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Café Wolseley At Bicester Village By Fiona Sanderson

It’s a quiet Tuesday in the middle of August, but Bicester Village – a designer outlet shopping centre in the heart of Oxfordshire – is positively bustling. Clearly a preferential place to shop away from the hustle and hurry of Harrods and Bond Street, Bicester has become a successful go-to shopping destination in its own right. It’s artificial “street” of shops is the same length as London’s Oxford Street, and it is now more popular than other more traditional British tourist attractions, such as the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum and the Tower of London. In 2016 alone, a reported 6.4 million shoppers flocked to Bicester’s prettily landscaped site in order to spend, spend and spend a bit more.

How fitting then, that one of the most “must be seen at” restaurants in London has opened here. Café Wolseley At Bicester Village is the latest venture by parent company Corbin & King, and the group’s first outside London. It’s also the home of the first Wolseley Shop, which offers such delights as candles, crystal glassware, antique silver, chocolate truffles, fine wine and champagne.

The style and features of this new site will be immediately recognisable to anyone familiar with Corbin & King’s West End flagship, The Wolseley, and on our visit, we were glad to see more than just ladies that shop – it’s clearly also a place where businessmen can chill in the black and white cool of the room, with its black and white tiles and black chairs. With good-sized table space, this was a welcome retreat with the busy buzz of the shoppers in Dolce & Gabbana opposite. Bicester always seems to be heaving at midday, so it’s best to come early in the morning and spend a couple of hours before relaxing at lunchtime. Certainly, by 3 pm, the restaurant was completely full and continued to be for the rest of the afternoon.

Café Wolseley is not just a place for lunch, however. Open from 8.30 am, it’s also ideal for breakfast. Come the afternoon, it serves afternoon tea too. For the more time-pressed among you, there is The Counter – a take-away counter to grab coffee and cake on the go.

We were in no rush to run off anywhere, however, and settled in to enjoy a hearty lunch. We had the fresh smoked salmon – which was delicious – followed by paillard of chicken with salad – the perfect choice for a lunchtime bite. We also tried their classic wiener schnitzel (also available with chicken) served with lingonberry compote, which is a classic Wolseley dish with a hint of summer. We then followed up with two generous glasses of zesty pinot grigio!

There’s perhaps not as much on offer as you’d find on the London menu but when you are at Bicester to find that perfect outfit, you don’t want too many choices! The prices of the Bicester Village menu are very reasonable too, and reflect the out-of-town location.

Café Wolseley is well worth visiting if you come to Bicester. A wonderful place to rest and revive before continuing with your shopping, it’s a welcome addition to the centre’s foodie scene. Book in advance to avoid disappointment!

For more information about Cafe Wolseley at Bicester Village, click here.

The American Bar At The Stafford London – A Journey Through Secret St James’s By Hannah Norman

It’s one of only a handful of original American Bars left in London that retains that name, designed to cater for the first mass influx of travellers from the US in the 1930s. But The American Bar at The Stafford London Hotel is consistently re-inventing itself, and a recent re-imagining of the entire bar area has come complete with an all-new cocktail menu. The Luxury Channel headed into the heart of secret St James’s to check it out….

Inspired by the history of The Stafford’s illustrious surroundings, the majority of the cocktails shaken and served in The American Bar find the roots of their names in the stories and the streets around the hotel. But for every bit of history that could be used for the menu, there are equally as many dark secrets that had to be understandably overlooked. Pickering Place, for instance – the smallest public square in England – was not only previously used for bear baiting in its day, but was also the site of the infamous last dual in England. Although by that time, it had become a place where respectable ladies refused, if not feared, to tread – quite a marked difference from the quaint little square of today!

Who better to take us on a tour through the secret passages and secluded streets of St James’s to unearth every corner of its history than The Stafford’s Executive Head Concierge, Frank Laino? A member of the prestigious Les Clefs d’Or and voted by Virtuoso as the World’s Best Concierge, Laino is endearingly approachable and refreshingly funny. His re-telling of some of London’s darkest secrets was as impassioned as it was erudite, and we were instantly beguiled by his stories.

We started our tour a mere stone’s throw away from the hotel, at the majestic Spencer House, one of only two private stately residences left in London (the other being Apsley House, former home of the Duke of Wellington at Hyde Park). Owned by the Spencer Family, to whom Princess Diana was related, Spencer House now caters for private functions, and the beauty of the building and its interiors are a true sight to behold if you are ever lucky enough to come here.

A work of art in itself, the house is adorned with fantastic objects – Bacchus, the God of Wine, decorates the doors; a torch that was used in the Olympic relay in 2012 glints in the afternoon sunlight; and a lantern is suspended from the ceiling that, it transpires, once adorned the barge of the Doge of Venice (although, given the incredible size of the lantern, one wonders as to the enormity and subsequent splendour of the barge). The Painted Room is also well worth a look, if not for its original furniture pieces, then for one of the murals on the wall of two rather dour-looking women each flanked by a cherub. The rumour is that these were the two great aunts of the first Lord Spencer, who objected to his marriage to Georgiana Poyntz. He in turn objected to their indignation, and not only went ahead with the marriage but he then instructed James Athenian Stuart – the Painted Room’s designer – to incorporate them unflatteringly into the room’s design. Or so the rumour regarding their identity goes….

Just around the corner from Spencer House in the hustle and bustle of St James’s Road is Lock & Co, the world’s oldest hat shop. The conformateur – a device used for measuring both the size and the shape of your head – was in continual use during our visit, calling in as we did just ahead of Royal Ascot. The head measurements of various famous figures are framed on the walls of the shop, including David Gandy, Gary Oldman and Charlie Chaplain. Oh, and also a letter from Oscar Wilde’s agent enclosing a cheque for the £3.30 Wilde owed but hadn’t paid, because when the bill was sent, the playwright had in fact been serving time at Her Majesty’s pleasure in Reading Prison (the cheque itself was never cashed, and this too can be seen on the wall).

Returning to The American Bar, we could have sat outside in The Stafford’s beautiful cobbled courtyard, a hidden sun trap in central London that is just begging to be enjoyed with a long drink, a fine cigar and the company of good friends. However, we opted to stay inside and see the renovation of The American Bar itself. Helmed by bar manager Benoit Provost – actually only the third head barman in the hotel’s whole history, and who himself has been at the hotel since 1993 – we settled into the plush seating to enjoy delicious canapés prepared by the hotel’s Culinary Director, Ben Tish. Oh my, do you have to try the pea croquettes! A moreish burst of vibrant green, these little breaded bundles of yum were the perfect bar snack to devour whilst waiting for our drinks order to arrive.

Since we were discovering the secret side of St James’s, it was only appropriate that we discovered a few secrets at The Stafford too. Deep beneath the bowels of the hotel lies the 400 year old wine cellar, overseen by Master Sommelier Gino Nardella, which houses some 10,000 bottles of wine. The cellars also house a very special WWII Museum, containing authentic pieces seemingly left in situ (including ceremonial flags, browning newspaper clippings and eerie-looking gas masks) from the days when American and Canadian soldiers used the cellars during the war. If you want to see this impressive secret space for yourself, you need only ask a member of staff if they can arrange it.

It was then back upstairs to The American Bar for some theatre. That is really the only word I can use to describe the arrival of our drinks. Anyone who orders an Oppenheimer is in for a treat and then some, as this brilliant blue liquid, served in a diamond-shaped glass, is then placed on a rotating black tray to catch the light and sparkle in all its alcoholic glory. Whisky lovers can’t go too far wrong with the coffee-tinged smoothness of Three Dots And A Dash, and the strength of the rum in The Birdcage gave this refreshing cocktail a lovely kick at the end. Those who don’t fancy a hard drink are rewarded with a choice of The Scoop and The Republic mocktails. My personal favourite of all the cocktails, however, is the gin-based White Mouse.

It was named in honour of The American Bar’s most famous patron, Nancy Wake, who actually lived in the hotel for two years towards the end of her life. When she died, the hotel absorbed the majority of the cost of her stay; the reason being that Wake was one of the allies’ greatest assets and most decorated servicewoman of the Second World War. A resourceful resistance fighter, she was nicknamed The White Mouse due to the fact that she was frequently cornered, albeit never captured by the Nazis, and at one point was the Gestapo’s most wanted person with a 5 million franc price on her head. Bar manager Provost remembers her fondly, as do most of the staff who knew this larger than life character, who would take up her usual spot at the bar night after night to hold court. Today, a Karen Newman-sculpted bust honours her position, not just at the bar, but also in history.

We left as The American Bar began to fill up for the evening, as hotel residents joined those seeking a sanctuary to enjoy after-work drinks. The perfect place in which to escape, The American Bar should become your new local in London (yes, even if you don’t live here). Pick “your” perfect spot to sit in the bar, and then work your way through the cocktail menu. There’s a little piece of London’s history waiting to be discussed in every glass.

Contact Information

For further information about The Stafford London Hotel, click here.

For further information about The American Bar, click here.

For further information about Spencer House, click here.

Celebrating Afternoon Tea Week By The Luxury Channel

In anticipation of Afternoon Tea Week, which runs from Monday 14th – Friday 18th August, we thought we’d bring you our round-up of the finest afternoon teas in London. But first, for the history – so grab a cup of tea and have a read!

Afternoon Tea Week was established to help secure a tradition that has graced British afternoons since the 1840s. In those days, dinner often wasn’t served until 8pm, and lunch wasn’t a recognised meal, so what was a hungry person to do? Traditionally, afternoon tea consisted of tiny finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and sweet dainties like cakes and pastries to help lift the spirits, bolster energy, and see you through the rest of the day.

As the name suggests, tea was a central part of this meal, a tradition started by Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford. She often found herself feeling weary or worn down in the middle of the day, and a pot of tea with a snack seemed to be the best way to take care of it. She soon invited friends to join her for walks in the field, and thus the tradition that would become Afternoon Tea began.

This simple afternoon meal soon grew into a recognised social event, especially for those in the upper echelons of the day’s society. Afternoon tea became even more prominent once Queen Victoria herself partook of the tradition. From that moment on, the concept of the ‘‘tea reception’’ was born, with lavish afternoon repasts that could host anywhere from a close collection of friends to a couple hundred of society’s most important faces.

To continue the tradition today, we bring you a selection of the must-visit restaurants serving some of London’s finest afternoon teas:

Fashionable Afternoon Tea at Thomas’s Café At Burberry

This August, enjoy Afternoon Tea Week at the fashionable Thomas’s Café in Burberry’s flagship store at 121 Regent Street. Take a front row seat in the heart of London while enjoying a quintessentially British afternoon. Afternoon Tea includes a complimentary glass of Nyetimber rosé, an assortment of finger sandwiches, tea cakes, and miniature British favourite finger cakes, including Victoria sandwich and lemon drizzle, served alongside Thomas’s signature pale orange fondant fancy and apple crumble choux bun. Dine in style while watching the fashion world’s finest come and go.

For reservations, contact Thomas’s Café At Burberry on +44 (0)20 3159 1410, or book via OpenTable at www.opentable.co.uk/thomass.

Japanese Afternoon Tea at Sosharu

For an indulgence that will transport you to the Far East, head to Sosharu for their Japanese-inspired afternoon tea. Centred around the tea ceremony traditions of Japan, the menu features iconic wagashi (confectionary) of the sweet and savoury variety, alongside unique tea blends and specially designed cocktails. The menu replaces traditional British fare with Japanese treats ranging from open tamaki to matcha iced fingers and Taiyaki, a fish-shaped cake filled with white chocolate crème patisserie and seasonal fruits.

Available at Sosharu Friday or Saturday, from 12pm-4pm. Visit www.sosharulondon.com for more information.

Nordic Afternoon Tea at Aquavit London

Nordic Afternoon Tea at Aquavit London offers guests a wonderful array of traditional Nordic delicacies, all served in the stylish new restaurant in St James’s Market. Featuring both sweet treats and savoury delights, the Nordic dishes for which the restaurant is renowned are perfectly combined with the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon tea. To start, an assortment of Danish open sandwiches, called smørrebrød, featuring classic Nordic flavours such as Gravlax, Shrimp Skagen and Beef tartare, are presented in a contemporary style on the restaurant’s distinctive house-made rye bread. The culinary journey continues with a selection of traditional Swedish cakes and tarts from the Fika trolley, as well as a Punsch-roll. There are three afternoon tea packages available, with the Fika Afternoon Tea allowing guests to enjoy the savouries and sweets alongside Swedish coffees from Johan & Nyström and teas from Hoogly (a British brand with Danish roots), while the Champagne Afternoon Tea also includes a glass of Ruinart Brut Champagne. For a touch of luxury, the Aquavit Afternoon Tea has been developed in collaboration with the iconic Danish design company Georg Jensen, and is served in an award-winning tea service from designer Henning Koppel. It also includes a glass of Dom Pérignon, and is served with additional freshly baked cinnamon and cardamom buns.

For more information, visit www.aquavitrestaurants.com/london.

Summer Afternoon Tea at The Conrad London St James

Summer Afternoon Tea at The Conrad London St James is bursting with colours and flavours that celebrate the warmer months of the year. Created by Executive Pastry Chef Diana Sedlakova, who has elegantly blended the tradition of a classic afternoon tea with contemporary flavours and techniques, the tea is served in the stylish Emmeline’s Lounge, named after the 19th century British political activist Emmeline Pankhurst. There is an extensive range of teas from Harney & Sons available, with tea sommeliers on hand to ensure a personalised experience, and for a little extra luxury, guests can enjoy free-flowing champagne during both weekday and weekend services. The menu starts with a selection of savouries including a prawn and crab Bloody Mary or pea and mint pannacotta, as well as sandwiches such as coronation chicken on caraway bread and pickled cucumber with lemon and mint cream cheese on beetroot bread. To follow, there are sweets including a raspberry and pistachio choux bun; strawberry and cream pearl, as well as fresh scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam and zesty lemon curd. On Saturdays, afternoon tea is accompanied by live jazz – the perfect addition to this quintessentially British treat.

For more information, visit the website here.

Traditional Afternoon Tea at The Game Bird

The Game Bird recently launched at The Stafford London Hotel under the helm of Executive Chef James Durrant, and the restaurant has already become renowned for serving wonderful British comfort food dishes with innovative, modern touches. Alongside the à la carte menu, The Game Bird also serves a traditional Afternoon Tea, available in the relaxed restaurant and drawing rooms, as well as the beautiful secluded terrace. The menu includes four bespoke signature blends of tea including the Queen’s Stafford Blend, and the aptly named The Game Bird, to be enjoyed alongside a selection of finger sandwiches, homemade scones with seasonal jams and Cornish clotted cream, and freshly-baked patisserie. The option to add a glass of Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne is also available, or a bespoke Tea With The Queen cocktail, made with Prosecco, thyme and raspberry syrup, brandy snap and mango sorbet.

For more information, visit www.thestaffordlondon.com/the-game-bird.

High-class Afternoon Fizz at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square

The Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square opened earlier this year, making its afternoon tea offering one of the freshest in London. Beneath the Rotunda Lounge’s grand domed ceiling, the menu is served from Fridays to Sundays. The Ten Trinity Heritage Tea offers a classic spread of finger sandwiches, French pastries, homemade scones, seasonal jams and Devonshire clotted cream, with an optional glass of Delamotte Brut Champagne. Alternatively, The Royal Afternoon Tea adds a sumptuous glass of Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires Champagne and a slice of the freshly baked cake of the day. Tea lovers are spoilt for choice, with a globe-spanning range including leaves from Cornwall, Malawi, China and South Africa.

For more information, visit the website here.

An Exquisite Summer Wine By Igor Sill

Spending the summer months sipping Rosé wines in one of the most beautiful and famous villages of France, St. Tropez, brings back some truly incredible memories. The sparkling aquamarine stretch of coastline between Provence, St. Tropez and Bandol is home to some of the finest Rosé wines and the perfect accompaniment to a Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur afternoon. Each year, a group of my friends make the annual trek to Dick Eddy’s Annual Rosé Wine Tasting gathering at his lovely Mediterranean villa centered in St. Tropez. Every year, Dick hosts this elaborate celebrity-packed party focused on discovering the finest Provence and Bandol Rosé wines that France has to offer. Partygoers blind taste and then vote for the very best of six to twelve various Rosé wines offered.

Dick, a true renaissance gentleman and Rosé aficionado, attracts an extraordinary group of interesting people who arrive from all corners of the world for his Rosé event. He settled in St. Tropez in the early 1980s and recognized the excellence of Rosé paired with the local cuisine. He’s pretty much the Rosé guru of St. Tropez’s chic jet-setting crowd. The day after the wine tasting party, we all go to le plage de Pampelonne à Ramatuelle to one of Dick’s favorite restaurants in the world, Le Club 55, and spend the entire afternoon and well into the early evening sipping Rosés while deep in philosophical discussions. Out of this decades-long experience (Dick is well into his 30th year of Rosé competition), I came to appreciate the finesse, depth and excellence of Bandol and Provence Rosés. Rosé is very possibly the most difficult wine to craft properly but when it is crafted properly, it outshines and outsells all other wines. I love Rosé for its crisp brilliance, fruity aromas, smoothness and the wonderful mouth feel it leaves behind. For years as a winemaker, I’ve contemplated producing a superior California Rosé born of those St. Tropez memories. A Rosé that’s rich, elegant, ultra quality and an extraordinarily different Rosé from those available back home in the United States. Essentially, introducing a ultra premium Rosé for serious Rosé lovers while making a real difference in the industry.

One of the most alluring aspects of our très Chardonnay de Rosé is its ability to offer the very best of both wine worlds with the chilled, refreshing qualities of an exceptional Burgundian Chardonnay along with the richness, complexity and depth of a Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon. This 2014 très Cabernet Sauvignon won the gold medal at the 2017 China Wine & Spirits Awards. Our resulting très Chardonnay de Rosé is an absolute first in the luxury wine industry. What distinguishes our très Chardonnay de Rosé from all others is the grape varietals used and the French white oak barrel aging. Generally, traditional Rosés are produced using a combination of the lesser grapes of Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Syrah and Mourvédre. I contend that truly exceptional wines come from ultra superior grapes, such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. We barrel-age a limited production of 98% Sonoma Coast Chardonnay blessed with 2% Rutherford bench Napa Cabernet Sauvignon wines, producing only 760 bottles. A truly fresh marriage of the finest, most prestigious grapes producing an elegantly brilliant, crisp, rich, balanced, buttery floral Rosé.

We are truly blessed with the unique terroir of our très Chardonnay de Rosé, which supports this classic Provençal-style. We use the traditional Provençal and Bordeaux method, then age the wine in French white oak barrels from Tonnellerie Jean-Louis Bossuet and Tonnellerie Remond. The wood barrel staves are chosen from the finest forests in the center of France. These are fully grown white oak trees, 150 to 200 years old from the Allier, Nevers and Tronçais Haute Futaie forests. These three forests have tighter grains and are some of the most sought-after woods for the production of fine, more aromatically delicate wines. Given that these oaks grow at a slower rate, they produce a much tighter grain which impart less oak and more subtle aromatic flavors. These two particular Tonnelleries forest-age the staves for 36 months before assembly of our barrels, then “toast” them at a specified medium toast plus (MT+) for the exquisite flavors these barrels produce. The production of these exceptional barrels are very limited and difficult to acquire. Aging our très Chardonnay de Rosé in these oak barrels is a critical step in the production of truly great wines. These barrels serve to enhance and preserve the characteristics of the grape variety, the terroir, and our wine’s flavor. The aromas are rich, fresh, floral with flavors of pear, watermelon, guava, black currants and the slightest nuance of spice in a silky, creamy mouthfeel texture across the palate.

This Rosé is just at home out on the patio as it is in the formal dining room. It’s a masterful match for almost any dish. The perfect pairing with this wine would be a grilled salmon salad, juicy barbecued burger, grilled chicken or summer’s afternoon outing at the beach with a festive crab feed. It’s the beautifully fitted black dress of Rosé wines that seduces with alluring bouquets of fraises des bois and cherry blossoms before drifting memorably into the late evening. This wine is everything you’d ever expect in an ultra-premium Rosé. We may make many compromises in life, but never with our wines. According to Bouquet magazine, “The Rosé craze came from the East Coast, more specifically from the Hamptons where rosé has been enjoyed every summer for the past 5-6 years by a population that travels to Southern France and brings the ‘Rosé lifestyle’ back with them – from Provence back to New York, representative of a South of France lifestyle that people love to dream about.” Rosé is the connection between a summertime drive along the French Riviera, every time you uncork a bottle. Enjoy!

Igor Sill farms a hillside cabernet sauvignon vineyard and a mountain vineyard in Atlas Peak Mountain in Napa, California and is a passionate winemaker, wine lover, and writer. He is a Judge at the International Wine Challenge in London and holds a Masters from Oxford University. For more information, visit www.sillfamilyvineyards.com.

Celebrating Truffle Season By The Luxury Channel

Celebrate truffle season this year with delicious recipes from Francesco Mazzei, a decadent brunch from Tom Aikens, and a white truffle menu from Ben Tish at Salt Yard’s brand new restaurant, Veneta – to name a few!

Sartoria

Chef Francesco Mazzei has launched a brand new truffle menu that will be served at Sartoria right up until Christmas. To be pre-booked 24 hours in advance, the menu includes exciting new dishes such as egg tagliolini with grana padano riserva, slow braised veal cheek with polenta corvino and even a unique dessert of white chocolate soup with roasted pumpkin oil, seeds and truffle ice cream. In addition, there is the option of freshly grated truffle on some of the classic dishes on the restaurant’s a la carte menu, such as spaghetti alla carbonara.
www.sartoria-restaurant.co.uk

Francesco Mazzei - Sartoria

Tom’s Kitchen

Tom’s Kitchen is serving the Ultimate Truffled Eggs Benedict during weekend brunch. Priced at £19, the dish has a muffin topped with a poached egg, prosciutto and hollandaise with gratings of truffle for a truly decadent start to the weekend. Founded by Tom Aikens, Tom’s Kitchen has five sites across London, with locations including Chelsea, Canary Wharf and Somerset House, serving British comfort food classics with an emphasis on the very best seasonal ingredients.
www.tomskitchen.co.uk

Tom's Kitchen Eggs Benedict

Coq d’Argent

Coq d’Argent’s Head Chef Damien Rigollet has created a special 6 course mustard and truffle tasting menu in partnership with premium French mustard brand Maille, available until 30th November. Dishes include scrambled duck egg with shaved truffles and Dijon mustard; veal cutlet, creamy wild mushroom sauce, Chablis and black truffle mustard mashed potatoes; and dark chocolate and confit orange tart, Grand-Marnier and truffle ice-cream macaroon. The 6 course tasting menu is £95, or £150 with wine pairings. Located in the heart of the city, Coq d’Argent is within close proximity to major attractions such as St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the Southbank.
www.coqdargent.co.uk

Coq d'Argent

Veneta

Having only recently opened, Veneta is the new Venetian-inspired restaurant from the team behind Salt Yard located in the new St James’s Market development in London. To celebrate the truffle season, Chef Director Ben Tish and Head Chef Jamie Thickett have launched a White Truffle Menu, which will be served until the end of November. Dishes include classic fettuccine with truffle and porcini with butter, T-bone steak with white truffle and truffle and pecorino chips, and scallops baked in pastry with truffle butter, pumpkin and white truffle butter. The rest of the menu takes inspiration from the food of Venice with its rich culinary heritage located on the spice trade route and a raw seafood bar serving fresh produce from Italy and the British Isles.
www.saltyardgroup.co.uk/veneta

Veneta Restaurant (image courtesy of Tolga Akmen)

Veneta Restaurant (image courtesy of Tolga Akmen)

City Social Bar

The bar at Jason Atherton’s Michelin-starred City Social is offering a truffle cocktail in the sky. Mixing truffle oil washed gin with pear, champagne and white pepper, each “Pearlescent” cocktail is garnished with white chocolate “paint,” for guests to enjoy at the top of Tower 42, overlooking the London skyline.
www.citysociallondon.com/bar

Pearlescent

Skylon

On 24th November, Skylon will be hosting the ultimate Truffle Dinner where guests can dine on four courses of seasonal truffle delights including seared scallop with squash purée, burnt onions and truffle velouté and a delicate white truffle, chestnut and caramelised pear mille feuille. The four course menu costs £95 per person including wine pairings and will begin at 6:30pm. To book call 020 7654 7800 or visit www.skylon-restaurant.co.uk.

Skylon

Cantina del Ponte

To celebrate the autumnal season, Cantina del Ponte will host a dedicated pasta masterclass on Saturday 19th November. Head Chef Angelo Albera will demonstrate how to make two rustic truffle pasta dishes. This will be followed by a delicious three course lunch, priced at £39 per person including a signature Cantina cocktail. For those unable to make the masterclass, Cantina is also offering a White Alba Truffle menu showcasing truffle at its best. Dishes include homemade tagliolini with white alba truffle, butter and parmesan and Fassona beef, celery, grana and white alba truffle.
www.cantinadelponte.co.uk

Cantina Del Ponte

Rupert Sanderson’s Perrier-Jouët Champagne Slipper By The Luxury Channel

The Rupert Sanderson Champagne Slipper

British shoe designer Rupert Sanderson has collaborated with modern grill restaurant 34 Mayfair in London to create The Rupert Sanderson Champagne Slipper. Drawing on the Art Deco contours of the restaurant and inspired by the terraced crown of Van Alen’s Art Deco Chrysler Building in Midtown Manhattan, Sanderson has created the ultimate in champagne glassware design, by crafting an actual champagne flute into the heel of an intricate crystal glass shoe stand, while the blush tones of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé and Nouveau swirling anemones on the bottle gave him a steer on colour and look. To coincide with this, Sanderson has also created a Ready-To-Wear Rupert Sanderson Champagne Pump for 34 Mayfair, for discerning shoe-a-holics to buy instore.

The Rupert Sanderson Wearable Champagne Slipper

Sanderson’s design philosophy concentrates on perfecting the line, and there is much evidence of this in both the couture glass version and satin “wearable” version of the Champagne Slipper. He has ingeniously turned the actual champagne flute into the heel of the intricately detailed, silver-plated brass and crystal glass shoe stand. When filled with Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé, the glass will glow a dusky pink colour, its bubbles creating movement in the heel to captivate and delight in equal measure. The “heel” is then detached for drinking.

34 Mayfair Kate Moss Coupe

Having designed shoes for actresses including Kate Winslet, Alicia Vikander and Gwyneth Paltrow, the Rupert Sanderson name has become synonymous with glamour and style. He is a regular visitor to 34 Mayfair, and was an obvious choice to partner with following the resounding success of last year’s 34 Mayfair Kate Moss Coupe. Sanderson revealed that “after spending many wonderful evenings at 34 Mayfair – more often than not, enjoying a glass of two of Perrier-Jouët – it seemed obvious to create something that is utterly romantic. There is a great tradition of Old Hollywood decadence associated with the drinking of champagne, and the Champagne Slipper is a way of celebrating drinking and dining in such an opulent environment. It was a delight to design something that shoes lend themselves to so wonderfully, the idea of taking a glass and not being able to put it down until you’ve finished it.”

Rupert Sanderson

From Wednesday 9th November, diners at 34 Mayfair who order a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé will be served their champagne in The Rupert Sanderson Champagne Slipper. There will also be a limited number of The Champagne Slippers for sale. Each one comes complete with six champagne flutes and a bottle Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé, and costs £5,000.

Further Information

34 Mayfair – www.34-restaurant.co.uk
Rupert Sanderson – www.rupertsanderson.com
Perrier-Jouët – www.perrier-jouet.com

Champagne Louis Roederer Cristal – Made For Royalty By The Luxury Channel

Cristal 2009

Champagne Louis Roederer launched its latest vintage alongside a specially commissioned piece of art inspired by the brand’s prestige cuvée, Cristal, at the Sky Lounge at Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard, London. Established in 1776, Champagne Louis Roederer is one of the few remaining family-owned Grandes Marques Champagne houses – a rarity in the world of champagne! Yet while the Roederer name is a by-word for unassuming excellence, its link with Cristal is perhaps less obvious. Originally created for Czar Alexander II, Cristal’s design was conceived so that its fine bubbles and golden liquid could be admired through the clear glass flat-bottomed bottles in which it was served to the nobles in Russian court. The gold label and the clear lead crystal bottle soon became synonymous with unsurpassed excellence.

