Sunday, 4 October 2015

London: Dinner at The Athenaeum, Mayfair

Nothing like a little treat now and then. I know I treat myself a little bit too much, but it's really all in the name of food research.  After all this is a food blog too.  This latest food adventure took place last week in Mayfair, a gorgeous area of London, surrounded by embassies, Hyde Park, Green Park, exclusive shops and upmarket properties, the height of luxury. 

The Athenaeum is a 5-star hotel that houses an upscale restaurant, a cafe serving afternoon tea and a dedicated whisky bar with 300 varieties. I have been to The Athenaeum for an afternoon tea before, and I was very impressed, so much so I wanted to try the restaurant. It has won its second rosette for its exceptional food and outstanding service.

On arrival, we waited for our table in the bar where we had a couple of glasses of very chilled proseccos.  It was good to unwind after a busy day of work.  Having soaked in the delightful, relaxing atmosphere of the bar, we made our way to the restaurant.  The decor is light, airy and understated.  All tables are mirrored and the crockery, as well as cutlery, is Villeroy & Bosh,  a brand I absolutely love!

We placed our orders in and carefully choose the wine that we were able to try before buying. The wine waiter was very helpful and eventually we decided to go with a bottle of  Shirah from Chile.

The service here is refined, attentive and helpful. 

The food was very good; we had the set menu.   first the potato gnocchi new forest wild mushrooms with tornegus cheese - It was quite tasty and good portion. It looked like it had been platted in advance and kept under those special food lighten counters a few minutes too long, but It was tasty.  The mushrooms were the star of this dish. It matched perfectly with wine.

Corn-fed chicken breast with a pistachio &herb crust
chicken glazed Parmentier potatoes, roast artichoke &
French beans and wilted Spinach  and triple fried chips

The corn-fed chicken was very moist and the pistachio and herb sauce
was delectable.  The whole dish just worked well together. We order two sides of spinach and triple cooked fries. The fries were terrific, perfectly cooked. Needless to say, our plates were clean at the end of the main course.


Apple & Blackberry carpaccio with Calvados mousse

Poached Pineapple with caramel sauce & vanilla ice cream

I usually order ice cream, cheese or chocolate (in that order) from the dessert menu. However, this time I decided to go for the fruit-dessert option, it's not the healthy option, no! It was a light Calvados Mousse that contrasted exceptionally well with the apple and blackberry carpaccio. It looks pretty too. I tried the pineapple and ice cream too. It was seriously delicious.

All in all, we had a pleasurable meal with good menu choices, not too small portions a set menu usually offers and a service to match. I never used a service like Bookatable before and it was a great experience.  The bill fro 2 people came to £92 including tip.

Bookatable Star Deal Sample Menu:
3 courses & a glass of prosecco £25 per person
2 courses & a glass of prosecco £18 per person
with a  glass of prosecco on arrival

 Athenaeum Hotel and restaurant, 116 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7BJ +44 2081281552 
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Thursday, 1 October 2015

A few things you should know about Champagne

Five things you should know about Champagne
Champagne is the famous sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France – so famous, in fact, that no other sparkling wine can use the name. Beyond the geographical region, which lies about an hour’s drive east of Paris, the term Champagne denotes the process by which it is made as well as the exacting regulations it must follow, as handed down by the Appellation Controlee, or AOC, essentially France’s wine ‘police’.

Besides the demarcated production area, here are the top five things you should know about Champagne:

1.    Champagne is made from a blend of three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier.
2.    There are several levels of quality and price: non-vintage is indicative of the ‘house style’ of the producer and is meant to be consumed in the short term. Vintage Champagne is only produced in the best years and is released for sale no less than four years after the harvest. Rosé Champagne is pink in colour, having had extended skin contact with the two red grapes in the blend. Blanc de Blancs is made from 100% chardonnay. Blanc de Noirs is made with the two red grapes only, but will not be red in colour. Prestige Cuvees are super-luxury Champagnes, due in part to an extended ageing process, a more meticulous winemaking and vineyard practice, and possibly several other factors.
3.    The terminology denoting the sweetness level of the wine starts with Brut Zero, Brut Nature or Extra Brut, which is the absolute driest the wine can be. Brut is next up; still considered quite dry, it is the most popular commercial style. Extra Dry, though a bit of an oxymoron, denotes a medium dry style, while Sec is slightly sweet, Demi-Sec is medium sweet, and Doux has dessert-style sweetness.
4.    Champagne’s bubbles were considered to be a fault until the early 1700’s when it started to become a fashionable drink in Britain and France.
5.    Classic food matches with Champagne include oysters, lobster, smoked salmon, eggs and caviar
6.    It is the world’s first choice for celebrations of all kinds.
7.    The bottles are under about six atmospheres of pressure, which is relieved by the deep indentation on the bottom of the bottle – called the punt.
8.    Does champagne go bad? It looses the bubbles when kept in the bottle unopened average life 10-15 years. However, vintage champagne can go on for 20-50 years or more pending on the vintage.

Champagne is a drink with history, tradition, prestige and status that lends an air of sophistication to every occasion. Indulge your senses today!

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Laurent Perrier Cuveé Rosé Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace

Laurent Perrier Cuveé Rosé Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace
To celebrate National Champagne week, 1st to the 7th October 2015, Laurent Perrier partnered with Blenheim Palace to serve the ultimate afternoon tea of the week. What better than afternoon tea and champagne pairing?

Last week I had the opportunity to taste this delectable afternoon tea ahead of the launch this week.  Blenheim Palace is the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace. It is a World Heritage Site; it was built in the early 18th Century. Blenheim is located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, about 15-20 minutes from Oxford by car. Home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family, Blenheim Palace is also the birthplace of Sir  Winston Churchill.  Rich in history, grandeur,  opulence and elegance, it's a must place visit when in England.

Laurent Perrier Cuveé Rosé Afternoon Tea will be available daily from the 1st-11th October in their discerning Indian Room and Champagne Bar. On Sunday, the 4th October, there will also be a special sitting in the Orangery which overlooks the Duke's private gardens and is normally only a space used for events.

This special Champagne Afternoon Tea menu consists of a delicious selection of sandwiches: Cajun salmon and chive which paired perfectly with the Laurent Perrier Cuveé Rosé; free range egg mayonnaise, pastrami and gherkin, the classic cream cheese and cucumber  and tasty smoked salmon blinis.

Sweet treats: red velvet cupcake,  strawberry spheres (like bubbles) and Champagne jelly topped with fresh strawberries, raspberry and white chocolate éclair, the lightest scones including cranberry & white chocolate and weighless and moist passion fruit drizzle cake again paired really well with the champagne.  All this is served with a glass of ice cold Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé and a selection of fine teas and tisanes.  All the ingredients, as much as possible, are locally sourced.
Looking to celebrate the national champagne week in style?   Look no further!

Afternoon tea costs £45/per person and includes entry to Blenheim.
To book:  Laurent Perrier Cuveé Rosé Afternoon Tea  or call reservations line on +44 (0) 1993 810518
How to get there:
Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PP

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