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London Cocktail Week 2016

London Cocktail Week 2016

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My poor liver.  It’s taken a bit of a battering lately.  All in the name of research, you understand…. Recently one of my favourite events took place – London Cocktail Week.  Now, usually I try and pace myself, spread my “investigations” throughout the week, break it up a bit.  But this year?  No.  This year I decided to cram it all into the final weekend.  So it was less “London Cocktail Week”, more “London Cocktail Weekend”.  Never before have I planned a drinking sesh with such military precision, and never before have I necked drinks with such speed when it’s not closing time.  However, I lived to tell the tale so here are my highlights from London Cocktail Week:

Strawberries & Cream – Fifteen
The recipe list for this cocktail read like a random collection of ingredients – including gin, tarragon and cider vermouth – so I was intrigued to see if the end result really would taste like strawberries and cream.  And do you know what?  It actually did.  In fact, it reminded me of one of those boiled sweets that used to be around when I was a kid.  It tasted deceptively simple for what was clearly a very complex drink.  What’s more, it was one of the prettiest cocktails I have ever seen. Pure elegance.

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Rhubarb Margarita – The Drunken Monkey
The barman managed to totally confuse me by offering three different flavours; not helped by the fact that he was a bit of a mumbler.  It really doesn’t take much, especially when I’m already a few cocktails down… Fortunately I guessed correctly and ended up with the drink I’d had my eye on: the rhubarb margarita.  All bars should offer this version of a margarita.  The tartness of rhubarb just works amazingly with tequila and triple sec.  This British twist on a Mexican classic was simply great.

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Hebrides & Ivory – Milroys
I often shop in Milroys – a gorgeous old whisky shop in Soho – but I’ve never stayed for a drink.  To be honest, their LCW cocktail wasn’t up there with my favourites, although I’m not a fan of whisky cocktails to start with.  What I loved here was the atmosphere.  The amber glow of whisky fills the creaky old shop and it’s probably one of the cosiest places to while away these chilly autumn evenings.  What’s more, the staff are knowledgeable, friendly and funny. While I wasn’t keen on their cocktail of Kilchoman Machair Bay Scotch whisky, Couer de Genepi, St Germain and grapefruit bitters, I’ll definitely be back for their single malts.

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Langers in Manhattan – 46 & Mercy
These guys “won” the dubious honour of creating my favourite cocktail of LCW 2015, so I was intrigued by what they would pull out of the bag this year.  Langers in Manhattan did not disappoint (my Cork friends may well have a little titter here).  Made with only three ingredients – Jameson Caskmates Irish whisky, Cocchi di Torino vermouth and homemade chilli liqueur – this drink was incredibly interesting.  It was sweetness, sharpness and heat all in one glass, with a rich caramel taste before the bite of the chilli kicked in.  I probably couldn’t drink too many and my lips did start to feel like they were melting but, once again, these guys have delivered a stunner.

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Blossom Martini – The Harcourt
Once upon a time I worked for an awful property company on Seymour Place.  I would regularly meet friends of mine for after-work drinks in The Harcourt Arms, which was an unassuming “Swedish pub” around the corner from my office.  It has had a bit of a makeover, dropped the “Arms” and is now an upmarket Scandinavian restaurant.  Their LCW offering was one of the new “Sip and Snack” deals introduced this year: for a bit of extra cash you get a cocktail with a paired snack.  The Blossom Martini was made with homemade lemongrass infused Absolut Elyx vodka, fresh lemon, ginger and pink peppercorn syrup, rose liqueur and cherry bitters, and was served with gravadlax on rye bread.  The cocktail itself was surprisingly sweet and refreshing, and it was clear that a lot of love and effort had gone into it.  I was also particularly impressed with their rye bread, which can often taste like a bit of cardboard.  Here, it was sweet, malty and soft.  If this is indicative of the quality of their food, then I’d love to go back for dinner.

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Leonard Woolf – The Bloomsbury Club
My reaction upon taking a sip of this cocktail was “ooooooooh that is SO good!”.  Both the cocktail and bar were exactly what I needed on a wet, cold London afternoon.  The bar itself is a charming little bolthole in the depths of the Bloomsbury Hotel.  It’s like stepping back in time, to a more charming era, with the exquisite service to match. The cocktail was another simple one: Maker’s Mark bourbon, Monin ginger syrup and orange bitters.  It was comforting and rich – and would no doubt make a great variation on a hot toddy.  This is the first whisky cocktail I have ever liked, which is really saying something.

