Fulham is trendy these days, but it wasn’t always such a sought-after address. In 879 Danish invaders had a winter break at Fulham and Hammersmith. Fulham during the 18th century had a reputation of debauchery, prostitution and gambling. My grandfather lived in Fulham... 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

Mele e Pere – a steak in Soho

Mele e Pere Restaurant review: Mele e Pere opened in the heart of Soho in February 2012, but that neighbourhood dates back centuries. In the Middle Ages, what is now Soho was known as St Giles Field, land belonging to the Convent of Abingdon, with its leper hospital. In 1536, the land was taken by Henry VIII... Read More

Brunch Counter – Vauxhall Arches

Counter Vauxhall
Restaurant review: One could easily miss it! Counter truly is under the arches at Vauxhall station. Its entrance is understated but don’t pass by. This is worth a visit at any time of day. It has great character and is something of a Tardis... Read More

Romulo Café London

Romulo Restaurant review: This is a leafy corner of the capital. It’s not a neighbourhood of steel and glass. This is the preserve of people who actually live here and those who choose to visit this end of Kensington High Street to seek out a little charm and calm. Now there is a new draw... Read More

Stuzzico in London’s village

Stuzzico Restaurant review: Talk about London and it’s likely a conversation about financial hubs (yes, even now after Brexit), the bustle of Oxford Street, the draw of Theatreland and the Tower of London will ensue. But London is actually made up of villages which remain far more charming and welcoming than the thronging thoroughfares... Read More

Saturday Brunch at OXBO

oxbo Restaurant review: This isn’t my first visit to OXBO and it won’t be my last. Yes, dear reader, it’s a restaurant in a hotel but it has very individual and quirky charm, and food to appeal to even the pickiest of eaters. Its weekend Brunches and Roasts are becoming celebrated and visitors to London couldn’t find a better location... Read More

Forman’s Restaurant

Forman's Restaurant Restaurant review: London is moving east. There has been much investment in an area that already had good transport links. New building for both housing and commerce has revitalised local economies and indeed aspirations. H. Forman is best placed to enjoy the benefits of a rising population that appreciates tastes of the good life... Read More

Le Garrick – Steak with je ne sais quoi

Le Garrick – Steak with je ne sais quoi Restaurant review: Le Garrick restaurant and wine bar is conveniently located in the heart of Covent Garden in London’s West End. I am no stranger here even though this neighbourhood has a wealth of restaurants of every culinary hue. It’s a timeless treasure and became one of my favourite restaurants after that very first visit... Read More

Talli Joe

Talli Joe
Restaurant review: The name had me curious from the start. There is an explanation, however. Joe is a ‘regular Joe’ indicating a casual inclusiveness and he could be from anywhere and going anywhere. That just about sums up London. The restaurant describes the Talli element thus:... 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

Cream Tea Cruise from MBNA Thames Clippers

Cream Tea Cruise from MBNA Thames Clippers
British travel review: I am a Londoner and I am ashamed to say that I rarely take advantage of visiting our iconic and internationally-appreciated historic and cultural sites, unless I just happen to be passing. The Thames is our ancient thoroughfare... Read More

Gillray’s at County Hall

Gillrays
Restaurant review: As with any building, and as any estate agent worth his clip-board will tell you, it’s all about location. Gillray’s must have one of the best, and it’s also housed in an iconic London landmark... 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

Benares for dinner

Benares for dinner Restaurant review: Situated in the heart of Mayfair, Benares serves Michelin-starred modern Indian cuisine and is famed for doing that. This is fine dining and gives other such restaurants a run for their culinary money, and that’s restaurants of any gastronomic persuasion... 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

Sunday Brunch - Kurobuta Marble Arch

Kurobuta
Restaurant review: I confess, I had no idea what to expect. Yes, it was going to be Japanese. But a Sunday Brunch Buffet? In my admittedly somewhat limited experience, Japanese food comes in two varieties: first – casual noodles; second – etiquette-riddled kaiseki cuisine... Read More

Forty Dean Street

Forty Dean Street
Restaurant review: Soho, in general, has been famed for Chinese food, but there are great numbers of decent restaurants of other culinary persuasions these days. Forty Dean Street is the eponymous restaurant and it is Italian. I mean the sort of Italian that I remember from my childhood... Read More