Cristal 2009 Bottle And Box

Now under the stewardship of Frédéric Rouzaud, the seventh generation of the Roederer family, Cristal’s production continues to be limited to only certain, exceptional years. The latest vintage is the brilliant, sun-drenched Cristal 2009. Fruit-driven and approachable upon release, the vintage demonstrates all the hallmarks of Roederer excellence and finesse as well as the ephemeral complexity of the highly-prized Cristal terroir.

Heart Beats of Cristal

The House celebrated its release with a specially commissioned interactive light sculpture by London-based artist, Aphra Shemza. The piece, pictured above, is entitled Heart Beats of Cristal and takes inspiration from the bright personality of Cristal and its lively bubbles of pale gold and amber lights. The repetition of spheres and LED lights comes to life when a viewer is present, casting a gentle movement to emulate an exquisite ‘‘dance in a glass.’’

Wine Wall

This extraordinary light sculpture was unveiled in the new Sky Lounge at the Shangri-La Hotel At The Shard, London, which features a 3m high Wine Wall offering the largest selection of Louis Roederer Champagnes in the UK, including curated champagne tasting flights and champagnes by the glass. The artwork will be on display in the Sky Lounge until the end of January 2017.

For more information about Champagne Louis Roederer, go to www.louis-roederer.com.

Amedei Tuscany – The Beauty of Chocolate By The Luxury Channel

Amedei Tuscany

From the beauty of Tuscany comes the vision and love of chocolate that inspired one woman to create the most exquisite slabs of heaven on earth. Cecilia Tessieri’s mission to make irresistible Italian chocolate led her to set up Amedei Tuscany. Fuelled by a desire to find the world’s best cocoa beans, Tessieri’s continual search for perfection resulted in her becoming the first woman in the world to hold the renowned title of Maitre Chocolatier, and she has produced the six-time winner of the Academy of Chocolate’s Golden Bean award – “a very important moment in my life.” The Academy of Chocolate was founded in 2005 by five of Britain’s leading chocolate professionals (including Patron Michel Roux OBE), united in the belief that eating fine chocolate is one of life’s great pleasures. Today, it has become one of the most prestigious awards for elite chocolate producers. This year marked the Academy’s Eighth Golden Bean Awards, awarding the best “bean to bar” chocolate in the world.

Cecilia Tessieri

A true family affair, Amedei carries the surname of Tessieri’s maternal grandmother (“a very important woman in my family”) and after seven years of research and work, the first chocolate bar carrying the name Amedei became available to purchase in 1998. Tessieri creates every recipe after having selected the perfect beans, re-adjusting the recipes like a skilled perfumer. “Chocolate is my life and my passion,” she says of her dedication to her craft.

Amedei Tuscany

“I am Tuscan,” Tessieri says. “I put my Tuscan creativity into my work, like Leonardo.” However, she considers herself at the helm of an international company. “I buy beans from South America to Jamaica, nuts from Piedmont, almonds from Sicily. I gather all the best ingredients in the world in Tuscany,” she reveals. “Whatever I buy and wherever I buy it from, I have the same approach. We work directly with the farmers and they are the people who know and understand the importance of the fruit they grow. The only difference is the fruit itself, because I work with everyone with the same approach – to produce the best quality chocolate.”

Amedei Tuscany

Tessieri has created something of a revolution in the chocolate business, by breaking through the barrier in a male-dominated industry and adding a feminine touch into the chocolate, the recipes and the award winning packaging. Amedei Tuscany seeks to bring joy to its consumers, with each magical bite delighting the palate, and the products are as healthy as chocolate can be – they don’t contain palm oil, soy lecithin or conservatives, and are Kosher certificated. Amedei also ensures the plantation farmers don’t use pesticides on their crops.

Amedei Tuscany

Amedei has just launched the new Christmas range, which can be personalised or monogrammed to create a truly unforgettable gift. Individual products from the Amedei range can be personalized with corporate branding and co-branded with Amedei. Personalised packaging can also be created as a bespoke service to customise the Amedei presentation boxes for celebrations, Christmas gifts, a landmark occasion or of course, to make an exceptional gift for a bride and bridegroom on their wedding day.

Cecilia Tessieri by Stefano Scata

Of course, the big question on the tip of everyone’s tongue – what is the right temperature for eating chocolate? “It depends on the room. I think 18 degrees, maximum 22 degrees, is perfect,” Tessieri says. She adds, “I don’t change my recipe – it remains the same in summer and winter.” But what is the recipe that Tessieri uses? “It is the same question that many, many people ask me!” she laughs, “but mine is a secret recipe.” However, she does share one insight into how her chocolate is created. “The blend of the chocolate is like champagne,” she reveals. “Every year, I adjust the recipe because the cocoa changes. Every year, the cocoa is completely different. So it is not easy to maintain the same quality, but it is very important that you do!” Meaning you can bet every more-ish mouthful of Amedei Tuscany chocolate will be as satisfying as the last one….and the one before that….and the one before that….

Amedei Tuscany is available online and at Fortnum & Mason, Liberty’s, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. For more information, go to www.amedei.it.

London Restaurant Galvin At Windows Says Hallyu By Ramy Salameh

Korean Wave - Spring

Korean Wave – Spring

Galvin at Windows, one of London’s premier dining establishments sitting atop the London Hilton on Park Lane, is offering a Korean-inspired menu during the month of October. For the second consecutive year, head Chef Joo Won has created a masterpiece Korean fusion menu for London’s food savvy diners. However, this time around there will be a pop-up photographic exhibition within the restaurant, under the theme “Korean Wave – A Mix of Old And New,” showcasing the work of Ramy Salameh, a regular visitor to the country over the last two decades. His images portray the delicate, ceremonial, modern and quirky side of South Korea.

Korean Wave - Changing of The Guard At Gyeongbokgung Palace, South Korea

Korean Wave – Changing of The Guard At Gyeongbokgung Palace, South Korea

Korean cuisine has been one of the headline acts of “Hallyu” – the contemporary wave of Korean culture that has been permeating the globe in recent years. The photographic exhibition tries to capture elements of this “Korean wave” and the influences it has brought to bear. Joo Won describes his menu as “a Korean menu based on French cooking methodology and technique using English and European ingredients. What makes each plate taste Korean in flavour is ‘Jang’ (which is soy fermented sauce or paste) such as Ganjang, Gochujang, Doenjang and Sesame, which regularly form the base ingredient in Korean cuisine.”

Korean Wave - Jagalchi Fish Market Busana

Korean Wave – Jagalchi Fish Market Busana

It is within the last few years that Korean cuisine has made it onto the menus of some the best and most innovative restaurants worldwide. The key to the rise in popularity is the fermentation in much of Korean food processes and the health-giving properties that this provides, coupled with the incredible smorgasbord of recipes and flavours the cuisine can produce. Won says “at Galvin at Windows, we use various ‘Jang’ to enrich the taste of the dishes produced and they work well with Western cuisine.”

Korean Wave - Temple Life

Korean Wave – Temple Life

Like a Kaleidoscope, “Hallyu” and Korean culture have many facets, which have been a major part in creating new global products and trends. This is most evident in the fashion and cosmetics industries of Korea. Tom Allsop, Senior Subeditor of British Airways’ High Life Magazine recently wrote that “Seoul has become an emerging force in global fashion” and went on to say that “South Korea’s secret weapon is hallyu, which roughly translates as the Korean Wave and started making ripples abroad in the early 2000s.”

Korean Wave -Woljeongsa Temple Gate Roof

Korean Wave -Woljeongsa Temple Gate Roof

Allsop also comments that “it is South Koreans’ skill at assimilating foreign culture that has helped the country sell itself abroad.” This sentence is particularly pertinent when thinking of Joo Won’s ability to use the food of his upbringing and fuse that with Western high-end dining. Won remarks, “I think Hallyu has helped spread the awareness of Korean food within the UK and now many customers are aware of some signature dishes such as Kimchi, Bibimbap and Bulgogi, but still the knowledge of the food is not very deep.” The Korean menu available at Galvin at Windows during October will provide customers with a better understanding of Korean cuisine, Hallyu and as Won says, a “different experience for our clients!”

For more information, go to www.galvinatwindows.com and www.visitkorea.or.kr.

Arbikie’s Award-Winning Spirit By Camilla Hellman

Scottish Highland Water

Arbikie may not yet be available in the USA but in Britain, the Arbikie Highland Estate Distillery is quickly establishing their range of gins and vodkas on the shelves of retailers nationwide – and winning accolades from throughout the industry in the process.

Arbikie

Launched in October 2014, Arbikie has roared onto the market, having been awarded Best UK Varietal Vodka and Best UK Traditional Gin at the World Drink Awards run by The Drinks Report. Arbikie products are stocked in some of the best bars and restaurants in the UK, such as The Ivy, The Ritz and Harrods. They have also been selected by Schweppes as their gin of choice for their new premium tonic water. The brand’s reputation is assuredly growing!

Farm Distillery

Arbikie’s blends are innovative. Like a Bloody Mary with a spicy kick? Arbikie’s Chilli Vodka, the latest introduction to the Arbikie Vodka range, will ensure just that! The origin of this “hair of the dog” drink is highly ambiguous, with many conflicting claims (the earliest claim dates back to 1921). The name “Bloody Mary” is associated with a number of historical figures — particularly Queen Mary I of England — but again, there is debate around this too. There is no ambiguity about Arbikie’s vodka, though. The Smoky and Smooth Chilli Vodka is a combination of potato vodka and chillies from Scotland’s first chilli farm, Chillilicious.

Home Grown Ingredients

The distillery land has been in the Stirling family for four generations, and from the potatoes and crops planted and harvested, to the water from the lagoon and the bottling of the spirits, Arbikie’s production all takes place on the Arbikie Highland Estate. This is the first single-estate distillery to distil all their spirits using the same process used in the production of Scotch whisky. And yes, whisky is also on the horizon from Arbikie – the first 300 barrels are under way. The final step of bottling, labelling and sealing is also done on the estate.

Arbikie’s Bloody Mary Recipe

Ingredients:
4.5 cl (3 parts) Vodka
9 cl (6 parts) Tomato Juice
1.5 cl (1 part) Lemon Juice
Tabasco
Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper
Celery Stalk (to serve)
Lemon Wedge (to serve)

Method:
Add dashes of the Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper into a tall glass.
Add ice cubes.
Pour the vodka, tomato juice and lemon juice into the glass.
Stir gently.
To serve, garnish with the celery stalk and the lemon wedge.

For more information, go to www.arbikie.com.

Welcome To The Colourful World of Pierre Hermé By The Luxury Channel

Pierre Hermé (image courtesy of Stéphane de Bourgies)

Pierre Hermé (image courtesy of Stéphane de Bourgies)

French pastry chef-chocolatier Pierre Hermé is riding high, having been named “World’s Best Pastry Chef” at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants award ceremony in New York. With previous winners including Jordi Roca (El Celler de Can Roca in Girona) and Albert Adrià (Tickets in Barcelona) in 2014 and 2015 respectively, this award adds to a long list of prestigious accomplishments that Hermé has received in recent years. Tirelessly curious, Hermé – the man that Vogue USA once named the “Picasso of Pastry” – has climbed his way to the pinnacle of the pastry art industry worldwide, by stripping classic pastries of superfluous decorations and dissecting flavours – even taming the most unpredictable cocoa beans in the process!

Pierre Herme Maccarons

Heir to four generations of Alsatian bakery and pastry-making tradition, Hermé arrived in Paris at the age of 14 to start his first apprenticeship with Gaston Lenôtre. He continued his career at a number of other famous brands, notably Fauchon, where he was Head Pastry Chef for 11 years, before setting up Maison Pierre Hermé Paris in 1998 with his associate Charles Znaty, opening their first boutique in Tokyo. Today, millions of gourmet fans the world over flock to the boutiques of Maison Pierre Hermé Paris, notably at 72 Rue Bonaparte, the first Parisian boutique in the Saint-Germain-des-Près fashion quarter in Paris. The Maison additionally has partnerships with the Raffles and Ritz-Carlton hotel groups, as well as Dior (with the opening in July 2015 of the Café Dior by Pierre Hermé in Seoul).

Monmouth Boutique

Pierre Hermé’s latest creations – with the catchy title of mooncakes – have been released to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. These tasty treats pay homage to the special, round cakes eaten during the winter solstice festival, celebrated on the 15th of September. In China, mooncakes signify the reunion of family. The flavours of Hermé’s mooncakes include Almond Praline with Lemon Zest, Sesame Praline, Hazelnut Praline and Flaky Almond Praline. The crunchy almond praline celebrates the full moon, whereas the almond praline with lemon zest is a celebration of the new moon. The hazelnut praline and sesame praline, meanwhile, evoke the moon’s waxing and waning crescents. Each mooncake comes dipped in pure origin dark chocolate from Mexico, conveying a luscious and balanced harmony of flavours.

Pierre Herme Mooncake

This summer also sees the launch of Pierre Hermé’s mouth-watering collection of ice-creams and sorbets. With the weather getting warmer, these creamy creations are the perfect summertime treat and include flavours such as Corsican Immortelle Flower and Candied Citrus; Pistachio and Strawberry; Milk Chocolate, Passion Fruit and Caramelised Roasted Pineapple; and Lemon and Almond with Macaron Biscuits. “I enjoy exploring contrasts in tastes and in textures,” explains Hermé about his choice of flavours. “Here, I sought to assemble different flavours without mixing them together.” The pioneering sweet and sharp combinations, coupled with the texture provided by nuts and biscuits, are surely set to become summer flavour favourites. Yum!

Pierre Herme Ice-cream

The ice creams and sorbets are priced at £6.00 per pot and can be found until 4th September, and the Mooncakes are priced at £32 per box, from 22nd August – 18th September at Pierre Hermé Paris boutiques across London. For more information about Pierre Hermé, visit www.pierreherme.com.

Goût De France – Alain Ducasse At The Dorchester By Fiona Sanderson

Gout de France

Bon appétit! We were invited to celebrate Goût de France at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at The Dorchester in Mayfair, London, and sample an exquisite seven course menu and wine pairing. As part of Goût de France, this is an initiative that unites more than 1,800 chefs from across 5 continents to mark the creativity of French gastronomy. Launched last year, from Alain Ducasse and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, it showcases the best of French cuisine, its innovation and the finest regional ingredients and traditions.

Alain Ducasse At The Dorchester

The event was inspired by Auguste Escoffier, who launched the “Diners d’Epicure” initiative in 1912, which saw the same menu on the same day served and enjoyed by diners in several world cities. Goût de France has recreated and extended this idea by involving restaurants and chefs from all over the world. An international panel of 15 chefs, chaired by Alain Ducasse, approved the menus proposed by the bistros, brasseries and haute cuisine restaurants wishing to participate. In its first year last year, more than 100,000 guests enjoyed a French dinner in more than 1,300 restaurants and embassies around the world, and French embassies alone hosted some 5,000 guests in their residences.

Jean-Philippe Blondet

I was lucky enough to sample a 7 course menu created by talented Executive Chef Jean-Philippe Blondet who has been working alongside Alain Ducasse for several years. Jean-Philippe interprets Alain Ducasse’s cuisine in a contemporary and refined way. In keeping with his philosophy, the ingredients are the key elements. Jean-Philippe only uses the freshest and most seasonal produce, strictly sourced for their quality and provenance. These were certainly evident in our gourmet menu. We started with frog legs which were rolled in bread crumbs and served with a sorrel sauce with a Foie Gras confit on the side. Both were interpretations of classic French dishes and were delicious. We were then served two fish courses of seared hand-dived sea scallops and then a Turbot a la grenobloise with Swiss chard. So fresh and delicious, they really did melt in our mouths. Our meat course of veal medallions was accompanied by the smallest and freshest carrots I think I have ever tasted. What meal would not be complete without a Reblochon cheese, followed by a finale chocolate desert, as dark and rich and as sweet as a chocolate course should be!

Seared Hand-Dived Sea Scallop with Broccoletti at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

The wine pairings accompanied each course – my favourite being the 2014 White Chateneuf-du-Pape from Chateau Mont-Redon. I met the Head Sommelier Christopher Bothwell, whose enthusiasm to introduce something new and exciting to his guests clearly adds to the Alain Ducasse team, which is beyond doubt world class.

Lumiere

Alain Ducasse himself may no longer be in the kitchen, but Jean-Philippe Blondet and this highly-skilled team are certainly worthy of a 3 star Michelin restaurant and is certainly a prestigious UK restaurant in one of the most iconic settings at The Dorchester Hotel in London. The restaurant is informal, complementing the forward-thinking approach to haute cuisine. I liked the unique touch of a ‘‘private area’’ set inside a curtain of sophisticated and twinkly lights, which is reserved for an intimate or celebratory dinner. A good place for a marriage proposal….

Whatever the occasion, dining at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is an unforgettable experience.

For more information, go to www.alainducasse-dorchester.com. For more information about the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, go to www.diplomatie.gouv.fr.

A Foodie’s Guide To Aarhus By The Luxury Channel

Gastronomy

Forget the diet on a gourmet break to Aarhus and indulge in a veritable feast of culinary delights, as Denmark’s second city serves up a smørrebrød of innovative world-class cuisine. Following the success of the city’s annual Food Festival, which celebrates its fifth anniversary next year, Aarhus’ chefs are raising the gastronomic bar and pushing epicurean boundaries, to put the city firmly on the culinary map with a number of progressive new restaurants, bars and cafes aimed to suit all budgets. With a brand new daily BA flight from London Heathrow to nearby Billund starting from 3rd May 2016, there’s never been a better time to visit. Food options in Aarhus range from Michelin-starred establishments serving the best in modern Nordic cuisine, to the city’s new food market, Smagsgiveriet, which opened in September 2015 to offer high quality local ingredients.

Navitas

New Restaurants

Restaurant Domestic – New to the pass is Restaurant Domestic which opened in October with a star-studded gastronomic team led by Ditte Susgaard, Christian Neve, Christopher Norton and Morten Frølich Rastad. Despite their extensive experience, the city’s new restaurant, located in the backyard of the historic Latin quarter of Mejlgade is, as its name suggests, “a place where guests will feel at home.” As restaurant manager Christian Neve explains, “there’s no formal stiffness at Domestic; we just want diners to enjoy themselves and have a good evening, while enjoying some delicious food.”

Früd No16 – Two successful restaurants become one, as Sans med Früd and its little brother Sechzehn fuse to become Früd No16, the new concept restaurant of Aarhus. An ultimate taste experience is guaranteed with Austrian Milos Nikolic and Briton Mike Everingham as Head Chefs. The new restaurant is a creative playground of unique culinary experiences – you show up at 18:30 and get ready for nine delicious servings including a wine buffet, homemade juices, coffee and sweets.

Restaurant Veto – Another new autumn opening, where head chef Kim Jeppesen and restaurant manager Allan G. Jensen have drawn on their experience in Michelin restaurants, such as Kong Hans Basement, Kokkeriet, the Paul and Restaurant Tabu in Aalborg, to offer an exciting mix of top level cooking with exotic Asian flavours, creating a series of innovative dishes.

Mikkeller – Eagerly anticipated to open at the end of this year is the very popular Copenhagen-based micro-brewery Mikkeller, which is moving to the address vacated earlier this year by one of Arhus’s oldest bars, the 95-year-old Jægerhytten in Jægergårdsgade. The trendy Mikkeller Bar is set to serve the brewery’s own beer, both bottled and on tap, together with special beers from abroad.

Gastronomy

Michelin Stars And Bib Gourmand Awards

In 2015, after many years striving for recognition in the Michelin Guide, Aarhus was finally rewarded with a coveted star at three of its acclaimed restaurants. Headlining these three is Restaurant Frederikshøj, where Wassim Hallal shows off his extraordinary talent for top level international cuisine accompanied by a superb wine collection in the midst of a protected forest next to the Mindeparken in Aarhus.

With a more modest approach to its cuisine, Restaurant Substans also received a star. Serving contemporary dishes, it combines a relaxed atmosphere with solid craftsmanship using organic ingredients from local producers, whilst a Bib Gourmand was handed out to Substans’s little brother, Pondus.

The third restaurant to be recognised with a star this year is Restaurant Gastromé, which aims to unite gourmet rural cuisine with the raw, urban cuisine of the city, transforming the countryside gastronomy of the Vilhelmsborg Forest in to the urban setting of the restaurant’s city centre location.

Meanwhile, well-priced Hærværk picked up a Bib Gourmand for its delicious tasting menus that rely on a varied daily menu depending on the availability of ingredients (leading to spontaneous menu changes). The tasting menus for each table may even vary, leading to unique, personal experiences.

One to watch for next year’s guide is Restaurant Koch where the three Koch brothers offer gourmet dining at an exceptional standard. Alongside this are their two other establishments – Frøken Koch, which serves classic Danish cuisine, and Det Glade Vanvid, which translates as ”The Happy Madness” where diners arrive at the same time and pay a set price of £50 before enjoying a 4-course menu with unlimited wine.

Smorrebrod

A Revolution In Smørrebrød

Smørrebrød – the famous Danish open-faced sandwiches – have undergone a gastronomic revolution and Aarhus is at the forefront of this. No longer just the classic cold cuts or herring, there is now a real art to making smørrebrød and some of Aarhus’s most famous chefs are getting in on the act. It’s probably no surprise that Wassim Hallal (the man behind Restaurant Frederikshøj) offers a stunning range of smørrebrød and pastries at F. Høj, while Den Lille Kro specialises in traditional Danish cooking and has a mouth-watering range of 14 smørrebrød on the menu.

Dinner Is Served

Come dinner time, visitors to Aarhus are still spoilt for choice with Nordisk Spisehus offering a unique culinary experience, recreating menus from international Michelin-starred restaurants, while Frederiksgade 42 offers “social food” that’s great for sharing with friends. On the corner of Jægergårdsgade and Kystvejen, La Plage Deux is the place to go for oysters and champagne, while L’Estragon in the Latin Quarter offers French-inspired organic gourmet dishes.

Local raw ingredients are on the organic menu at beautifully designed Langhoff & Juul whilst at Kähler Spisesalon, diners can indulge in elegant smørrebrød or tasty three-course menus served on ceramic plates made by the popular Danish interior design brand, Kähler.

Cafe Culture

Café Culture

Danes love coffee, and Danish café culture is thriving in Aarhus. Street Coffee in Jægergårdsgade offers a relaxed and trendy space to enjoy coffee with friends, while Løve’s Bogcafe and Café Englen are both inspired by central European literature cafes. Lynfabrikken is a popular place to meet, work and study with free Wi-Fi. A new addition to ARoS Museum of Modern Art is the Food Hall in the city’s art museum, which opened at the end of August to offer small tapas-style dishes using local ingredients, served in relaxed surroundings. At the end of the day, pay a visit to St. Pauls Apothek to pair cocktails with their popular tasting menu.

A Place For Foodies

Aarhus is indeed a go to place for foodies – not least due to the recent news that the city is to open a permanent indoor street food market in the Spring of 2016. With inspiration from London, Hamburg and the successful Copenhagen Street Food on Paper Island, Aarhus Street Food is bound to be a hit.

For more information, go to www.visitdenmark.com.

Courvoisier – The Toast of Paris By Harriet O'Grady

Courvoisier

In 1889, the Eiffel Tower was opened as one of the temporary exhibits of the Universal Exhibition to celebrate the centennial of the French Revolution and as a showcase for the best that France had to offer. Revolutionary in concept, the Eiffel Tower immediately caught the public’s imagination, even though it had its notable detractors. Today, it is inconceivable to even think of Paris without bringing to mind its iconic tower, which has come to symbolise the very essence of the city itself. It was built during La Belle Époque. This period (which lasted roughly from 1870 until 1910), was a time of wealth and huge optimism. In 1889, France was at the cutting edge of new technology, science, medicine, architecture and the arts. A new movement called Art Nouveau had emerged.

Eiffel Tower

A drink was served at the opening of the Eiffel Tower. This consisted of a cocktail of Courvoisier cognac and champagne. In the 1880s, Courvoisier itself was at the height of its popularity. It was awarded the Gold Medal at the exhibition. It had been the drink of choice of Napoleon I who had asked for some barrels to go with him on his exile to St Helena, and it was the official drink at the court of Napoleon III.

Courvoisier

Courvoisier, originally founded in Paris in the early 1800s by entrepreneurs Louis Gallois and Emmanuel Courvoisier before moving to Jarnac near Cognac, is justifiably proud of its connection with the “City of Light.” This September, the brand decided to return to Paris and the Eiffel Tower for an evening of celebration and to launch a new brand campaign which will include experience-led consumer events in key cities across the globe, a new Paris Golden Age Tour, new signature Courvoisier cocktails, Golden Age-inspired Innovations and limited editions, and a digital engagement campaign.

Gustave Eiffel Salon

I was able to attend this event in a large, glass-fronted room on the first floor of the Tower, where the original opening had taken place. The Courvoisier and champagne cocktail was in evidence and the food was a replica of that served in 1889. This consisted of such delicacies as foie gras, truffles, salmon, lobster, lamb and poultry. As well as a jazz band and a lady violinist, bold can-can dancers straight out of a Toulouse Lautrec poster enlivened the evening with hooplas and high kicks.

Courvoisier

I marvelled at the view stretching towards the Seine, Notre Dame and beyond to Montmartre, a view which has remained largely unchanged since that time and could not help but imagine the excitement of the guests, who were able to look out at Paris from the first floor height of 57 metres. Past and present seemed to merge seamlessly, and that is indeed the great charm of Paris for the Paris we see, the great avenues and their uniform architecture of pale stone – all 80 kms of them laid out in the mid 19th Century by Haussmann – are still there, but it is also a city which is constantly renewing and reinventing itself. Earlier that afternoon, on a Golden Age Courvoisier tour of the city, I was able to experience this first hand.

Courvoisier

Paris has always been beautiful, but it is even lovelier now that all the great buildings have been cleaned. The Grand Palais and the Petit Palais and the recently gilded features of the Pont Napoleon III shone in the afternoon sunlight as the great Seine river flowed peacefully below, dividing the left from the right banks. The wide avenues of the 19th Century encouraged cafés to flow out onto the pavements. On this warm afternoon, there was not an empty table at the Café de Flore and Les Deux Maggots in St. Germain. As always, one goes there to see and be seen. Close to the famous Lavirotte Art Nouveau building in the 7th arrondissement, a peaceful demonstration was in full swing making us slightly alter our course, and reminding us that the French haven’t lost any of their enthusiasm for taking to the streets when they are dissatisfied.

Francois Bazini

Cities and people do not remain static. Courvoisier is well aware of this and is keen to maintain the freshness of its brand, as well as claiming Courvoisier’s Parisian heritage. To quote François Bazini, Vice President of Marketing International at Courvoisier’s owners Beam Suntory, ‘‘Everything that people around the world know and love about Paris – the architecture, the music, the art, the romance, the Eiffel Tower itself – it’s all from this Golden Age. Even if they don’t know it because they are not art historians, what they love about Paris was all born during La Belle Époque. This is why this time is so relevant to consumers around the world today – and why Courvoisier is right to claim that heritage.’’

Albert Baladi, Matt Shattock and Francois Bazini

Today’s young, affluent global consumers are gaining serious importance. They now make up 45% of the market for luxury goods. Gender neutral, edgier, aware, ecologically conscious; they look for tradition and history in the brands that they buy, but the brand also has to be relevant to their times, as well as their aspirations. As François Bazini says, ‘‘They reject brands that pretend to be something they’re not, or simply claim to be ‘old.’ They expect modern brands with values, history and provenance.’’ Courvoisier is keen to meet this challenge. As well as their new brand campaign, they have come up with beautifully designed new packaging decorated in embossed imperial purple and gold, recalling the intricate iron structure of the Eiffel Tower. They have also altered the shape of their bottles.