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The Monkey Club – Graphic
Graphic is one of my all-time favourite bars, and was one of the few places where the cocktail-making process was explained.  Their take on a Clover Club included Monkey 47 gin and Cocchi di Torino vermouth.  It was fruity, sweet, bursting with berries and tasted a bit like an alcoholic smoothie.  It was so easy to drink that I was able to finish it off in record time, due to the fact that I was actually sitting at someone else’s table. Kudos to the security staff who helped me find a spare seat.

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As usual, it was great to see such innovation and creativity on display – plus LCW is a fantastic excuse to try out new bars and visit some old favourites.  London really does have some of the best bars in the world.  There were so many amazing cocktails but my absolute top choice this year was the Strawberries & Cream by Fifteen.  It was so clever and was clearly created by someone who really understands flavour.  Not only did it taste delicious, it looked a treat too.

I’d like to say that I’m now going to detox for a bit but I think we all know that’s a lie….

Tequila, mezcal and all things agave

Tequila, mezcal and all things agave

Hands up if you have ever had a “bad experience” with tequila.  Ok, hands up if you think tequila tastes pretty nasty.  Just so you know – my hand was up both times.  I may like alcohol to bite back, but tequila has never floated my boat.  To me, it’s just firewater with about as much subtlety as a house brick.  Now, hands up if you have heard of mezcal.  Until recently, this drink wasn’t even on my radar, let alone my palate.  So when I had the opportunity to go to a festival celebrating all things agave, I jumped at it.  I would get to do some mezcal tasting and maybe even learn to love tequila.

Tequilafest was organised to educate us non-Mexicans about tequila and mezcal.  For most people in the UK, tequila is something that you slam down when you’re already pretty drunk.  Or perhaps when you need a helping hand to get pretty drunk.  Or for a drunken bet.  Whatever your motivation, chances are you’re not drinking it because you want to savour its flavour.  So the team behind Tequilafest want to help us understand that, actually, there’s more to tequila than just cheapo shots. For a start, it has appellation of origin status.  This means that its production is tightly controlled, so you can forget about those plans to set up a boutique tequila distillery in your shed.  Furthermore, there are three different classes of tequila: blanco (unaged), reposado (rested, i.e. aged for between two-twelve months) and anejo (vintage, i.e. aged for at least twelve months ).  I’ve only ever tried the blanco variety and, in fact, wasn’t even aware that there were other grades.  This was going to be a steep, and possibly very wobbly, learning curve.

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Mezcal may also be made from agave, like tequila, but we now start to enter the realm of all things artisanal.  For one thing, it was historically made in the poorer Mexican states where people were just distilling it for their own use.  So whereas tequila is traditionally more popular and is now mass produced, mezcal is much more niche.  It also tastes different – and I was actually pleasantly surprised.  It has a smokey flavour reminiscent of some whiskies.  This is because it is heated over a wood fire during the distillation process.  The process of making mezcal is steeped in tradition, with no two versions being the same.

Tequilafest was a celebration of all things Mexican, not just alcohol.  It coincided with the weekend after Mexican Independence Day and was aimed at demonstrating that there’s more to Mexico than pinatas, sombreros and tequila slammers.  The organisers want us to understand the culture of Mexico – the music, the history, the produce.  And I get that.  Having visited Mexico several years ago, one of my happiest memories is of sitting outside a restaurant in the main square of Merida, sipping on a turbo-strength margarita, listening to a mariachi band play while the locals danced.  It was one of those sublime moments that I wheel out whenever anyone goes on about how dangerous Mexico is and how you should never step foot outside your Cancun resort.

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Upon entering Tequilafest, we were given a wristband with ten tokens.  These were for the ten shots of tequila or mezcal that were included with the price of entry.  I’ll just repeat that.  TEN shots.  Fortunately, there was plenty of stodgy Mexican street food available to soak up the alcohol and prevent me from blowing a hole in my stomach lining.  Here is a quick summary of what I learned:

  1. There is nothing good about unaged tequila.
  2. If I’m going to make a sober decision to drink tequila then I’m going straight for the anejo.  It still burns a fiery trail straight through your digestive system, but it at least tastes slightly more palatable.
  3. There is such a thing as chili liqueur and it is amazing.  Check out Ancho Reyes.
  4. Mezcal is extremely interesting and I would definitely drink it again.  I’m a fan of whisky so I appreciated the wide flavour range and the craft behind it.

