Posts Tagged ‘London’
Def: The Scent of rain on earth after a dry spell arising from the yellow organic oil that yields the scent.
What a lyrical promise! Even more appetising when you know they have been awarded their second rosette… It is a little gem but you could walk through Jermyn Street and not know it’s there, hidden on the first floor of The Cavendish hotel. Choose a table close to the windows – just to have the view upon Fortnum and Mason. The restaurant proudly promotes sustainability and focuses as much as possible on British producers and farmers. Chef Nitin Padwal has also brought magic to the food directly, his skills turning the dishes into little pieces of art.
Being a Froggie, I will say it over and over again – a good meal is never complete without bread. Presenting me with a basket of savoury ones – rye, cerals, olives… – marks points with me. Especially if you have added creamy butter.
I remain in admiration of the presentation of each recipe – what you would see in magazines. Delicately constructed like a culinary painting. Have a look at these sumptuous Scottish Scallops, simply seared, their heart tender, followed by confit, melt-in-the-mouth chicken wings. These lay on a layer of smooth, luxurious celery and truffle mash. Do I need to say anymore? Sublime with a glass of Saam Mountain, a South African Sauvignon blanc unrolling tropical and gooseberry notes. I stayed on this one the rest of the meal, loving its perfect crispness.
Still on the starters – the Loch Duart Salmon probably is the most beautiful I have ever seen. I could have taken a hundred pictures of this – what an exquisite chequerboard! First a cress jelly then decorated with cubes of cured salmon, infused with dill and fennel, last lonting notes. In between, column of confit beetroot topped with horseradish meringue, its spicy hint kicking at the last second. Here and there fish eggs and edible flowers. Blooming in your plate…
Still on the original side, the Irish beef fillet takes a vertical turn. The meat is generous, so juicy, pure happiness at each forkful. Onion rings in a nice light batter are piled on it, as well as braised ox cheek. All crowned with breadcrumbs mixed with grated romanesco for an intense colour. Even the mash is different – smoked, matching winter beautifully.
Fancy something really comforting? Try the Suffolk chicken roulade. It’s so… appeasing in a way, like a little pillow of meat, tender, not too strong in taste, just the right level. Braized gem, king oyster mushroom with crumbled chorizo. And the most beautiful sauce – a truffle Hollandaise. Oh my!
It had been a while since I had had an Alaska – the temptation was too strong. Cloud like cake, fragrant vanilla ice-cream wrapped in the most supple meringue, which was just starting to caramelise. Pieces of orange flesh, juicy, topped with crystallized mint. The waiter then adds a little trick: he pours the orange coulis around it… Smile guaranteed!
If chocolate is your weakness, do go for the brownie. Not any brownie – this one is wrapped in raspberry, making it more nirvanesque and lighter at the same time, lip-licking good. The lime and white chocolate ice-cream is the perfect conclusion – it will not have the time to melt.
Take the time to try this address. Very creative, very skilled. Another good surprise? The lunch and pre-theatre menu is only at £20.50 for 2 dished, £24.50 for three AND this includes a glass of wine, a beer or a soft drink. Quite a few options – you’ll find the Loch duart salmon, the Suffolk chicken and the Alaska amongst other treats.
Petrichor at The Cavendish London
81 Jermyn Street
London SW1Y 6JF
Wondering what to do in London this week-end? Well, how about you start with a treat: Poppy& Sebastian have just opened on Kingly street. An, oh my, aren’t their cakes beautiful, as gorgeous as in any haute-pâtisserie in Paris. That is just what you need when reaching a Friday evening. 10 more London ideas below!
1. Wow – Krug champagne opens a divine and luxurious pop-up crêperie in Covent Garden.
2. Pub or ice-skating? You can both at the same time at the Leather Bottle.
3. Be crazy this Saturday and join The Outdoor Swimming Society for a tonic swim in a London lido. With a brass providing the background music.
4. To better enjoy winter, here are 10 hot and mulled cocktails to go and try in London.
5. Hurray! God’s own junkyard, a paradise lit in neons, reopens this week-end.
6. When china becomes a work of art… – have a look at these delicate objects made of porcelain in this exhibition. The vintage style cameras are striking.
7. Enjoy a free concert in the Spitafields Music Winter Festival.
8. A vos appareils photos! Get your camera ready – the Santa Race is back on Saturday.
9. That’s art, baby – make a detour to see this upside down house.
10. Fancy a Sunday roast? Try this mouth-watering pop-up, Holly Roast - they even do duck!
I do love living in England. Year after year – and I have been here for a decade – I remain as fascinated by the culture. My accent will never rub off, I continue to discover expressions and I cannot repeat it enough, I love it. Still, from time to time, I enjoy a brief very French pause. Just to remember that I am lucky to enjoy the very best of two cultures. My favourite haven is at Selfridges – a look at the amazing shoe gallery then a hot chocolate and macaron indulgence at Aubaine in the heart of that supershop.