Courvoisier

Today, the trend is towards cocktail bars which are meeting with great success in all the great cities of the world. Indeed, in the US alone, sales of cognac across the board have increased by 20% largely due to the current fashion for cocktails. In the UK, Courvoisier accounts for over 50% of sales. Cognac is a perfect base for such drinks, easily replacing vodka. I was able to taste a delicious cocktail named 1889 at Fouquet’s, a favourite venue for French politicians, film stars and “le beau monde” on the Champs Élysées. The cocktail was mixed by Stéphane Genouves, Bartender and Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2011. To watch him in action was fascinating: the way he twisted the bottle to unscrew the stop, the movement of his hands and the style with which he shook the cocktail shaker. The recipe (and I urge you to make it and serve it in a martini glass) is 5cl Courvoisier VSOP, 2cl mandarine Napoléon, 1cl orange juice, 4cl passion fruit juice and 4cl apple juice.

Courvoisier

The marvellous thing about the top French brands is that they have not slipped up on quality and the same care, attention and personal pride in creating a top quality product have been carefully maintained throughout the years. In the case of Courvoisier, that standard of excellence is kept up by the master blender, Patrice Pinet (he is only the 6th since the creation of Courvoisier). It is thanks to craftsmen like him and his dedicated team that we are able to enjoy a drink which has such a unique complexity of aromas. In light of this, one can only wish Courvoisier continuing success for many more generations to come.

www.courvoisier.com

Fly Away With Grey Goose Vodka – Making The Ordinary Extraordinary By Fiona Sanderson

Francois Thibault

When François Thibault, a cognac Maître de Chai – “cellar master” – announced that he intended to use his considerable spirits-making skills to create vodka, people in the region were sceptical. Today, Grey Goose is enjoyed by millions around the world.

Le Logis  - The Home of Grey Goose

The new home of vodka – specifically Grey Goose – is Cognac, at the company’s new Le Logis estate. I was invited by Grey Goose’s Maître de Chai, François Thibault, to discover their latest creation, Grey Goose VX: Vodka Exceptionnelle, an ultra-premium mix of 95% Grey Goose vodka finished with a hint of Cognac. I was looking forward to the opportunity to stay at the property and discover François’ passionate pursuit of quality from field to bottle, especially as Le Logis is where it also houses his research and development atelier. Local craftsmen have completely renovated every part of this 17th century country manor house and surrounding estate, resulting in a really beautiful home.

Le Logis

I was really looking forward to meeting the famous Cellar Master, François Thibault himself, who had thrown his fellow winegrowers into a tailspin when he announced that he was going to make vodka.

Francois Thibault

François grew up in the heart of the Cognac region and as the son of a wine grower, he was fascinated by the craft of making fine wines and spirits from an early age. It wasn’t until he met entrepreneur Sidney Frank, however, that he was able to realise his vision for quality, crafted, premium vodka. “I worked on the creation of Grey Goose in the same way as an artist creates a masterpiece,” he reveals. “I began with a blank canvas and then applied the knowledge and imagination that I have always employed as a Maître de Chai. My experiences making cognac taught me to never compromise on quality and taste, and I am very rigorous in my pursuit of both. There were many people waiting for me to fail, but I knew I could prove them wrong and create a product that tasted quite unique,” said Thibault.

Grey Goose

To set a new quality standard for vodka, however, would require not just a revision of traditional vodka production methods, but also relentless attention to every aspect of the whole process, from the growing of the wheat to the final seal of the bottle. “There are three crucial elements that define a vodka,” François tells me, “the ingredients, the way it is made and the people who make it. Taste has always been my number one priority and it’s with that goal in mind that I selected the ingredients, the process and the team who have helped me to create an extraordinary vodka. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see someone enjoying a Grey Goose cocktail in a bar and to see this happening in different countries around the world, far, far away from the Cognac region, makes it all the more fulfilling.”

Grey Goose

Following a tour of the vineyards surrounding Le Logis, François led us into his vodka laboratory as I called it, where he took us through the various stages of the vodka-making process. We were told that the soft winter wheat used to make Grey Goose is supplied exclusively by three local farming co-operatives in Picardie in northern France. The co-operatives not only own and manage their own farms, but are also partners in the storage, milling and distillery facility that produces the vodka, ensuring a seamless continuity of operation. The milling process is what determines the grade of flour. This process produces flour of a very specific granularity and a precise percentage of husk to aid the fermentation process (although the exact granularity is a company secret). The wheat is milled on site at the distillery, so that the flour can be used immediately and the vodka distilling process can be completed. To this day, François oversees the crafting of the vodka and personally tastes every batch, to ensure that every drop from the field to the bottle meets the Master’s approval.

Francois Thibault

The climax of our master class was the tasting session of Grey Goose’s newest spirit, Grey Goose VX – a vodka with a hint of fine cognac. It is certainly very rich and complex with hints honey, plums, citrus and apricot. It is only produced in limited quantities to maintain its superior character. Not a cognac drinker normally, I was enticed by this rather grand and innovational taste.

Grey Goose

I had not realised how far François’s passion would stretch to perfect the ultimate tasting vodkas and therefore was surprised when he told me that to create the fruit tasting vodkas, (melon, orange and lemon flavoured vodkas), the fruits are taken to a parfumerie in Grasse where their flavours are extracted. From here, the essential oils are returned to Cognac where they are then combined with Grey Goose vodka. A flavour and colour to suit every taste and cocktail!

Grey Goose

A highlight always at Le Logis is their Mixology Lesson in their own Grey Goose Bar, where we were able to let our creativity fly. How do you create the Ultimate Melon Mule? It was “pure chemistry” making this cocktail, when I strained the mixture of the spirit and the juice from three lime wedges into a copper mule tankard filled with crushed ice. Le Melon vodka is by far my favourite, and will don my drink shelf for years to come.

Grey Goose Melon Mule

Grey Goose Le Melon
Ginger Beer
Lime Wedges

How To Make The Melon Mule

1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add Grey Goose Le Melon and the juice from three lime wedges.
2. Shake well and strain into a copper mug filled with crushed ice.
3. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge.

Le Logis

As the sun set over Le Logis, there was little left to do but take a leisurely bicycle ride around the vineyards, a little pentanque boules and raise a final glass to Grey Goose, whose passion has led to extraordinary feats of inspiration in all their ranges. Their logo of a soaring bird certainly does encapsulate their spirit of inventiveness and in their words, “Fly Beyond.”

www.greygoose.com

Galvin At Windows – Finding Culinary Inspiration In Korea By Ramy Salameh

En-vogue, trendy, and the ‘‘big new cuisine’’ on the culinary circuit….everyone is talking about Korean food. This delicate Asian cuisine is making waves around the world as a healthy, tasty and social dining option. Food is spearheading Hallyu– the Korean wave of popular culture that has spent a decade slowly spreading to distant shores. The adoption and acceptance of a foreign cuisine, more often than not, reflects the growing popularity of the destination in a tourism context. This north Asian powerhouse is now seen as a unique place to visit by Europeans, who are now more aware of the country’s cultural traits and characteristics.

Chris Galvin

Over the last two years, the glitterati of the culinary world have started to touch down in Seoul, ready to experience everything from street food to temple cuisine, and to see first-hand how key dishes are prepared. They come to open the lid, in both a metaphorical and physical sense, of the onggi clay pots that are filled with an assortment of fermented sauces and condiments: red bean paste, soybean paste, soy sauce – all essential ingredients in the making of Korean dishes with a traceable lineage dating back thousands of years. These research trips have led to new restaurants opening up in the UK and a few Korean-inspired fusion menus and pop-up food stalls appearing in some of London’s hippest districts.

Galvin at Windows is one of London’s most popular Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants, perched atop the London Hilton Park Lane, commanding unrivalled views of the capital. The talented team behind Galvin at Windows are the most recent high-profile professionals to visit Korea to undertake a culinary research trip. The only difference from other similar visits is that the restaurant’s Head Chef Joo Won is Korean, and he is passionate to show his mentor and chef patron, Chris Galvin, and Frederic Sirieux (head waiter and media personality) the food of his upbringing and how it can inspire the restaurant menu.

Joo Wan

The team will experience the buzz of Korea’s night markets and street food stalls, dine out at some of the city’s best restaurants, learn about traditional medicine, understand the true essence and origins of various Korean flavours and also have time to visit Seoul’s key landmarks. On their return, Galvin at Windows will create a special Korean-inspired menu to run in the restaurant during August as well as having their own version of a pop-up Korean stall set up as if on a small street cart, for guests to enjoy. The new menu in August will coincide with the Korea Tourism Organisation’s ‘‘Imagine Your Korea Day’’ taking place in London’s Trafalgar Square, which is a celebration of Korean culture expected to attract up to thirty thousand visitors across the day. This day of celebration will be worthy of saying Gambe, whilst holding one of Galvin’s Korean-inspired cocktails that will be served in their bar and run in conjunction with their special menu!

A Taste of Mexican Luxury At Martha Ortiz’s Dulce Patria By Gordon Radley

Supper at Martha Ortiz’s Dulce Patria restaurant turned out to be not only a landmark event in my Mexico City trip but also a spiritual experience. By the time I arrived at this culinary palace, I was already getting used to being late for everything. In this city, people talk lots about traffic circulation but most of the time, the cars seem to be stationary and pointing all over the place. The traffic though, when it moves, is like everything in this country – quite an experience.

Dulce Patria Kitchen

The outside of Dulce Patria, resembles trendy restaurants in London’s West End. It’s part of the beautiful Las Alcobas boutique hotel. Inside, it is reminiscent of a hacienda – it feels like another world. Glamorous-looking people lean towards one another across the tables. Attention to detail is the order of the day here, like starfruit slices in the water, edible flowers everywhere and tables adorned with beautiful local handicrafts.

David Gomez Bravo, Martha Ortiz and Gordon Radley

David Gomez Bravo, Martha Ortiz and Gordon Radley

The food was both eye-catching and mouth-watering but the jewel in the crown in this restaurant is the chef herself, Martha Ortiz. Intelligent and beautiful, this purveyor of modern Mexican food is without doubt a star. Mexican food, she says, is “feminine, as seduction and passion are at the heart of a good meal.” We talked of the movie based on the book Like Water For Chocolate, written by her friend, Mexican writer Laura Esquivel. In the story, the central character, Tita, can only express herself when she is cooking. Martha and Laura have just written a book together featuring Mexican women and their recipes for life.

Chef Martha Ortiz

Chef Martha Ortiz

Martha has a theory about Mexican cuisine. She believes yin and yang energy work together. Mexicans, she believes, are introverted and thoughtful yet their food is sensual and feminine. At this point, my mezcal cocktail arrived. Certainly it seemed to have feminine qualities – sweet and adorned with jewel-like pomegranate seeds.

The Ambassador of Mexico in Germany Patricia Espinosa, Gordon Radley and Martha Ortiz

The Ambassador of Mexico in Germany Patricia Espinosa, Gordon Radley and Martha Ortiz

The food here was certainly a stunning mixture of tastes, almost exploding in the mouth. I have tasted great guacamole in Mexico but here the nationalistic guacamole included ricotta cheese and pomegranate – a great combination.

Quesadillas

Quesadillas came next – a mixture of nutty and spicy tastes and a great collections of colours. The cheese and epazote version was fantastic. The herb is widely used in Latin America and tastes a bit like a combination of mint and tarragon. Another quesadilla filling was squash blossom and pine nut. I really fell in love with courgette blooms in Mexico. Great too was the combination of goats cheese and huitlacoche – a kind of fungus that grows on corn.

Quesadillas Oscuras De Huitlacoche

I asked Martha what is her favourite food in Mexico, and indeed in the world. Her answer to both questions was “mole negro.” This is a sauce from Oaxhaca and is basically a mixture of black chillies, spices and chocolate. She loves it because it has the “sensuality of a velvet dark night.” I had mole negro with duck, served with corn-flavoured wild rice and topped with a plume of banana. It was amazing – and the presentation was stunning. The sweets too were wonderful, especially the cornbread in a mystical chamomile flower sauce.

Duck In Mole Negro

Dining at Dulce Patria is a luxurious experience – not only is it a gastronomic celebration of Mexico but it’s also a spiritual experience, creating pleasant, lasting memories. Maybe Britain is going through a love affair with Mexican food but how many have tasted top-end Mexican gastronomy? Marta Ortiz – please open in London too!

My Dinner At Dulce Patria

Nationalistic guacamole with requesón and pomegranate

Multicoloured quesadillas with sultana salsa (cheese and epazote, squash blossoms and pine nuts, beef machaca and melted cheese, and huitlacoche with goat cheese)

Game of pork crackling marbles with raw green salsa

Game of Pork Marbles

Shrimp and scallops aguachile with cucumber, green mango and well salt

Ajochile seabass with tender hoja santa tamal and fresh purslane

Duck in mole negro with banana plume, served with corn-flavored rice

Cornbread in a mystical chamomile flower sauce with caramel aureole

Finally, the rain that douses fire: charred maize and offering cacao ice-cream

A Gourmet Journey Around London’s Square Mile By Fiona Sanderson

Chris Galvin, Private Dining by Galvin – “London has such a thrilling restaurant scene, one that really rivals New York with outstanding cuisine, somewhere I took much inspiration from when I worked there back in the 1980s. I used to think that we would never come close to that food mecca. But I now feel that same excitement right here in London; there is a sense of electricity, vibrancy and passion, one that is spreading at an unstoppable pace. It’s a foodie’s nirvana, one I am proud to be a part of.”

Angler

It would seem that London’s vibrant, growing restaurant scene is definitely on the up and getting a table at top restaurants can prove pretty impossible. So when an invitation arrived to spend an entire Friday afternoon touring some of the best restaurants around London’s square mile, tasting Michelin standard dishes as well as learning a few cooking techniques, I jumped at the chance of this unique opportunity. Who wouldn’t like to learn a thing or two about preparing the perfect tuna tartare, slicing a Peking duck and cooking the perfect steak? Oh yes, and trying one or two cocktails from one of London’s best viewpoints, The Gherkin. Heaven! All this was made possible by Ten Group, whose personalised lifestyle concierge service brings truly unique experiences to life (their ability to get you into places others can’t is second to none).

First Stop – Angler Restaurant, South Place Hotel

Angler is South Place’s Michelin-starred seafood restaurant on the top floor, where Executive Chef Tony Fleming’s menus offer a unique take on British seafood paired with the best seasonal and local produce. We were in the semi-private dining area known as the Chef’s View. A real bird’s eye view of the kitchen, which is always fascinating. We were shown the art of mixing the ultimate tuna tartare with yellow fin tuna, apples, pickled and root ginger, red chilli, lime and salt.

Angler

The art was in the dressing of ginger syrup and oils. My display wasn’t quite Michelin presentation but it did the trick. Sadly, we had to leave all too soon but I am definitely coming back with high summer around the corner to sit on their terrace. With great views across London and delicious surroundings, this is great food not to be missed.

Angler

Angler Restaurant, South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, London EC2M 2AF – www.anglerrestaurant.com

Second Stop – Galvin La Chapelle

This has got to be one of London’s most historic and unique locations. Situated in a Grade II Victorian school chapel with high-vaulted ceilings, this is no ordinary school dinner! This extraordinary experience came courtesy of London’s top Michelin-starred brothers, Chris and Jeff Galvin. We met Chris, who told us that his grandmother was probably the instigator of his passion for ethically and traditionally sourced food, which began with her amazing fruit and vegetable garden.

Galvin La Chapelle

A mix of French technique mixed with English ingredients such as fresh mackerel and rich marrow is definitely not dull. We tried their signature fish dish with shallots, Champagne and Noilly Prat, washed down with three types of Laurent Perrier. Delish! Then it was back on the Luxury Mini Bus – we were all getting the hang of this quite nicely and there was certainly enthusiasm for our next experience.

Galvin La Chapelle

Galvin La Chapelle, 35 Spital Square, London E1 6DY – www.galvinrestaurants.com

Third Stop – HKK

Described as a banquet-style, modern Cantonese menu for sophisticated foodies in the heart of the city, this one certainly didn’t disappoint. The décor is very sophisticated and the food looked utterly delicious as it passed in front of us. As part of the Chinese New Year of the Goat, we were given a bespoke cocktail called Yang Walker made with Johnny Walker Black Label, Ume Shu (plum sake) and Baijiu, a unique Chinese spirit made from wheat, which the Chinese traditionally consume with their meal during the festive season to bring prosperity and good fortune. Delicious. This was followed by a dim sum trilogy – goji berry and prawn dumpling, chicken and truffle dumpling, and king crab puff.

HKK

Armed with what looked like a small machete, we were shown how to carve the cherry-wood roasted Peking duck – HKK’s signature dish. It was marinated with Chinese five spice and red wine vinegar, then hung to dry for 16 hours and cooked for nearly an hour and a half over cherry wood in their custom-made glass oven. The duck melted in our mouths and was no ordinary Peking duck, believe me! Matched in heaven with their 2013 Pinot Noir from Pfalz, Germany; a wine produced exclusively for Hakkasan.

HKK

HKK London, 88 Worship Street, Broadgate Quarter, London EC2A 2BE – www.hkklondon.com

Fourth Stop – Hawksmoor

From Asian duck to British beef, this was a lesson on how to cook the perfect steak, which I was certainly looking forward to. Hawksmoor is reputably one of the best steak restaurants in London and after sampling every type of steak you can imagine, I certainly agree. The art of cooking a great steak, said the Head Chef in the kitchens, is done in several stages. Firstly, buy good meat. Secondly, buy big, as a good tasting char is only possible with a thick piece. Thirdly, when you take the meat out of the fridge, pat it dry. Fourthly, make sure your barbeque or pan is very hot. Finally, don’t use any oil as the heat should stop the meat sticking. Flip it every couple of minutes until it’s cooked to your liking, then rest for 5 to 10 minutes. The proof was in the eating, as they say! Delicious.

Hawksmoor

Next time I am there, I am going to try their Power Breakfast – although when I have no appointments! Hawksmoor has crammed in as many bits of animal as possible into its sharing breakfast: pig’s trotter in baked beans and short-rib in the bubble and squeak to go with mammoth-sized bone marrow and smoked bacon chop, black pudding and sausages (from pork, beef and mutton). Vegetarians, stay away – this is meat-worshipping at the highest level.

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor Guidhall, 10 Basinghall Street, London EC2V 5BQ – www.thehawksmoor.com

Final Stop – Searcys The Gherkin

As the afternoon was drawing to a close, I must say my appetite was flaying and I needed reviving! Arriving on top of the world at Searcys The Gherkin, looking out at one of London’s most majestic views certainly is inspirational and revives you in seconds, with the city spread in all its glory just as the sun was setting. Occupying the top three floors, Searcys The Gherkin is home to London’s highest private members’ club, with an exclusive lounge, restaurant and bar with private dining rooms, the finest menus and the best 360° views over the City (I am told, however, this may be changing and the rules on private membership may be less strict).

Searcys

We were given three childhood treats, which I must say sent me to heaven and back again. As a welcome, we were firstly offered a unique take on afternoon tea and ice-cream lollies. Beefeater gin infused with pomegranate tea was mixed with tonic water crafted with citruses, spices and flowers and then served in a smoking iron-casted teapot with dry ice. The ice-cream was made whipped in a kitchen aid with dry ice, which makes it a silky smooth, albeit very cold ice-cream. The cone was made with bric pastry dusted with granulated sugar. This was served alongside mint, sour apple, strawberry and bubblegum syrup pipettes, vanilla and cinnamon aroma bottles, popping candy, coconut crumble and 64% manjari dust.

Searcys

Carrot and beetroot lollipops were made with fresh juices and sherbet using various sugars, citric acid and lemon zest. The fizz reminded me of my childhood with Barretts sherbet lemons. Served on a bed of moss with dry ice underneath, the hot beetroot juice gave a fog effect as well as releasing some of the aroma to enhance the flavour of the lollipops. Goody gum drops, I say!

Searcys

Searcys The Gherkin, 30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP – www.searcys.co.uk

To complete this fantastic day, I swear there’s no better way to enjoy the sunset and views at this unique spot than with one the Gherkin’s own cocktails – vanilla-infused Absolut vodka with homemade cinnamon syrup, biodynamic Poiré Authentic cidre by Eric Bordelet and a rim coated with cocoa butter and popping candy.

Searcys

The whole day consisted of picture-perfect moments of aromas, unique tastes and fine dining, all within a short distance. As Chris Galvin says, “London is a foodie’s nirvana, one that I am proud to be a part of.” I am proud to be part of it, too.

Courchevel’s L’Apogee Hotel By Roz Kempner

L'Apogée Courchevel

L’Apogee Hotel in Courchevel certainly has the “wow factor” written all over it! Excellently positioned overlooking the village, with “ski in / ski out” facilities, it has been designed with great taste. It is contemporary, slick and luxurious, and attentive staff do everything with a smile. Our suite had terrific views, fur throws, ample cupboard space, a good-sized bathroom and lots of lovely bath products.

Hot Tub at l'Apogée Courchevel

The hotel bar is very cool, with live music in the evening – although we did expect something a little more exciting than nuts with our cocktails. The Smoking Room is a cigar smoker’s heaven. A vast cabinet of cigars within a decadently comfortable room – no freezing outside for smokers here! Then the Restaurant….breath-taking. A double staircase elegantly descends to a central horseshoe bar, off which there are three dining areas, creating intimacy in this large, graceful space. The walls are decorated with displays of magnificent wines. The Cheese Cellar has a home of its own, and a mountain of ice in the centre of the Sushi Bar is laden with fresh fish.

Courchevel

This is the only restaurant within a hotel in Courchevel in which we have actually had a desire to eat, and furthermore eaten exceptionally well. The menu covers gastronomic, local Savoyard and Asian dishes. The aroma of homemade bread is intoxicating, and the lemony brioche was just to die for – it was light as air. The Jerusalem Artichoke soup – a delicate, fluffy espuma with a cloud-like chicken quenelle, chunks of artichoke heart, and generous truffle shavings – was a triumph with great textures. The fillet steak was flawless, and the chicken breast stuffed with truffles was packed with flavour and cooked to perfection.

Courchevel

Other highlights were the tastiest daily breads, a totally wicked miniature Salmon Wellington served as an amuse bouche, meaty gyoza, a citrus Asian crab salad, and a seriously sophisticated Thai green curry. The latter was a beautifully cooked piece of snow white fish, served in a pool of vibrant green sauce. A striking but delicate dish.

Thai Green Curry

The Pastry Chef here deserves an award. He produces the lightest pastries and breads imaginable. The enormous breakfast buffet is the best we have ever come across, and the horseshoe bar is bedecked with everything one could possibly desire, with the resident chef producing freshly-baked, irresistible cookies and the like every morning.

L'Apogée Courcheval

Of course, then there is the skiing bit. The latest, hottest ski wear is for sale in the Ski Room, and the staff are on hand to help you slip into your boots before guiding you outside to your skis. No sweat and tears. To top it all off, upon your return to this haven of luxury, a must is to relax by the dreamy pool and indulge in a sumptuous spa treatment. This is a fabulous new addition to a first class resort.

www.lapogeecourchevel.com

Why Korean Cuisine Is One of The Healthiest On The Planet By Ramy Salameh

Korean Foods

When anyone mentions Korean cuisine, invariably they talk about Kimchi. This food, like no other, underpins the health-giving properties of Korean food and is the most important accompaniment to every meal in every household and restaurant across the peninsula. The nation is quite literally crazy about Kimchi and even the country’s first astronaut could not enter space without taking this (vacuum-packed) tangy cabbage delicacy with her! Kimchi was traditionally produced at the end of autumn, not long after the harvest, in a communal tradition called the Gimjang, during which large quantities of Kimchi were made in preparation for the winter months. This process was designated by UNESCO as a form of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013.

So why is Kimchi, and Korean food in general, considered to be so healthy? The answer lies in fermentation. Outside most traditional houses, known as Hanoks, one will normally find a number of onggi, which are large brown clay pots, filled with an assortment of fermented sauces and condiments: red bean paste, soy bean paste, soy sauce – all essential ingredients in the making of Korean dishes, and they have a traceable lineage dating back thousands of years. To quote the experts, as a biological phenomenon, fermentation refers to a metabolic process through which sugars are converted into acids. In food products, this typically means carbohydrates being broken down into lactic acid using yeasts and healthy bacteria, yielding a number of positive effects.

Traditional Hanoks

Kimchi has quite a following – even America’s First Lady Michelle Obama once shared her recipe, and celebrity chef Judy Joo (who recently opened the stylish Jinjuu restaurant on the fringes of London’s Soho) has created “Kimchi Mary” – her own take on the Bloody Mary. The curative benefits of the dish were highlighted as a possible reason why Asian SARS never reached Korean shores; whether that was in fact true or not, one must acknowledge the acclaim for this humble fermented cabbage.

If you eat Kimchi with Korea’s second most famous dish, Bibimbap, then one is well on the way to understanding an important part of Korea’s DNA. Bibimbap may appear to the uninitiated to be a simple dish of mixed rice, namul (seasoned vegetables and herbs) and gochujang (red pepper paste), but it has much greater resonance. Within Bibimbap, locally obtained bean sprouts are the main ingredient to be added to rice and then cooked in beef broth. Just before the rice is fully cooked, bean sprouts are mixed with the rice and then the other ingredients such as mung bean curd, raw beef and nuts are placed on top.

Bibimbap

In choosing the ingredients, the colour is also considered carefully, according to traditional cosmology: each direction of the compass, the precise location of the diner and what season it happens to be are all indicated by the use of five basic colours, which are blue (and green), red, yellow, white and black. Blue symbolizes the east; yellow is the spot where one happens to be standing and also the earth; white signifies the west and autumn; and black is for north and winter. So it is no wonder that people used to believe that having a bowl of Bibimbap meant one was absorbing the energy of the universe.

Certainly the universe is taking note of Korean food, as eating this cuisine is on trend, flavorsome and above all, healthy!

Chai Wu In Harrods By Roz Kempner

Chai Wu - Front Of House

Chai Wu is a newly-opened, sophisticated Chinese restaurant on the 5th floor of Harrods, with a contemporary layout, an open kitchen and a cool dining space. There is the option of sushi and sashimi, the seafood displayed on ice.

Edamame Beans

Staff are more than attentive, and speedily took our drinks order whilst proffering spicy edamame beans and refreshing cucumber batons. We thought it best to skip the exotic cocktail menu, and were pleased with a comprehensive wine list, featuring several champagnes and wines. The cleverly chosen Chinese menu has eliminated any “average” dishes, and instead opts for expensive ingredients, creating discerning dishes.

BBQ Wagyu And Gold Leaf Puff

Following knowledgeable advice, we started with the Wagyu Puff, a rather large puff of pastry with a good meaty filling. This was followed by the Dim Sum Platter, delicate parcels daintily decorated with truffle, gold leaf and caviar, comprising a sophisticated selection of seabass, lobster, prawn, scallop and vegetables.

Steamed Dim Sum Platter

From The Grill, we chose succulent, chunky Wagyu Skewers and King Scallops on the shell, with a zingy ginger salsa. Billowing with dry ice, The Harrods Special was particularly dramatically presented. A sushi roll, it was a melting mouthful of rice with crab, avocado and spicy mayonnaise, topped with scallops and caviar. Excellent.

Beijing Duck

Traditional Beijing Duck was dark and glossy, professionally carved at our table, the skin delicate and crisp, and the meat soft. We preferred the pancakes to the Mantou Buns, with the remaining meat served either in lettuce wraps or as duck fried rice.

Beijing Duck

Keeping up with the really artistic presentation, the Sweet & Sour Chicken was served in a pink dragonfruit bowl. The fruit itself was fried, crunchy and sweet, served with a sticky sauce.

Sweet & Sour Chicken

The Grand Finale for us (as we really couldn’t eat any more!), was the Coconut Prawn dish, a seriously naughty, terrifically coconutty, deep-fried prawn concoction. Enhanced with chilli and spring onion, it was heavenly but not for the calorie-conscious!

Coconut Prawn

Chai Wu is indeed glamorous, the food is expertly presented and it offers a more modern approach to Chinese cooking. It is a good addition to what is generally “counter eating” within Harrods. Perhaps not to be treated as a shopping break, but as a proper dining experience.

www.chaiwu.co.uk

Get Your Gut In Gear For New Year At Grayshott By Fiona Sanderson

Gut Gastronomy

What better place to be away from the high calories and hangover-inducing booze of the post-festive period than at award-winning health facility, Grayshott Spa? Keen to start 2015 with good intentions, I checked myself in for a restorative New Year break. My blissful detox consisted of a series of treatments to help me relax, and to get my New Year off to the best possible start.

