Category Archives: Wine

Portugal Please:  Sniffing Around Quinta do Vallado

After a quick sightseeing jaunt and overnight stay in Porto, I was off to the Douro Valley for a few days of scenic sipping. My first night there, I had the ultra-luxe pleasure of spending some time – and a very restful night – at Quinta do Vallado. To put it plainly, I loved everything about this place. It hurt a little to have to leave and I’m aching to return for another chance to admire in situ this wine hotel’s blend of tradition with modern design; savour more of its homey food; and, of course, enjoy its fabulous wines. Continue reading

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Portugal Please: Porto

My Portugal Please tour commenced in the compact and cosy city of Porto, which proved to be an excellent gateway to the Douro Valley and a fine place to visit in and of itself. If you’re looking for somewhere to visit for a city break, Porto is only a two hour flight away from London with plenty to see and do and eat and drink and browse and buy. Here are some highlight from my all too brief time there. Continue reading

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Portugal Please: Wão. What a Trip!

Does it ever seem like far too many folks are stuck in the same tired rut of a far too well beaten path, only hitting a few main sites in a short selection of only a few Western European countries – namely Spain, France, and Italy – and never realising that there’s so much more to explore just as close, just as scenic, just as steeped in tradition … and often accessible at far greater value than most of the EU? Not you and me though. We’re going to Portugal! Continue reading

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New Regional Wine & Cheese Menu at Theo Randall at the Intercontinental

Allow me to commence this rave by saying that Theo Randall’s Head Sommelier, Yuri Gualeni, is a frickin’ genius and Chef Randall is a very wise man indeed to let Gualeni do his thing. Case in point: the young sommelier’s new wine and cheese pairing that’s been “designed to be a journey through Italy’s terroir and traditions.” I tried it last night and loved every moment. Priced from £24 per person – and tailored to guest preferences – the menu includes four Italian wines paired with four regional cheeses. Continue reading

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Dixie Detours: Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler!

Happy Mardi Gras! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my Dixie Detours miniseries featuring the highlights from my recent trip to Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida along with suggestions for planning your own sojourn to the Deep South. Continue reading

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Dixie Detours: Miami in a Minute

The final stop of our Dixie Detours visit to the US was Miami, where an overnight layover afforded Kemey and me the chance to check in on some friends who had recently moved there – big thanks to Tanya and Francesco for being such fantastic hosts and showing us around so much of your fine town – while soaking up some south Florida sunshine before heading back to Blighty. Continue reading

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Win a Big Bag o’ Booze!

Ya get a lot of freebies in my profession (if actually I can call what I do for a living a profession). There always seems to be plenty of booze to go around especially! So much so, I’m not quite sure what to do with it. No, I’m no teetotaller and can assure you I’m doing my damnedest to drink my way through all of it. I’ve just got way more than I can get to at the moment. And this is where you come in. Want to help a blogger out and take some of this alcohol off my hands? Keep reading to find out how you can win my Big Bag o’ Booze. Continue reading

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La Giaconda Café Bar Restaurant on Denmark Street

Following a major refurbishment, Denmark Street’s landmark rock ‘n roll restaurant, La Giaconda Café Bar Restaurant brings together a quality caff experience and a fine dining options in the heart of Soho. Continue reading

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Win Hotel Chocolat’s From Sunrise to Sunset Giftbox Worth £50

Hotel Chocolat’s From Sunrise to Sunset giftbox has “everything you need to create the perfect day for the one you love, from a sensual shower at sunrise to a sparkling drink at sunset”. An ideal Valentine’s gift for the fine chocolate lover in your life, the Sunrise to Sunset giftbox runs at a very reasonable £50 – but I’ve got a freebie to share with one lucky reader. Keep reading to find out how you can score one of these all-day fantastic and romantic chocolate gift sets. Continue reading

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Turin: City of Foodie Firsts (CheapOair)

Turin is a city of firsts in many ways. The northern Italian city is home to the country’s first official capital. It’s the birthplace of the Fiat automobile and is essentially the go-to scene for contemporary art in Italy today. And … Continue reading

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New Year’s Eve Dinner at Nobu London

What a way to end (and start) a year! The seven course New Year’s Eve 2013 dinner and wine menu at Nobu London at the Metropolitan Hotel ended the year on a delectable note and set high the bar for restaurant experiences for the months to come. Check it out … Continue reading

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Restaurant Review: Rocket Bishopsgate

A crowd pleasing menu at a convenient location with funky décor, Rocket Bishopsgate is a safe bet decision if you’re looking for a quick bite or a night out near Liverpool Street Station. Continue reading

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Best Restaurants (Everywhere Else) – 2013

To say I ate and drank well this year does not begin to describe how delectable 2013 was for me. Both in London and beyond, I had the pleasure of experiencing some of the best meals outside the home I’ve … Continue reading

