Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Basque brunch at Eneko, London

Eneko at One Aldwych

Last year one of the best meals I ate was at Eneko by three Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa whose culinary inspiration comes from his hometown of Bilbao, with this in mind Chef Eneko has created one of London’s first and finest  Basque brunches.  Having just got back from the Basque Country myself, where I ate my weight in food and more, I was elated to sample more of this fabulous cuisine back home.  I loved Eneko the first time, read here,  but would I still love it the second time round?

It's an exciting menu with some of the dishes from the main menu and some new intriguing and stimulating dishes.  The kind of menu that makes you want to discover more and taste Basque cuisine.

The brunch menu at Eneko at One Aldwych is divided by four Basque culinary styles – Euskal Azoka (street food), Gallinero (eggs), Txoko (classics) and Asador (grill).

You can choose a la carte or tasting menu which consists of 5 dishes, tea and coffee at £50/head plus drinks.

We decided to go a la carte with three courses and bottle of delicious bottle of Cava Mas Macia from Penedes, a fresh, creamy and lively  Cava with intricate flavours of stone fruits, apple and some nutty, yeasty notes. Good acidity and a long, savoury finish.

The wine list is made up entirely by Spanish wines including four from Eneko’s family winery, Gorka Izagirre.

Food options are intended to be mixed, matched and share.  There's something for everyone. Brunch at Eneko at One Aldwych is available every weekend. Great way to spend with family and friends around the table, with good food, drinks, excellent and knowledgeable service.  The place is casual and yet elegant.

Our meal was delicious, and we lingered over the food not wanting the brunch ever to finish, but eventually it did.   Yes, I still love this place! 

Brunch at Eneko

Golden Mary / Spiced vodka, golden tomato juice, celery foam

 Oxtail on Milk Bread / Slow-cooked oxtail, Idiazabal cheese  and
Cerdito Caliente “Hot Hog” / Iberico ham, mushroom duxelle, Basque muffin

Egg Yolks Tempura - intense vegetable confit and the most incredible  bright yolk

Egg Yolks Tempura / Creamy potatoes, confit vegetables

Txuleta / Basque-style  juicy and tender prime rib of beef, excellent spring onion salad and skinny fries

Salted caramel mousse, cookie crumble - great textures every bit as delicious as the description!

Pineapple sorbet and foam, sweet celery ribbons - intriguing, refreshing and tasty

Saturday 11.30am-2.30pm
Sunday  11.30am-3.30pm
Book : eneko@onealdwych.com or call +44 (0)20 7300 0300
Walk-ins are also welcome.

Eneko at One Aldwych
One Aldwych
London WC2B 4BZ
T: 020 7300 0300

Disclosure: I was a guest of Eneko at One Aldwych. All views are my own. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Learning about Cognac

About two weeks ago I attended an event at The Whisky Exchange in Covent Garden,  London. It was a very insightful event where I learnt  a lot about Cognac!

Cognac is a type of distilled brandy. It got its name from the French town of Cognac, which is part of wine growing region within the French Departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime. For a distilled brandy to be labelled as Cognac, there are specific requirements that should be met during its production process.

Cognac must be made from certain grapes. One of the most used grapes is Ugni Blanc, which is also known as Saint-Emilion. The brandy must also be distilled twice using copper pot stills. Then it is aged for at least two years inside a French oak barrel from Troncais or Limousin.

Cognac ages in the same manner as wine and whiskies when placed in barrels. However,  many cognacs are aged longer than the minimum requirement for alcoholic beverages. This drinks is also known as the kings of spirits.

Types of Cognac

VS- designed to be mixed - it makes fantastic cocktails  hints of oak and vanilla,  its young minimum aged 2 years. Every house have their own secret recipe/blend. 
VSOP - better quality, versatile and affordable, aged longer in barrels . it's smother and has a longer finish. Hints of orange and apricot. Best served on ice. 
XO - to be drunk on its' own, smoother, smokier, fruity, woody mushroom notes.

How to Taste Cognac

Ideal Temperature for Cognac

Cognac must be drunk at normal room temperature. If it is below room temperature, you should take the bottle out for at least an hour before drinking it. Or you can pour it into a glass, and hold the glass with the palm to bring it to room temperature.

Glass for Drinking Cognac

The recommended glass for cognac is a tulip glass sniffer that features a wide bowl and a narrower top. This might be changing with time...

Cognac Labels

The label on the bottle will indicate the producer, rating, and alcohol content of the cognac. Some of the ratings are VSOP, VS, Napoleon, and XO. The label can also indicate whether the cognac is Grande Champagne Cognac or Fine Cognac. 

Colour of the Cognac

Cognac comes in different colours. It may be copper, golden amber, orange-brown, bronze, or mahogany.  The colour doesn't dictate the age or quality of cognac.

Scent of the Cognac

Scent or the nose of the cognac indicates its flavour. You can determine the scent by swirling the cognac very slowly in the brandy glass, and then sniff the aromas from it. The distilled brandy can have scents of cigar, oranges, apricots, vanilla, and spices, just to name a few.


To drink cognac, you should first take a slow sip to allow the alcohol beverage remain in your mouth for several seconds before you drink it. After you swallow the cognac, you will be able to determine the different flavours it holds. Keep in mind that the profile often differs from the scent. The distilled brandy can taste fruity, woody, chocolate, leather, or gingerbread. You can determine the length of the cognac by determining how long the taste lingers on the tongue and mouth after swallowing it.