But wait - it gets better. Aubaine has now opened a brand new restaurant in nearby Marylebone. With lots more cakes but not only: It recreates the chic of Parisian brasseries, warm light filtering from the windows, inviting you to stop by, warm up, come on, it’s cold outside baby. Even more tempting now that they have decorated the entrance with festive wreaths and garlands.
ondering where to have that Christmas party? Well, there you have it. I stopped by last week to try some of the treats on their seasonal menu, go on, read it, have a look…
On each plate was waiting an adorable bag of gingerbread men, cakes or marshmallows (I never got to try mine – my son found them and devoured them all within exactly 4 minutes). Did you know that they bake all of their own cake and bread? Their baguette is said to be one of the best in London. So followed the starters, presented as canapé versions to let us try a nice variety: Savoury goat’s cheese éclairs topped with chives, salmon tartare on crispy bread, fig-red wine poached pear-blue cheese salad. Or would you prefer a velvety mushroom soup? Or a peppery lobster bisque?
As mains, we adored the melt-in-the mouth wild mushroom risotto, so very creamy, parmesan shavings as a lovely finish, hints of marjoram. The perfectly grilled sea bream served with an umami-sensation potato and roasted garlic purée. Oh, that superb cockles butter matching each texture! Such a happy alternative to the usual turkey, more elegant, much lighter, much more enjoyable, trust me.
I have to admit a certain Froggie pride for dessert. As soon as the bûche appeared, smartphones and cameras were out, clicking away. It still leaves me smiling happily. The butter cream was well balanced, not too sweet, not to heavy. A real bûche (if you are French, you know exactly what I mean). I am quite used to chocolate ones but the lemon one, ah, that was different. Very lemon curd like. I wonder if you can order one? There are other options of course, like the nougat macaron. Step back into the cold? Why, you haven’t tried the cherry and cranberry cake yet?
And this, my friends, is only a tiny glimpse of the dishes you can choose from. The whole list is here and is literally mouthwatering. Consider yourself warned.
Aubaine – Marylebone
7 Moxon Street
W1U 4EP London
I had succumbed, a while back, to the most delicious brunch at Cuccina Asellina – the best way I can think of to start a Sunday morning. I recently had the occasion to stop by to try their aperitivo and catch up with a good friend. What is this? The French apéritif time but Italian style… Ah, such pleasure to see that elegant, glistening room again with a whole transparent wall displaying a wine cellar!
This time, we settle at the bar. With our overloaded agendas, it proves so difficult to find time to see each other so a full dinner was out of question. And yet, we have so much news to share! The aperitivo proves a less formal option, savoury snacks to nibble on, relaxing you immediately, leading straight into conversation. And of course – cocktails!
We started with La Bianca White Sangria (Absolute peach, lime, lychee, moscato d’asti) highlighting nicely the Italian wine and a Vesuvio (Bacardi superior, martini bianco, lemon, sugar, egg white): Delicate, easy to drink but will add a nice blush to your cheeks. The waiter also brought us an antipasti assortment: Generous Nocellara olives, artichokes-ham-mozzarella skewers, brushettas topped with cheese and melt-in-the-mouth courgettes or sardines rillette. And the coup de théâtre: Cheese made with beer to be dipped in truffle honey. It takes over all your senses, such an intense scent and taste, refining the cheese, multiplying the strength of the flavours… You will vow to find such a honey (and you will, by the way, at the Borough Market and at Selfridges).
Laughs, cheerfulness, finger-food making conversation easy, in the end we stay longer than planned. Following the bartender’s advice, we now sip a Caupona that wakes up the tastebuds (Cuervo Golg, pineapple juice, green apple, lemon, black pepper even on the rim) and a poetic Delicata (Ketel One, Bombay Sapphire, Lillet Blanc et St Germain) with an enticing elderflower note. We could not resist a few more treats. Why not the calamari infused with marjoram and a drizzle of lemon juice, to the perfect crispiness? Or the mini-mozzarella balls, the melted cheese so comforting, a perfect match for the red pesto dip?
Tick-tock, time to go, delighted, our appetite satisfied, yet still the promise of a full evening at home… A perfect alternative – give it a try! The aperitivo is served from 17.00 to 19.00.