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Best London Pizza – 2013

To say I ate and drank well this year does not begin to describe how delectable 2013 was for me. Both in London and beyond, I had the pleasure of experiencing some of the best meals outside the home I’ve … Continue reading

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Best London Restaurants – 2013

To say I ate and drank well this year does not begin to describe how delectable 2013 was for me. Both in London and beyond, I had the pleasure of experiencing some of the best meals outside the home I’ve ever eaten. Here’s a list of the ten London restaurants I enjoyed visiting the most over the past 12 months along with a few extra honourable mentions. Keep an eye out for more posts over the coming days listings my favourite London cheap eats and pizza places, as well as the ten best restaurants I visited outside of London this year. Continue reading

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Spaghetti Bolowhatta? The Real Bolognese Revealed (Great British Chefs)

Let’s get to the meat of the matter. There’s no such thing as spaghetti Bolognese. Or, at least, there isn’t in the actual city of Bologna. You would do well to seek Bolognese inspiration for its rich tradition in pasta making. It’s a deliciously saucy city too and one which rightly lays claim as the original home of a large variety of food products – just not spag bol. Bologna and the region of Emilia-Romagna have as prominent a cuisine and as celebrated a food culture as anywhere in the world. Even among Italians from other parts of the country, the gastronomic sensibilities of the Bolognese are held in the highest esteem. Continue reading

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Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway: Arrivederci and Grazie Mille!

Over the past several days I’ve been sharing highlights from my recent Ham Highway adventure across northern Italy in a special 14-part miniseries. The series features entries about the following destinations – Forni di Sopra, Sauris, San Daniele, Udine, Collio Goriziano, Trento, Torino, Parma, Modena, Nonantola, and Bologna – along with tips and suggestions to help you plan your own delectable Italian itinerary. Continue reading

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Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway: Bounteous Bologna

That I’ve been to Bologna four times (twice just this year) should speak volumes about how much I love this city. It and the region of Emilia-Romagna have as prominent a cuisine and as celebrated a food culture as anywhere in the world. Even among Italians from other parts of the country, the gastronomic sensibilities of the Bolognese are held in the highest esteem. Continue reading

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Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway: Modena: Fast Cars and Slow Food

For a town with a population of fewer than 200,000 people, the list of icons associated with Modena is impressive. Pavarotti, Ferrari, Maserati, Balsamico, tortellini … whatever floats your proverbial boat, odds are you’ve been inspired by someone or something Modenese at some point in your life. Continue reading

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Ancient Frescos and Fresh Mountain Air in Trento, Italy (CheapOair)

With a newly opened museum designed by star architect Renzo Piano; a distinctive sparkling wine with a rich tradition behind it; an exquisite regional gastronomy that’s big on flavour; and of course a stunning backdrop of snowcapped mountains, the lively … Continue reading

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Good Stuff

Good Stuff and lots of it! Here’s the low down on some yummy treats I’ve recently come across and thought were worth sharing with you. Enjoy! Miss P’s BBQ Pop-Up I attended a porky preview of a new pop-up from … Continue reading

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Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway: Antica Corte Pallavicina

Just outside the blink-and-miss-it village of Polesine Parmense, Antica Corte Pallavicina is a gorgeously restored 14th century castle situated on the banks of the Po that’s been transformed into a six room boutique hotel with Michelin starred restaurant. As refined as it is rustic, the venue is the result nearly two decades of dedication by local chef Massimo Spigaroli (whose other Michelin starred restaurant, Al Cavallino Bianco is located in the same village). Dining at Pallavicina was a sumptuous affair, yielding one of the loveliest meals I’ve had this year. Knowing that practically everything I put in my mouth came from here and was made onsite made all the more tasty. Continue reading

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Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at the InterContinental London Park Lane

It’s no secret. I’m a big fan of the fine foodie offerings InterContinental London Park Lane. With Executive Chef Paul Bates calling the palate pleasing shots (not to mention chef Theo Randall doing his own tasty thing with onsite upscale Italian restaurant), I’ve never never even come close to having a less than ideal dining experience here. So an invitation to try the hotel’s limited edition Christmas afternoon tea was one I greedily accepting. This was my second time to enjoy an afternoon tea at the InterContinental and it did not disappoint. If anything, my expectations for a high level of quality and service were exceeded. Continue reading

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Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway: Torino Unshrouded

Initially pursuing an opportunity to visit Torino (perhaps better known to some of my readers by its anglicized name, Turin) was what eventually led to me coming up with my the full blown “Ham Highway” itinerary. The city was (and I assume still is) keen to have bloggers visit to write about the city. There was a chocolate festival scheduled for when I knew I would be able to go, and I was pretty sure I could get a commission to write about it. The more I looked into Torino, the more I of a hunch I had that it would be the sort of “content rich” place that I’d enjoy checking out. Continue reading

