It’s the evening of December 27th and my daughter and I are holed up in the luxurious Rosewood hotel in London tucking into a club sandwich (her) and a lobster macaroni cheese (me) on room service.
This week has been the realisation of a long-held ambition to write a series of e-books on various aspects of food and drink pairing.
I’ve been thinking this past couple of days that I’ve been getting it all wrong about travelling. The frantic search for the best hotel, the hottest restaurants, the relentless attempt to tick the *must see* boxes. But I’m going to have to admit after two days in Athens I didn’t even make it to the centre.
I first went to Greece when I was 17 as a treat for passing my A levels (not with great distinction I have to confess). My mother and I went on a cruise round the islands about which I can’t remember a great deal apart from having a crush on one of the cabin stewards who bore an uncanny resemblance to Sean Connery in his James Bond heyday. And was probably my mother’s age. Nothing came of it I'm sorry to say although mother, of course, was profoundly relieved.
One of the best things I’ve done in the last three years is to judge the BBC Food and Farming Awards. Contrary to what the name suggests it’s not all about prize heifers and outsize marrows though it does include awards to food producers and farmers but also features school and other institutional cooks, food markets and drinks.
Those of you who enjoyed the recent events I’ve been doing with the lovely people at Honey & Co will be pleased to know we have a new series coming up, starting next month. Billed as Wine Adventures around the Med, we’ll be focusing on three countries and regions and the wines we feel go with their food best.
As some of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook will know I lost my husband suddenly three weeks ago. It’s obviously hard to write about it while it's still so raw but I wanted to tell you about something quite unexpected that has helped - and is helping - to heal the pain.
I’m really excited to let you all know about a series of pop-up wine classes I’m doing at the wonderful Honey & Co in London
This week I have been mainly driving around the south of England in a large open-top Beemer. No, it’s not our car, we were offered it by the nice people at BMW who obviously got me confused with the Guardian motoring correspondent. But who was I to disillusion them?
Whenever I write about beer in my Guardian column - which is not that often and in a minute you’ll see why - there’s a stream of snide and sarcastic comments. Far more than I ever get for wine
As little as a year ago - can it be that short a time? - it felt as if food writing was in terminal decline. Newspapers and food magazines were dominated by the same old names, generally fostered by a restaurant or TV connection. Some, it was rumoured (choosing my words carefully), didn’t even write their own columns or books.
I wouldn’t say that yesterday was a typical day in the life of this particular wine writer but it was certainly an eclectic one, starting with one huge supermarket tasting (Asda), going on to a Dom Pérignon lunch and finishing with another one (Morrisons).
One of the hoariest old chestnuts in discussions about the ethics of wine writing is whether wine writers should buy the wines they write about themselves rather than attending tastings or being sent samples.
Straying off my usual subject matter of food and drink I thought I’d share a few thoughts about London taxis which have undergone similar seismic changes to my own world of print journalism.
Anyway who has a passing interest in natural wine will know that it’s a subject on which feelings run high. A lot of people are outraged that such unconventional wines are praised and fêted when they are (in their view) unpalatable and clearly faulty.
Cheese is possibly not the first ingredient that comes to mind in terms of a Valentine’s Night celebration but think again and you realise there's no shortage of suitable candidates.
Like everyone else who came in touch with him I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of Serge Hochar of Chateau Musar this week, apparently as a result of a swimming accident while he was on holiday. He was one of the most inspirational and charismatic winemakers I ever had the privilege of meeting.
i know you’re supposed to run a blog like a magazine. Schedule in topical features and run them when people are looking for that kind of content but this year my annual round-up of cookery books which should usefully have come out at the beginning of December just didn’t happen.
This week Bristol finally has its own natural wine bar*, Bar Buvette which has been opened by a local chef, Peter Taylor who runs one of my favourite places in France, the Auberge de Chassignolles.
3 days in Paris so far and I can report that the city is changing. Fast. Of course it’s been happening for a while but there’s a critical mass in terms of the number of restaurants which are offering a very different experience to those that established Paris's reputation as a gastronomic destination.