Fed up with Christmas shopping already? Come on, follow us, we have 10 super ideas to enjoy the week-end in London. And as pop-up cinemas are so trendy, the Barbican is joining in. Get yourself a ticket for this superb Hichcock classic, Rebecca, screened in the very atmospheric Leytonstone School. Later in December, keep an eye on The Nomad Cinema for seasonal nuggets!
1. Kew Gardens has put on its festive lights – such a lovely occasion for a magical walk.
2. On Friday evening, late at the V&A plays with adornment.
3. Did you know the National Gallery has a new monopoly? It’s fantastic. Instead of buying streets, you can get yourself works of art.
4. Berwick Street opens the first edition of their Christmas market - lots of super-delicious seasonal and festive products. Quick, grab a shopping basket!
5. Au goûter, on se régale de tartines et de confitures inspirées de la célèbre vodka. Grey Goose opens a pop-up bakery – tartines and jam inspired by the famous vodka.
6. Just imagine you’ve been skiing and relax at the Skylodge, a seasonal bar. Cocktails, movies and campfires will warm you up!
7. Or raise a pint at this super cool pop-up bar dedicated to craft beer.
8. Why not try a seafood version of the Sunday lunch?
9. Looking for a unique dress for the Christmas party? Shop vintage at Frock Me on Sunday.
10. Just for a smile… Stop at Selfridges and go hunting for their new vending machine. A champagne one, what else?
Are you looking for an exceptional table to wine and dine your loved one or wow your in-laws before Christmas? Being a froggie, I would tell you nothing beats a French restaurant. But really, the very one you want to try is Le Cercle. The quintessence of elegance and refinement in a plate, all with a contemporary twist. Each dish offers an incredible palette of savours and colours. I originally came to try their intriguing creation – gin and tonic reinvented as a dessert. I remain under the charm of their carte, the friendly welcome, their creativity. The room plays with tradition and modern decoration, little salons set aside for romantic dinners, the wine cellar proudly overlooking the restaurant. Such a lovely mix – businessmen, couples, gourmets alike obviously have Le Cercle in their books!
The first surprise arrives as you as you settle in your seat – a selection of warm bread and succulent butter. You will be given a few minutes to try and place the taste. Maple syrup, and how cleverly it matches the creaminess! This is then topped with rock salt, shallots, Espelette chilli and pepper, nutty and spicy, sweet and savoury all at the same time. Divine.
If this is your first visit, no hesitation: Try the tradition menu. It unrolls their signature dishes in 5 steps, rationed perfectly so that neither your palate nor your appetite is overwhelmed. And at £35 per person for such a feast, really the price is quite amazing. Come, have a glimpse of the starter, a veal carpaccio, perfect pink, jasmine quality. These are heightened by super-tasty mimosa quenelles, thin slices of gherkin and asparagus finished with a cloud-like ravigote mousse…
Here follows tender salmon, just seared, almost still sashimi-like at heart. Again, a wide variety of textures to tingle your senses – crunchy and delicate like kale, tapioca crisps. A pair of sauces, smooth, evoking cress, sea weed and a lighter one made of mussel juices and buttery lemon curd. Wait there is more! An extraordinary oyster ice-cream… You read that right – all the flavours of the sea melting in your mouth and that is truly unforgettable.
It is rather difficult, at Le Cercle, to have only one favourite, this one has such a winter comfort to it you would struggle not to fall for it. Home smoked pigeon, polenta cubes with creamy parmesan, mini carrots, steamed radishes. An unctuous gravy, roasted red pepper notes, a hint of mustard surrounded by the beautiful meat juices, slightly smoky too. Lingering tastes, almost calling for a peaty whisky.
Such a pleasure, in this menu, to not have to choose between cheese and dessert! Pure indulgence – you will have both. The Bleu des Causses – creamy, intense, peppery – is paired to pickled walnuts (a British touch, we do not have them in France and yet ah! To me, it’s such a better match than chutney) and fig tree jelly. So refreshing, so delicately flavoured.
For this occasion, the usual dessert (Poire Belle Hélène, crispy piquillos, frosted dark chocolate) was replaced by their latest sugary twist: the gin and tonic, inspired by the famous Martin Miller’s. After the botanical trend which went from natural to somewhat contrived, I have to admit I really love a pure, cristal clear gin best. This one is top of my list. What about the dessert? Such a treat. The sorbet really captures the tonic bubbles and spirit then melting into a lemony sabayon and topped with generous, spicy crumble. Oh, and a super thin, super crispy, zesty tuile. There is génie in this!
Ah, if only I could order this at each aperitif!