Gut Gastronomy

Of course, as with any health kick, an important factor is food, but at Grayshott, the emphasis is very firmly on “inspiration,” not “deprivation.” I enjoyed foie gras rocher with nut crumble, cranberry and toast, followed by wild seabass with lobster and salmon ravioloi, caramelised cauliflower, white asparagus and caviar lingolta. Despite the health focus, dessert was definitely not off the menu, and I was able to choose champagne and elderflower sorbet, and almond pancake with vanilla ice-cream and cherries. Delicious!

Gut Gastronomy

My commitment to improving my overall health has also been inspired by the launch of a new book, called Gut Gastronomy, by nutritionist Vicki Edgson and Grayshott’s Executive Chef Adam Palmer. During my break at Grayshott, I was treated to a sneak peek of the gastronomic delights within. Full of delicious menus and helpful health advice, I have been inspired by the colourful photos of the food to not just cook healthily, but to eat healthily too. The book is based on a health regime devised by Elaine Williams (Grayshott’s Director of Natural Therapies) and Stephanie Moore (Grayshott’s Clinical Nutritionist), and the delicious recipes mean you don’t even feel like you’re dieting. The first section of the book introduces you to an initial, short-term plan – designed to rest and repair your digestive system. Post-plan information then suggests food to introduce to your diet to maintain a healthy gut. The thinking is that if your digestive system is functioning properly, then so will the rest of your body.

Gut Gastronomy

When it came to a post-Christmas detox, I really couldn’t have been in better hands at Grayshott – particularly knowing that I can carry on in the same vein at home with the book. This is a sensible, satisfying approach to food that I hope to follow for the rest of the year. There really never has been a better time to pay attention to what you put into your mouth!

Further Information

Gut Gastronomy by Vicki Edgson and Adam Palmer is published by Jacqui Small.

Grayshott Spa is located near Hindhead in Surrey. Visit www.grayshottspa.com or call +44 (0)1428 602020.

Westernising Japanese Food At Kurobuta By Caroline Phillips

Kurobuta

‘You’re going to hate Kurobuta,’ my teen children announce cheerily. ‘It’s uncomfortable and noisy.’ Well, naturally, I wanted to prove them wrong – what self-righteous mother wouldn’t? But given the fact that I’m now sitting on something like a park bench, only less comfortable – a wooden, plank-like seat – in a restaurant that is chronically loud, cavernous and unpleasantly dark, it’s going to be difficult to disagree with my teen lifestyle advisors.

A ‘wall’ of hanging strings separates us from the next table and pendant halogen bulbs in cages dangle disconsolately. There are no soft furnishings, just stone and paint and bouncing sound. ‘But the food is great,’ they add. So listen up: after all, my kids have both been committed gastronomes since they were in utero. Plus, Kurobuta has garnered almost universally glowing reviews in the national press.

Kurobuta

The staff is like a bunch of antipodean nannies or surfer boys and girls: good-looking and mega-watt enthusiastic. We could be Down Under if we weren’t in the ground floor of a gloomy modern block looking over that no man’s land-ish part of Marble Arch plaintively called ‘Connaught Village.’

The chef and co-founder, Scott Hallsworth, is the restaurant’s Aussie hero. His website boasts that he has created dishes for many A-listers. ‘During his years as top man at the Nobu London and Melbourne restaurants, he cooked for Michael Jackson,’ it reads ‘….and served up his signature dishes for Bill Clinton and Robert de Niro. While he was at Real Madrid, David Beckham flew Scott to Madrid to cater the birthday party of his wife Victoria.’

Kurobuta

He also has a pop-up that stayed up in Chelsea. And an outpost in Bodrum. And now, here he is in person, in the can-almost-touch-him flesh: working the pass from the dining-room side of the bar dressed in a T-shirt and stripy apron. I am almost dying with anticipation.

Kurobuta (Japanese for a species of black pig) is based on an izakaya – a Japanese drinking den. There’s room for 80 and they also serve dishes to go. Scott’s aim is to popularise and westernise Japanese food.

Kurobuta

The menu is a compendium of yumminess, an easy-eating compilation, with silly subsections entitled things like, ‘Something Crunchy,’ ‘Significant Others,’ ‘On The Side’ and ‘Junk Food Japan’ – the junk food being, for example, Wagyu beef sliders. Under ‘Sushi,’ there’s fresh salmon with béarnaise salsa and fries.

We devour the crispest tempura-ed black pepper soft-shell crab, each light-batter bite releasing another divine taste of fish and spice; the tuna pizza has a super-crunchy, thin wheaten cracker base, topped with the best, freshest tuna sashimi, truffle ponzu and a sauce with red onions and green chillies; and the beef fillet tataki with onion ponzu and garlic crisps is a delightfully textural dish. A different runner brings each plate. The service is 5 star, but relaxed, upbeat and jokey.

Kurobuta

Somehow, we eat our way through the menu. The beer grilled beef fillet with wasabi salsa must be from a happy Buddhist cow fed on love, so tip-top is the meat. BBQ pork belly in steamed buns with spicy peanut soy is so inventive and original (even if it’s not Scott’s invention, but more David Chang’s at Momofuko): it’s like upmarket fairground food, and the fatty, chewy belly of pork against the soft bun with the red onion and green chillies send me to heaven. The Nasu Dengaku, sticky miso grilled aubergine with candied walnuts is sublime. ‘Insane, it’s so amazing,’ according to Child One.

Less successful is the flamed edamame with sake which are boiled then grilled and overcooked. And the spicy tuna maki may look like flowers – like pretty petals of sushi – but the seaweed is too chewy and the rice too heavy.

Kurobuta

The food comes quickly, and disappears rapidly. The waiters take it away too fast, almost before my chopsticks are out of the dishes. It’s too swift for me: junk food speed, rather than the lingering that prices for little fusion dishes like these deserve (crispy skin duck confit is £14; Kombu roasted Chilean sea bass is £18; sushi is £4 a piece).

Before we can blink, the puddings appear. Pistachio parfait, limoncello jelly, matcha meringue, hazelnut and chocolate mini doughnuts in green tea sugar – and that’s just one desert. It’s too complicated, too elaborate, a collision of ingredients. But it looks enchantingly like a geometrical 3D diagram. As for the lavender crème brulee, cinnamon ice-cream, apple pie foam and shortbread pud – too busy for me. But ‘it’s like riding a unicorn through a rainbow,’ enthuses a waiter with a tattoo. I don’t have body art. But I can say that overall Scott’s food is as magical as dancing with goblins and fairies on the moon.

Kurobuta

Kurobuta is fashionable. It’s full of young professionals, local ladies, families, couples – yes, lots of people on dates and yards of blonde hair. Plus this area is also an outpost of Kuwait.

I don’t embarrass my children too much – after all, I fail to ask for the music to be turned down. But I do – oh, watch their faces turn red – request a cushion. There isn’t one. In fact, there’s only one chair with a soft seat in the entire restaurant. This notwithstanding, I might return. With my own bottom-absorbing paraphernalia. Kurobata is definitely a great place in which to own a healthy mouth, and not just because you need to shout.

17-20 Kendal Street 
Marble Arch, London, W2 2AW
Open at 12 pm; last food orders at 10:30 pm
Reservations: +44 (0) 203 475 4158

Email: info@kurobuta-london.com
www.kurobuta-london.com

Caroline Phillips is an award-winning freelance journalist who contributes to publications from Sunday and daily newspapers to glossy magazines and various luxury websites. To see more of her work, go to www.carolinephillips.net.

Michel Roux Jr – How The World of Dining Is Changing By The Luxury Channel

World-renowned chef Michel Roux Jr. reveals to The Luxury Channel the secret ingredient for the perfect restaurant….

Michel Roux Junior

Was it inevitable that you would end up in the kitchen, or did you entertain the idea of a different profession?

No, I’ve always wanted to be a chef. For as long as I can remember!

How big an influence are your father and uncle?

A big influence! I mean, they were a big influence when I was growing up and they still are. Absolutely.

Growing up, was there ever any competition between you and your cousin Alain?

No, never. Never any competition. We’ve always been cousins with never a bad word.

Didn’t you both spent your military service in the kitchens at the Elysee Palace? What was that like?

Brilliant, an absolutely amazing experience cooking for two presidents – Giscard d’Estaing and Francois Mitterrand – an honour and a privilege and one that will always stay with me.

What brought you back to London after working in Hong Kong? How different was the cuisine you were cooking at the Mandarin Hotel compared to what was being done in London at the time?

Ah, the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong was amazing, and still is. It’s an iconic venue in Hong Kong. Gosh, the time I spent there, I worked in every food outlet, from the coffee shop to the grill (which was stunning) to the fine dining room. I even worked in the Chinese restaurant there. So it was just a revelation. It was unbelievable to work in a 5 star luxury hotel, to work behind the scenes and to see how it runs. It was a great experience.

How hard was it to break out from under your father’s shadow when you first took over the reins at Le Gavroche?

I suppose I still am! He started the business with my uncle. But I think I have made my own reputation now. But they will always be there and they will always have their legacy as well.

How have dining habits changed over the years, and how hard is it to embrace the kind of innovation needed to continue to corner the market?

I think dining habits have changed quite a bit. I think they’ve changed in terms of sharing plates are now in and tapas is in but there will always be a place for the formal restaurant, I think. We all have birthdays and anniversaries and we all want to have that luxurious, pampered feel, so they will always exist.

We all know that things don’t always go quite to plan in the kitchen. Can you recall any memorable disasters you’ve had?

There are disasters, and disasters will always happen, but it’s how you get out of them that’s most important. Being the sort of person I am, I don’t dwell on them, I always move on. To coin a modern phrase, I’ve pressed the delete button!

Your daughter Emily is a chef. Was that something you wanted for her, or a career path she chose for herself?

Again, she’s always wanted to be a chef – she’s never thought of being anything other than a chef. That’s the way it is, I suppose. It’s in the genes.

Do you think more needs to be done to inspire women to become chefs?

That’s a very difficult question because if you take my kitchen for example, the head chef and the two sous chefs are female, so maybe I am not the norm. I think other than those three main positions, we’ve got another four females in the kitchen so we’ve got a lot. I’ve never, ever been discriminatory in that way. I think if you’re good enough, it doesn’t matter if you’re male, female, black or white. If you’re good enough, you deserve your position.

What advice would you give to a young chef starting out?

Don’t be late! That’s one of the things I learnt as an apprentice – don’t be late!

What is the key to a good restaurant?

The key to a good restaurant is actually more than just good food. The key to a good restaurant is the whole experience. So the front of house, the service and the buzz. The buzz is very important. A good atmosphere. You can’t buy buzz; it’s not an ingredient. You only get the buzz from happy people dining in your restaurant.

What’s your signature dish?

No signature dish as such, but one of the favourite best-sellers is the cheese soufflé so that’s been on the menu since 1967 and is still on.

Cooking is a challenging profession. What’s the most difficult dish you’ve ever had to prepare?

Well, soufflés are pretty tricky, but I’ve had a few years’ experience in it!

To what extent is social media a new tool in the chef’s kitchen?

Social media is good, but I think some chefs do it a little too much. But it’s a great tool for any business now, really.

You’re very successful, but looking to the future, do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

Yes, of course. The beauty of our industry is that every day is different. So the ambition is making sure that every plate of food is as good as it possibly can be and to make sure every diner is as happy as they can be.

What’s your favourite luxury?

I do have many, but actually, the biggest luxury is not something you can buy, and that is time. So when I can afford to take just a little time off and chill out a bit, that’s a huge luxury.

The Luxury Channel spoke to Michel via Interview Hub. For more information about Le Gavroche, click here. Michel will be appearing at the BBC Good Food Show Winter which takes place at Birmingham NEC from 27-30 November.

The Most Interesting Food Ever At AOC By Caroline Phillips

Forget Noma – Caroline Phillips heads for AOC, where you can get a reservation with an ease that belies the wonders you’ll find therein….

AOC

If you’re keen on gastronomy, there’s a hot contender for your attention in Copenhagen. A restaurant that is not globally renowned, not regularly reviewed and doesn’t have a big waiting list. Welcome to AOC.

AOC is centrally located – near the King’s Square – in the vaulted basement of a 17th century palace. The restaurant has white walls, stone floors and white linen tablecloths. It has a monks’ cloisters feel, aside from the wannabe-Rothko pictures, cut crystal and dipsomaniac’s dream of a drive-in wine cooler. The décor isn’t as good as its one-Michelin-star food – the lighting’s too stark and the ceiling ones look like bulbous escaped molecules – although every restaurant should take its cue from AOC and have clips under the table for hanging ladies’ handbags. Tables which (delightfully) are miles apart – for 50 covers – and supersized.

AOC

When you go to AOC, you know rising chef Søren Selin and his team will probably have been foraging in the mountains, valleys and down by the sea; picking up weeds, berries and bark. This is food in the New Nordic tradition: natural ingredients of incredible freshness and quality; simple food, all in season. The menu changes six times a year. Søren, 38, who was previously head chef at Alberto K, wants the diner to feel the link from nature to plate.

His aim is also to give clients (when we were there, Danes, couples, businessmen, the over 45s in jackets) ‘a sensory experience’ – stimulating touch, sight, smell, sound and taste. Steaming flannels arrive first. Then the menus come in a glass letter rack – one in a silver envelope, one in beetroot. When it comes to the food, Søren mixes textures, colours, tastes, unusual presentations and juxtapositions. Even the bread is presented like eggs in a nest, alongside the soured goat’s butter.

AOC

My father gets offered a choice of three champagnes to start – I don’t drink – and I hear him mumbling happily about ‘fruity’ and ‘powerful.’ Christian Aarø, the gentle Nordic giant of an owner, is also the sommelier and flies the flag for Old and New World wines. I have the juice pairings including berries with odd names and sublime tastes like red apple and woodruff, and buckthorn juice.

The appetisers are made with love and artistry. Razor clam ‘sandwiches’ with a ‘snow’ of clams and foam of horseradish – light, like mouth-watering snow. Then langoustine tartare with red berry chutney, sour cream, tangy red herbs and pancake with a langoustine reduction on it – food I could eat forever. My heart starts to flutter each time a tray comes towards me. Flutter, flutter, here comes smoked bone marrow, rye bread crumble at the bottom and parsley cream on top – served in wax paper inside brown. Now here’s a deep fried sweetbread served on a twig. There’s also a stone pebble on which to rest our spoons. ‘I like the way we re-use our cutlery,’ says my father.

AOC

After a delightful hour, the appetisers are over and we start on the courses. There are two tasting menus – of six and nine courses: I opt for the former.

On offer tonight is squid, daikon, oysters and wild cress, with foraged beach mustard – vegetarian nirvana – paired with juice of cucumber and verbena; smoked sea scallops, tomato, dulse and Dashi with dried scallop roe in the snow – super fresh, zany and natural; and grilled greens, bleak roe and smoked egg yolk – paired with cherry juice (a whole bottle of every juice is made freshly for me. But I manage only a sip or two of each).

AOC

By 10pm, we’re only onto our third course – and I’m pretty full already. But then the star turn arrives: turbot, wrapped in lard in a juniper bush tied with string served on pebble with a side dish of cream made of turbot roes. ‘Take the scissors and cut it in the middle, the fish is inside,’ instructs the waiter. ‘Then dip it in the cream and eat it with your fingers.’ The dish smells like forest and tastes like heaven; and the cream is good enough furtively to wipe the bowl with my finger.

The rest of the evening is a blur of delightful excess. Duck hearts, corn hair and hazelnuts; Danish beef, nettles and cep puree; and burned rye bread porridge with dark berries – the pudding served in little flower pots with parsley ice-cream – paired with biodynamic hay milk (from happy cows which eat only hay) and hazelnut.

AOC

I’ve used nine glasses plus water ones. It has been an historic four-hour meal. I try not to imagine how much food we’ve each consumed. This is the sort of outing you should have only after fasting for two days. The food is a revelation. It can be added to Copenhagen’s best, along with Hans Christian Andersen, its clean air, safety and all those egalitarian, polite folk on pushbikes.

It’s not a snip – but nothing in Denmark is cheap. Six courses are £175 with wine pairing (£115 with juice); nine courses are £235 with wine pairing (£158 with juice). But it’s worth it. ‘The most interesting food I’ve ever had,’ says my father. And he speaks as someone who’s had 85 years of meals.

Dronningens Tværgade 2, 1302 København K
Phone +45 3311 1145 or e-mail mail@restaurantaoc.dk
www.restaurantaoc.dk

Caroline Phillips is an award-winning freelance journalist who contributes to publications from Sunday and daily newspapers to glossy magazines and various luxury websites. To see more of her work, go to www.carolinephillips.net.

Kokkeriet – A Small Restaurant With Big Ambitions By Caroline Phillips

Facade via Adsbøl

A small restaurant with big ambitions – that’s Kokkeriet according to its website. It claims also to be ‘modern and old-fashioned, innovative and traditional, decadent and minimalist, pretentious as well as humble.’ Well, that’s all bases covered then.

The executive chef, David Johansen, focuses on seasonal, natural foods, using produce the Danes find in their backyards, the forest and surrounding water. Owner, head sommelier and GM, Sammy Shafi, is super charming. Plus the restaurant has one Michelin star. Additionally, we turn up on the wrong night, and they’re endlessly accommodating. These are all good reasons to book.

Kokkeriet is on the corner of two grey streets of bleak buildings in Cophenahgen’s Nyboder neighbourhood – originally built as housing for the Navy. It boasts an attractive lounge area with a tall-backed sofa and Scandinavian-designed leather chairs. But the restaurant interior seems unrelated – a long, thin, low-ceilinged room with wallpaper imprinted with large diamonds, and black tablecloths: the vibe is daring suburban. That’s before I notice that hanging along the ceiling is a discarded ladder, or a curious artwork.

Lounge

Maybe this is meant to be a place to turn diners’ preconceptions upside down, somewhere a ladder doesn’t feel out of place overhead. After all, Kokkeriet offers new renditions of classic Danish dishes – a rethink of their gastronomic heritage. But it’s a bit like Heston Blumenthal’s cookery – although not as good – in that both chefs’ creations set me thinking afresh about food. Heston has Michelin stars because his work shows a consistent and reliable level of brilliance – but I don’t enjoy his mixtures and textures.

As for Kokkeriet, do I really like beetroot and duck liver with chocolate? (Even if it is pickled beetroot and based on the traditional Danish ‘flodebolle’ or petits fours). Or lamb, shrimp and pickled salad? Or spring cabbage with clam juice and buttermilk? David’s talent is undoubted, but I find some of the texture pairing odd, the flavour combination bizarre and I’m not even sure I like the juxtaposition of temperatures. Do raw wood sorrel and lemon verbena leaves really work with meringue? And what’s appealing about tepid bouillon on a cold crab starter?

The restaurant is heavingly popular, though – not a table free and difficult to get a booking. There’s a gathering of seven ladies on business; a table for one, as is the trend with extreme foodies; plus couples – and there’s a lot of Danish being spoken here. The dress code is smart casual – I feel overdressed in a black evening dress. Upmarket trainers wouldn’t be out of place. A succession of black bedecked, white-aproned staff is busy delivering things. ‘I like the way people keep coming out carrying just one fork or whatever,’ laughs my octogenarian father, who’s dining with me. But although he asks a couple of times for some more wine, something gets lost in translation and it doesn’t arrive.

Kokkeriet

Kokkeriet offers seven or eleven course menus. Top marks go to the oat, Havgus cheese and almond snacks – a deconstruction of a traditional Danish porridge breakfast. They’re presented imaginatively like a tangle of twigs, alongside lichen-covered real ones. The ‘frikadeller’ – meatballs originally eaten with potatoes – are reworked as a wild game appetiser, and get the thumbs up. And, towards the end of the meal, I love the tangy, refreshing sorbet of green grape and celery. The pudding of anise mousse, berries, beetroot sorbet and nougatine is a winner too (both unusual but good combinations). But I’m less keen on some of the bits in between.

It’s not just that I’m not a great fan of classic Danish dishes. Certainly the cod traditionally served on New Year’s Eve with bacon, capers, egg, beetroot and onion wouldn’t be my first choice (David’s update is tapioca fish with cod stock, squid ink seasoning and caper powder.) Nor would I rush to order the cabbage in white sauce that’s usually paired with meat – and which David ‘gourmandises’ by producing it instead with fish – scallops – drizzled with tarragon and white sauce flavoured with mussel juice and buttermilk. It’s just that some of the dishes are not perfectly executed either.

The cabbage dish is too salty. Then there’s the pork belly inspired by a dish called ‘burning love’ – classically served with mashed potatoes with caramelised onions. Instead, David’s pork belly is braised for 24 hours and modernised with aquavit, onion ‘ash’ (glazed, grilled onions), thyme and bacon – and it’s too dry. Before each course, we’re instructed to ‘enjoy;’ after each one, we’re asked whether it’s good.

Kokkeriet

For my juice pairing, they offer cucumber and grape, Jerusalem artichoke and fennel, and beetroot and cranberry juices. Or even carrot and cabbage juice – which takes a brave punter. I don’t tell them that the carrot juice is fermenting and a tad fizzy.

But, hey, this is the world of overhead ladders. I’ve been earlier to see the weird area of Christiana, a freetown and self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood of Copenhagen where ‘medical’ hash is sold openly in kiosks by tattooed hippies. We’ve visited the Rosenborg Castle and gawped at fist-size precious stones and Crown jewels. And now, yes now, the waiter is serving us salted caramel chocolate eggs in a bird’s nest on hay, good enough to tweet about.

Suddenly hundreds upon hundreds of roller bladers – with torches on their helmets – are speeding through the dark streets, some leading kids along by the hand and pushing babies in pushchairs ahead of them. They blade, stream and tear past the restaurant window. It’s fun to behold and lifts the heart. If you go to Kokkeriet, book your table for a night when there’s this Friday Night Skate. And make sure you raise your eyes and glass to the ceiling ladder too.

Kronprinsessegade 64 • 1306 København K • T: +45 3315 2777 • info@kokkeriet.dk
The 11-course menu 1.200,- £129
The 7- course menu 900,- £97
Additional option of 10 gr. caviar 250,-
Additional option of cheese 150,-
www.kokkeriet.dk

Caroline Phillips is an award-winning freelance journalist who contributes to publications from Sunday and daily newspapers to glossy magazines and various luxury websites. To see more of her work, go to www.carolinephillips.net.

Dining At UNI By Caroline Phillips

UNI

Outside it has the look of a Belgravia hair salon or a candle and scent shop – with its black awning and white façade with lots of glass, and window with a big image of a Japanese face. From the pavement, passers-by don’t really see diners. But inside is UNI – a restaurant serving Japanese and Peruvian fusion food, aka Nikkei cuisine.

Japanese immigrants arrived first in Peru in the late 19th century, and currently the country boasts South America’s second largest Japanese community – and UNI (Japanese for ‘sea urchin’) has transported their cuisine to minutes from Victoria station. Imagine Japan’s fine food mixed with the spicy oomph of Peruvian cooking, and the flipping-fresh and raw fish beloved of the Japanese combined with ingredients from the Americas such as corn, limes and peppers – and you get the idea. And who better to do this than the former chef from the fusion–loving kitchen of Nobu, Rolando Ongcoy?

UNI

Once across the UNI threshold, it’s immediately clear that I’m not going to be able to buy scent or get my hair cut here. The décor is by Andrew Martin – chandeliers made of mini bottles of Campari from which you could drink if you had a chandelier as your luxury item on a desert island, and shelves with rusty, characterful fifties toy cars, and vintage storybooks with titles like ‘Pitch Ball.’ The vibe is a bit ‘upstairs, downstairs’ – set as the restaurant is on two floors.

Upstairs is a hip, sushi bar with loud music, open kitchen to watch the chefs at work, white leather bar stools and room for 26 – attracting a young, cool crowd after light bites, bento boxes and cocktails. Downstairs – via a glass staircase – is a compact space for 34, with wooden tables, brown squishy banquette seating and comfy tub chairs. Under the pavement, there’s what UNI call ‘semi-private alcoves’ – and I’d call old coal holes with disco ceilings (gold leaf flecks on white background): possibly good for an affair, if you’re feeling a guilty Catholic need to sit straight-backed on a narrow banquette amid a mild cellar smell.

UNI

It’s almost like a separate restaurant downstairs. One that better suits people like me who don’t like to crane their necks to hear, and assorted Euromoney on a group outing on my first visit. Ah yes, did I tell you that I’d been there twice?

On our premier outing….oh, let’s just stick to the positive. The pan-fried sea bass with watercress salad was spot-on – super fresh, moist and beautifully cooked – and the delightful friendliness of the staff more than made up for any culinary shortcomings. The service is charming and attentive on both occasions. Not to mention that the waiters speak Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, English and probably Icelandic – a veritable Nikkei Babylon.

UNI

So to meal two, a mere few weeks later – sitting happily in the main part of the downstairs restaurant and drawn back by good reports from friends and family. There must be a sea somewhere near Belgravia, so fresh is the fish. Turbot tiraditos (very Peruvian, those tiraditos) with ponzu, minced ginger and chilli radish gets the thumbs up; the spicy tuna tartare with guacamole is mwah; and we are given the most succulent black cod with a piquant anticucho sauce – another Peruvian influence. We also have excellent, melt-in-your mouth Wagyu beef with rock salt and chilli.

They didn’t have their signature sea urchin roe, a Japanese delicacy, on either of my visits, and I don’t recommend the spiced edamame beans with chilli and garlic – not for the taste (which was original), but because they’re too messy and red saucy to eat with your fingers.

UNI

The food is beautifully presented, unlike my notes – which have spicy edamame sauce on them. But, roughly, my red-splodged scribble tells of elegant platters; an aesthetic tangle of grated vegetables, orange and white colours, and a teaspoon of gently chopped something atop a Tunisian, is it? Plus a black canoe boat plate of sushi on a green leaf, with fish eggs of green black and orange dotted on top a ‘squiggle of miso?’ Maybe. It doesn’t matter. It was all very pretty.

There is one minor shortcoming in the design. Whisper it. The loo. It’s like an aeroplane one – with enough room to swing half a Maki roll and just the one door: remember to close it. You have been warned.

UNI

That much said, UNI is miso (keep up, that’s like saying it’s Nikkei honey), to hedgies, minor wags and the like. I’ve tried it at lunch and dinner – I prefer the former. Our kids have also been independently and want to go back – not just for the coconut-based Chilli Mojito and the Peruvian Pisco Sours. “We’d like go to UNI,” they say. Thankfully, we can do that now for around £50 a head and it doesn’t involve UCAS forms.

UNI is open Monday to Saturday 12 pm to 10.30 pm.
18a Ebury Street, 
London SW1W 0LU
Reservations: +44 (0) 207 730 9267 or email reservations@restaurantuni.com
www.restaurantuni.com

Caroline Phillips is an award-winning freelance journalist who contributes to publications from Sunday and daily newspapers to glossy magazines and various luxury websites. To see more of her work, go to www.carolinephillips.net.

Eva Green – The Mythology of A Bond Girl By Hannah Norman

Campari Calendar 2015

Vesper Lynd is the only Bond girl to date to have made 007 fall in love with her, and actress Eva Green played the role with a bewitching sultriness that seems impossible to imagine anyone else accomplishing. So it’s not hard to see why she was picked as the face of Campari’s 2015 calendar, entitled Mythology Mixology, following in the footsteps of several Hollywood leading ladies before her, including Selma Hayek, Penelope Cruz and Uma Thurman.

Eva Green

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Green was in any way daunted by her predecessors. “I felt very privileged to follow in the footsteps of such amazing actresses,” she says earnestly, before promptly crediting this year’s photographer, Julia Fullerton-Batten, as being her only inspiration for the shoots. Indeed, Fullerton-Batten is the first woman photographer to have been employed for the calendar. “It’s important to feel loved by a photographer, by a director,” Green reveals. “I felt Julia appreciated me. On set, it’s very important to absorb good energy. It enabled me to relax and just have my picture taken.”

Campari Calendar 2015

It would seem she did – Fullerton-Batten’s instructions to Green went only as far as to tell her to do her thing and perform. “It was easy for me because you’re able to find some freedom in those boundaries,” Green explains. As for her favourite shot? “Hmmm,” she thinks, screwing up her compellingly expressive face. “I loved the boxing one; that was cool. I love the Negroni one actually – it’s romantic. I love the astronaut one – I’m going to have it framed for my flat. But they are all so cool, and very feminine. It’s such a beautiful calendar – it’s so classic, but very modern.”

