We Londoners are spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend breaks. A lot of people are drawn west to the Cotswolds or south to Sussex, Hampshire and the New Forest. For me, though, East Anglia takes some beating.
One of the more endearing aspects of the current British food scene is the number of festivals devoted to a single food. I’d heard of oyster festivals, crab festivals and cheese festivals but I’d never come across a scallop festival before.
Travel writer Philip Sweeney hobnobs with the locals, checks out the best places to eat and discovers why fishing for bouillabaisse isn't as easy as it once was . . .
So many institutions are being converted into hotels these days that one should feel no great surprise at staying at a former eye hospital. But I must confess to feeling a shade queasy at spending a night in the operating room* at the Magdalen Chapter in Exeter - particularly when I spotted the drain in the floor down which many unspeakable fluids must have been sluiced . . .
As you walk through the door of Al Pompiere in Verona you could easily be back in the '70s. A timbered ceiling, checked table cloths, walls lined with pictures of guests through the ages, it’s every inch the traditional trat. In one corner where hams line the shelves and hang from the ceiling an elderly chef in a toque is slicing ham and other salumi to order with a large, impressively flashy machine. If you think it’s old-fashioned though take a look at their website - the retro feel is deliberate but they’re linked to all the social media.
I came across this article the other day which I wrote 4 years ago after a visit to Chablis. We attended two great dinners organised by Daniel Defaix and Herv Tucki of La Chablisienne which were an object lesson in how to pair Chablis with food. I thought it deserved a re-run.
You might think an establishment run by the world’s best sommelier would be intimidating. After all if anyone knows what wine to choose and the right way to serve it it would be Gerard Basset, who scooped the title back in April (right). But happily Basset is a modest man who puts the comfort of his customers above any desire to flaunt his credentials.
An admirable website, Matching Food and Wine, but a bit short on singalongs. Could we begin by joining in lustily, therefore, altogether now...
If I had to live anywhere in the US it would be Oregon. Admittedly the last couple of days have been unbelievably beautiful but I think it’s more that it’s comfortingly familiar - with green rolling hills and woods and flower-strewn hedgerows. Very much like Burgundy, the spiritual home of most Oregonian winemakers.
So the International Pinot Noir Celebration aka IPNC has pretty well been and gone apart from today’s brunch and it’s fair to say it’s very different from what I expected.
What happened to days 2 and 3 you may be asking and indeed that’s what I’m asking myself. We swept through Eastern Washington as fast as a tornado, barely pausing to sleep, never mind write.
For the next 10 days I’m going to be visiting the vineyards of Oregon and Washington State so the site will turn into more of a blog. Our first day yesterday included lunch at Chateau Ste Michelle, by far Washington’s largest wine producer.
The first thing everyone asked me when I got back from Korea was what does the food taste like? Unless you live in London, or New Malden in Surrey, which, rather randomly, boasts the UK’s biggest concentration of Korean restaurants, then you probably won’t be familiar with Korean food.
It’s pretty likely, I’d have thought, that anyone logging onto this site enjoys spending the odd evening at a restaurant. Those of us who live in London – or even visit London on an occasional basis – are well aware that we Brits have privileged access to one of the most diverse and high-powered dining scenes in the world. Arguably, the only city that can match it – possibly even exceed it – in terms of its restaurant culture is New York.
I’d forgotten quite how enchanting Provence is, particularly at this time of year. I’ve got so used to sturdily proclaiming that the Languedoc is every bit as beautiful (as well as a great deal cheaper!) that I’d overlooked Provence’s particular charm. How it can seduce you and suspend all critical faculties so if the following observations are a bit less incisive than usual you’ll have to forgive me . . .
Perhaps you've heard of this summer's requisite summer holiday? The "staycation," a clumsy if apposite description of holidays spent at home, thus summing up the prevailing mood of impecunity. Farewell conspicuous consumption, hello stomping through mud. If you're revisiting some of life's simpler pleasures, but have jettisoned the idea of staying at home I'd highly recommend signing up for a vineyard walk in France. Deploy a bit of ingenuity and you can avoid the extortionate fees 'wine travel' companies charge for a swanky gourmand holiday - after all, it's perfectly possible to be frugal and still have fun.
I wouldn’t say that it’s been a lifelong mission to come here, but it’s certainly been on the list ever since it won its third Michelin star in 2004. Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence is one of Italy’s most revered restaurants – most expensive, too, many will grumble. But don’t let that deter you. Just to get it out of the way though, yes, Enoteca Pinchiorri is hideously expensive - our bill for four came to 500 per head with wine. Get over it – or don’t go.
I really didn’t have much idea what to expect of Toronto. I knew it was ridiculously cold in winter and that it was hard to buy liquor (not a good combination) and that you could eat pretty good ethnic food, especially Japanese. But nothing quite prepared me for the range and scope of the city’s 5000+ restaurants. Here’s where I managed to get to in the 4 days I was there (thanks to taking in more than one venue at every possible opportunity)
I’m in Argentina for the next few days taking part in the Masters of Food and Wine, a glitzy showcase for the Argentinian wine industry. Today we’re in Buenos Aires, tomorrow we fly to Mendoza for two days of tastings and dinners. None of which is exactly conduicive to thoughtful reporting so forgive me if some of the next few days posts are written more in the style of a blog