1 Wilbraham Place
London SW1X 9AE
A new travel guide? Yes. Because London is so many things at once. Modern, reinventing herself (such simple complexity, how could this not be a she?) constantly, a daily firework of trends. But also suspended in time, always different yet always the same, comfortable and comforting, loyal to herself. Because amongst this incredible buzz, the silent commuters’ race to everywhere, nowhere, anywhere, you will still find peacefulness a couple of meters from there, places where locals still talk, where your life matters to complete strangers, where people look at you and smile. Where shops, cafés focus on a real service to customers, a savoir-faire, play with neo-vintage to create cocoons in the city. London villages. Because you think you know London by heart, of course you do, how many times have you been from A to B? But you are on autopilot, you do not look around anymore, you missed out on that little street so quiet but that makes the whole difference. A travel guide to remind you to slow down, leave fashions aside for a while, focus on what is essential.
Memories of a French market. Woven basket in hand, paper-wrapped seasonal treats, shopping at the butcher, cheesemonger, the baker, baguette protruding from the bag. Sudden stop, spin on a heel, now following a tantalizing scent leading to the rôtisserie. Spell bound.
They barely need to crack open their door and the curious arrive in minutes, already salivating. The call of succulent roast chicken. A conducive atmosphere of polished concrete, blond wood, glazed tiles. Austere enough for that holiday feeling but still quite comfortable for a family meal. Cute tables for two, longer ones for a bunch of friends or just chairs at the counter to be at the forefront of the show.
But on a Friday night, after the rush to finish up the working week, the idea of a Czech beer, light but slightly lemony is attractive. It will also clear your palette nicely before the creamy notes. Expecting a guest? Order some herb bites – desirably soft, fabulous scent of sage, terribly addictive, a crisp scent of outdoors. Disadvantage: If your friends do not arrive fast enough, you’ll happily devour a mountain and spoil your appetite. I’m trying to tell you – resist! But, see, for such an aroma, no, I could not but be defeated.
The joy of the meal is in the sharing – you can choose a whole chicken or assortments. Let yourself be tempted by the chicken bites, one of their signature dishes. Marinated in buttermilk, they offer a melt-in-the-mouth quality which will stop any conversation. We forget ourselves, this is too good, so fresh, meat really tender. Four sauces are offered to complement BBQ, chilli, gravy and our favorite, the Ranch. Sour cream, herbs and garlic – it wraps every bite perfectly without masking the sweet quality of the chicken.
Burger lovers will be delighted – only 3 on the menu, normal, Cesar or veggie (sage again!) but they will make you sigh in pure happiness. Take a look at the specials – definitely worth taking note. Particularly the word Creole, do not hesitate: Just the right amount of spices to evoke the tropical sun. Brioche, juicy tomato, generous sauce, tasty coleslaw (without too much mayonnaise) and a perfect meat, crisp yet moist. To accompany, fries twice-cooked, rich, perfectly seasoned or a salad of tomatoes and onions reminiscent of those back in my region.
And every bite of chicken, wondering how they achieve the perfect tenderness, trying to bribe the team, so what is the key ingredient, the secret sauce?
Succulent. It fills but ah, with gusto! I dare you to go for dessert… For pure indulgence, we shared a cup of rich clotted-cream ice cream, the vanilla perfectly complemented by a shot of Baileys or Limoncello.
At the edge of Soho, close to Piccadilly, a friendly place to satisfy one’s cravings for comfort food… I would not be surprised to see other branches emerge elsewhere in London by the end of 2014.
14 Denman street
London W1D 7HJ
Did you know this is National Champagne week? Yes, starting today until October 13. Such a wonderful excuse to have an extra bubbly time… Coming back from Paris yesterday, a pause at St Pancras’ Searcys champagne bar felt like a perfect conclusion to a magical week-end. Panoramic view on the amazing architecture of the station, open space that gives you this rare feeling of freedom, cocoon of the cosy leather banquette, irresistible call of the button press for champagne… Suspended in time, really.
And so people stop here for small and big celebrations: Anticipating a marvellous trip, memories to be made, others to be savoured longer, the luxury of champagne adding to the sense of their uniqueness. In a nutshell: Sparkling moments. For the Champagne week are proposed complimentary tastings between 16.00 and 18.00 (list of addresses below or simply follow Searcys on Twitter). Brut? Rosé? What does NV mean? Not always easy to choose so take the occasion to learn more about this nectar, ask a thousand questions, marvel at the story behind this exceptional wine.
