Királyudvar, Tokaji Sec 2006

Friday, June 11th, 2010

There is definitely a place in my heart for wines that are a bit bonkers.  A tale of the unexpected.  Something with its own personality.

I recently visited Vivat Bacchus in Farringdon with a colleague.  We sampled two sweet wines – one white, one red – both bonkers.  Sadly the white tasted of wallpaper paste and the red of cherry lips soaked in meths.  And Vivat Bacchus tried to double tip me.  I hate it when service is already added to the bill and then the credit card machine offers me the “opportunity” to add another tip, presumably going straight into the long pockets of short-handed management.  A chilled Valpolicella on the same visit was dreamy, but this is not enough to entice me to visit either branch of Vivat Bacchus again.

I have tried many superb Tokaji dessert wines, almost all of which were not particularly Dizzee Rascal, but nonetheless tasted sweeter than an Armand van Helden megamix.

This Királyudvar was dry and, in a sense, that made it madder than a Tory/Liberal conspiracy.  But mad can be loveable.  It can be intelligent.  It can command respect.  This is the Vivienne Westwood of wines.

I can’t claim that I know whether she tastes of honey and meringue, but, like this wine, I could think of 10,000 worse dinner partners.

I got mine from the Wine Society for £18, so not cheap, but if you want quality like Westwood, then you have to be prepared to pay.  I enjoyed mine with a pork chop with mustard, garlic and thyme.

Galvin at Windows, London

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I think I am addicted to capital haute cuisine. First I tried the 40th floor of the Gherkin.  Then the revolving 34th floor of the BT Tower. Recently I have stooped, metaphorically, to the 28th floor of one of the ugliest buildings in London:  The Hilton, Park Lane, but probably the one with the finest, or at least poshest, view.


Lunch up the BT Tower

Monday, April 5th, 2010

My day job takes me to some very ugly places.  1960’s office buildings in Longbridge, Liverpool and Lewisham.  Soulless serviced office space in Southend, Slough and St Helens purporting to be “modern” but with more of a sense of Alcatraz than alacrity.

So it was an extremely pleasant surprise to be involved with an event at the BT Tower in London.

I have been taking the words haute cuisine a little too literally of late following a towering meal at 40:30 on the 39th floor of the gherkin last year, and this year (review yet to be published) Galvin @ Windows on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton.

But there are few monuments, iconic buildings, national treasures, beautiful landmarks, and yet vital pieces of communication infrastructure that match this one.

National monument and important comms hub


Selfridges Wonder Bar

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

A recent Sunday lunch in London lead to a worrying discovery.  My favourite haunt for a wine aperitif, 1707 Wine Bar in Fortnum and Mason basement, no longer opens on Sunday.

Forced into trying somewhere new, the Ritz doormen, just along Piccadilly took exception to my smart jeans (yet they tolerate Michael Winner).  The Wolseley had welcomed us the day before (and warned me not to darken their door again in a rush).  And picking on someone nearer my own age, Madonna’s ex-local didn’t appeal.  I wanted wine.

In a frustrated fit of anxiety (that I would have to go to lunch without a wine warm-up) I remembered Selfridges, a mere 10 minute stroll up Park Lane.


EWBC London gets nasty

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Blimey.  I travel all the way to London to meet up with a few EWBC fellows at Le Bouchon Breton for dinner and all I did was mention my controversial WART campaign…

Thanks to Daniel, the manager, for sharing a couple of super magnums of Châteauneuf-du-Pape with us.

The food at Le Bouchon was excellent and good value – much better than the “upmarket Café Rouge” it is accused of being, although the wine list seemed expensive (with due exception to the CdP!).

Hawksmoor fails to wow…

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I realise I am risking treading on revered toes.  Almost every food blogger within Patriot Missile range of London thinks that Hawsksmoor is legend.  Esteemed mainstream critics from Jay Rayner to Giles Coren have extolled its fleshy virtues.  I was recommended, no, TOLD to go there by cheese lover, Ramsay denier and beefy beefcake Chris Pople.

In short I expected great things.  But whenever you set high expectations, it is inevitable that not everything lives up to the dream.  And a few things fell short for me.


Rules, Covent Garden

Friday, January 29th, 2010

It was like stepping into a Victorian hunting odyssey.  I almost expected a golden maned Aslan to stalk majestically through the lobby.  Or the wardrobe door to open to reveal Mr Tumnus the fawn hanging butchered, ageing for 28 days, or whatever fawn meat hangs for.

Lobby rules OK?


Roast, Borough Market (not meerkat)

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Sunday Roast.  Mmmmmmm.  A weekend in London and it’s been a while since the last legendary Wino Sunday lunch.  Time to make repairs but in a relaxed Sunday style.  A quick flight at my favourite London wine bar.  The Jubilee Line to London Bridge.  A soupçon of jazz.

Spit roast....for some reason


Gunpowder, treason and Chablis

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

I enjoy a slurp of Chablis so I was delighted to be invited to the tasting below.  However, the date clashes with a little plot I am working on with Guido.  Big Bang theory – that sort of thing.

The other happening on this historic date is a “trade only” event but I’m sure you can blag your way in by wearing an Oz Clark face mask.

Gunpowder, treason and Chablis

Langan’s Brasserie, London

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Some stories go on and on.  I suppose you cannot blame people for desperately trying to wring every last sou from their fifteen minutes of fame but I had to smile when I read that Peter André has signed up for a cook book.  I try very hard not to overuse exclamation marks, the vulgar back street Pot Noodle of punctuation.  But WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Perhaps we can look forward to digesting “101 recipes for over-ripe melons”?

Langan’s Brasserie has been around as long as I can remember.  Certainly it has endured more than its fair share of Andy Warhol’s allocation and draws good and bad reviews.  But generally I find it very well patronised for a place that by many estimations is several eons out of fashion.

Builders' Café?