Campari Calendar 2015

Conversely, however, there are always challenges with photo shoots. After having recently fallen off a horse, April’s shoot saw Green once again astride an equine. “That horse was very old. He was nice; it was fine,” she says. A true pro!

Campari Calendar 2015

But Green’s commitment to Campari stems not just from her professionalism, but also from childhood, as “my mum was always a big fan of Campari – she used to drink it in the afternoon!” Clearly proof that classic cocktails don’t date, something Green was keen to exemplify in the shoots. “The 2015 Calendar is a real testament to Campari as a brand and seeing all of the stories together in one collection just proves that no matter how old these recipes may get, there will always be a firm place for Campari within our contemporary world,” she reveals.

Campari Calendar 2015

As for the cocktail she would pick herself? “What time is it?” she asks. “Campari Orange!” But the actress is well aware that shooting the calendar was about much more than simply promoting drinks. “It was about telling a series of stories in an imaginative, creative and beautiful way,” she says. “This year, those stories are closer to the heart of Campari than ever before and I personally feel very honoured to have been part of that.”

Campari Calendar 2015

On the other hand, speaking of drinks, a little Dutch courage is surely a prerequisite for someone who is very well-known for her on-screen nude scenes. “I get so much into character that I kind of forget [about being naked],” Green admits. “I become numb in some ways. I do not enjoy being naked, but I just forget about it.” Her reasoning for this? “If you feel awkward, it will show on your face.” But Green isn’t quite as confident about it as she makes out. “I’m quite shy,” she confides. “I love costumes and strong make-up – it’s like armour.” So shooting the Campari calendar must have been an ideal project for her. Admitting her preparation for each shoot only “took, like, thirty minutes,” Green clearly revelled in doing the calendar. “I didn’t have to do any homework or learn any lines. I was surrounded by passionate people, and there was no pressure. There was lots of joy – it was very contagious.”

Campari Calendar 2015

Green did do some research prior to shooting, however. “Julia is so talented,” she enthuses about the photographer’s work. “I went online and saw all these weird, beautiful women, who were half woman, half animal. It was very brave to have picked Julia, but [the calendar] looks beautiful!” Presumably not least due to Eva herself. As for the outfits she wore for the shoots, are they likely to end up in her wardrobe? “Talk to Bob about that!” she laughs, referring to Campari’s CEO. Given her persuasive powers over Mr. Bond, it’s surely only a matter of time before those dream dresses are hers.

Clare Smyth MBE At Restaurant Gordon Ramsay By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel interviews Clare Smyth MBE, chef and proprietor of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay….

Clare Smyth MBE

Where did your love for cooking come from, and what inspired you to become a chef?

I grew up in Northern Ireland in the countryside on a farm. As I got a little bit older, I got into working in restaurants on my weekends and during the school holidays, just helping out, serving tables. Then after that, I wanted to get into the kitchen to see how all the cool stuff was happening. I got into the kitchen from the age of 15 and just really loved cooking and the environment, and really got sucked into it. From that age, I knew I wanted to be a chef – I think people were telling me that I had a natural ability to cook before that and I was thinking: “No, I’m going to be a doctor or a lawyer; I’m going to get a different profession.” But I kind of looked at it and I thought, I really like this. So, in terms of cooking, I was very, very popular at home, but it was just normal for me. We would get whole salmon coming straight to us and it would still be alive – a 12lb salmon. I was filleting them when I was 15 years old. I thought that was normal and it was only much later on in life – and actually, when I was working here already – that I thought that it wasn’t normal and maybe that’s why I am where I am today. Because actually, all of that was kind of a good foundation to be a chef.

You’re the chef and proprietor of Gordon Ramsay’s flagship restaurant – tell us how you came to work for him?

I was always inspired by the great chefs. I always wanted to work with the best. When I was young, Gordon had won three Michelin stars and everyone was talking about him. I went and did some trials at what were the top restaurants in the country. When I arrived in this one, it had recently just won its third Michelin star and the energy in the kitchen was just phenomenal. It was 2002 when I came here and I just loved it – I loved the environment, it was different to everywhere else and it was harder than everywhere else. That’s what made me want to do it – I wanted to challenge myself at the very toughest level and the most difficult kitchen I could work in. The food was just incredible. I had never seen or tasted anything like that and I just knew that I had to be here.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

What is it like working for Gordon? How collaborative is your relationship?

Gordon is tremendously supportive and a really great manager of people. There are many people who have worked with Gordon for many, many years. We talk pretty much all of time, so Gordon is aware of everything that I do. It’s a difficult thing to answer. He isn’t necessarily involved with everything. I’m part of a creative process here, and he kind of lets me get on with it, but shares everything we are doing at the same time. So it’s up to me to be the creative one, it’s up to me to bring ideas to the table – but he brings ideas also. Wherever I am, he’s always in contact with me about what I’m doing and he’s there to bring the advice.

You became the first female British chef to hold and maintain three Michelin stars. How much of an honour was that?

I think, “I didn’t!” It’s difficult! [Laughs]. At 15, I looked at all of the great chefs and I thought, “I want to be like that.” I put my head down and I worked really hard. I put myself in all the best positions that I could, to become the best chef that I could be. I never knew that I was actually going to get there. All I could do was work as hard as I could. I knew that’s what I loved, I knew that that’s the work that inspired me and again, I knew how much I needed to do. So I think that when I got to that level, I kind of lifted my head up and thought: “Wow!” I’ve got more than I thought I would. But I didn’t really think about it along the way, I was just working and trying to be the best I could, in each individual situation and each kitchen I was working in. It was always my goal to try to be the best person who ever worked in that kitchen. So I was always in it for the long haul. I think that a lot of people think that when they’re there, they only have to be good for five minutes and then after that, they don’t put the effort in any more. I’m much more gradual; I keep working, working, working and then I keep getting better and I never want to go back.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Do you think more needs to be done to inspire women to become chefs?

I think it would be nice if there were more female chefs; I think it brings a better balance into the kitchen. Too many females or males in a working environment is not good either way. So I think it’s nice to have a bit of a balance.

But the big question is, why aren’t there?

I don’t know why. There’s not enough going into the industry to start with, or staying in it, but as time goes on, we’re getting more and more females coming in. We’ve got three young ladies in the kitchen with me at the moment, who are between the ages of 20 and 23, and they are doing phenomenally well and there’s no reason why there can’t or shouldn’t be more.

What is the key to a good restaurant? Do you eat out a lot yourself?

I think, obviously, people go to restaurants for good food, good service, the ambience and the friendliness of the staff – everything that makes a good restaurant. Good memories too, but it depends what the occasion is. People go to very casual restaurants with friends so that they can be a bit louder; people come to more special dining, to something like this, for special occasions. But it takes many, many things to make a good restaurant. I eat out all of the time, from local Italians to other three-star restaurants. I eat out all over the world. I’m madly passionate about the industry – yesterday, I was eating in a two Michelin star restaurant and I think it’s a fabulous industry to work in, there are so many creative chefs all over the UK now. It’s a great industry.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

What would you say is your signature dish?

Signature dishes are voted for by the guests. We have a few seasonal favourites which we do, for example a coeur de boeuf tomato tartare at the moment, with buffalo milk curds. We do a dish with lemonade parfait as a dessert which gets absolute love. Some of our regular guests tell me and we’ll do something that’s the new thing, that’s the dish. So I don’t think the chef could say what their signatures are, as it’s the people who vote for them.

To what extent is social media a new tool in the chef’s kitchen?

I don’t do Twitter myself – it’s just a choice, a personal thing for me. I think obviously it’s becoming more and more – everyone’s doing it. But it’s not in my make-up; I just don’t have the head space for it. I think many, many chefs use it for different reasons but I’m very much in the moment.

What is your favourite luxury?

I used to say that a luxury thing was fine wine. I have a taste for having fine wine. If guys get me a birthday present or something, they always get me a nice bottle of wine.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay

Finally, any plans to step out of Gordon’s shadow and open your own restaurant under your own name?

No, I don’t have any plans to do that at the moment.

I say set up your own place, but this is like your own place even though it has Gordon’s name on it, isn’t it?

Yeah, I’ve invested so much of myself in this and the team, and none of this happens in five minutes. It has taken many, many years and this restaurant itself has been on a huge journey over 15 years to get to the level where it is to have regular guests. The way we are and the set-up that we’ve got, it’s very easy to say about walking away or opening another place, but it would take a similar length of time to get there again. So I’m very happy with what we’ve got and we certainly have more and more plans for the future here as it continues to progress.

The Luxury Channel spoke to Clare via Interview Hub. For more information about Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, click here.

Modica’s La Gazza Ladra By Caroline Phillips

Orange

If there were a handful of Michelin restaurants in the Sicilian town of Modica and its immediate environs, that would be impressive. But there are actually two handfuls. Several eateries that are Michelin-rated, plus a couple with two stars, and a duo with one star. That’s just plain greedy when there are entire cities starving for just one Michelin restaurant.

But it doesn’t stop there. Modica is also one of the most beautiful and unspoilt towns in Sicily. Ravaged by the 1693 earthquake, it was mostly rebuilt in Sicilian Baroque style. So en route to La Gazza Ladra restaurant, I gorge on aesthetic delights. I wander through ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ Modica – which are connected by enough antique stone steps to reach heaven – working up an appetite for any five-or-nine-course taster menu.

I try to get into the black, calorifically speaking, by working out on the town’s Baroque Stairmasters, tearing up to the beautiful Cathedral San Giorgio, doing squats along arms-width-wide alleys dotted with Vespas, and stretching my arms up towards all its religious statues. In a place like this, a shrine to food, frankly the statues should be of Sicilian black pigs (a local delicacy), carob and Modica chocolate puddings.

Carob

When I arrive at the restaurant, I’m hungry enough to eat a statue or two. It’s in the 19th-century Palazzo Failla – now a hotel. La Gazza Ladra is named after the Rossini opera, The Thieving Magpie, and takes its magpie theme seriously. The décor is all black and white: inside there are white tablecloths and black chairs; outside there are black chairs and white tablecloths. There’s not much point in any thieving as it’s a little on the stark side. That much said, if I were a magpie, I’d steal one of the waiters – they’re so sparklingly charming, knowledgeable and attentive without being over-solicitous. I imagine my husband might nick the wine cellar – all 800 labels, with a selection of major Italian and European wines and reportedly some from extraordinarily good, small, local producers.

Legend (or at any rate, Wikipedia) has it that during the time of composing the opera of La Gazza Ladra, the producer assured its completion by locking Rossini in a room, from the window of which the composer threw out the sheets of music. It’s not clear whether they locked Chef David Tamburini in the kitchen. But the end result is the same. A meal of operatic intensity and artistic merit that appeals to all the senses (except perhaps hearing – but you can go to the opera for that).

Sgombro

The food is Sicilian and from other areas of Italy, a modern twist on traditional – and it is refined, original (or at least, imaginatively reinvented), delicate, elegant, natural, seasonal, uses typical Sicilian produce and traditions, artisanal….oooh, I could go on. Plus it’s almost too pretty to eat. If I hadn’t been ready to wolf down a statue of black-skinned Sicilian pig, I would have hung my (full) dinner plate on the wall (as a homage to the chef and Leonardo da Vinci, who were born in the same town.)

I should really tell you in Italian what sort of delicious things they offer, and you can Google Translate it yourself. It’s a huge menu and I’m tempted to start with the Meringa a vapore, mousse di cioccolata amara genovesa alla cenere, because that’s what I want to eat first in case I don’t have room for it at the end (I don’t, on either count).

Stuffed Leek

In between, the chef sends amuse-bouches (that’s French) of finger-sized parmesan-stuffed fried aubergine and Patata e polipo (that’s Italian; and they’re pretty potato ‘nests’ of octopus salad, green olive sauce and foodie foam). I eat delicious veal carpaccio like little sushi ‘logs’ scattered with black truffle ‘leaves’. My husband devours lemon and scampi linguine with almond ‘cheese’ and then scorpion fish, both eliciting from him bedroom-type sounds.

My only sadness is that the restaurant is far from humming with punters – such is the problem of being surrounded by stiff competition. In fact, there are only two other occupied tables. In August. I am not always a fan of Michelin-starred restaurants, with their prissy nod to Parisian-style fine dining and the haute-bourgeoisie, and their too flouncy approaches – from using a particular kind of glassware and crockery to giving you a new napkin when you return from the lavatory. But this restaurant hits the spot for me. And how!

Contact

Restaurant La Gazza Ladra – Via Blandini, 5 – 97015 Modica (RG)
Telephone and Fax – +39 (0)932 755655
E-Mail – info@ristorantelagazzaladra.it
Tuesday to Friday: dinner only | Saturday, Sunday and holidays: lunch and dinner | Closed on Monday
The 5-course tasting menu is 70 Euros, and the 9-course tasting menu is 90 Euros.

Caroline Phillips is an award-winning freelance journalist who contributes to publications from Sunday and daily newspapers to glossy magazines, to various luxury websites. To see more of her work, go to www.carolinephillips.net.

Tom Kerridge – How Pub Grub Is Earning Its Stars By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel interviews celebrity chef Tom Kerridge, proprietor of The Hand & Flowers pub in Marlow….

Tom Kerridge (image courtesy of Christian Barnett)

Tom Kerridge (image courtesy of Christian Barnett)

Where did your love of cooking come from?

When I started in the kitchen at 18, I learnt more and more about produce and absolutely loved it, so it became a kind of ongoing process – and it still is to this day.

You’ve worked with some big names, including Gary Rhodes. How important was this as a learning curve?

Oh, hugely important. Being in kitchens is the most important thing. Being a chef is quite a short, sharp career, the hours are long and the graft is hard; there aren’t many 55 year old chefs on the saucier section of a Michelin-starred restaurant, so it’s a steep learning curve.

How much did appearing on The Great British Menu push you into the limelight?

Oh, it was massive, and again that was a massive learning curve. The media is again a huge thing to learn – you see so many people who end up in the media and it all goes horribly wrong because they’re not quite sure what they’re doing. You can’t fault the British public; they don’t fall for things, so the main thing when I was asked to do The Great British Menu wasn’t actually to win, it was to go on there and be myself. I thought that if I went on there then I’d do alright – as long as I’m not pretending to be someone else. So going into the show, I was myself and my food got me through and I won the main course, which was great. All in all, it was almost the perfect storm – it was very busy and very hard but actually, the thing I was most proud of is that I came across as myself.

Where do you seek inspiration for your dishes?

I suppose they’re all based on classic traditional dishes. When you look at Great Britain and what it’s built around – whether it’s manufacturing, whether it’s food, whether it’s farming – it’s all solid, rustic, heart and soul and honest. Those are the sort of dishes that I find enthusiasm for, the most inspiration, in that honest, hearty food.

You’ve incorporated that well into your gastro pub. Is it an honour to be awarded two Michelin stars for the Hand & Flowers?

It’s the biggest achievement and it can’t be beaten. We’ve done so many amazing things, and being asked to do television and my books is fantastic, but none of that would happen without the commitment from my staff. There’s 50 members of staff who all push very hard to make sure we achieve that standard and winning the 2 Michelin stars is one thing, but hitting that standard day in, day out is the big thing – none of that can be done without the staff. I’ve been fortunate and I surround myself with wonderful people who work very hard.

You came fourth in the National Restaurant Awards, and were voted Gastro Pub of The Year. Do you think that the trend for “pub grub” is growing quicker now than it ever has before?

Yes, absolutely. I think more and more people are looking at Great British pubs and there’s about 15 chefs now in pubs with Michelin stars, which is a wonderful position to be in and it’s a great advert for British food across the world. It’s not all about Michelin stars, however; there’s great pubs doing great food that haven’t got Michelin stars but their understanding of food is fantastic. More and more people are looking at ingredients and at produce-led cooking, which is great.

How well was On 5 received at Royal Ascot, given the more formal dining options usually associated with the racecourse?

It was a five day pop-up at Royal Ascot and it was amazing. The first time we’d done this purpose-built, new restaurant was this year and what an incredible experience! For me, it’s the second time I’ve done Ascot and I’m not a horse-racing man, but being a part of that big, special day out, well, the atmosphere was phenomenal and we became a small part of everybody’s day. It was like being at the biggest, most amazing wedding ever for five days. It’s such a wonderful experience and again, it’s something we should be very proud of in Britain. We are very good at seasonal events in this country; from Ascot to Wimbledon to an FA Cup final.

A favourite luxury food item?

To a lot of people, it seems a luxury but to me it’s an essential and that’s butter. There’s so many different things you can do with it. If used wisely, it’s fantastic for seasoning. Then dairy – some lovely rich or salty cheeses can enhance dishes, or go through desserts. In terms of how we cook, I think dairy products are fantastic, so that’s my big luxury.

What is the key to a good restaurant?

I think the key to a good restaurant is understanding what it is you’re offering and being the complete package. Understanding that it isn’t just about food – it’s about environment, it’s about location, it’s about the amazing staff. All those key points come together to become the best restaurant.

What’s currently in the pipeline (that you can tell us about)?

We’ve just picked up the keys for a second pub in Marlow that we’re working on. It’s a very small site which will only seat about 35 people, most of which sat at the bar. It’ll be flexible and interactive, a little more food-focused, but a high street bar.

The Luxury Channel spoke to Tom via Interview Hub. Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes, published by Absolute Press, is out now, priced £25.

George Club By Roz Kempner

George

George is a private member’s club, part of the Birley group. It is smart rather than glitzy, and its members are similar. The bar downstairs is buzzy, as is the restaurant on the ground level. Pavement-side tables are immediately snapped up in good weather. It really is a case of “how the other half live,” as the pub opposite is always spilling out onto the street – beer and chips on their side, and champagne and seabass in preference at George!

The George

Crisp white tablecloths and smart, seriously efficient staff serve the very cool, international set. The menu offers sophisticated, lighter dishes along with seasonal, heartier dishes, with British, Italian and some Asian influences, as well as daily specials presented from the trolley – the likes of fish pie, cottage pie and roasts. Plus, for many of us weight-conscious ladies, there is usually a “no cream added” soup; on this occasion, a chilled beetroot with horseradish.

Soup

The presentation of the dishes is particularly artistic, and the lobster, avocado, artichoke and broadbean salad was as pretty as a picture, both innovative and exciting, as was their version of a Tuna Nicoise – asparagus, beans, olives, cherry tomatoes, quails eggs, Jersey Royals and a nice salty anchovy, sitting underneath top quality seared tuna, with a fragrant basil pesto. A knockout Nicoise, in fact!

Nicoise

We wrote off the strawberries and cream in favour of the best-ever chocolate ice cream. A more dense and velvety one I am sure does not exist. Worth treating yourself!

The downside? They certainly know how to charge here, but it is chic through and through. Guess it has “Mayfair” written all over it!

Contact

George,
87-88 Mount Street,
London W1K 2SR
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7491 4433
www.georgeclub.com

When French Met British – A Day At The Seaside With Nicolas Feuillatte By Hannah Norman

Riddle & Finns

At last the warm weather actually shows signs of becoming a proper British summer (!), and when I was invited to spend a day at the seaside to sample exquisite gourmet and chilled champagne (courtesy of France’s third biggest producer, Nicolas Feuillatte), I naturally jumped at the chance.

Seafood Platter

Nicolas Feuillatte X'Ploration Chardonnay

We were due for lunch at Riddle & Finns, a champagne and oyster bar nestled in the highly desirable location of one of Brighton’s beachfront arches. This is in fact the second of the company’s restaurants, with the original located round the corner in the city’s famous Lanes. The speciality of both establishments is local seafood and crustacea (but if you’re not a fan of fish, there are alternatives on the menu too!).

Starters were squid sautéed with lemon and parsley (a very popular choice), homemade fish cakes, and leek and potato soup. Despite the blazing weather outside, I opted for the soup. Full of flavour and with ample crunchy croutons to boot, this was actually a delicious start to the meal (even if it did prompt laughter from my fellow diners, who couldn’t quite believe I was ordering soup on one of the hottest days of the year). We were drinking Nicolas Feuillatte’s latest brut chardonnay vintage, called X’Ploration. Released for Christmas, the X’Ploration range boasts not just the traditional champagne bucket, but for the first time, a fun duffel jacket (which handily doubles up as a cooler). As for the champagne itself? Delicate hawthorn and acacia are accompanied by more subtle citrus fruit and lime blossom aromas. Beautiful!

Haddock

Seafood mains were smoked haddock fillet with colcannon, poached egg and a champagne sauce, or crab, chilli and roquette linguini. For the die-hard meat eaters among us, grilled rib eye with frites and peppercorn sauce was the obvious option, but I went vegetarian (I blame the soup!) and went for stuffed Portobello mushrooms with butternut squash puree. Served on slate and artfully decorated with a smooth sauce, this was absolutely delicious. The sweet ricotta cheese in the mushrooms melted in the mouth, and the accompanying pot of puree was matchlessly moreish! Having depleted the X’Ploration, we moved on to the Cuvee 225, a smokier champagne underpinned by delicious honey, apricot and peach.

Panna Cotta

Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes D'Or

Dessert proved to be a bit of a problem though. Choosing between chocolate brownie and ice-cream sundae was tough, but as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved, so I ordered both with a fellow diner. Problem solved! The brownie was a rich, indulgent slab of chocolate, whereas the sundae was a divine glass of cream, chocolate and ice-cream. Both were devoured unsurprisingly quickly! The champagne to accompany our dessert was one of my favourites, Nicolas Feuillatte’s Palmes d’Or Brut, an aromatic blend of white pear, peach and apricot. The only downside? It wasn’t the rose version!

Whilst an afternoon of exquisite food and crisp, refreshing champagne sounds like a luxury, as the mercury rose, we headed off in the direction of the shoreline. Sometimes, it really is the little luxuries in life that are the best, and I challenge anyone to come up with a better one than dipping your toes in the English Channel on a hot summer’s day!

For more information, go to www.nicolas-feuillatte.com or www.riddleandfinns.co.uk.

The Story of Affligem By Gordon Radley

Affligem

A warm summer evening in London’s hip Tower Bridge area, an exotic menu at an up-and-coming Michelin star restaurant, and an upmarket beer with an ancient history….

The Luxury Channel asked me to report back after my to visit to Restaurant Story. The eating house in London’s Tooley Street is minimalistic, functional and chic, and the Affligem beer we were drinking was elegant – even its bottle and logo are stylish.

Affligem

Story say they like to tell their story through food. Open for just over a year, they already have their first Michelin star. I was fascinated to see how a restaurant which prides itself on its wines suddenly became beer-centric. The menu was inspired by Chef Tom Sellers’ culinary career. It was amazing that after years of carefully removing skin from slabs of fish, I enjoyed an appetiser based on cod skin. Bread and dripping – exiled from the British menu for years – is back and seemingly pretty healthy. I love good food and I reckon I can rustle up a good mashed potato – with the help of a mouli and some grated horseradish. But Story’s Heritage potato, asparagus and coal beats it – by far the best mashed potato I have ever tasted. Yes, there really was coal dust on the plate!

Affligem

But the evening was about beer and Story created a very smooth beer sorbet – Affligem, of course. The Benedictine monks of Affligem Abbey started to brew the beer in 1074, in the abbey bordering the provinces of Flemish Brabant and East Flanders in Belgium. Brewing giant Heineken is bringing the beer to Britain under licence. There are three brews of unparalleled quality.

Affligem

The Blonde version (ABV 6.8%) is an eminently drinkable classic clear ale, whilst Double (ABV 6.8%) is a more complex, richer affair, steeped in dark malt overtones. Triple (ABV 9%) is apparently the pride of the abbey, with a distinctive bitterness and gratifying strength for those who seek something beyond their traditional beer portfolio. All three embody luxurious quality for any aficionado.

Affligem

Like all of the best things in life, proper preparation is integral. I watched a demonstration of The ‘Body & Soul’ Pour. Which is really pouring the majority of any of the beers into a big glass, and the remaining 10% of the bottle is then served in a separate tasting glass. The small glass then has beer in it with a quantity of yeast. Needless to say, I didn’t manage to pour the beer as directed by the expert but it tasted very nice anyway.

Beer for gourmands and food from Story – coal dust and fish skin. A pretty memorable evening.

Roberto Cavalli Opens Restaurant In Ibiza By The Luxury Channel

Cavalli Ibiza

Roberto Cavalli has announced the opening of the Cavalli Ibiza Restaurant & Lounge. Situated in the most exclusive area of the Mediterranean island, the new Cavalli experience presents the designer’s entertainment and nightlife concept in the heart of the promenade, and will surely be the go-to destination for celebrities and socialites. Complete with an astounding tropical garden, the property symbolises the three main worldwide renowned beacons of ‘‘made in Italy’’ excellence: Fashion, Food and Design.

Cavalli Ibiza

The new Cavalli Ibiza features an open-air restaurant where luxury and innovation are merged in the décor to create a unique ambience, allowing clients to live the experience in pure Cavalli style, enjoying the same welcoming reception that the designer reserves for his friends. Selected materials have been chosen to convey luxury and creativity – the chairs are covered in zebra and jaguar animal-print fabrics and the tables are enveloped in tablecloths featuring eight different floral-themed Cavalli prints. The mise en place, the pillows, the wallpapers and the floors are part of the Roberto Cavalli Home collection.

Cavalli Ibiza

The menu offers an incredible selection of traditional Italian recipes infused with Tuscan influences, as well as innovative new style dishes. It will also be possible to taste and appreciate, among others, the Tenuta Degli Dei red wine produced in the Tuscan winery owned by the Cavalli family. Exclusive, fashionable parties and events will be held in the club and lounge, where guests can sip on Roberto Cavalli Vodka-based cocktails.

Cavalli Ibiza

Cavalli’s reason for taking on the project? “I wanted to communicate all my passion for beauty and sensuality, combining them in a hospitality project in Ibiza,” the designer revealed, adding that the project has been inspired by “the pleasure of listening to enjoyable music, accompanied by great food and good company in an elegant and sophisticated setting.” Sounds like our kind of place!

Cavalli Ibiza Restaurant & Lounge

Paseo Marítimo Juan Carlos I 07800 Ibiza, Spain
+34 971 192 197
www.cavallibiza.com

Rainer Becker 6 minutes 30 seconds

The Luxury Channel interviews chef Rainer Becker, founder of Zuma and Oblix restaurants.

The National Restaurant Awards By The Luxury Channel

Gymkhana Bar

Indian restaurant Gymkhana has been named National Restaurant of the Year at Restaurant Magazine’s annual National Restaurant Awards. The first ever Indian restaurant to pick up the coveted National Restaurant of the Year award, Gymkhana’s blend of authentic Indian food and modern British styling helped it become an immediate hit when it opened in September 2013 in London’s Mayfair. Chef restaurateur Karam Sethi’s commitment to Indian culinary tradition and a refusal to tone down his kitchen’s cooking for the European palate has created one of the most striking and well-received restaurants in recent years, with a menu of powerful yet precise Indian dishes matched by a creative drinks offer.

Tandoori Guinea Fowl Breast, Leg & Green Mango Chat, Mint Coriander Chutney

In addition to the National Restaurant of the Year, excellence across each of the regions was recognised at the Awards, as well as awards presented for front of house service, sustainability, the best wine and cocktail lists, and the Chefs’ Chef of the Year. The Service Award went to The Waterside Inn in Berkshire – read our review to find out why it won!

Waterside Inn Front Facade

While London holds the highest number of restaurants in the list, there were seven Scottish restaurants and six from the North of England in the top 100. From the latest burger bar to classic fine dining restaurants, the seventh annual National Restaurant Awards celebrated talent and excellence across the breadth of the UK’s dining scene.

The 2014 list also sees twenty new entries, a reflection of the ever-evolving UK gastronomic scene, with the highly innovative Restaurant Story (Highest Climber) sitting alongside well-established and much-celebrated stalwarts of the restaurant industry, such as Le Gavroche (Wine List of the Year).