Truly, at the end of any day, sitting here is dream like. Listen to the natural music of the station - quick steps hurrying towards a train or a tube but also lovers and friends meeting, laughs echoing, mixing with melodies played by strangers on the free pianos in the hall. Enchanting. At Searcys, the tick-tock of watches naturally fades away, replaced by the fizz of bubbles. Let the Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut put a spell on you, delicate, grapefruit, apple, white peach, crisp, a refreshing minerality. Still in whites, the Henri Giraud Homage NV (Non Vintage, thus allowing mixing champagnes of different years in the search of the perfect balance and continuity of taste) has a lovely poesy to it and remains my favourite. More intense than the previous one, fine lace of bubbles (did you know there are 49 million in a bottle?), pear, dried apricots, orange zest, a long finish. Balfour Brut rosé, une cuvée Searcys 2011 is similarly surprising, sweeter. It reminds me a of the French cake called a fraisier: Fresh strawberries, vanilla cream, biscuit base. A last floral note close to wild roses.
The menu also proposes savoury dishes to complete the experience. How about sharing platters? We really fell for the charcutery – the rich textures, the spiciness of the chorizo balancing the “dry” champagnes. Or go for the creamy cheeses: Sainte Maure Cendrée, Montgomery Cheddar, Stinking Bishop with jams: black cherry… quince, honey and rosemary… or sunny figs.
For an exceptional moment.
Complimentary champagne tastings for the National Champagne Week, 7 – 13 October 2013, 16.00-18.00: St Pancras Grand, One New Change, Westfield Stratford and London, Paddington and Blenheim Place.
Whyte and Brown dares a new concept. A single theme, declined in 21 recipes. Chicken. Free range, a must for these food passionates. And yes, not only does this work fabulously, it is absolutely scrumptious as Roald Dahl would say! The decoration alone is worth a detour and reminds me of Anthropology. Make sure you have a look at the first floor – beautiful space, gorgeous curved chairs, some half painted in a design effect, the back wall coming alive with feathers of paint, even brioche tins light up!
It was a Friday, sure, but at only 17.00, the place was already pretty busy, obviously word of mouth worked pretty well for this address. To give us time to read the mouthwatering menu and celebrate the week-end, we ordered two cocktails. The Whyte wine spritz is a clever mix of white wine, rhubarb bitters with rose lemonade. Unusual, mmmh? That is such a better Friday drink than a Pimm’s, sparkling and zesty and floral all at the same time. Now, being a Nika fan, I could not help but order the Hefty Japanese Max, matching this gorgeous Japanese whisky to a plum sake. Beautiful contrast of the ice, the warmth of the whisky, the quiet strength of the sake, vanilla an tobacco notes finishing on juicy plum.
Service was incredibly quick. Just the time to take a few pictures of the deco and our starters had arrived. Around us, the team butterflies, smiling and checking the guests are enjoying their meals – rarely had I seen such an efficient care of customers. We treated ourselves to those delicious arancinis made with chicken and oh, those are extraordinary, Lots of melting cheese, a touch of bechamel and fresh coriander. The dip sauce is superfluous, really. For the French touch, there is a poulet confit, so tender, pepper berries, fresh herbs, thin crisp lemon slices to give it a lick-your-lips bonus, all presented in a jar. So very cute and so very comforting, the perfect picnic food. It would be superb in a salad but here it is upgraded to toasted sourdough bread with coriander, pickled onions and a dash of fruity olive oil.
A look at the picture gallery on the web site left me no choice. It had to be the chicken and langoustine pie. Many customers, like me, order it just to take a picture – the sight is so cute. Under the butter puff pastry cover, a succulent casserole of chicken and langoustine tender bites in a light bechamel addictive, caramelised onions, fennel, celery and the out-of-the-ordinary samphire which gives this tangy twist to the dish. A must-try. If you fancy something more classical, the leek-chicken burger is quite impressive too but make sure you are really hungry, look at the size of it! But be warned, beef patties will taste much blander in the future, this is very elegant in taste, much more satisfying too. We matched these with a glass of Vina Cascarela Ruedo (lemony, pear, passionfruit, exotic) or – my favourite – of Govone Gavi di Gavi which offers the honeysuckle touch of the Piedmont wines.
There was no hesitation for dessert. Whyte and Brown’s Eton Mess is the best ever. Generous in fruit, rich bit not sickening cream infused with orange, fresh mint, melt-in-the-mouth meringue. But really, this is a treat you hear before you taste it: it is sprinkled with popping candy, like a little firework on your tastebuds. And that is not to be missed.
Verdict? If you thought fast food at the word chicken, think again. Service is absolutely perfect and the chef has preferred time, simmering for his recipes to give them maximum taste and textures. The best of comfort food with innovative touches. Bravo
Whyte & Brown
London, W1B 5PW.