I think I got through, maybe, six or seven tokens before I had to admit defeat.  One esophagus-searing encounter after another just got a bit too much, so I  called time before I had another “bad experience”.  I may not have learned to love tequila but I do have a new respect for it.

Thanks to the team behind Tequilafest for giving me the opportunity to attend.  All opinions are, as ever, my own.

The Best Food and Drink of 2015

The Best Food and Drink of 2015

Yep, it’s the end of another year so time for yet another list.  Here is my round up of the best things went into my mouth over the course of 2015:

Chicken Berry Biryani from Dishoom
I visited the Kings Cross branch of Dishoom all the way back in January but I still keep raving about their biryani.  Tender meat, fluffy rice, a good amount of spice….it ticks all the biryani boxes but has the added bonus of cranberries.  Plus the restaurant itself just looks so, so sexy.

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Spaghetti with Cuttlefish and Ink Sauce from Osteria Alba Nova
Good food can be hard to find in tourist-ridden Venice, but venture away from the main hubs and you will be rewarded.  Cuttlefish cooked in ink is a local delicacy and the small, family-run restaurant of Osteria Alba Nova in Santa Croce turns out a cracking version of this.  Ink dishes can be on the heavy side but this pasta dish was as light and tasty as can be.

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Confit Duck Burger from The Frenchie
Confit duck in a burger?  It sounds like it shouldn’t work but, boy, does it ever…!  Juicy duck meat topped with crispy skin, truffled mustard, onion relish and your choice of cheese is about as naughty as you can get.  Everyone raves about the goats cheese version but my personal favourite is the smoked cheddar.  Find them at various markets around town.

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Apple Cake and Quince Vodka from Marchewka z Groskiem
There were just so many delicious things to eat and drink in Krakow and my waistline paid the price.  However, the apple cake at Marchewka z Groskiem in Kazimierz was worth the extra few pounds.  It was moist and buttery with enough apple to cut through the richness.  I washed it down with a quince vodka, another local speciality.

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Lamb Pie, Mash and Kale from 10 Greek Street
Sometimes I just want good, old fashioned British food and this pie dish from 10 Greek Street really hit the spot.  The pie was more like a pasty, instead of the usual pastry-topped casserole dish and was full to bursting with rich lamb stew.  Comfort food done properly.

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The Original Heartbreaker from Tongue ‘n’ Cheeks
I have eaten many, many burgers this year but the Original Heartbreaker is by far and away the best of the best.  The meat is smokey, rare and rich, and it’s topped with chimichurri, sour cream, cheddar and watercress.  Hunt one down at KERB – you won’t regret it.

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The Blessed Thistle from 46 & Mercy
There were tons of amazing cocktails on offer during London Cocktail Week but my top choice was the Blessed Thistle.  It is made with vodka, sherry vinegar, vermouth washed with pork fat, and thyme – a combination of ingredients that may raise an eyebrow.  However, not only do they work amazingly well together, the use of pork fat gives a delicate smoky flavour to the drink.

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Jerk Chicken from Mama’s Jerk
I well and truly stuffed my face at the various Street Feast locations this year, but the jerk chicken wings from Mama’s Jerk at Dalston Yard take the top spot.  It may not have been the sexiest looking dish ever, but simple is definitely best.  They were sticky, juicy, smoky, sweet with just enough heat behind them.  I looked like a total mess after eating them but it was worth it.

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Mutton Tikka from Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort
As one dish among over one hundred other amazing dishes at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah buffet in Oman, this mutton tikka faced stiff competition.  However, it stood out thanks to the tender meat and robust spicing. I even broke my buffet rule of going back for second helpings; it was that good.

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Sakura from Shochu Lounge
This is another fantastic drink that was available during London Cocktail Week.  Made with Nikka whisky, Cocchi Barolo Chinato vermouth, sakura tincture and plum soda, it was surprisingly sweet but tempered by the smokiness of the whisky.  A drink that I still think about to this day.

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I’m really excited about all of the potential culinary experiences that 2016 has to offer.  Does anyone have any recommendations?  If so, drop me a line; I’d be happy to hear them.

Happy New Year y’all.

Bar Termini

Bar Termini

A glass of Negroni at Bar Termini

Regular followers will know how much I love Soho.  I frequently lament the aggressive pace of change and new development in the area.  However, no matter how much I adore it’s grimy underbelly, I did not want to get up close and personal with the damp pavement of Brewer Street…..  I’m putting the blame squarely at the doorstep of Bar Termini and their fabulous Negronis.