The Full List:

1. Gymkhana – National Restaurant of the Year
2. The Clove Cub
3. The Ledbury
4. The Hand & Flowers – Gastropub of the Year
5. Pollen Street Social
6. The Sportsman
7. Hedone
8. L’Enclume
9. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – Chefs’ Chef of the Year for Ashley Palmer-Watts
10. The Square
11. Restaurant Sat Bains
12. Midsummer House
13. Le Manoir
14. The Walnut Tree – Best Restaurant in Wales
15. Kitchen Table
16. The Waterside Inn – The Service Award
17. Chiltern Firehouse
18. The Fat Duck
19. Nathan Outlaw
20. Restaurant Andrew Fairlie – Best Restaurant in Scotland
21. Le Gavroche – Wine List of the Year
22. Koya
23. The Hardwick
24. The Dairy – OpenTable Diners’ Choice ‘‘Fit for Foodies’’ Award
25. Hibiscus
26. Restaurant Story – Highest Climber
27. Casamia
28. Grain Store – Cocktail List of the Year
29. Brasserie Chavot
30. Mayfields
31. Bocca di Lupo
32. The Kitchin
33. The River Café
34. St John
35. Quo Vadis
36. 64 Degrees
37. The Quality Chop House
38. Jose
39. Sticky Walnut
40. Goodman Mayfair
41. Sushi Tetsu
42. The Seahorse
43. Social Eating House
44. The Royal Oak Paley Street
45. Galvin at Windows
46. Berners Tavern
47. Barrafina
48. HKK
49. Marcus
50. Tyddyn Llan
51. Restaurant Martin Wishart
52. The French
53. Merchants Tavern
54. Ynyshir Hall
55. The Chilli Pickle
56. Andre Garret at Cliveden
57. Hawksmoor Air Street
58. Paul Ainsworth at No6
59. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
60. 10 Greek Street
61. Ember Yard
62. Simpsons
63. Ondine
64. Koffmanns
65. L’Anima
66. Manchester House
67. 40 Maltby Street
68. Le Champignon Sauvage
69. Alyn Williams at The Westbury
70. Pitt Cue
71. Drakes
72. Loves
73. The Pig – Sustainable Restaurant of the Year
74. The Elephant
75. The Ethicurean
76. Shu – Best Restaurant in Northern Ireland
77. The Goods Shed
78. The Pipe & Glass Inn
79. Hutong
80. MeatLiquor
81. Mark Greenaway
82. Flinty Red
83. Chez Bruce
84. The Hinds Head
85. The Star Inn
86. La Trompette
87. Bar Boulud
88. Timberyard
89. Café Murano
90. Toasted
91. The Wolseley
92. Newman Street Tavern
93. Aumbry
94. Moro
95. Monachyle Mhor
96. The Plough
97. The Greenhouse
98. La Petite Maison
99. Gauthier Soho
100. Umu

The Keeper’s House Restaurant At The Royal Academy By Roz Kempner

The Keeper's House

This is open to Friends of The Academy only for lunch, but to the public from 4pm. A somewhat bizarre warren of rooms located on the lower ground floor comprises a bar, a garden, and two dining rooms. The bar is red, fairly lively, and serves good cocktails, whereas the restaurant rooms are green with crisp, white tablecloths and comfortable cream leather seating. The atmosphere is intimate but a little stark; this is not a buzzy place. However,the menu is modern, seasonal and exciting, as is the presentation – aptly very artistic!

The Keeper's House

Irresistible warm bread arrived with delicious butter, and we chose from a comprehensive but pleasingly short menu. Sorbets were delightful, refreshing and smooth – a sweet tomato one, perfectly balancing the Gazpacho, or a flaming red pepper one alongside the tartare of John Dory, topped with a delicate tomato tuile. There was also a zesty lime one with fennel and broad bean salad. Great contrasts in flavours; wonderful summer starters. Even the snail ravioli was light and fragrant, the pasta almost see-through.

The Keeper's House

The halibut was stunning with a purple potato espuma, and a cod brandade, a clever palette of fish and potatoes, was further set off by a fabulous olive crumb. A triumph!

The dishes had good contrasts of textures and tastes. Monkfish with tender octopus had a light, lemony sauce. Meat dishes were served with delicate seasonal vegetables and flavourful jus as opposed to heavy sauces.

The Keeper's House

Sorbets and ice-creams featured again with desserts. Rhubarb sorbet with rhubarb rice pudding, and chilled strawberry soup with ‘pain d’epice’ ice-cream were all pretty as a picture.

Enthusiastic young waiters provided good service. It cost around £50 to £60 a head, but there is a very good value pre-theatre menu that is worth checking out too.

Contact

The Keeper’s House Restaurant
Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House
Piccadilly
London W1J 0BD
020 7300 5881
www.keepershouse.org.uk

The Ritz – The Best Sunday Lunch In London By Roz Kempner

The Ritz

On my mission to find the Best Sunday Lunch in London (not an easy task as brunch has become so popular), we embarked upon The Ritz.

May we all bless tradition and elegance, as this is what The Ritz is about. The very smart Rivoli Bar shakes great Bloody Marys and the Champagne Cocktail list is never ending. Moving on, we pass the glamorous Tea Salon, packed as usual, albeit lunchtime! The dining room is palatial, but in such lovely weather, we chose the glorious terrace. It was as if we had transported ourselves to the South of France – divine!

The Ritz Restaurant Terrace

The clientele were all suitably smart….don’t forget to wear a tie, gentlemen!

The Sunday Lunch menu ticks all the right boxes, with no sign of “brunch!” Stylish canapes are served on a silver server – a squid ink prawn cracker topped with tiny brown shrimp, a shiny white, limey macaron with smoked salmon, and crisp, airy gougeres.

The Ritz

Wild “Zar” smoked salmon, we were informed,comes from beyond the Outer Hebrides, definitely wild. A piece of fillet, firm and mildly smoked, was served with contrasting textures of crisp beetroot and artistic dollops of citrus hollandaise. The pea soup was enlivened with lardons, tiny croutons and truffle. Crab wrapped in Granny Smith apple to create a canneloni, sweet and sour, was served with a delicate, sweet melon and cucumber terrine – innovative and refreshing.

The Ritz

For mains? Goodness, found at last – the BEST Sunday Roast in London! Carved from the trolley, not only was it top quality, tender, juicy meat with perfect thin gravy, but it came with perfect Yorkshire Puddings and proper roast potatoes….crunchy and soft. Ten out of ten.

The fish alternative, the halibut, was a beautiful fillet served with different textures of cauliflower…a puree, roast florets and a couscous, plus a trace of lemon sauce and asparagus spears. A lovely, summery dish.

To finish, we had a superb cherry souffle, within which there was a sweet cherry coulis, and this was served with a cherry ice-cream. Yum.

The Ritz

Service was perhaps a little slower on the terrace than in the dining room, but clearly the silver service staff love their profession, and do it proud.

Shame we couldn’t fit in an Afternoon Tea as well, but I will most definitely be returning to this iconic establishment.

Contact

The Ritz
150 Piccadilly
London
W1J 9BR
+44 (0)20 7300 2370
www.theritzlondon.com

The Goring Hotel By Roz Kempner

The Goring Dining Room

Where could be more appropriate for lunch before attending The Royal Garden Party than the Goring Hotel?

Situated quietly in Belgravia, everything here is done with class – this is a “proper” British institution. The bar is traditional, and there is a lovely veranda overlooking the garden. A great spot for a sophisticated Afternoon Tea. The Dining Room is classic, elegant, and always full. Diners are smartly dressed, and many on this occasion proudly sporting medals. Not at all out of place here.
A choice of fine champagnes are offered from a huge silver champagne trolley, and the expert sommelier provides advice enthusiastically. Very gallantly, the fine white wine was decanted at the table – top marks!

Goring Hotel

The menu is elaborate, but the splendid tradition of daily specials from the trolley is always comforting….steak and kidney pudding, fish pie, roast beef and the like.

The asparagus was served with wafer-thin smoked salmon and a show-stopping, golden fried duck egg, oozingly perfect. A delicate starter of crab with snappy radishes, a clear tomato jelly and a touch of caviar, was elegantly presented in a glass tumbler.

Goring Hotel

The trio of steak tartare, smoky ox tongue and the smartest, tastiest corned beef ever, was fabulous.
Both the halibut and the sea trout were cooked beautifully and not overpowered with rich sauces. Three varieties of carrots – yellow, white and orange – were a good talking point and nicely al dente. Needless to say, all the main courses appear from under polished silver cloches.

Goring Hotel

Puddings, albeit with a British accent, are delicately assembled. Trifle, rice pudding or lemon tart were accompanied by lovely flavours of ice cream, such as Earl Grey.

The cheese has its own menu and is 100% British. Great Cheddars and a delicious Brighton Blue are amongst many.

Service was ten out of ten and not at all intrusive. It was a real treat, and The Goring is worthy of its distinguished reputation.

Contact

The Goring Hotel
Beeston Place
London SW1W 0JW
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7396 9000
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7834 4393
www.thegoring.com

Anguilla – The Caribbean’s Little Darling By Saira Malhotra

Cuisinart

Anguilla is without a doubt the Caribbean’s little darling. This modest, 17 mile island is home to 33 sandy beaches, indulgence that is understated and a quiet culinary movement spearheaded by Cuisinart’s Golf Resort and Spa. Yes, our very own kitchen best friend, Cuisinart, shows us her sultry side with her sleepy white-washed resort, her Caribbean nonchalance and an uncompromising attitude to food. Availing of the best seafood that swims right up to the resort and produce from the hotel’s hydroponic garden, Executive Chef Jasper Schneider is responsible for the resort’s 3 highly acclaimed restaurants. His menus are carefully crafted and distinctly different from each other, showcasing local delicacies, such as crayfish with a splash of lemon and gutsy jerk chicken, as well as dishes reflecting his personal journey with Japanese influences. Chef Jasper gave us a glimpse into his world and just what the thinking is behind those kitchen doors at Cuisinart’s Resort and Spa.

Tell us about your background and how you ultimately came to the Caribbean? How does that manifest in your food?

I started cooking in Hawaii and found a passion for cooking seafood from all the fresh bounty from the sea. I’ve been very lucky to work with other chefs who share the same passion for seafood – mainly Eric Ripert, my mentor, who was extremely influential in my menu selections at the various outlets I worked, both Stateside and abroad. Working in the Caribbean prior to coming here to Anguilla only intensified my love for cooking clean, fresh fish that is literally given to me 90 minutes after it’s caught. Having Cusinart’s hydroponic garden makes all the other ingredients that much more enticing.

Cuisinart

What types of cooking classes do you teach?

There are two different classes at Cuisinart – sushi classes on Mondays, and Fridays are “Restaurant Food Made Easy” or local-style cooking.

What is the experience like at the Chef’s Table?

It’s an eight course tasting menu, driven by that day’s freshest ingredients, of course showcasing the seafood and vegetables – all of which are cooked right in front of you. Sometimes I’ll get caviar or truffles flown in and I’ll get inspired to do something special with those. But the intimacy of having the guests right in front of you and explaining to them my ideas and seeing them come alive is very exciting. Plus, they also get a chance to meet the pastry chef as well, so by the end of the night, they’ve come full circle!

What are some of the native dishes one must try on the island?

B&D’s BBQ – ribs, chicken and don’t forget the Jonny cakes! It’s open from Thursday to Saturday. It’s classic Anguilla with it being right off a road, in the back of someone’s house, but it’s so good, people don’t care where the food is being cooked!

Cuisinart

What are some of your signature dishes?

Baby beet salad, goat cheese, crystalised ginger, micro arugula, dried cherry vinaigrette pan seared snapper, cauliflower puree, ragu of marcona almonds, cauliflower butter poached lobster and coconut bouillabaisse sauce.

Name a chef who has influenced you most?

Eric Ripert and Michele Bras – chefs who believe in simplicity in both taste and presentation.

Tell us about your herb garden and hydroponic vegetables – how does that influence your menu?

Being able to take the freshest product and use it in its most simplest form is a dream for any chef. I’m so appreciative to have the farm steps away and seeing what comes in each day, because it heightens my creativity. It drives how our menus are written and allows me to experiment and play around with new dishes. When I found out I could have a chance to be the chef of Cuisinart, the hydroponic farm sold me the most because of how it would influence all of our dining outlets.

Saira Malhotra is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. To see more of her work, visit www.passportpantry.com.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon By Roz Kempner

We were greeted by “Welcome to the Robuchon Experience” ….and it was! The red and black decor on the ground floor is striking, but the atmosphere is casual with seating at the bar or on high tables. Upstairs has a more formal ambiance with regular tables – very chic. On the top floor is the cocktail bar and the very cool roof terrace.

LAtelier Robuchon

We sat at the bar facing the open kitchen, eager to watch every move. The precision in the composition of the dishes is remarkable. Such a calm environment, both in the kitchen and the restaurant. You do need time to dissect and understand the menu, but the staff know every dish inside out and are so cheerfully helpful.

L'Atelier Robuchon

Such an exciting menu, though! Everyone loves an amuse geule and the delicate mousse of foie gras was heavenly. The foie gras was shaved over baby artichokes, an innovative salad. We watched as they carved the Pata Negra ham, leaner than the norm and paper thin, served with ciabatta topped with chopped tomatoes. Seabass ceviche was a work of art, and we watched as it was prepared so delicately. So light, fresh and flavourful.

L'Atelier Robuchon

Next was the cheese soufflé….wow! A stunning dish with the blackest, most intense truffle sauce and lacy Parmesan crisps. Not to mention generous shavings of black truffle.

L'Atelier Robuchon

The lobster was good but not quite as exciting perhaps, the black pepper sauce not as “peppery” as we would have expected. But quail stuffed with foie gras was tender, rich and served with the best ever potato purée – so good!

L'Atelier Robuchon

The fondant au chocolat simply melted in the mouth, and a fabulous old favourite, Mont Blanc, reached new heights!

L'Atelier Robuchon

Other dishes we have had here have never failed to excite and impress. We love it.

Choose from one of the set menus, or a la carte with as few or as many dishes as you please. There is a good wine list and the cocktails are also a must!

www.joelrobuchon.co.uk

Berry Bros And Rudd – An Exciting And Enlightening Experience By Roz Kempner

 Berry Bros And Rudd (image courtesy of Joakim Blockstrom)

Berry Bros And Rudd (image courtesy of Joakim Blockstrom)

For a fabulous feast of fine wines and gastronomy, book yourself an indulgent evening at Berry Bros and Rudd. This historic wine shop in London’s St. James, now 312 years old, has not much changed over the years, with creaky old wooden floors at the shop level, and a warren of cellars below.

There is great anticipation for the evening ahead whilst you partake of champagne with your fellow guests in the shop, whereupon the learned lecturer gives a brief introduction and history of this family affair.

 Napoleon Cellar  (image courtesy of Joakim Blockstrom)

Napoleon Cellar (image courtesy of Joakim Blockstrom)

Deep below, the Napoleon Cellar is stunning. A vaulted room where one long table is grandly set with a multitude of polished glasses, a ton of cutlery, and the all-important menu of the tastings. A serious wine dinner lies ahead! However, they keep you at ease by reminding you it is meant to be fun….and it is.

Image courtesy of Jason Lowe)

Image courtesy of Jason Lowe)

This dinner was entitled “A Tour of Bordeaux’s Finest” and they did not skimp on quality or quantity. It had taken the chap with the task of opening and checking the bottles five hours to do so!

We tasted seven wines in total and Mark talked us through them with huge enthusiasm. From the magnificent, intense Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, particularly suited to gastronomy, through the Angelus, Haut Brion, Pichon Longueville Baron, and two Palmers, to the ultimate Sauterne, Chateau Suduiraut 2001, this was a true taste of Bordeaux’s finest.

Berry Bros & Rudd

This was all paired with English asparagus and crab, and saddle of lamb with Jersey Royals, peas and broad beans, with an excellent cheeseboard and a sweet, sticky apple dessert. They have a good chef here who puts thought into matching food with wine.

This was an expensive evening but what fun and a great mix of like-minded people from many walks of life. A really exciting and enlightening experience.

Contact

Berry Bros And Rudd
3 St. James’s Street
London
Tel: +44 (0) 800 280 2440
www.bbr.com

City Social By Roz Kempner

Jason Atherton is just the loveliest man – no airs and graces, a truly down-to-earth guy – and boy, does he know how to establish restaurants! City Social is yet another winner. Boasting 360 degree views over London, it is breathtaking! This is an enormous, but seriously cool place.

City Social Interior

A great spot for a sunset cocktail in the expansive bar, where they serve tapas-style food, from small tasters to pretty substantial offerings, such as burgers, and fish and chips on Fridays. It is full from early evening until late; mainly the “city crowd,” but Jason fans and view-lovers will flock here.

English Asparagus Salad

The service and delivery was as consistent as ever and the menu suited to all tastes. Asparagus with shavings of truffle was served with the most perfect, oozing poached egg, nobly enhanced with a bone marrow crumble. The salad of several varieties of tomato was bursting with flavour, and a creamy buffalo mozzarella and basil pesto made this a simple but healthy starter. Yellow fin tuna with lightly pickled cucumber, avocado and ponzu – ditto!

Seafood Linguini

Pasta dishes are all about the flavour, and the seafood linguini put you right on the beach. A truffle sweetbread dusted with lemon zest, adorned with earthy risotto, was to to die for.

For mains, a succulent seabass with crispy skin was served with three versions of cauliflower – a couscous, sautéed florets and a foam. Every morsel was polished off; it was exquisite. Plus, how fun to have rabbit on the menu, especially served with rabbit sausage cassoulet.

Seabass

Desserts can be served with a pairing of a dessert wine, and are so good. Superb soufflés, fabulous Rhum Baba and a proper cheese board wheeled to your table. Don’t see many of those!

This is a sophisticated establishment, and a fabulous night out.

Contact

City Social
Tower 42
25 Old Broad Street
London EC2N 1HQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7877 7703
www.citysociallondon.com

Costa Brava’s Reputation Reaffirmed As A Food Lover’s Paradise By The Luxury Channel

Jordi Roca (image courtesy of David Ruano)

Jordi Roca (image courtesy of David Ruano)

The Costa Brava region of Spain, home to the highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants, is celebrating its gastronomy heritage once again with the announcement of Jordi Roca (the youngest of the three brothers that oversee seminal three-starred Catalan restaurant El Celler de Can Roca), as the first ever World’s Best Pastry Chef, the newest category within the World’s Best Restaurant awards portfolio. The eccentric but modest pastry genius’ latest accolade recognises the skill and attention to detail for which his name has become synonymous.

Now officially regarded as one of the top dessert experts on the culinary scene, Roca has experimented extensively with perfumes – recreating famous fragrances in edible form and launching his own avant-garde scent based on a lemon dessert. His signature Campari and grapefruit juice, delicately sealed into a cocoa butter-covered bonbon that explodes on contact with the mouth, is another revolutionary creation that fuses textures and tastes, radicalising the culinary world.

Jordi Roca's Gelat de Ceps

Jordi Roca’s Gelat de Ceps

Only in his mid 30s, the pastry chef is also the driving force behind Rocambolesc, an alternative but affordable ice-cream and sweet shop that opened in the centre of Girona in 2012, offering eccentric flavours such as the Girona apple with local Ripollesa sheep’s milk, with equally unconventional toppings. A second shop followed in the nearby seaside resort of Platja d’Aro. With demand for reservations at El Celler de Can Roca remaining so high, Rocambolesc brings Roca’s sublime creations to a wider audience.

www.cellercanroca.com

The Waterside Inn By Roz Kempner

This is a riverside culinary institution, the most idyllic setting and a class act.

Waterside Inn Front Facade

The epitome of charm, Diego greets you ….”welcome,” and you really feel you are. Sadly, we had not booked a summerhouse for aperitifs and the weather did not permit us to sit on the terrace which is literally on the water’s edge. However, the interior was lovely, unpretentious and with a great buzz, and the most gorgeous canapés arrived whilst we perused the menu. The clientele is chic with many regulars. From the window table, there was constant activity of swans, geese, rowers and cruise boats…..real English countryside.

Waterside Inn From The River

We chose from the a la carte menu as my friend could not resist the Langoustine Soufflé, which was stunning. Beautifully presented, the crab was accompanied by a smooth white cauliflower mousse with a generous serving of caviar.

The origins of the produce and what is in season is clearly important here and for us, the lamb was a great choice for Sunday lunch. Particularly as it was carved at the table, served with a fresh mint hollandaise and lovely al dente spring vegetables – just perfect.

The desserts were exquisite works of art, as light as anything, and well worth fitting in to round off an excellent lunch.

Waterside Inn Terrace

I wouldn’t rush a trip to The Waterside. Take your time. The terrace is just delightful (weather-permitting!), plus they have rooms! Very comfortable with lovely touches such as homemade biscuits and current magazines, and a cute breakfast is served in the summer houses.

Whilst this is a really fine restaurant, there is a wonderful warmth about it. One would not expect anything less from a Roux establishment!

Contact

The Waterside Inn
Ferry Road
Bray
Berkshire SL6 2AT

Tel: +44 (0)1628 620691

www.waterside-inn.co.uk

Noma Takes The Top Spot By Hannah Norman

NOMA

Yet another year, and yet another round of judging for the gourmet world’s most highly sought after accolade, the title of Best Restaurant in the World. Having seen his crown slip last year with second spot, previous three time winner René Redzepi of Danish outfit Noma was determined to come out on top once again. 2013 might have proved a little unlucky in the winning stakes, but the Dane’s crown was well and truly back on, leaving last year’s winners, the Roca brothers from El Celler De Can Roca, occupying the second place spot Redzepi had to contend with last year (not that second place is really anything to shirk at when you consider that this is a global listing).

In terms of other placings, Vienna’s Sterirereck took a bit of a hit with a drop from 9th to 16th place, but the owners of Alinea in Chicago will have been celebrating after doing almost the opposite, climbing from 15th to 9th. Other big fallers included L’Astrance in Paris, who claimed 23rd place last year, but had to contend with 38th this year.

The full listing of the Best Restaurants in the World can be viewed below:

1) Noma – Copenhagen, Demark
2) El Celler De Can Roca – Girona, Spain
3) Osteria Francescana – Modena, Italy
4) Eleven Madison Park – New York, USA
5) Dinner By Heston Blumenthal – London, UK
6) Mugaritz – San Sebastian, Spain
7) D.O.M – Sao Paulo, Brazil
8) Arzak – San Sebastian, Spain
9) Alinea – Chicago, USA
10) The Ledbury – London, UK
11) Mirazur – Menton, France
12) Vendome – Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
13) Nahm – Bangkok, Thailand
14) Narisawa – Tokyo, Japan
15) Central – Nima, Peru
16) Sterirereck – Vienna, Austria
17) Gaggan – Bangkok, Thailand
18) Astrid Y Gaston – Lima, Peru
19) Faviken – Jarpen, Sweden
20) Pujol – Mexico City, Mexico
21) Le Bernardin – New York, USA
22) Vila Joya – Albufeira, Portugal
23) Restaurant Frantzen – Stockholm, Sweden
24) Amber – Hong Kong, China
25) L’Arpege – Paris, France
26) Azurmendi – Larrabetzu, Spain
27) Le Chateaubriand – Paris, France
28) Aqua – Wolfsburg, Germany
29) De Librije – Zwolle, Netherlands
30) Per Se – New York, USA
31) L’Atelier Saint-Germain De Joel Robuchon – Paris, France
32) Attica – Melbourne, Australia
33) Nihonryori Ryugin – Tokyo, Japan
34) Asador Etxebarri – Atxondo, Spain
35) Martin Berasategui – San Sebastian, Spain
36) Mani – Sao Paulo, Brazil
37) Restaurant Andre – Singapore
38) L’Astrance – Paris, France
39) Piazza Duomo – Alba, Italy
40) Daniel – New York, USA
41) Quique Dacosta – Denia, Spain
42) Geranium – Copenhagen, Denmark
43) Schloss Schauenstein – Furstenau, Switzerland
44) The French Laundry – Yountville, USA
45) Hof Van Cleve – Kruishoutem, Belgium
46) Le Calandre – Rubano, Italy
47) The Fat Duck – Bray, UK
48) The Test Kitchen – Cape Town, South Africa
49) Col – San Francisco, USA
50) Waku Ghin – Singapore

The Artichoke By Roz Kempner

The Artichoke

It is certainly worth an hour’s trip out of London to The Artichoke in Old Amersham. An unassuming restaurant in the centre of town with a bright, modern interior and an open plan kitchen, calmly producing serious food. The clientele is local and staff are friendly and relaxed. There are Set Menus, Tasting Menus and a la Carte.

We opted for the three course lunch menu, which was plenty. The smell of the warm onion bread was too hard to resist and very worth it!

PIGEON SALAD

The first course of tender, smokey wood pigeon was accompanied by crunchy slices of Jerusalem artichoke, a soft truffle mousse, artichoke crisps and hazelnut crumbs. Fabulous textures and presented like an artist’s palette on a wooden board.

JACOB'S LADDER

Admiring our neighbours’ Jacob’s Ladder, which apparently was “melt in the mouth,” we were thrilled with our choice of the pollack. A beautiful golden curried fillet, crisp on the outside, soft flakes of fish, and a great balance of lemony sauce and soft cauliflower purée. Great choice!

FILLET OF POLLACK

The soft, jellied chocolate with crispy, chocolate crumbs and orange sorbet had again lovely textures and was beautifully plated. The very helpful sommelier matched wines to the dishes perfectly.

CHOCOLATE JELLY

The chef talked to every table afterwards, which also added to what was, we thought, worthy of a Michelin Star lunch. A real treat.

Our three courses were £25, and the bill for 2 with a glass of champagne and a bottle of Glen Carlou Chardonnay was £164.

www.artichokerestaurant.co.uk

The Fat Duck Show By Roz Kempner

Having had to go through God to get a table, we were finally at The Fat Duck. You could feel a sense of excitement and anticipation as soon as you were seated.

The Fat Duck

Every table was taken, the clientele being a mixture of overseas visitors and “special occasion” parties. A very casually dressed lot.

The Show started promptly, and thankfully the staff were very knowledgeable about the dishes, as it was not necessarily apparent as to what they were! The tiniest, most delicate beetroot and horseradish macarron was the first taster, like a flavoursome puff of air. This was followed by the Nitro Poached Aperitif – a frozen, meringue-like mouthful infused with vodka and lime, Campari soda or Tequila and grapefruit. It really did cleanse the palate.

Inspired side effects, such as smoking moss with the jelly of quail and truffle toast, enhanced the imagination and taste buds.

The Fat Duck

Listening to The Sounds of The Sea with headphones, you actually felt as if you were at the seaside, whilst the presentation of the fish encaptured a scene from the beach, including the frothy seawater!

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party….well! The “pocket watch,” a stock cube in fact, covered in gold leaf, dropped into the glass teapot, creating a golden cup of mock turtle tea, accompanied of course by finger sandwiches.

With the foie gras, there was seaweed like an edible leather. The melt-in-the-mouth salmon was coated in a liquorice gel, a striking black and pink dish with a heavenly vanilla mayonnaise. It was all very clever, not forgetting the now infamous snail porridge, a relatively straightforward dish of snails, oats and fennel – not at all frightening! As for the rhubarb, here it took on another dimension, retaining its texture, colour and taste….simply marvellous.

This really was an event. I am sure we had as much fun as Heston did inventing it. The drama keeps you on your toes at every moment and one should try and get there, if but once. That is, however, if you can get a table!

Contact

The Fat Duck
High Street
Bray
Berkshire
SL6 2AQ
+44 (0) 1628 580 333
www.thefatduck.co.uk

Luxury Gourmet At Royal Ascot By Roz Kempner

Royal Ascot

Dating back to 1711, Royal Ascot is one of Europe’s most famous race meetings and one of the highlights of the British social calendar. Every year, Royal Ascot is attended by HM Queen Elizabeth II and various members of the British Royal Family, arriving each day in a horse-drawn carriage with the Royal procession taking place at the start of each race day and the raising of the Queen’s Royal Standard. Ascot has been synonymous with world-class racing, style and pageantry for over 300 years, and this year, they are offering exceptional fine dining as well.

This year, Ascot is raising the bar with the launch of three new, but distinct, dining experiences – On 5, Lenôtre and The Panoramic. I was invited along to Benares, the Mayfair restaurant of Michelin star chef Atul Kochhar, to try out one of the sample menus which will be launched this June. He will be hosting one of Ascot’s premier restaurants, The Panoramic, and will be combining modern Indian cuisine with his love of British ingredients.