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Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway: a-MuSe-ing and Bubbly Trento

After an all too short sojourn in Friuli (God, I hope I make it back there before too long), I hit the autostrada heading west to the region of Trentino for an overnight stay to see what sort of wonders its scenic city of Trento had to offer. With a newly opened museum designed by a star architect; a distinctive sparkling wine with a rich tradition behind it; and an exquisite regional gastronomy that’s big on flavour, locally sourced ingredients and seasonality – the answer I soon discovered was A LOT! Continue reading

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Wine of the Month by @willbedwards: Pol Roger ‘White Foil’ Brut

Champagne is a wine intimately linked to celebration and festivities, and Christmas is the one day of the year when the ‘wine o’clock’ rule is entirely disregarded. Wine, and particularly Champagne, makes a wonderful gift at Christmas; or if like me you are just choosing a breakfast tipple, then the Pol Roger ‘White Foil’ Brut is a perfect candidate. Continue reading

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Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway: Delectable Collio Goriziano

With the charming Udine as my base for a couple of days, I spent an afternoon in the nearby wine country of Collio Goriziano visiting a wine producer and cheese maker, both of whom had been recommended to me … along with finding out about a local ham maker whom I wish I’d had the chance to meet. Here’s the scoop on what makes this little nook of northern Italy such a yummy destination. Continue reading

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Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway: Udine

Udine is the hub and historical capital of the small Friuli Veneza Giulia province of the same name. With a sizeable university, it’s a lively setting with an interesting mix of people and pretty decent nightlife. If you’ve been to your share of checklist-y must-see Italian destinations (such as … oh let’s say … Florence) or you simply get a kick out off veering off the beaten path in an attempt to see what real life in a foreign country is like then Udine is a brilliant town to keep in mind. Continue reading

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TONIGHT: Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard Christmas Shopping Night Out

Tonight, Seven Dials will be transformed into a pedestrian shopping haven with the entire area closed to traffic. There will be live music including performances by “vintage pin-up singer” Roo Savill and urban pop trio Mama Do as well as other bands and DJ in shops and around the area; street food from Urban Food Fest and sweets from Merinuqe Girls; free cocktails at St Martin’s Courtyard; a Champagne & Fromage pop-up bar; in-store parties; free makeovers; exclusive one-day offers; comps and giveaways; a festive spirit in the air and lots lots more … there’s even a tikichris special! Check it out. Continue reading

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Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway: Ciao and Grazie!

Over the next several days I will share highlights from my adventure in a Tasty Tales from the Italian Ham Highway miniseries of posts featuring entries about the following phenomenal destinations – Forni di Sopra, Sauris, San Daniele, Udine, Collio, Trento, Torino, Parma, Modena, and Bologna – all with tips and suggestions to help you plan your own delectable itinerary. Continue reading

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Wine of the Month by @willbedwards: 2011 Barda Pinot Noir, Bodega Chacra

Up and coming wine writer, Will Edwards is back with a second Wine of the Month review. A “relative newbie” to the world of wine, Will works in the Chelsea shop of independent wine merchants Lea & Sandeman where he loves “to hear what our customers are enjoying to drink”. With the festive season fast approaching, Will finds an intriguing choice from a rather unexpected New World region to share with us. Continue reading

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Get 15% Off the Ticket Price for This Weekend’s BBC Good Food Show

Sponsored by BBC Heading to this weekend’s BBC Good Food Show at Olympia Exhibition Centre this weekend? Be sure to watch this video for 15% off your ticket price!

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Limited Edition Truffle Lusciousness at Coq d’Argent, EC2

An invitation to try a seasonal truffle menu led to me discovering what a crème brûlée is really supposed to taste like and where for an impeccable wine and dine in the City. Continue reading

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Celebrating Edward VII’s Birthday with The King’s Ginger and Berry Bros

The level of kitsch and pretence was nearly as copious as the amount of booze in the cocktails during a recent posthumous birthday lunch for King Edward VII, with The King himself on hand to preside over the merriment. As wackily anachronistic as the celebration was, the setting could not have been more authentic or historically spot on. Of course as is so often the case with too many wonderful experiences, there had to be a hitch. Continue reading

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Upstairs Dining at The Portman Pub & Restaurant, Marylebone

The contact address may say Upper Berkeley Street, but The Portman Pub & Restaurant is very much part of the dynamic dining scene of its cross street corner – Seymour Place, home to Lockhart, Vinoteca, Sandy’s and Donostia. After my Friday night dinner, I’m pleased to report this Marylebone gastropub just a short jaunt from Marble Arch does a good job keeping up with the competition. Continue reading

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