Should You Mix or Add Ice to Cognac?

After opening the bottle, it is recommended that you drink cognac straight first. That way you will be able to appreciate the maker’s artistry in blending and ageing the distilled brandy. You should also use a tulip glass and drink it at room temperature to truly enjoy its taste.

However, there are some people who drink cognac with ice or water. Before you try mixing cognac, it is best that you first taste it straight.

There are some excellent cocktails to be made from Cognac. On this particular evening we had  a good easy drinking cocktail : Cognac, Tonic and dehydrated orange.
Cognac, Tonic and dehydrated orange.

'The Whisky Exchange runs a series of excellent whisky and fine spirit tastings. They are extremely popular and give whisky and spirit lovers the chance to meet the people responsible for making their favourite drams. Many of its tastings are whisky based, but it also covers a wide range of other drinks and spirits, including rum, gin, vermouth and Tequila.
Its masterclasses are hosted by the biggest names in the industry, with master blenders and distillers flying in specially for the event'

Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X
 Disclosure:  I was a guest at this event. All views are my own.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A stylish stay at The George Townhouse, Warwickshire

I love living in London, such a vibrant city. But  I understand the need to get out of the big smoke. I am a big fan of the English countryside; it's so lovely and calming.   A road trip in and around the Cotswold has been on the cards for a while. Two weeks ago I adventured on a solo trip to recharge the batteries and have a 'me time' without the noise of the big city. 

I drove through the Cotswold little villages and towns and arrived at The George Townhouse in Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire. I was thrilled when I arrived and saw my room.

The George has been in the neighbourhood for years.  Located on the edge of the Cotswold in England is an ideal place to spend time, relax and explore the area. 

The George got an extensive makeover in early 2016 that included all the 15 en-suite bedrooms. Found right at the heart of Shipston High Street, it stands at three and a half stories tall that make it the tallest structure on that stretch of land. It is a  Georgian townhouse  with 18th century features, which gives it a casual and yet an elegant look.


The rooms at The George Townhouse have been decorated using only high-quality materials and craftsmanship. They have a luxurious feel to them while providing comfort. All the rooms have an en-suite bathroom, and breakfast is included in the room rate. 

My room was at the top of the building and overlooked the town's church tower. There was a crystal carafe with brandy waiting for me!  There was also a beautiful Spa Box just next to be most amazing free standing Victorian bath.  Little details that make all the difference.  

My room was well appointed. Crisp white bedding 100% cotton, the room was spotless. It was very welcoming, comfortable, roomy and airy.  One thing I missed in the room was a folding luggage rack, the chairs in my room were so beautiful that I didn't want to rest my suitcase on them.

There was complimentary, water still and sparkling, tea, hot chocolate  and an excellent Nespresso machine and coffee pods.  Crisps and biscuits were on offer as well.


The Spa box!


Eating  at The George Townhouse

The George Townhouse serves meals from breakfast to dinner. The ground floor you will find the parlour, where you can eat your first meal of the day. Lunch can be eaten in the garden room or in the swish dining room. Most of the food served at The George Townhouse is sourced locally. 

The Bar at The George Townhouse

Aperol Spritz
Twice baked cheddar soufflé, spinach & grain mustard sauce - it was very lightevenly risen and slightly wobbly, the creamy sauce with mustard worked very well with the cheese and spinach
8oz. Todenham farm rump steak, triple cooked chips, peppercorn sauce, served medium-are and no blood running, excellent  and quality meat! The peppercorn sauce that accompanied the steak was very tasty.
My dessert: Espresso Martini - It had to be done!
Stolichnaya Vodka, Tia Maria & Espresso Coffee

Breakfast is  served from 8 am to 11 am, and it's a serious affair The menu is quite comprehensive. There's something for everyone. From a full English which consists of Todenham Farm sausages & dry cured bacon, roasted flat cap mushroom, grilled plum tomato, black pudding, dripping beef toast, baked beans, two of eggs of your choice & toast; to  eggs Benedict, toasted English muffin, poached egg, ham & Hollandaise  to a much lighter option Fresh fruit salad and granola. 

The breakfast buffet is beautifully presented with fresh local bread, croissant, toasts, fruits, cereals, fresh fruits, juices & more! 
 Buttermilk pancakes, smoked bacon & maple syrup

The staff at The George are from the nearby neighbourhoods, young, polite and enthusiastic.  They can provide you with information about places to visit while you are in town. The next time you are in Shipston-on-Stour or in the vicinity, be sure to drop by The George Townhouse whether you are going to stay for the night, have a glass of wine, or dine in.

The George Townhouse press

For bookings: book@thegeorgeshipston.co.uk

8 High Street,
CV36 4AJ

Rooms rates (2017)
From £100-£200 during the week (depending on the chamber) and from £140-£250 at weekends on a B&B basis and including VAT
Standard rooms from £100-£130 a night
Superior rooms from £120-£140
Deluxe Rooms from £140 to £160 per night
Deluxe Plus from £160 to £180
The Suite from £200 to £240 per night

Disclosure: I was a guest of The George Townhouse. All views are my own.

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