I discovered Bar Termini a few months ago and have been a regular visitor ever since.  I love its chic, retro vibe – all staff in white coats, shiny coffee machine, and marble surfaces.  I love its teeny tiny, time capsule, Continental feel.  Perched at the bar, cocktail in hand, it almost feels like I’m in a Fellini film.  Most of all I love their sexy sexy drinks.  Bar Termini is perhaps best know for their Negronis.  A Negroni is a cocktail made from one part gin, one part vermouth rosso and one part Campari.  It is, without doubt, a drink for grown ups.  I first tried one earlier this year – at Bar Termini – and am now a bit of a Negroni addict.

Bar Termini is the brainchild of Marco Arrigo, the Head of Quality for Illy coffee, and renowned mixologist Tony Conigliaro.  So you can expect top notch drinks before you even step through the door.  The menu offers a choice of three Negronis – Classico, Rosato and Superiore.  The Classico is, of course, the classic Negroni recipe but cooked for a little longer to give a smoother finish.  The Rosato is made with a rose petal infusion, which gives a hint of sweetness.  The Superiore includes pink peppercorns, cooked through a sous vide to release the bitterness.  All are served in dainty little glasses, in true aperitivo style.  There is more to Bar Termini than just their Negronis however.  They also offer some seriously bad ass cocktails.  My personal favourite is the Marsala Martini, made with marsala dolce, vermouth, gin and almond bitters.

I take everyone I know to Bar Termini, so when my mum recently visited she was no exception.  She had never tried a Negroni before so, as she is a lover of gin, I was pretty confident that this was something she needed to know about.  The fact that she had to shortly catch her train back to Wales was by the by. As I recently read elsewhere, the bar is about coming for one before moving on.  Yeah….not in my world.  Mum loved the drinks, so several Negronis plus a Marsala Martini later and suddenly we were cutting it very fine for that train.  A mad dash across town ensued, as we wove on unsteady feet through the soggy streets of Soho.  And then, as I was doing that whole London thing of stepping off the pavement to overtake slow moving tourists, my foot slipped off the kerb and bam!  I fell flat on my face, toddler style, complete with bruised knees and scraped palms.  So much for that whole La Dolce Vita thing.  Anita Ekberg I most definitely am not.  Fortunately the embarrassment factor, made even more acute by the fact that my mum was there to pick me up off the floor, was diminished thanks to all the gin in my system.

So Bar Termini, your killer cocktails were quite literally my downfall, but that’s not going to stop me coming back for more.  I do have a Negroni addiction to feed after all.

Oh and mum missed her train.

Then sent me this….

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Bar Termini, 7 Old Compton Street, W1D 5JE

Bar Termini Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

London Cocktail Week 2015 – My Highlights

London Cocktail Week 2015 – My Highlights

Mini clothes pegs.  Dainty egg-cup style glasses.  Drinks made with condiments, pork fat and even ants.  Yes ladies and gentlemen…London Cocktail Week is here.

There are so many things that I loved about London Cocktail Week.  The sheer number of bars taking part, not including the pop ups at Poland Street and Spitalfields, making me feel like the proverbial kid in candy store.  The opportunity to try something that I may not usually order.  How amazingly friendly everyone has been.  But most of all, I really loved how enthusiastic the bar staff have been.  Each person who served me clearly took so much pride in their bar and the effort that had gone into their LCW cocktail.  Here are my personal highlights from the week:

The Lucky Elder Martini – The Lucky Pig
Bombay Sapphire gin, St Germain elderflower liqueur, apple juice, lime juice and egg white went into this refreshing little number from one of my favourite bars – although  I think the egg white might have been forgotten…  I almost felt quite wholesome drinking this seemingly innocent cocktail.  My head was telling me a different story the next day, however.

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Sakura – Shochu Lounge
This didn’t taste at all like I imagined although, with ingredients like sakura tincture, I’m not sure what I was expecting to be honest.  Sakura is Japanese cherry blossom and is therefore an appropriate ingredient for a cocktail at this Asian-inspired bar beneath ROKA restaurant, mixed with Nikka whisky, vermouth and plum soda.  Surprisingly sweet, but not overly so, with a hint of smokiness from the whisky.

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Muggles Mark – Reverend JW Simpson
What a pleasant surprise to learn that the team at the Reverend had not one, but two signature cocktails on the menu for LCW.  Their recommendation was the Muggles Mark – Maker’s Mark, Liqueur 43, lemon, egg white and homemade spiced pumpkin juice served up in a mini tankard.  Only politeness prevented me from using my finger to scoop out what remained of the appropriately autumnal flavoured froth from inside my glass.

