Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wine. Show all posts

Sunday, 5 February 2017

BAFTA Film Awards, what's on the menu

The 70th British Academy Film Awards, The BAFTA are fast approaching with all the glamour and glitz. The contenders were revealed back in January and the film  La La Land is leading with 11 nominations.

The event will be held on February the 12th,  at London's iconic Royal Albert Hall, with Stephen Fry as the Master of Ceremony, returning as host for the 12th time. It will be televised by the BBC One and BBC One HD at 9 pm, two hours later than the actual event itself.

BAFTA Short History

The Academy was established on 16 April 1947 by a group of the most eminent names in the British film production industry.  David Lean, film director,  was appointed Chairman.

The goal was "to acknowledge  those who had contributed outstanding creative work towards the advancement of British cinema."
The event will Society became officially known as The British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and BAFTA entered the nation's vocabulary.


'The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public. In addition to its Awards ceremonies, BAFTA has a year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – featuring workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes – in the UK, USA and Asia; it offers unique access to the world’s most inspiring talent and connects with a global audience of all ages and backgrounds. BAFTA relies on income from membership subscriptions, individual donations, trusts, foundations and corporate partnerships to support its ongoing outreach work.'

What are the starts eating and drinking the official BAFTA dinner?

I had the privilege to have a preview of the menu and tasted the fantastic food by Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel  Executive, Nigel Boschetti and head Chef of BAFTA 195 Piccadilly, Anton Manganaro.
If you are hosting a BAFTA night with friends, this is a guide to what to eat like the stars on the evening.

The Official EE British Academy Film Awards Menu 2017

Cornish Crab salad with celery and apple jelly and a burnt celeriac mayonnaise

Vegetarian option: mixed grain salad with pickled vegetables, beetroot relish and pea shoots

Venison Denham Estate Wellington, Juniper berry jus, potato gratin, glazed red cabbage, buttered swede and stem broccoli

Vegetarian option: puff pastry parcel with buttered spinach, wild mushrooms, goat’s cheese, roasted winter vegetables, red cabbage and watercress sauce.

Velvet 65 per cent Buffalo Supermilk Chocolate with Blueberry and Raspberry White Cremeux, with a Pumpkin Seeds Granola

drinks are sponsored by:

Taittinger Champagne, which has partnered with BAFTA for the last 15 years.

Wines by Vila Maria from New Zealand’s most awarded winery,  from its Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2016 or Private Bin Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2014.

Water by Evian and Badoit and the lucky guests can also sip on Nespresso coffee if they need an energy boost ahead of the glitzy after-parties.

For further information and list of nominees visit: 

Disclosure: I was a guest at this event.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Arbina, Taste of Spain in London

Tapas and Pintxos at Arbina

Central London has a myriad of places to eat. In fact, the concentration of good places to eat is staggering.  Arbina arrived quietly about two years ago in Fitzrovia bringing delicious Spanish fare to be good people of London.
Arbina is owned by Javier Lopez de Arbina, an incredibly passionate food and wine lover from Ribera del Duero and family roots in the Basque Country.  The restaurant menu is a reflexion of his heritage.
The list is well put together with highlights of the main Spanish dishes from all over the country but with focus on Basque fare, arroces (rice dishes) and paella. 

Other dishes on offer are Spanish stews, ideal for this time of the year in London;  roast suckling pig and lamb made to order - that is a brilliant suggestion for large groups and annual festive gatherings. They have a beautiful downstairs room for private dining and chef's table events.

The wine
This time the wine of choice was  Inurrieta  Quatrocientos, a red from the Navarra region, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Graciano, Garnacha and Merlot grapes. A dark red color,  elegant to the nose with keys of sweet and fruity aromas. It delivers a refined fragrant wine as a result of its barrel ageing. In the mouth, this wine is vibrant and well balanced, highlighting the excellent quality of its tannins.

The wine list is short and concise, with some good choices for all types of budgets.

Lunch at Arbina

Croquetas de Jamón at Arbina

Deep fried Padrón pepper, as expected delicious and Ham croquettes - one of my favourites Spanish nibbles - this one was crisp outside and creamy inside - appetising!
Gourmet Pintxo at Arbina
Gourmet Pintxo:  Mini wagyu burger with Sobrasada  (Mallorcan chorizo) rocket and  sweet pickled Piparra peppers
Huevos rotos

Huevos rotos - another delicious dish - Broken eggs with fried potatoes and Ibérico ham, a super simple everyday dish that just hit the spot

Mixed mushrooms with grilled honey Alioli - the wood and hearty meat and umami taste of the mushrooms just paired superbly with the sweet honey and light garlic mayo.
Deep fried Monte Enebro

Deep fried Monte Enebro goat cheese with green "mojo", a sauce made with coriander, parsley,  garlic, green pepper, good quality extra virgin olive oil and seasoning - this dish was so good! I liked all the contrasting flavours of the sweet 'chutney', the green sauce with the snow white crumbly goat cheese encased in breadcrumbs

Seafood Paella - I love rice and seafood, and this dish was all about the rice cooked to perfection on a delightful sofrito it has a slightly brown on the bottom of the paella dish - perfect! , and the serving of seafood was quite generous. There was also a pot of Aioli, which is not traditional but I added a dollop to my plate - divine!
The seafood selection was langoustines, squid, mussels and vegetables.