Atul Kochhar

As a starter, I was offered tiny poppadoms with a trio of chutneys followed by the Amuse Bouche – a British onion bhaji. This was light and crisp, its two sauces bursting with flavor and artistically smeared across the plate. Scrumptious.

Onion Bhaji

This was followed by the most succulent piece of sea bass with a ginger and coconut sauce, presented in a small jug to pour around it – just heaven – and the beetroot ketchup was a great hit.

Sea Bass

Another main was lamb, which was cooked very pink and slightly on the fatty side. Chickpea Masala and the citrus and watercress garnish were a mildly spicy accompaniment.

Lamb

The vegetarian dish? Exciting and so tasty. Tandoori Paneer stuffed baby peppers, each with their own zingy sauce, scattered with pomegranate seeds, was a delight to the eye as well as the palate. The East Indian Pudding, delicately served in a glass tumbler, was a delicious, sweet taste of summer. Jelly and raspberries topped with yoghurt and pistachios – just lovely.

Dessert

This Indian Lunch for Royal Ascot was, I thought, an exciting, well-balanced and refreshing concept, and so beautifully presented. A “Curry Lunch” this was not!

I now can’t wait to see what Ascot Racecourse’s new partnership with world-renowned French culinary institution Lenôtre is like! This will be the first time Lenôtre (well-known in Paris for creating bespoke fine dining experiences for high-end fashion brands such as Givenchy and Louis Vuitton), has been at a major UK sporting event.

Lenotre, Paris

Guests at each of the three Lenôtre restaurants at Royal Ascot (Sandringham, Carriages and The Balmoral) will enjoy cuisine courtesy of Lenôtre Executive Chef Guy Krenzer, paired with wines selected by Lenôtre Head Sommelier Olivier Poussier. Both will be flown in from Paris for the Royal Meeting, and produce will be brought in fresh from Parisian markets each morning. The Royal Ascot-inspired menu includes signature Lenôtre dishes such as Le Chocolat – a crunchy chocolate cake with a lemon sorbet.

Lenotre, Paris

Ascot’s Commercial Director, Juliet Slot, said that “with the British foodie scene witnessing a revival in classic French cuisine, we’re really excited to bring something unique to our guests during Royal Ascot.”

Chefs

35,000 guests are expected to enjoy fine dining at Royal Ascot this year, having been attracted by the combination of internationally revered chefs, innovative menus, spectacular restaurants and, of course, the backdrop of the Royal Procession and the world’s finest flat racing. Ascot also unveiled a multi-million pound investment in a new restaurant, On 5, situated within its iconic Grandstand. Tom Kerridge will be heading up a talented team of chefs within this restaurant, serving a menu of British classics with a unique modern twist.

Royal Ascot takes place from Tuesday 17th June – Saturday 21st June. To book or for further information, please call +44 (0)844 346 3000 or visit www.ascot.co.uk.

Richard Corrigan’s First Class Menu By The Luxury Channel

Richard Corrigan

Malaysia Airlines has partnered with Michelin-starred chef Richard Corrigan, one of the UK and Ireland’s most esteemed chefs and restaurateurs, to create a limited edition in-flight menu launching this month.

Drawing inspiration from his two flagship London restaurants, Corrigan’s Mayfair and Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill, Richard Corrigan’s signature menu will be available to First and Business Class passengers flying on Malaysia Airlines’ double daily A380 service from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Working closely with Malaysia Airlines’ Head Chef Zahiddin Dris and LSG Sky Chefs, Richard has developed a selection of eight signature dishes comprising appetisers, main courses and dessert.

Richard Corrigan's Menu

Appetisers will include a version of Richard’s acclaimed creamy Lobster Bisque garnished with crème fraiche and lobster – a favourite on the menu at Bentley’s Oyster Bar and Grill – and a lobster, mango and avocado salad, marinated in fresh lime and chilli.

Bentley’s style main courses will include a smoked fish platter, combining smoked mackerel in a beetroot and apple relish, smoked eel in a celeriac remoulade, and smoked haddock scotch egg with a smoked salmon cucumber pickle. Meat dishes will include a ballotine of chicken poached in coconut milk with caramelised baby carrots, lamb Loin with mixed summer salad, and individual beef wellingtons with mushroom duxelle and herb pancake. Richard has additionally created a spice cake dessert fusing traditional British and Asian influences, served with lemon curd, medjool dates, pomegranate and clementine. The dishes will live alongside the traditional Malaysian menu and be rolled out on a seasonal basis.

Richard Corrigan's Menu

Malaysia Airlines’ UK & Europe Regional Senior Vice President Huib Gorter said, “It has been an honour for the Malaysia Airlines team to work so closely with Chef Richard to create this wonderful menu. His passion for creating quality, flavoursome and authentic dishes for our discerning passengers has been infectious and we look forward to an exciting partnership ahead.”

The dishes will complement the traditional Malaysian menu served on board, and the partnership is part of a global Malaysia Airlines culinary campaign, which will see the five-star airline team up with influential chefs in key markets to create unique signature in-flight menus.

Understated Style At The Peacock And The Shakespeare By Camilla Hellman

Manhattan has a new midtown destination – The Peacock and The Shakespeare, opened in a wonderfully restored townhouse on East 39th Street – and Manhattanites could not be more delighted.

Jason Hicks of Jones Wood Foundry and Yves Jadot of Raines Law Room have taken over the former Williams Club and created two distinctly different spots – The Peacock, with panelled library walls and the feel of a “gentlemen’s club” – and The Shakespeare, decked out in the great British pub tradition. The renovation has been carried out with superb attention to detail and the incorporation of bohemian and quirky British touches.

The Library at The Peacock

The Library at The Peacock

Celebrated chef Robert Aikens has joined to collaborate with Hicks to develop menus that are classically British, and not overly fussy. Aikens has cooked alongside the Roux brothers at their Michelin-starred London restaurant, Le Gavroche, and received an excellent 3-bell review during his time as Executive Chef at The Dandelion in Philadelphia. Prior to opening Jones Wood Foundry, Hicks did stints at Aureole, La Goulue and Orsay.

As Hicks explains, “When I first walked through the doors of the old Williams College Club, I was drawn into the building’s soul and transported back to the rich history, and that was what inspired me to create The Peacock and The Shakespeare.”

Arriving up the stone steps to the double townhouse doors, one is welcomed into the warm atmosphere of the Library Bars, all roaring fires and leather club chairs. Unusual eclectic modern art hangs throughout the Club. The Peacock is Manhattan’s supper club – it feels like one’s home – and there are two dinning rooms, allowing for an intimate feel.

Off the dinning rooms is a terrace, which in Spring will offer a champagne terrace bar. But for now, as Manhattan deals with the Polar Vortex, the roaring fires, leather sofas and club chairs beckon.

The Abingdon Room at The Shakespeare

The Abingdon Room at The Shakespeare

If a more relaxed experience is what one wants, then the counter point to the sophistication and understated elegance of The Peacock is The Shakespeare pub downstairs, where American culture is embraced within British traditions.

The Shakespeare is a full bar with a large selection of British and American beers on offer. The bar stools are a mix of historic tweeds, and there is a real snug with a hatch for passing your drinks back to the bar.

The food at The Shakespeare is smaller portions, with stripped-down pub food on slate plates. Alongside the bar is a private dinning room, The Abingdon, which is perfect for groups of over twenty. Red tavern walls with a roaring fireplace – one is transported to another era with all the comforts of today.

The Peacock and The Shakespeare are in effect striking that balance (so hard to achieve) of understated, effortless style.

12 East 39th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues.
Tel: 646- 837-6776
www.thepeacocknyc.com

The Best Restaurant In The World By Hannah Norman

El Celler De Can Roca

Whilst Denmark is not known for its cuisine in the same way as say, France or Italy are, it has certainly made its mark, not least due to Noma restaurant-owner René Redzepi’s reliance on entirely locally sourced produce, and his unabashed exuberance for doing things a little differently.

But, in a manner of speaking, that was so last year. Redzepi’s crown as the restaurant king of the world has slipped (if only a little), as he’s been down-stepped to number two in the annual listing of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

The most coveted accolade that all restaurateurs were vying for has been awarded to Spanish restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, run by the Roca brothers. Very familiar with the number two spot themselves, Head Chef Joan, Head Sommelier Josep and Head Pastry Chef Jordi will no doubt be pleased to have finally topped the list, where there were only six new entries, the highest of which was 21 (achieved by Ben Shewry at Australian restaurant Attica). Want to know who else was considered to have made their mark? See the full fifty restaurants listed below:

1. El Celler de Can Roca – Girona, Spain
2. Noma – Copenhagen, Denmark
3. Osteria Francescana – Modena, Italy
4. Mugaritz – San Sebastián, Spain
5. Eleven Madison Park – New York, USA
6. D.O.M. – São Paulo, Brazil
7. Dinner By Heston Blumenthal – London, UK
8. Arzak – San Sebastián, Spain
9. Steirereck – Vienna, Austria
10. Vendôme – Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
11. Per Se – New York, USA
12. Frantzén/Lindeberg – Stockholm, Sweden
13. The Ledbury – London, UK
14. Astrid y Gastón – Lima, Peru
15. Alinea – Chicago, USA
16. L’Arpège – Paris, France
17. Pujol – Mexico City, Mexico
18. Le Chateaubriand – Paris, France
19. Le Bernardin – New York, USA
20. Narisawa – Tokyo, Japan
21. Attica – Melbourne, Australia
22. Nihonryori RyuGin – Tokyo, Japan
23. L’Astrance – Paris, France
24. L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon – Paris, France
25. Hof Van Cleve – Kruishoutem, Belgium
26. Quique Dacosta – Dénia, Spain
27. Le Calandre – Rubano, Italy
28. Mirazur – Menton, France
29. Daniel – New York, USA
30. Aqua – Wolfsburg, Germany
31. Biko – Mexico City, Mexico
32. Nahm – Bangkok, Thailand
33. The Fat Duck – Bray, UK
34. Fäviken – Järpen, Sweden
35. Oud Sluis – Sluis, Netherlands
36. Amber – Hong Kong, China
37. Vila Joya – Albufeira, Portugal
38. Restaurant Andre – Singapore
39. 8 1/2 Otto E Mezzo Bombana – Hong Kong, China
40. Combal.Zero – Rivoli, Italy
41. Piazza Duomo – Alba, Italy
42. Schloss Schauenstein – Fürstenau, Switzerland
43. Mr & Mrs Bund – Shanghai, China
44. Asador Etxebarri – Atxondo, Spain
45. Geranium – Copenhagen, Denmark
46. Mani – São Paulo, Brazil
47. The French Laundry – Yountville, USA
48. Quay – Sydney, Australia
49. Septime – Paris, France
50. Central – Lima, Peru

Uma Thurman’s Worldwide Celebrations With Campari By Hannah Norman

Uma Thurman

She’s one of Hollywood’s greatest leading ladies, so perhaps not so much of a surprise that Campari asked Uma Thurman to be the face of its 2014 calendar, shot by fashion photographer Koto Bolofo. Naturally, The Luxury Channel was invited along to Milan to speak to the lovely lady herself, as well as enjoying a few extra luxuries courtesy of Campari – including a mixology class with Campari spirits, exquisite dinners at Camparino in Galleria, and a private view of Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic Last Supper painting.

Uma Thurman

So, down to business – how did Uma come to be involved with the calendar? “It’s a photo shoot, which all of us actresses do in tandem with our films over the years,” she says, referencing some of her contemporaries who have stepped into the role before her – Penelope Cruz, Selma Hayek and Eva Mendes among them. “To be a part of such a globally-renowned project for an iconic worldwide brand is a pleasure. I particularly admire the theme this year, as I am able to share a worldwide journey of discovery, passion and style with Campari lovers around the globe.”

Uma Thurman - Spain

The theme for the calendar is Worldwide Celebrations, with each month focusing on a unique festival from a number of different cultures around the world. Through this rather intriguing theme, Campari intends to highlight how cultures around the world have become more global than ever before, and reinterprets each celebration through its passion, spirit and style, all of which Uma is the perfect embodiment of – meaning a lot of fun for everyone involved! “It’s about the twelve different countries represented, so make-up and hair gets all excited, and my stylist Anna Bingemann gets all excited, as everyone tries to figure out how to represent Africa or England, or here or there – Australia, Japan, China – so we had a lot of fun,” Uma smiles. “It’s like a still from movies that you don’t make.”

Uma Thurman

In addition to the fun of being on a photo shoot, Uma also relished the theme of the calendar. “I’m a true enthusiast of the world,” she says. “I would like to cover it all eventually – on foot, if I could.” She adds, “it’s so beautiful to explore the world.” So, being as well traveled as she is, what are her favourite cities? “I must say, London’s become one of them,” she confesses. “I think London takes time to get to know, but I love London.”

Uma Thurman

Time is something the actress is aware she might now have on her side, following her brief hiatus from films to concentrate on her family. “I think I’d just like to get back to acting,” she admits. “It’s a nice thing – I have two older children and one baby, so I have a little window where I think I could allow myself the time without the guilt, to get back to acting.” So, what’s changed during her time off? “Having been out of it all for so long, I’ve actually taken enough time off now that my hair has grown longer, and it’s really wonderful!” she laughs.

Uma Thurman

Uma’s acting career has certainly been varied, but it’s her work and “life-long relationship” with renowned director Quentin Tarantino that have made her as well-known and revered for her craft as she is. But, as she’s no longer running around Tokyo in a yellow tracksuit, or lying on the floor with a syringe hanging out of her chest, what roles are tempting her at the moment? “We’ll see,” she smiles enigmatically, before revealing that “I’m thinking about directing.” On potential roles, she adds, “I’m digging around, reading and trying to decide.” But just as the shoots from her Campari calendar would suggest, whatever she decides upon, the world truly is her oyster.

Lauren Johnson-Bell: The Wine Lady By The Luxury Channel

The Luxury Channel meets wine critic and author Lauren Johnson-Bell….

Lauren Johnson-Bell

Tell us about your first steps into the wine industry….

It all happened by accident, as all the best things in life do! I had been visiting wineries and reading wine books whenever I could, but I did not ever contemplate it as a career option – I did not even really understand what sort of wine careers existed. I only knew that when I had my first bottle of Richebourg whilst dancing with friends at Castel’s one night. I was smitten. I called the publisher of a major French wine magazine, Vintage, and asked if I could do any work for them: photocopying, editing, coffee-making, anything! The publisher called me in, asked for my writing samples, and then invited me to a wine tasting in the Loire Valley the next week – to “test” my palate. I was petrified, but understood that it would be better to know right away if I lacked talent, than to waste years being mediocre at something and not realise it. The day came. He had brought in two other critics, whom I had worshipped for years. By the end of the day, they hired me as a writer and taster, and less than a year later, I became Editor, then Publisher.

Vineyards

When did you first realise there were big opportunities in wine?

When I started at Vintage. I was constantly travelling around Europe, meeting wine producers and spending time in the vineyards. It was then that I realised what a very special industry this is: full of passionate and educated characters.

What wines are popular in the East at the moment?

The French wines still seem to hold centre stage for them, especially the Bordeaux. The Eastern markets have moved from consuming the wines, to now owning the vineyards. There have been substantial purchases in Bordeaux and Burgundy lately.

Grapes

What are about the British – what are we buying?

The British seem to be buying British, I am happy to report! With climate change, we are having more erratic weather, yes, but are also seeing more harvests achieve good maturation. The British consumer is probably the most spoilt for choice in the world – some truly traditional and well-made wines from nearly every wine-producing region find their way here.

Are there any emerging wine markets that we should be keeping an eye on?

Yes. Britain, for a start! Also, Northern Italy, northern Germany, Switzerland, Croatia and Slovenia are where I am keeping a close watch. “Emerging” is not the appropriate word; there are no “new” wine regions, really, but we have established regions that are “evolving.”

Vineyards

Is Rosé more popular than ever? Which ones should we buy?

Yes, it does seem to be rising in popularity, perhaps as a reaction to climate change and the fatigue of heavy wines. Rosé is the most versatile style and once people discover there are serious, solid wines in this category, they never look back. A rosé does not have to translate into a sickly sweet, syrupy, medicinal concoction. A properly made rosé has acidity, crispness, fruitiness and a moderate tannic structure. I love rosés from Bordeaux (Château de Sours, for example), or Bandol (Domaine Ott is a favourite) and the Spanish rosados issued from the Rioja grape, Tempranillo, are delicious.

Which vintages should we be buying and what would you look out for?

That depends on which country or region you are talking about and merits an entire book! Anyway, you need not be too concerned with vintages if you are not investing, or laying down wines for later drinking. Most whites and rosés are best drunk within a couple of years, and reds….well, there are those made for immediate consumption, and then mid-term to long-term cellaring.

Wine Cellar

How risky is a wine investment?

If you do not know what you are doing, it is a very risky minefield. Crucially also, with climate change, the wines we usually associate with investment, Bordeaux, are not going to cellar as long as they used to. They don’t have the balance to age as well as they used to. This may turn out to be a good thing for investors – they won’t have to wait decades for a return anymore. This is something I am analysing at the moment for my upcoming book, Climate Change And Wine.

Would you recommend investing in champagnes?

No. Or perhaps, only in the small, lesser- known domains not available in the UK. It is better to find a champagne you like, buy as much of it as you can at the best price that you can find, and then store it in your cellar for your own enjoyment.

Champagne

We hear British sparkling wines are taking on the French champagnes – is that right?

Yes, our sparkling wines are doing very well. They are very over-priced, but in Southern England, there is the start of the Kimmeridgian Ridge, a basin of calcareous clay with limestone that stretches across the English Channel to the Loire, Champagne and Burgundy – all of the best vineyards are on this ridge. We just need more heat. So, yes, expect even greater things from English sparking wines!

What wine would you recommend we serve if we wanted to impress our guests?

Something you fell in love with on holiday. Be sure to accompany it with a local dish from the same region. I never serve “famous” wines. I prefer to serve my travel discoveries – a Pinot Nero from Alto Adige, a Nero di Troia from Puglia, or a Blauburgunder from Austria .

Wine Glasses

Most expensive bottle of wine you’ve tasted?

Ah, that takes me back to an afternoon with Aubert de Villain at La Domaine Romanée-Conti. He opened about ten vintages spanning three decades of his La Tâche, Richbourg and Romanée-Conte. But it was not the number of zeros that brought tears to my eyes, but the bestial magnificence and history of the wines. A day spent in Heaven!

What is your favourite wine?

I could not possibly name only one! It depends on where I am, with whom, the occasion, the meal, the mood….Pinot Noirs from Burgundy, but more and more from Alto Adige, as Burgundy heats up. I love the Nebbiolo grape (Barolo), and Amarone from the Veneto.

Wine And Cheese

What is your favourite luxury?

Unpacking my suitcase, and getting into a nice hot bath with a nice cup of tea, brought to me by my nice husband!

Lauren’s book Pairing Wine And Food is available from Amazon. For more information, go to www.thewinelady.com.

Investing In Wine By IG Wines

Market Trends

Cyclical buying analysis suggests that volumes of Bordeaux First Growth increases in late August and early September in anticipation of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival and particularly in January, before the Chinese New Year. Outside Bordeaux, purchasing of Champagne, Rhone and Italian wines continue to rise, while Burgundy buying endures gaining market share despite its limited production. This would suggest a continued reliance on Asia for First Growths and increased interest in the best of the rest from Bordeaux and other leading regions within Europe; with so much quality outside the First Growths, we expect this tendency is here to stay.

Fine Wine Market Continues To Broaden

IG Wines has been championing Super-Tuscans for investment for the last two years, in particular Sassicaia. The Liv-ex Super-Tuscan index has returned 90% over the last five years, vastly outperforming the Liv-ex 50. Out of the five strongest brands, Masseto has lead the pack with 110% growth, while (as Liv-ex reported) Sassicaia lagged behind its peers returning 7% until August 2009, since which time it has seen a 40% increase for the last ten vintages. In terms of investment in wine, the trend seems facile, buy wines that are substitute brands. The market naturally turns to these as the global market realises the quality outside of the First Growths. Indeed, the price rise with Super Tuscans (although they are still well priced) means that wines like Brunello di Montalcino are looking very attractive, as are the well-priced Grand Crus of Bordeaux, Rhone, Spain and up and coming producers from Burgundy.

IG Wines

Wine Funds

Wine funds traditionally have focused on the most liquid wines available, investing over 85% in First Growths, due to their higher value and traditional performance. The question of valuation is important; fine wine performed extremely well when the market was more opaque and the increased level of attempted maturity driven by wine funds succeeded in creating more correlation between their most traded stock (First Growths) and traditional markets. Indeed, it has been the wines outside of these hallowed clarets that have performed well in the last two years. We do not believe wine funds are particularly suitable for retail investors and that the market should naturally continue to broaden. As a result, we have begun to use a function of Liv-ex prices and wine-searcher lowest bottle price to draw the most accurate market data for valuations. After all, the latter shows the lowest price retail buyers would pay for a wine to drink, which ultimately is the point of fine wine, something many people in the market have sadly ignored.

Wines To Sell

Post 2000 vintages of Cheval Blanc are thinly traded and supported by its relative value to other leading wines. We do not believe the newer vintages have sufficient global consumption demand to push prices up for several years, although vintages such as 1998 look undervalued when compared to its quality. With Angelus and Pavie being promoted to the same status as Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe A, the market is not currently viewing its newer vintages as strong buys.

Going Forward

We continue to advocate the leading wines outside of the First Growths, which have performed well over the last two years. We believe that post 2000 vintages of First Growths above £6,000 a case will continue to be flat, or subject to micro bubbles, with the global market focusing on value around £1,000 to £2,500 a case. Portfolios should be balanced across Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and the best from the rest of the world will continue to perform well. Moreover, Bordeaux wines scoring 98 points plus from 2009 and 2010 will become legends, particularly those under £2,500 a case, which makes them incredible value when compared together 100 point wines from older vintages.

www.igwines.com

A Midsummer Night’s Dream At La Maison Du Chocolat By Hannah Norman

Chocolate – the very word excites the taste buds,” proclaimed Waitrose Food Illustrated editor, William Sitwell, and whilst accepting an invite to preview La Maison du Chocolat’s Christmas collection, I couldn’t have agreed more.

La Maison du Chocolat's Christmas Coffrets Collection (available in three sizes, priced from £28 - £55)

La Maison du Chocolat’s Christmas Coffrets Collection (available in three sizes, priced from £28 – £55)

On a sunny summer’s evening, nestled in the heart of London’s Piccadilly, the company’s flagship UK store had displayed all sorts of festive goodies, ranging from the Duo of Pears chocolates (pears with beautiful, soft milk chocolate ganache – sounds like it shouldn’t work, but really, really does!) to the astounding artisanship of the Midwinter’s Night Dream – a 45cm high, handmade wheel of chocolate, depicting reindeer dashing across a flurry of gold and white chocolate stars.

La Maison du Chocolat's handmade Midwinter Night's Dream, £660

La Maison du Chocolat’s handmade Midwinter Night’s Dream, £660

Launched in 1977 by Robert Linxe, La Maison du Chocolat was one of the very first luxury chocolatiers. Linxe retired in 2007, but the reigns of the business were already in the control of its charismatic CEO Geoffroy d’Anglejan, whom I was privileged to be able to speak with (his hectic diary had him preparing to depart for an early morning start in Paris, following which he was off to New York). D’Anglejan has been at the helm since 1995, but when I asked whether Linxe is still involved in the business in any way, he laughed. “Each weekend, I call him!” he reveals. “He is an exceptional man.”

La Maison du Chocolat's CEO, Geoffrey d'Anglejan

La Maison du Chocolat’s CEO, Geoffroy d’Anglejan

D’Anglejan is truly passionate about his business, but more importantly, he’s passionate about chocolate. “The quality of the brand is important,” he tells me, “but we are here for three main reasons – one, the creation of the company. Two, creativity, because in the luxury market, our customers want new things all the time, so we have to adapt and create new things. Three, the relation with our customers – if you love the product, then the customer will love the product.”

Helping d’Anglejan achieve his vision is Master Chef Nicolas Cloiseau, who, it turns out, initially refused the job. “He is exceptional, but modest,” d’Anglejan says. “Nicolas said no to the job because he didn’t think he was so creative. It took six weeks for me to convince him!”

La Maison du Chocolat's Advent Calendar, £48

La Maison du Chocolat’s Advent Calendar, £48

Cloiseau is clearly an artisan, especially if this year’s Christmas collection (“best one yet!” says d’Anglejan) is anything to go by.

For those who can’t wait until November for when the Christmas collection goes on sale, La Maison du Chocolat currently sell their seductive summer range, The Isle of Beauty, with zesty citrus flavours. Randomly enough, the collection was inspired by a trip Cloiseau took to Corsica, from where the ingredients are all derived. “The best raw materials are important,” d’Anglejan tells me. “So we go and find the best.”

La Maison du Chocolat's Isle of Beauty Collection (available in two sizes, priced £13.50 and £34.50)

La Maison du Chocolat’s Isle of Beauty Collection (available in two sizes, priced £13.50 and £34.50)

Everything La Maison du Chocolat sells, however, is all made in France. Surely it would be easier to make chocolate – something that is essentially a very fragile commodity – in the country in which you intend to sell it? D’Anglejan appears somewhat horrified at the suggestion. “The ingredients must all be the same – and they are different in different countries. So we make and produce everything in France. Using specific ingredients means you can control the quality. The chocolate is flown abroad, but the packaging is shipped, as we have more time for that.”

Which means that wherever you are in the world, when you present a delicious box of chocolates to your loved one, or count down the days to Christmas with an exclusive advent calendar in the shape of a festive tree, the chocolate within is as good as the day it was made. Now, who’s pinched the last hazelnut praline?!

To see the full range of products, visit www.lamaisonduchocolat.com. La Maison du Chocolat have also announced their new late-summer, limited edition macaron flavour, the Népita, a delicious combination of dark ganache with an infusion of Corsican Népita mint with fresh herbs and peppery mint.

La Maison du Chocolat's Macarons (available as a box of 12 for £22 or 24 for £42)

La Maison du Chocolat’s Macarons (available as a box of 12 for £22 or 24 for £42)

The Magic of Tea By The Luxury Channel

For tea lovers everywhere! Alice Parsons’ book The Magic of Tea is a beautiful homage to the enchanting world of tea….

Magic of Tea

Starting with the essential cup to greet each day, The Magic of Tea explores the history, rituals, folklore and flavours of the world of tea through the arc of the day. It discovers the stories of Lapsang Souchong and Earl Grey, Darjeeling and Russian Caravan together with Chai, Mate, Matcha and Rooibos, and travels the world to discover Black teas, Blue teas, Green teas, White teas and Iced teas.

Alice Parsons also shares her delicious and delightful recipes to accompany your tea – from traditional breakfast marmalade to high tea scones, hearty welsh rarebit, elegant tea smoked trout and cooling green tea ice-cream. This is truly a book that all tea lovers will treasure.

The Magic of Tea is published by Jane Curry Publishing, and is available in the UK from all good bookshops, priced £7.99.

The Best Way To Drink Champagne With Nicolas Feuillatte By Hannah Norman

Vineyards

For most of us, with the exception of the most distinguished connoisseurs, drinking champagne is simply part of a party lifestyle, but how much thought do we really give to what goes into our glasses?

To get more of an idea, The Luxury Channel was invited by Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte on an exclusive trip to France to get a bit of a taster.

Arriving in Paris in the late afternoon, with the weather not a million miles away from the grey of London we’d just left behind, we decided to take a quick whistle-stop tour of one of the most beautiful cities in the world by boat. Warding off the growing chill with glasses of vin chaud – hot, sweet mulled wine – we were swayed along the Seine to marvel at the beauty of the architecture which surrounded us.

Bottle of Cuvee 225 Rose

Since we were here first and foremost for the champagne, we called in at Espace Nicolas Feuillatte – the company’s boutique on Rue du Faubourg – to sample a sweet, refreshing Cuvée 225 Rosé.