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The Pemberton – The Sun Tavern
Named after John Pemberton, the man who invented Coca Cola (you learn something new everyday!), this was made with Glendalough Double Barrel Irish whisky, lime juice, a coke and ginger reduction, and spiced chocolate bitters.  I was expecting a long drink tasting of coke but instead was presented with a little glass containing a creamy mixture with a hint of lime in the background.  Another one that was dangerously drinkable.

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Blessed Thistle – 46 & Mercy
I read the description of this and thought “What the actual fuck??”  Any drink made up of vodka, sherry vinegar, and vermouth washed with pork fat and thyme is going to be a gamble and I had visions of being presented with something that had translucent circles of fat floating around in it, a bit like my nan’s gravy.  Fortunately, no actual fat goes into the drink; it is filtered through a muslin cloth so only the smoky taste remains and it tasted fantastic!

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Latilla de los Muertos – Discount Suit Company
Firstly – I bloody love this place.  A proper little speakeasy around the corner from Petticoat Lane Market with barely any room to swing a cat.  Secondly – their LCW cocktail rocked.  Made with Ocho Blanco tequila, Briottet manzana verde liqueur, lemon juice, honey syrup, egg white, chocolate bitters, and Tabasco, this was another one that could have been “piss in a glass” (a phrase I have stolen from my friend who used it to describe one particular cocktail not featured here).  It was sweet, sharp and aromatic all at once, with the warmth of honey and a strange but not-unpleasant tingling sensation in my mouth.

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I would have loved to have had the time, money, and liver capacity to try each and every cocktail on offer this past week.  I barely scratched the surface and already feel completely broken.  My top pick of the week, however, is the Blessed Thistle from 46 & Mercy.  It takes some skill to make vinegar, pork fat, and thyme work in a cocktail, and to then create a drink that dings each and every one of your tastebuds is something to be applauded.  I’m looking forward to visiting again and trying some more of their selection.  But first, I need to detox for at least a month!

Cocktail Making in Cardiff

Cocktail Making in Cardiff

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Dan was 19 years old, good looking, fresh off the plane from New Zealand, and had the unenviable task of teaching a group of rowdy 30-something women how to make cocktails.  We smelled blood…

I drink cocktails.  A lot of cocktails.  But make my own??  You must be having a laugh.  Actually, that’s exactly what we did.  My first ever cocktail class was full of laughter, as well as a few spills and a few sore heads the next day.  A makeshift bar had been set up in the corner of Cardiff’s Slug & Lettuce, and Kiwi Dan bravely stepped up to impart his knowledge on all things cocktail-related.

We were shown how to make two cocktails during this class – one shaken and one stirred (or “muddled” as per many a hipster cocktail menu these days).  First up was a Cosmopolitan.  Dan ran through the process with us, before we all had a go at making our own.  Despite forgetting what order to add the ingredients (it doesn’t matter, right?), we did learn some useful facts, for example, how to shake a cocktail properly.  I never realised that each shake of the cocktail actually lowers its temperature, and that you know it’s ready when condensation appears on the metal shaker.  I also learned that it’s really quite tricky to separate the glass and the cocktail shaker once you have wedged them together, and that it’s perfectly acceptable to sneak back to the bar and add some more vodka!!

Next we tried our hand at making mojitos.  The best thing about making your own cocktail, is that you can control exactly what goes into your glass.  I made sure to minimise the amount of ice and up the amount of rum….  Maybe I was feeling a bit gung-ho after imbibing more than my fair share of cocktails, but mojitos seemed pretty easy to make – even if I did spill a lot of the ice and some of the rum all over the table.  Pro tip: make sure you muddle it well, otherwise you end up with all the booze at the bottom of your glass, like me.

Although I got very drunk and had a bit of a killer head the next day, I have definitely got the cocktail-making bug.  I found myself viewing the Slug & Lettuce’s well-stocked bar with envy, thinking about what alcohol I was going to purchase when I got back home, and daydreaming about my very own retro 1970’s-style home bar.  The class cost £25 and included a finale of Jagerbombs, plus plenty of food to soak up all the booze.  Cute barman not included.

Wine from the Rias Baixas

Wine from the Rias Baixas

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It’s not often that wine evokes strong memories; usually it has the opposite effect.  However, I will always remember the first time I ever tried wine from the Rias Baixas region of Galicia, in north-west Spain.