Leche Frita  (fried milk)
 Leche Frita  (fried milk)  above

This dessert was very sweet, but I like overly sweet things, so It was absolutely fine by me. Creamy eggless custard fried and dusted with sugar and cinnamon

Churros con chocolate
Fried pastry sprinkled with sugar served with very thick and hot chocolate sauce. A delightful as usual!

Serves lunch, dinner and drinks from Monday to Saturday- recommended.

110 Whitfield St, Kings Cross, London W1T 5ED

Disclosure: I was a guest of Arbina for review purposes. All views are my own.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Recipe: Îles Flottantes

Îles Flottantes

Îles Flottante is French dessert that consists of a cooked meringue served with a creamy sauce make of egg yolks, in this case, the crème anglaise. The look is very similar to floating island on the plate. In our family in Brazil, it's known  as 'ovos nevados'

My mum used to prepare this recipe at least once a month for a weekend treat. At the time,  she placed each individually cooked meringue in a large deep porcelain bowl, very similar to the one below but large! And we would help ourselves. I just adore the silky yellow cream with speckles of vanilla seeds.      

This recipe for me defines sweet comfort food. Delicate and incredibly tasty carries me right way back to my childhood in the first spoonful. Try eating it with your eyes closed; It's an amazing feeling.

This recipe is a crowd pleaser. Everyone loves it, but few people think of making it.  It is not too complicated. You can prepare the custard / crème Anglaise the day before.
Îles Flottantes

Îles flottantes  recipe

Îles Flottantes

3 egg whites, room temperature
120g caster sugar
500 ml of whole milk

1)In a thoroughly clean, degreased and dry bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks. Gently add the sugar and continue beating until it forms stiff peaks.
2)Bring the milk to a boil in a deep pot, meanwhile, with the help of two spoons cast meringue forming quenelles. It can also be cast in spoonfuls.
3)Lower the heat and place the meringue in the simmering milk, cook then gently for 15 seconds on each side. Place another batch of a maxim of three a time and place on a plate. At the end there will be some milk left, sieve it and reserve it.

Crème Anglaise

3 egg yolks (at room temperature)
300 ml of whole milk
45g icing sugar
1 vanilla bean


1)Open the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds and place in a separate pan with the leftover milk place over medium heat.
2)Remove the film from the yolks and beat with the sugar in a small bowl until pale. Reserve
3)Once the milk starts to boil turn off the heat and turn half of it into the yolk mixture, mixing vigorously with a whisk.
4)After that, turn the yolk into the milk in the pan and stir over low heat until thickened. To find the right pass point the finger on the back of a spoon, it should be a clean stroke.
5)Turn off the heat, allow to cool and arrange the cream in bowls with meringue quenelles on top.
6)Chill and serve cold.

 Tip: I made this dessert with coconut milk - it's delicious!
Îles Flottantes pairing with Cremant de Loire
Wine pairing: sparkling wine  from the Loire Valley, Cremant  de Loire.
Grapes: Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, with a creamy texture in the mouth and fruity finish in the palate., complex aromas of white flowers well balanced sparkling wine is full bodied with good length.  Rich and very refreshing a great pair with desserts.

Available from Oxford Wine Company RRP: £13.99

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Thursday, 22 September 2016

Vinothec Compass: golf, food and drinks

Vinothec Compass - Golf range

The other evening I enjoyed dinner in North Greenwich, but just before that, I learned the basics of golf in a lovely setting, Vinothec Compass,  Greenwich Peninsula Golf.  I manage to hit the ball first time - yes, beginners luck!   The place overlooks the iconic buildings of the city of London and Canary Wharf. An unusual setting to play golf and have a dinner accompany by a fantastic selection of 600 different wines and over 60 varieties of beers.

The head chef, Idoia Guzman put together an exquisite sampling menu from her heritage,  The Basque Country in Spain.  The evening started with a glass of bubbles,  Cava Conde de Haro from Rioja Bodega,  and a quick lesson in golf in the 60 cabanas, two-tiered, flood-lit golf range. Dinner followed, and it was a great feast. 

The restaurant decor is very easy on the eyes. It was a Friday early evening when I visited, and it was busy - quite surprising since it's out the way for so many people.  Gosh, It was worth going all the way to Greenwich for the wine, food and obviously the golf too. Now I can understand now why people like golf so much - It's a bit addictive.

Dinner by Chef Idoia Guzman

Chef Idoia Guzman

Spain is well known by their delectable  Tapas / Pintxos, Chef Idoia menu was delicious.