The Mayfair Chippy

The Mayfair Chippy Restaurant review: Nothing better than traditional fish and chips. It’s nostalgic comfort food, at least if you are British. We all have memories of queueing up in a white-tiled shop with steamy windows, a high counter with glass jars of pickled gherkins and eggs, bottles of brown vinegar and salt shakers. For those who hail from beyond these shores that emporium of fried delights was called ‘the chippy’... Read More

Bó Drake – Greek Street

Bo Drake - Greek Street
Restaurant review: Bó Drake has an urban vibe with high stools at the bar, exposed brickwork and metal conduit. And it’s an impressive bar of around 10 metres with an iroko (African teak) wood counter. The shelves behind the bar give a hint to the cuisine (as if the restaurant name had not already)... Read More

The Balcon, London – classic perfection

Balcon Restaurant review: This truly memorable restaurant is set on Waterloo Place on the corner with Pall Mall. This wide thoroughfare is in fact an extension of Regent Street with all its smart shops. It’s a small area with a host of statues and monuments that honour heroes and statesmen of the British Empire and various wars... Read More

Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte

Relais de Venise L'Entrecote
Restaurant review: Ask many a dedicated food lover which dishes they crave, what their elected last meal might be, and they will almost universally state that it has to be unfussy and comforting, something like, say, steak and chips. Relais de Venise L’Entrecôte is... Read More

Arabica Bar and Kitchen – Borough Market

Arabica Restaurant review: Borough has been known for its food markets since as far back as the 11th century. First the stallholders were trading on old London Bridge, but then in the 13th century they were moved to what became Borough High Street. A market has been here ever since... Read More

Lotus – Fine Indian Dining

Lotus Restaurant review: The Charing Cross Road near Leicester Square Underground Station has not been famed for quality Indian restaurants. I confess I had never heard of Lotus but I arrived with high expectations as I had done my homework... 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

Patara – Berners Street

Patara Berners Street
Restaurant review: Oxford Street is one of London’s retail arteries. It’s a ribbon of fashion outlets from the celebrated and well-established Selfridges to a flourishing number of stalls selling trashy T-shirts and even more dubious souvenirs. The world of both good and bad taste can be your oyster... Read More

Sindhu by Atul Kochhar, with Head Chef Gopal Krishnan

Sindhu by Atul Kochhar
Restaurant review: I first met Chef Gopalakrishnan when he was working at a Michelin-starred restaurant in London; a smart and charismatic young man who is known by his friends simply as Gopal. He was born in a small village called Sholingur in Tamil Nadu... Read More

Langkawi – more than beaches

Langkawi - more than beaches
Malaysia travel review: This tropical gem has a deserved reputation for iconic, palm-fringed beaches, dazzling white sand and sea warm enough to call a bath. Langkawi is an island that charms and intrigues, and its story can be discovered not far from your sun-lounger... 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 – living with history

Rennes history
French travel review: History is everywhere in Rennes but it’s actually considered by thoroughly modern folks to be one of the most liveable cities in France... 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

Gymkhana London

Gymkhana
Restaurant review: Gymkhana is an Indian word which originally referred to a meeting place. These days it tends to be an equestrian day event put on by posh pony clubs; but not in this case. Gymkhana in London does fit into the ‘meeting place’ category... Read More

Bayeux – A stitch in time

Bayeux
French travel review: It’s inevitable that the first thing people think of when you mention Bayeux is the tapestry. Though it’s not actually a tapestry but a very fine embroidery. The Bayeux Tapestry is now on permanent display in a bespoke museum in the city of Bayeux in Normandy, France... Read More

Fontenay Abbey

Fontenay Abbey
French travel review: That’s the beauty of barge travel - it relaxes the mind and makes space for civilized exercises such as the pursuit of good food and wine and culture. The Abbey at Fontenay was just a little way away from the canal run and the excursion... Read More

Bound by history, carved in stone - Normandy and England

Caen
French travel review: We share so much. Those Norsemen who pillaged the coast of Britain and settled inland also did the same in France, and indeed in such numbers that a region took their name – Normandy... Read More

La Belle Epoque – 5-star floating through Burgundy

La belle Epoque
French travel review: A barge, even a big one, presents the very real prospect of tight accommodations, iffy facilities... Read More


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Capital Spice - chefs, restaurants and recipes
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21 great London Indian chefs, over 100
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