Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Terrace at The Royal Horseguards Hotel, Summer Chapter

London is full of hidden and beautiful gems. When you less expect you bump into another fantastic venue. This week I got an invitation to a Summer soiree at The Terrace, at The Royal Horseguards Hotel.

The Terrace is a sanctum of elegance. It is located in a very secluded area at the back of the hotel with a direct and hard to find passage to the Whitehall Gardens by the Embankment. The Royal Horseguards Hotel, set in a Victorian building, is steeped in history, once it was the Secret Service's HQ and has served as a background for various past and recent films, how cool is that?

Back to The Terrace, where we had a fantastic time celebrating the Summer Picnic Hamper with delicious nibbles and excellent cocktails. The  DIY picnic basket gives everyone the chance to build your own picnic from a huge selection of cold meats, speciality bread, humus, crudities, apples, grapes, cheeses and tasty Summer sweets including Chocolate dipped strawberries and Macaroons. The basket also comes with half a bottle of Taittinger Champagne; the hotel preferred bubbly.

The hamper can be enjoyed while lounging around The Terrace or at Whitehall Gardens, weather permitting. To
experience this luxury picnic will set you back £59 per couple. A very reasonable price tag for handcrafted treats and alfresco dining with breathtaking views. 

credit: Guoman Hotels

The hotel also serves delectable cocktails and nibbles at The Terrace, menu here.  We sampled a few:

Aperol sobert and champagne - very addictive and refreshing

Quintessentially British - Pimm's!
Inverness and Berry Crush (vodka  based) and Gin & Jam

A full list of dishes to build your own picnic by choosing 9 items from the selection below as per their menu:

"Charcuterie Selection:
Warm baguette & grilled sourdough | Woodhalls Cumbria Salami |Salami Milano | Air dried Oxspring Home roasted Grangemoor Beef | Balsamic Onions | Parma Ham | Hummus with pumpernickel | Cream cheese stuffed peppers | Black pepper pastrami | Rocket leaves

Cheese Selection:
Warm baguette & cheese biscuits | Alex James, Farleigh Wallop | Barkham Blue | Celery Sticks | Elmhirst Black Bomber | Apple & port chutney | Celtic Promise | Baby carrots | White & black grapes | Green apple

Sweet Selection:
Chocolate Brownies | White Chocolate Blondies | Chocolate dipped strawberries | Macaroons | Truffles | Fruit Tub."

What a treat!

Picnic Basquet
Which hamper will you choose?
2 Whitehall Court  
London SW1A 2EJ
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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Cuisson’s Pop-Down, a unique gastronomic experience in London

London has introduced a new interactive dining option called POP-Down. POP-Down is luxury gastronomy team Cuisson’s brainchild, and is expected to stay open in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday throughout the summer. If you’re looking for an innovative way to have your supper, POP-Down is an excellent choice. It has veered away from the traditional summer club design to provide high-end dining at fairly low costs, and offers a fantastically unique menu that is sure to satisfy any guest.

The summer menu consists of four inventive courses starting with Cuisson’s signature cocktail. The gastronomy team is comprised of chefs with experience in the world’s premier restaurants. Using their expertise, Cuisson has created an incredible menu that mixes classic French cuisine with modern cooking techniques.

We loved the playfulness Cuisson has applied to its courses, which are purposely designed this way to offer customers a truly unique eating experience. To make things more interesting, Cuisson plans to transform its four-course menu every month to keep customers surprised and entertained.

The venue is the Borough Barista, an indie coffee shop in St. James will host POP-Down in its basement. It’s large, airy space that is just intimate enough to produce a truly interactive dining experience. The Cuisson chefs interact with the guests, and the guests themselves can see the professionals at work through the open kitchen design. The Cuisson team will show the POP-Down patrons their unique techniques and encourage them to plate the courses together.

watching the chefs in action
above: grelot  onions being torched

guests are encouraged to take part in the assembling of the dishes.
ratte potatoes, hay, grelot torched onion and blue cheese sauce - delicious!
wine sold by the glass (£5) or bottle (£20), unfortunately it's not BYO

Chicken parfait, charred pineapple and walnuts, black pepper flat bread - amazing!

Salmon sous vide, horseradich cream, watercress, and I believe Rosanna's Onions (pretty in pink)

desserts at Cuisson Pop Down: strawberries, sesame shortbread, chocolate soil, creme brulee, popping candy, passion fruit tahini cheesecake
Tickets are priced at £39 for 4 courses and are available to purchase in advance through Grubclub. There's also a three courses at POP-Down Dessert Bar are priced at £25
more information visit their website,

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Sunday, 28 June 2015

Pure Chablis

Petit Chablis
Another beautiful wine event took place at the stunning The Chancery private dining room in London hosted by Sommelier and master of ceremonies, Douglas Blyde, highlighting the beloved Chablis wines and its geology. This is what we learned about the purity of its aroma and taste over a divine dinner by The Chancery to pair with the wines.