That evening, The Luxury Channel was privileged to have been invited to Nicolas Feuillatte’s La Bohème Chic party at Salons France Ameriques on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt. Not only an annual event celebrating everyone’s love of bubbly, this was also a chance for the company to showcase their new La Bohème Chic champagne. Although not as sweet as the rosé, this glided down smoothly, and the cool, eclectic guests reveling in the party atmosphere, including UK TV’s Lizzie Cundy, certainly seemed to agree.

Lizzie Cundy

An early rise the following morning saw us dashing across Paris to catch the train to Reims, where we would be taking a tour of where Nicolas Feuillatte champagne is made.

A co-operative comprising of some 34,000 hectares of vineyards, Nicolas Feuillatte is one of the largest champagne houses in France – despite being a relative newcomer in the business, with just 40 years of heritage behind them. Although bound by the laws of the CIVC, who dictate when grapes should be harvested and when the champagnes should be bottled, Nicolas Feuillatte maintains a refreshing sense of a seemingly youthful spirit.

We were given a guided tour of the Nicolas Feuillatte factory facility, where the champagne is created. Their output is astonishing and makes Nicolas Feuillatte the third biggest producer of champagne, with some 21 million bottles produced each year.

Nicolas Feuillatte Factory

Three hundred stainless steel vats, averaging at around 100,000 litres of liquid, allow the pressed grapes to ferment, with a single vat producing 133,500 bottles of bubbly. Yes, precisely – enough to make your head spin! – and that’s before they add the yeast and sugar combination known as liqueur de tirage, which gives the champagne its characteristic fizz.

Now that we were all in a champagne-quaffing frame of mind, we were able to enjoy a tasting session with Nicolas Feuillatte’s chief winemaker, David Henualt. So, first things first – coupe or flute? Henault prefers the aesthetic elegance of the coupe, but warns that the gas escapes quicker this way. He also recommends that champagne should be served at a chilled 8 degrees, and recommends keeping your glasses cool in the fridge beforehand – the instant you put champagne into a room temperature glass, it will in turn warm up by a couple of degrees.

As Henualt opens a bottle of champagne with a practiced flourish, I’m keen to know – how does one actually open a bottle precisely, without ending up looking like a Formula One driver on the podium? The answer, Henualt says whilst demonstrating, is simple. Holding the bottle at a 45 degree angle, with the label facing up, he untwists the wire, but keeps his thumb on the cork – with 6 bars of pressure in a bottle, the cork could explode out of its own random accord. For the same reason, Henault doesn’t twist the cork either, instead twisting the bottle from left to right, enabling the cork to come free with a rewarding pop. I’ve yet to put this into practice, but as Henault made it look so easy, how hard can it be?!

Following our tasting enlightenment, we adjourned for lunch to the beautiful Hostellerie La Briqueterie, a spa hotel affording fabulous views of the vineyards beyond. The food was exquisite – as was the flowing champagne!

Alicia Paz Artwork

We were joined for coffee by Nicolas Feuillatte’s CEO, Dominique Pierre. He explained that the reasons for the company becoming as large as it is in such a short space of time were three-fold. Firstly, being as young as they are affords them the freedom to do things a little differently, and as a result, stand out from the crowd (such as annually appointing an artist to create a special commission – this year is the turn of Mexican visual artist Alicia Paz, whose work is pictured above). Secondly, they have forged close relationships with their suppliers (they remain in constant contact with their growers all year round). Thirdly, they have built up a close relationship with their clients, too – allowing them to demystify the champagnes they are selling. This is not a stuffy, elitist brand, but a dynamic co-operative. It’s clear to see why they’ve done so well so young – and that’s got to be worth raising a glass to.

Visit www.nicolas-feuillatte.com for more information, and to see the full range of champagnes.

A 5 Star Dog’s Dinner By Hannah Norman

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

If you’re a regular visitor to The Luxury Channel, you will remember our recent article and film about Jet Set Pets – but it turns out that aviation isn’t the only industry to welcome our four-legged friends with open arms. In association with The Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, The George Club in Mayfair, one of London’s smartest restaurants, has joined forces with Henrietta Morrison, the founder of organic dog food company Lily’s Kitchen, to create a delicious three course dinner for dogs.

The whole family can come together for dinner without having to leave the dog at home. Starting from as little as just £5, and served in silver bowls, The George has options for both small and large breeds. All monies raised from the event will go to The Dogs Trust, which cares for over 16,000 dogs every year. Dogs Trust CEO Clarissa Baldwin commented, “Dogs are no longer left at home when people dine out; instead, it has become more and more popular to take them to dinner with you. We’re delighted to be teaming up with London’s most exclusive dog-friendly club, and the special menu that Henrietta has created for this collaboration not only takes into account the balanced diet a dog needs, but adds a touch of fun too!”

Spirited Away By Hannah Norman

Alexander & James Glasses

As the rise of Internet shopping continues ever upwards in terms of popularity, retailers are increasingly aware of the need to diversify trade onto an online platform. Sales of luxury spirits have followed suit, with Alexander & James one of the newest kids to have moved on to the virtual block. The ultimate shopping platform for those who love a little tipple, the site combines e-commerce with handy advice for pouring the perfect cocktails, recipe tips, and the background craft behind each spirit for sale.

With how-to videos to help you perfect your cocktail-making finesse, along with expert commentary to keep you in the mixology loop, Alexander & James allow you to do more than just simply buy a bottle of your favourite poison. If you’re not being self-indulgent and are buying for a friend, customization for certain purchases (free engraving on select Johnnie Walker bottles, for instance), and complementary luxury packaging ensures that your gift is particularly personal – especially with a Gift Finder that provides suggestions tailored to your loved one’s tastes. Plus, with a Rare Finds page for that hard-to-buy-for recipient, such as 21 year old Rosebank whiskey or a Johnnie Walker backgammon set, there’s every chance you’ll be able to find something that suits. In case you can’t remember what said person’s date of birth is (and in a further embrace of the digital age), Alexander & James also incorporates Facebook integration, alerting you to your loved ones’ upcoming birthdays.

Exclusive to the UK for now (but with imminent plans to branch out into Europe), Alexander & James have over half a century’s worth of heritage and experience to fall back on, making this one venture worth raising a glass to.

Where To Curl Up This Winter In The Big Apple By Saira Malhotra

Winter in New York has been a frosty metropolis of jaw-clenching citizens all desperately trying to avoid the sub-zero temperatures whenever possible. But this is NYC and somehow the show still goes on! The combination of apartment living and ancient heating systems can be relied upon to serve up an attack of ‘cabin fever’ to even the most sedentary of homebodies. People literally HAVE TO GET OUT!

New Yorkers have found some great spots in which to curl-up communally – places that were designed for these very moments with lazy couches, fireplaces and belly-warming suppers. Here are some of NYC’s finest refuges to escape to this winter – from midtown Manhattan to Harlem and down to the Bowery, we have our favorites for you.

1) Bar Boulud, 20 E 76th St, Upper East Side

Bar Boulud by E. Laignel

Bar Boulud by E. Laignel

A modern take on a farmhouse feel, Bar Boulud offers a wine list to make the vineyards of Burgundy and Rhone blush, charcuterie, sausages and terrines scented with North African spices. Chef Gavin Kaysen is a James Beard rising star, and if you’re there around lunch-time, delve in to a gooey croque – your choice of Madame or Monsieur.
www.cafeboulud.com/nyc

Charcuterie at Bar Boulud by Kenji Takigami

Charcuterie at Bar Boulud by Kenji Takigami

2) The Breslin, 20 West 29th St, in The Ace Hotel, Chelsea

The Breslin

The Breslin

This vintage-chic pub with large window panes is a perfect spot to admire the cold from the inside whilst dunking parmesan toasts in onion and bone marrow soup, followed by milk-braised pork ribs. If there is any chill left in you (though I highly doubt it!), be sure to try the warm clementine cake.
www.thebreslin.com

Steak And Kidney Pie at The Breslin

Steak And Kidney Pie at The Breslin


3) Freemans, End of Freeman Alley, nr. Rivington St, Bowery

Freemans by S. Freihon

Freemans by S. Freihon

In a foreboding alley, this seemingly tiny restaurant sprawls into several rooms and nooks, making it the perfect place to play hooky. Amongst taxidermy and a colonial past, enjoy The Freemans Cocktail of pomegranate molasses, and chivey Hunter’s Stew with potato dumplings, amongst many other American comfort classics.
www.freemansrestaurant.com

Artichoke Dip at Freemans

Artichoke Dip at Freemans

4) Jones Wood Foundry, 401 East 76th St, Upper East Side

Jones Wood Foundry

Jones Wood Foundry

This real-deal British pub and one of the Upper East siders’ favorite haunts. It is so welcoming that you will not want to leave. Jason Hicks brings to this Upper East Side food-driven pub dishes from his home in the Cotswolds, like pukka savory pies, bangers, mash and onion gravy, fish and chips and little mason jars of home-made pickles. It’s easy to get carried away here – just make sure you leave some room for the oh so very sticky toffee pudding!
www.joneswoodfoundry.com

Beef And Ale Stew at Jones Wood Foundry

Beef And Ale Stew at Jones Wood Foundry


5) Forgione, 134 Reade Street,Tribeca

Forgione

Forgione

The Iron Chef, Marc Forgione, certainly knows how to create a companionable vibe with his cedar knotted walls and candle illuminated pendants. Anything and everything on the menu will appeal to your winter-warming soul, from oysters in Cajun béchamel to Singapore-inspired lobster in chili sauce.
www.marcforgione.com

Lobster In Spicy Broth at Forgione

Lobster In Spicy Broth at Forgione


6) Park Avenue Winter, 100 East 63rd Street, Upper East Side

The Park Avenue Winter

The Park Avenue Winter

A restaurant that reinvents itself with its décor and menu to celebrate the season. Well now it’s winter, so enjoy the full breadth of seasonal produce with dishes like maple coffee-glazed pork chops with roasted quince or roast chicken, parsnip puree and spiced raisins.
www.parkavenyc.com

Seared Scallop Sandwich at The Park Avenue Winter

Seared Scallop Sandwich at The Park Avenue Winter

7) Red Rooster, 310 Lenox Avenue, Harlem

Red Rooster by Paul Brissman

Red Rooster by Paul Brissman

Head up to Harlem for a rich historic experience that only shines brighter in the presence of Winter. The Red Rooster captures Harlem’s comforts with their take on mac and cheese, fried chicken and oxtail stew, whilst embracing cold winter dishes from Sweden with Grandma Helga’s meatballs. The walls are dedicated to Harlem’s artists, the shelves are lined with books and trinkets and treasures from the neighborhood and personal memorabilia of the Chef Samuelsson’s journey, and the air is aromatic with warming spices of nutmeg and cinnamon.
www.redroosterharlem.com

Red Rooster by Paul Brissman

Red Rooster by Paul Brissman

To see more of Saira’s work, visit www.passportpantry.com.

Toasting The Queen By The Luxury Channel

A celebration isn’t a celebration without a toast….

Queen Elizabeth’s favorite tipple is reportedly Dubonnet, but if you’re not a fan of the spiced fortified wine, why not toast the summer with a different commemorative beverage?

Whisky

John Walker & Sons, Scotch Whisky Distillers By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen, have created a special Jubilee blend which was bottled on February 6th this year, 60 years to the day since the Queen acceded to the throne.

There are just 60 bottles available, one for each year of the Queen’s reign, and the Jubilee blend combines grain and malt whiskies, all distilled in and maturing since 1952, finished in a marrying cask of English oak from the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.

According to Master Distiller Jim Beveridge, the whisky “skillfully combines whiskies distilled in and maturing since 1952 into a jubilant, vital celebration of the blender’s art: a profoundly well-structured, unique whisky that is full of considered maturity yet also displays a joyous vitality; somehow complex whilst also elegantly simple, well-poised and harmonious.” Sounds like a certain reigning lady we know….

It promises to be a delight, but it is not just the whisky that we like. John Walker & Sons have collaborated with other Royal Warrant holders and master craftsmen to create the perfect presentation. Baccarat have designed crystal, diamond-shaped decanters on six radial legs (for each decade of Queen Elizabeth’s reign); Scottish silversmiths Hamilton & Inches have adorned these with a commemorative collar; Cumbria Crystal provide a pair of specially-designed lead crystal glasses engraved by Philip Lawson Johnston with wildlife scenes from Balmoral and Sandringham. All of this is housed together in a bespoke cabinet by N.E.J Stevenson, crafted from oak and native Caledonian pine, again from Sandringham and Balmoral.

The rare editions cost £100,000 each, with profits going Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association that preserves rare craft and conservation skills.

For more information, go to www.johnniewalker.com.

Barcelona’s Hidden Restaurants By Scott Manson

Secrecy and second-guessing is arguably the hottest trend in dining right now. From pop-up restaurants and food stalls which tweet loyal followers with their ever-changing locations, to supper clubs set up by foodies in their own homes, these are interesting times for eating out.

Barcelona's hidden restaurants

Little wonder, then, that in Barcelona, a city renowned worldwide as a hotbed of inventive cooking, there is a secret restaurant scene like no other. Forget about awkward dinner parties held in cramped flats where you’re forced to make small talk with strangers, Barcelona’s hidden restaurant scene is as cool and funky as the city itself.

Some dining spots, such as the delightfully named Tintoreria Dontell, operate from a fixed base. In their case, the door and window outside the venue make it look, to all intents and purposes, like a humdrum dry cleaning store. Step inside though, being careful to negotiate the hanging racks of clothing, and you’ll find a passageway to a secret dining room where in-the-know diners can enjoy fabulous Mediterranean fusion food. This James Bond-style approach adds an illicit thrill to the night’s activities, only slightly tempered by the fact that you can actually pick up your dry cleaning on the way out.

My introduction to the scene came courtesy of Kathleen Englehardt, chef and creator of Jezebel’s pop-up restaurant. Her dinners take place in various locations in and around Barcelona – everywhere from lofts to villas – with the goal to keep it beautiful, relaxed and enjoyable. We came along with a view to uncovering the gourmet secrets of this Spanish city.

“Barcelona and its food seduced me,” says Kathleen. “There are more Michelin-starred restaurants here than in any other city in Europe. This inspired me to open a restaurant, but not just any restaurant. A hidden restaurant.”

Jezebel’s was the first pop-up restaurant to open in the city and, for many, it remains the best. Today I’m in the privileged position of finding out why, as I tail Kathleen for a day and night as she sets up her latest one-off dining room.

We start, naturally, at the market – Barcelona’s famous La Boquiera, a massive sprawling space just off La Rambla, which has been in operation since 1217. The finest produce is on display and Kathleen knows exactly which stalls to head for, picking squid from one, octopus from another, a specific cut of beef from somewhere else. If only supermarket shopping could be this much fun.

“My shopping list may look diverse,” she laughs, “but this is because tonight’s menu is a real fusion. It’s Galician meets Asian meets Creole.”

Back at the pop-up space, I hover around Kathleen like an annoying Masterchef judge, quizzing her while she attempts to prep dozens of meals. To her credit, she remains resolutely unflappable throughout.

“If I am relaxed, then my customers are relaxed,” she says. “That is the beauty of a pop-up – you don’t have the pressure of fine dining, with its hushed rooms and formal service.”

The night itself is a huge success, confirming Kathleen’s place as a queen of the city’s clandestine dining scene. Where will she go from here? “With business, I plan to open a wine bar very soon. Personally, right now, I’m going home to bed!”

The city of Barcelona awaits me. It’s time to uncover a few more of its secrets before the night is out.

www.jezebelsclandestinedining.com

How To Do It

Two nights room only at the four-star Royal Ramblas is from £255 per person, based on two sharing a standard room. This includes direct return flights from London Luton to Barcelona with easyJet, departing on 1st December 2011. Located on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas Boulevard, this hotel is a short walk from Plaza Catalunya, the Picasso Museum and Barcelona Cathedral.

For reservations, visit www.expedia.co.uk or call 0330 123 1235.

Sugar And Spice By The Luxury Channel

The freshest and most desirable, delectable morsels in town. The Luxury Channel meets Clemmie Innes to talk wedding breakfasts and fresh produce….

Sugar and Spice

How do menus for a wedding breakfast differ from a 21st birthday party, say, or corporate event?

The menu is bespoke to the couple getting married. Every menu we do for weddings are as different as every client’s tastes.

Can you give us an example menu for 200 guests?

Start with a delicious fresh English crab salad with avocado, tomatoes and a dash of lime. A main course of herb crusted rack of lamb with sweet potato and fennel gratin, and a watercress sauce. Finish with a delicious red berry tartlet, blackcurrant sorbet and wedding cake!

What creative food opportunities does the wedding breakfast allow for?

This is an opportunity for the bride and groom to have what they like to eat that they wouldn’t normally have at home and to adjust this to make it perfect for all their guests.

What unique touches can Sugar & Spice add to ensure a bride’s guests are happy and well-fed?

We offer evening tastings and champagne so all couples ensure that they know what to expect on the day and can make any tweaks to any course. From the first conversation to the day of the wedding itself, they will deal with the same person who will ensure that everything discussed is produced perfectly on the day.

What is your favourite recipe?

Heston Blumenthal’s hot and cold ice tea.

What is luxury for a cook or caterer?

The freshest, highest quality and simplest ingredients.

What is luxury for a Sugar & Spice customer?

The ultimate flexibility to combine the best ingredients used creatively, with a high quality personal service and importantly within budget!

What sets Sugar & Spice apart from other caterers?

We produce high quality seasonal food, which is delivered with a personal touch. We have a flexibility to create exactly what the client wants as all our menus are bespoke to each individual client. We provide a personal service instead of dealing with a team where requests can often get missed.

Do you have a trademark or signature dish?

Sugar & Spice chocolate brownies with white chocolate drops, which are for sale on the website!

www.sugarandspicefood.com

Bowmore – A Taste of History By The Luxury Channel

Islay is a magical Scottish island, nestling off the coast of the mainland, a land of legend and rugged landscapes. Often called the Queen of the Hebrides, it’s also known as the home of Bowmore single malt Scotch whisky.

Bowmore Islay

The island is about as far away geographically and visually from Regent Street in London as you can imagine, but it was there at a tasting session that I discovered the deep pleasure of its 40 Year Old whisky. As a connoisseur, I’ve done my level best over the years to work my way through Scotland’s 2000-plus single malts, and the chance to sample this rare masterpiece on a chilly winter’s night in London was not one to be missed.

As I looked at its tawny glow, I realised that many skilled craftsmen, and countless generations of experience, all the way back to the days of Robert Burns, had gone into creating this very special moment that I was about to embark upon.

Apparently, only 53 specially hand-blown bottles containing this remarkable drink have been made – Bowmore commissioned two of Scotland’s foremost glass artists, Brodie Nairn and Nichola Burns, to create a vessel worthy of its finest malt. No two are the same – each bottle has a unique design – adding to its appeal.

As I gazed at the dram in my hand, I realised that I was about to savour forty years of history, a drink that was born when man had first stepped onto the moon, the first Jumbo jet flew, and the Beatles were splitting up.

Four decades on, the drink did not disappoint. The nose, taste, finish and balance were all there in an impressive combination which couldn’t be faulted. In a sense, it felt more like an experience rather than simply tasting a drink.

For the aficionados of fine malts who look for something special and high standards, the 40 Year Old Bowmore undoubtedly represents whisky at its very best.

Priced at £6,500 per bottle, I’m not sure if every whisky drinker will be rushing to buy a couple for the Christmas stocking, but for the man – or indeed woman – who appreciates fine things, and can afford it, this is a truly memorable purchase.

www.bowmore.com

Bernard Magrez – A Baron of Bordeaux By The Luxury Channel

Bernard Magrez owns 35 vineyards around the world and is promoting wine tourism at his estates in Bordeaux. He talks to The Luxury Channel about his love for wine and his new venture….

Bernard Magrez

Where will visitors on the wine tours go?

We have five properties in Bordeaux for people to visit. We are in Saint Emilion, Graves, Medoc and in the Entre-Deux-Mers region, so the visitor can compare and contrast all the great terriors de Bordeaux in one package. Our vineyards are in the great areas of the region and we have unique access to important producers. Each property has its own style and personality, as does the winemaker.

What is special about the tours?

Our mission with the wine tours is to offer the maximum pleasure, involvement with the history of the chateau, then dinner and possibly a stay in the chateau itself. People would travel in a vintage car or perhaps have a helicopter tour, and have a tasting lesson or even a blending lesson where they make their own assemblage of wines and compare those to actual wines from the chateau. It gives people a real chance to understand wine much more profoundly.

What inspired you to start this wine tourism venture?

I noticed in Spain there were some excellent examples of wine tourism. I then decided to go for this concept in Bordeaux, but I’m choosing to concentrate on a high-end proposition, to reflect the quality of our chateaux, including Fombrauge, La Tour Carnet and Pape Clément.

You own 35 vineyards around the world. Where might you go next?

I am fortunate enough to own some top Crus in Bordeaux and I diversified into Portugal, Spain, South America and Napa Valley. I’ve been to Croatia several times and there are excellent reds and whites there, and there are also fine wines in the Crimea. But I would say at this stage, 35 wine properties are sufficient for me!

Which wine from all of your collection would you choose to drink at your table?

One would be my wine Chateau Pape Clément and the other, a wine called Priorat from a region near Barcelona and Tarragona in Spain. They’re made on a very difficult, very dry, sloping terroirs and are marvellous red wines.

What makes the ideal wine, philosophically?

Wine is always a cultural product, not just a luxury commodity. It is a product of the land and of effort. A winemaker is an artisan, always looking for excellence in his work. When he achieves this, he becomes an artist.

Read our report of a Bernard Magrez Luxury Wine Tourism holiday here.

Shaken Not Stirred By The Luxury Channel

We asked William Sitwell, the editor-in-chief of Waitrose Food Illustrated, to explore the art of the cocktail….

Cocktails

Where did you go to learn about cocktails?

I went to Quo Vadis, recently rehabbed by those most exciting restaurateurs Sam and Eddy Hart. I had a lesson from Paul Mant, their top mixologist, in making the perfect martini.

What did Paul teach you about the perfect martini?

He showed me the correct quantities of ingredients and how you have to taste it as you make it. Also, how to get the dilution right from the water melted from the ice — they freeze their ice twice. But most importantly, it’s stirred, not shaken.

What is your favourite cocktail?

I don’t have a favourite, but I don’t like a sticky and complicated cocktail. I do love a bellini with fresh peach juice and chilled Champagne. The house aperitif at Quo Vadis is tart and sweet, and full of summery flavour: Cointreau, freshly-squeezed clementine juice, and topped with cava.

There seems to have been a return to the art of cocktail-making in the last few years. Why do you think that is?

The trend in cocktails mirrors the trend in food – for example, sourcing fresh ingredients, using fresh peaches instead of tinned juice. The same as a great chef, a barman will find great ingredients. There is a massive interest in where vodka and gin is coming from too.

If you had to, would you choose either the best ingredients or the best bartender?

I think they both are important, and speed is also key. I can’t hang around. And you want a small, restricted cocktail menu, same as huge menus in restaurants are quite passé. You want a guarantee the ingredients are fresh, and the drinks are strong and to the point.

www.quovadissoho.co.uk

After Dark With William Sitwell By The Luxury Channel

We asked William Sitwell, editor-in-chief of Waitrose Food Illustrated, to explore the art of fine chocolate-making….

After Dark

What should people know about chocolate?

There are as many types of chocolate as there are types of wines and coffee. If you have chocolate from a good plantation with a high cocoa ration, you can get the most amazing effect.

You went to Amelia Rope Chocolate where she has a chocolate consultancy, in addition to her handmade chocolates. What does she consult about?

She consults with chefs and other businesses and advises them. She has great contacts in Brazil and sources direct from suppliers there. She is so passionate that she will never skimp on quality and never mass produce and so never make money.

Did you taste any of her bespoke truffles?

She made me my own truffle with honey. There are the flavour profiles that make up my character, so she made mine out of honey. For dinner parties, she can make the right truffles for the perfect end to the menu.

Did you learn how to make a truffle?

I had a lesson in how to make them; it’s much simpler than I thought. You grind up good quality chocolate with honey and cream – that is a ganache – then you cool it down and pump it out of a piper, then chill it, roll it up and dip in chocolate and then powder.

Why do you think unusual tastes like salty or tart go with the sweetness of chocolate?

The first time you taste chocolate with salt, you think “what is this?” I had a caramel bar with Himalayan salt, and you think it’s soft because of the taste, but it’s not.

What else did you learn on your day of chocolate?

I learned about the history of chocolate from master chocolatier Chantal Coady at Rococo in Chelsea, and I went to Chocolate Society to drink the perfect hot chocolate. That is close to my heart, as I’ve always made hot chocolate. I use Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate with full fat milk and whisk it in a pan.

As editor of Waitrose Food Illustrated, do you find readers interested in chocolates?

People always want good quality, but also affordability. It’s posssible to get really affordable stuff, but with very great quality chocolate, so you need far less of it to get that hit. The pleasure is so much greater. People are often put off by the initial price tag, but a little bit will do more.

Private Dining At The Dorchester By The Luxury Channel

Dorchester Krug Room

Following a complete redesign and lush remodelling, The Krug Room at The Dorchester – London’s original chef’s table – has reopened. The intimate room pays homage to the heritage, elegance and subtlety of both Krug and The Dorchester, and provides guests with an intimate and glamorous setting that takes private or celebratory dining to a whole new level.

www.thedorchester.com

The Perfect Drinks Cabinet By Alanna Lynott

The Perfect Drinks Cabinet

The Luxury Channel interviews Daniel Crebesse, head of the UK Bartenders Guild and head barman at The Milestone Hotel in Kensington. Daniel shares his hot tips on how to create the ultimate “at home” bar experience….

After years of working in hotel restaurants, at a time when chefs had very little to do (as almost everything was flambéed), Daniel grew weary of the infamous split shifts and antisocial hours, and decided to turn his attentions to the creation of fabulous libations. He never looked back.

According to Daniel, quality products make for quality drinks. Essentials include high quality vodkas such as Belvedere or Grey Goose and a decent Gin like Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray for your martinis. As for that elusive perfect martini, Daniel has to disagree with Mr Bond. Shaking the martini looks great, but using ice in your cocktail will start to dilute it and if you use a shaker, the longer you shake, the more you diluted your drink will be. Stirred is preferred!

You also need serious Malt Whiskies, preferably one from each whisky-producing area of Scotland, as well as liqueurs like Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Amaretto that are integral to many of the popular cocktails you might crave. Daniel’s more luxurious must-haves include Remy Martin Louis XIII Black Pearl cognac and 25 year old or 30 year old Macallan, a single malt Speyside whisky.

Daniel’s essential tools are his shakers, bar spoons and strainers – and of course, you need a good corkscrew. The best around are the ones provided by the wine suppliers – they are robust and easy to use, so cosy up with your supplier the next time you order your wine (incidentally, although not much of a wine drinker, Daniel recommends Cheval Blanc 1982). Shop-bought corkscrews either break or are impractical unless you spend good money – you have been warned!

The Perfect Drinks Cabinet

In Daniel’s opinion, luxury is when your products are of very good quality. For example, a top of the range ice machine that produces good, clean shaven ice.

Another luxury, for Daniel is experiencing the best bars and beverages around the world. He loves Gibsons in Chicago for its atmosphere, The Crillion Hotel Bar in Paris for wonderful cocktails and the Hilton Caraibe in Puerto Rico, because of the breath-taking ocean views – and the best Pina Coladas and rum cocktails around.

So, you have all your ingredients and tools of the trade – now is the time to try mixing your own cocktail. Daniel recommends his delicious 1st Concerto cocktail: in a champagne glass, double strain 10ml of Blackberry liqueur, 1 strawberry, 1 raspberry and 1 blackberry. Using a bar spoon, pour champagne very slowly to the top. Garnish with one blackberry on the rim of the glass.

Now, what to serve this delicious drink in? Daniel recommends different glassware for different drinks (after all, a drink must be a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds). For cocktail glasses and crystal tumblers, Bowman-Weaver are the very best, while Mikasa wine glasses add elegance to any table. For sleek and stylish modern designs, Urban glassware will make an instant impact.

However, according to Daniel, the most important element of a good bar is the bartender himself. So if you want a truly delightful drink without the hassle of making it yourself, make your way to the Milestone Hotel Bar, kick back and ask Daniel to magic up one of his signature drinks.

www.milestonehotel.com

www.ukbg.co.uk

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