We had journeyed across northern Spain, starting out from Barcelona, and our trip so far had been defined by rain, rain, and then a bit more rain.  As we headed towards the north-west coast, I wasn’t expecting anything different.  This corner of Atlantic Spain was known for it’s wild weather and it’s equally wild coastline.  When we arrived at the city of Santiago de Compostela, the rain looked like it had well and truly set in for the duration.

We went for dinner that evening at a tiny hole in the wall restaurant, the name of which I have long forgotten, although the memory of the food and drink remains.  It was the kind of place that grinds to a halt when you enter, and all the local diners stare as you make your way to the table.  There was no menu; you were served whatever was going.  In Galicia, this usually means seafood, especially shellfish freshly harvested from the rain soaked seashore.  We ate mussels and scallops, the biggest and juiciest I have ever encountered, octopus sprinkled with paprika, and razor clams.  This was all washed down with a bottle of the local white wine.

I had never tried Spanish white wine before.  In fact, I didn’t even realise that such a thing even existed.  My only experience of Spanish wine up until now had been trusty old reds.  I was delighted to discover that this was a wine of beauty.  Light and crisp, it was the perfect accompaniment to the salt water freshness of the seafood, and was both dangerously cheap and easy on the palate.  It was no great surprise that we ended up stumbling out into the glistening granite streets of Santiago more than slightly worse for wear!

I have always since struggled to find a wine that matches up to what we tried in Galicia.  Sadly, it appears that wine from the Rias Baixas doesn’t travel all that well.  However, the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Albarino comes pretty close.  It has the same drinkability, with a fresh, clean taste that makes it very easy to finish off a bottle before you even realise it.  Now that we are moving towards the warmer months, this is definitely a wine to put on your shopping list.  Although, as my experience in wet and wild Galicia testifies, you don’t necessarily need the sun to be able to enjoy Galician wine.  Which is probably just as well when you are dealing with the British summer.

The Diner’s Review of January

The Diner’s Review of January

Crash dieting.  Dry January.  Drinking kale smoothies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  January is a rubbish enough month as it is, so why make it worse by punishing yourself?  I, for one, believe that January should be spent enjoying good food and drink to make up for the cold days and long nights.  So, with this in mind, here is my round-up of what I ate & drank last month.

Best Restaurant
A spontaneous lunch at Dishoom at Kings Cross hit the spot on a freezing day.  Stepping through the front door was like stepping into another world; a world of warm, humid days, lazily spinning ceiling fans, exotic drinks and exquisite service.  Oh and the food was pretty damn fine too.

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Best Street Food
This one is a toss-up between The Little Yolk’s “Bacon One” – a toasted brioche filled with bone marrow butter, streaky bacon, fried duck egg, caramelised shallots and grilled tomatoes (kind of a posh “all day breakfast” sarnie) – and The Frenchie’s confit duck burger – a toasted brioche filled with pieces of duck meat, crispy duck skin, truffle mustard, onion relish and smoked cheddar.  Can you tell there is kind of a decadent brioche theme going on here?  As winter should be all about comfort food then you could do a lot worse than paying a visit to these two traders.

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Best Beer
I never – EVER – “do” Dry January.  Or dry any month for that matter.  So this month it was all about the “tryanuary” movement.  Thanks to Honest Brew I was able to get a good selection of craft beers delivered to my doorstep – about time you can get decent beer delivered, as well as decent wine!  I enjoyed working my way through beers from Camden Town Brewery, Five Points Brewing Company, and Brewdog, but my favourite by far was the exquisitely named “Wu Gang Chops The Tree” by Pressure Drop.  A “foraged herb heffeweisse”, this was light, refreshing and oh so very drinkable.

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*Special mention to By The Horns Brewing Co – technically speaking, I drank all their beer in December but it was so good that I will definitely be back for more.  So pleased to have these guys just down the road from me in Tooting.

Discovery Of The Month
London is full of surprises and hidden treasures, and there are few things more pleasurable than the discovery of a wonderful little drinking den on a cold, miserable January day.  Little Bird Gin are a distillery company and bar, based under the arches at Maltby Street Market.  I was unable to resist ducking inside their cosy nest, filled with odds and ends from reclamation yards and lit by candlelight.  Their drinks menu offers a concise selection of gin-based cocktails so I chose a Hot Aperol – gin, aperol, mulled wine, hot apple juice, herbs and spices.  Just the thing on a cold day.

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