The Chablis wine region is technically part of Burgundy, although its location lies northwest of Burgundy proper, and much closer in proximity and terroir to Champagne. The chalky Kemmeridgian limestone soils help to radiate the bright sunshine back up to the vines, which aids greatly during the crucial ripening periods of late summer when it tends to be quite cool. 

The region radiates outward from the town of Chablis at its center, which lies around the halfway mark between the cities of Paris and Dijon. The wine here is 100% Chardonnay, and there are layers of quality and complexity that are delineated by four levels of classification: The Grand Crus, of which there are seven, are all located on one southwest facing hillside just outside the town of Chablis. Next come the Premier Crus, which numbered forty as of the year 2000. Most of the Premier Cru vineyards are on southeast facing slopes, some even sharing borders with the Grand Crus. 

The basic Chablis AOC is next, and covers the most land under vine as well as offering the greatest variations in quality between producers. Lowest on the totem pole is Petit Chablis: created to satisfy market demand for Chablis wine, Petit Chablis encompasses vineyards outside of the general appellation as well as outlying areas. The majority of Petit Chablis plantings are on geologically younger soils, its sites differing vastly in terms of aspect and potential for consistent ripeness.

Chablis wines are bright, leaner and higher in acidity than those of the rest of Burgundy, due to its northern latitudes. Common descriptors are ‘flinty’ and ‘steely’, referring in part to the fact that most are unoaked, the better examples showing aspects of their terroir that lift the mineral qualities of the wine to the fore. Some other Chablis taste descriptors are common to chardonnay in general: apple, melon, pear and mineral, the level of concentration directly related to the quality of the viticulture as well as the winemaking.

Virtually all of the Chardonnay in Chablis undergoes malolactic fermentation, a secondary fermentation that transforms the primary malic acid into lactic acid. The resulting wine will display distinctly creamy notes and a highly textured mid palate that could easily be mistaken for oak treatment. Some of the Premier Crus and all of the Grand Crus use oak, which contributes to the complexity of the wine by adding layers of flavor and texture that could not be obtained otherwise. Basic Chablis and Petit Chablis are made for early drinking, but Grand Crus and many Premier Crus are quite ageworthy, having the potential to develop in the bottle for ten years or more.

Food pairings for Chablis

For Petit Chablis, try snails in garlic butter, or the ubiquitous Chablisienne Gourges, which are little balls of pastry flavored with aged Comte cheese, seafood or fish & chips. For a simpler meal, scrambled eggs do very well, especially with a bit of shaved white truffle (the mushroom, not the chocolate!). On the night we had crab beignet and truffle arancini with cheesy, creamy centre - just divine!

Chablis’ most typical and classic pairing is probably oysters. Try to avoid the Premier Crus or the Grand Crus with oysters, as the match is much better without a potential oak influence. Any light and flaky fish also does well, such as mullet or red snapper, accompanied by a light Chablis cream sauce, sushi & sashimi and fish stews.  On the night, we had meaty marinated raw hand dive scallops, a cool cucumber jelly, avocado cream, sesame filo and a tangy shiso dressing - a winner dish! 

Chablis Premier Cru pairs very nicely with richer foods and smoked ham. Accompanied by mushroom  is pure heaven, the complex and often smoky notes of the wine providing a bridge to the sweet and fatty meat. Mild or semi-soft cheeses also do well here or consider a nice salad of freshly picked bib lettuce dressed with Parmesan vinaigrette. On the night, we had tartare of trout, poached apple, nettle puree, macadamia nuts and trout eggs, adish full of textures and flavours.

Lobster or any rich shellfish does right by the Grand Crus, the richer, the better! Match the highly textured wine to a rich and creamy dish and you can’t go wrong – the best always does well with the best!  On the night, we had roasted quail, cannelloni of leg of quail and frois gras, sweetcorn, hazelnuts, pickled mushrooms and wild garlic, an unexpected match, and a delicious one.

Last but not least we had a delightful Mature Chablis matched with some superb cheese board from Neal's Yeard Diary. The Perfect finish of the evening.

 Some of the Chablis wines we tasted during the evening:

Disclosure: I was a guest of Douglas Blyde and SopexaUK at this heavenly event.

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A photo posted by Rosana | London (@rosana_mcphee) on
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