We started with Gilda an hors d’oeuvre of pickles, anchovies and olives skewered on a cocktail stick. It was named after the Hollywood film-  Gilda-  in the movie Gilda (Rita Hayward) plays a witty and spicy character.  This Pintxo is  pretty much like the character  'verde, salado y picante’ (green, salty and spicy)  The wine suggested : Its Mendi’s ‘7 Txacoli.'
Gilda an hors d’oeuvre of pickles, anchovies and olives

A warm shot of Jerusalem artichoke was topped with rocket and almond pesto - a perfect appetiser matched with unfortified sherry-style from Sanlúcar - La Bota Vino Blanco  - a very enjoyable tipple fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged for 8 months.
shot of Jerusalem artichoke
Basque Black pudding Pintxo had a strong cinnamon seasoning and a smooth morcilla on topped a piece of toast and was beautifully decorated with a Padron pepper. Cider or Sidra was the suggested match  Txacoli from Basque, Sagardoa Sidra - I don't usually like ciders, but this one was superb and not too sweet.

Basque Black pudding Pintxo

A lush, giant, Coeur du boeuf tomato salad, onions, chives and glug of olive oil, followed by flatbreads of anchovy, olive and basil, and ricotta, pancetta and truffle - these plates were cleaned very quickly indeed!
The surprisingly delicious, well-balanced, tannins and bodied wine from
Saperavi from Georgia was the match for these rather excellent dishes.
I love this wine. I bought a bottle to take home!

Coeur du boeuf tomato salad

flatbreads of anchovy, olive and basil, and ricotta, pancetta and truffle

Next on the list of this magnificent feast, was a light confit of cod from Billingsgate with pepper, black olives and tomato ragu, this dish is a crowd pleaser. It reminded me of Provençal dishes I tried on my travels.  The wine match was white Priorat,  a Catalan wine, a very impressive drink full of minerality that went down extremely well with this dish.

confit of cod

Belted Galloway onglet was a match with a decanted  Olifantsberg Syrah from South Africa’s Breede River Valley. Northern Rhône in style, it was elegant with an excellent natural acidity that complemented well the rare beef and rather unusual looking sweet potato gnocchi.

Olifantsberg Syrah
Belted Galloway onglet

And at last the dessert!  The course that celebrates the end of the meal and this one did not disappoint - poached white peaches with pistachio Anglaise with a touch of rosemary - Ouiii! It was a spectacular end to our meal.  The perfect wine match was a Swiss sweet Sauvignon blanc by by Favre John and Mike

I can't wait to go back to try more wines and food by Adoia! And who knows a bit of more golf too?   Highly recommended!

Disclosure: I was a guest of Vinothec Compass on this trip. All views are my own.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Picnic, Crab Flan and Champagne

Champagne is always a good idea! At breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners, as an aperitif, at celebrations, when happy and to alleviate sadness! Also, an essential item in my picnic basket!

It's National Picnic week in the UK on the  11th-19th June, what a better way to celebrate than with champagne?  I was sent a couple of bottles of the all newly re-designed Mumm Grand Cordon, in a very innovative designed bottle.

Breaking with tradition, the bottle has no front label - instead, the G.H. Mumm signature and Eagle gold emblem are printed directly on the glass. Another striking feature of the design is its shape, which necessitated a whole series of innovations to the traditional champagne production process.

A very stylish and stunning detail of the Mumm Grand Cordon bottle is its reinvention of the iconic Cordon Rouge red sash, which is commemorating its 140th anniversary this year. On new Mumm Grand Cordon bottle, the red sash is set into the glass. Very chic!

Chardonnay and  Pinot Noir, the emblematic grape variety of the house has power and leaves a freshness in the mouth. Pale gold-tan color in the glass. Berries dominate in the palate and the nose. It has a long finish with plenty of acidity assuring this wine will pair well with food, not just as an aperitif.  It has a hint of lemon at the very end, a great pairing with seafood. I paired with crab flan for a nice picnic nosh. 
Enjoy the picnic and the recipe!

Crab Flan recipe


200g plain (all purpose)  flour
2 large organic eggs
200ml of whole milk
75ml sunflower oil
25ml olive oil
1tsp baking powder
3 tbsp grated Parmesan
1 tsp of dried thyme

5-7 Cherry tomatoes cut in halves
170g white crab meat
150g Garden peas
handful of coriander, chopped

baking tin I used a round 25cm dia (greased with butter and dusted with flour)
Start by pre-heating  the oven at 180C

1) First, prepare the filling, wash and cut the cherry tomatoes in half,  garden peas and adjust the crab meat,  reserve.
2) for the dough: Mix all ingredients in a blender.
3) Fill the prepared baking tin with the dough mixture
4) Add the filling garden peas, crab and last the tomatoes and put the rest of the dough on top.  Decorate the top with the cherry tomatoes and chopped coriander.

Viva l'été!

Mumm Grand Cordon will be progressively rolled out to Maison Mumm's international markets, with an emphasis on trendy nightlife destinations. Spot it soon in Ibiza (Spain), Porto Cervo (Italy), Hvar (Croatia) and Mykonos (Greece).

Where to enjoy Mumm in London:

Disclosure: I was sent samples of Mumm Grand Cordon  by Pernod-Ricard France to taste. All opinions are my own.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Loire Valley Wines: Muscadet Magic

It's Saturday 4.30 a.m. in South London and the mobile phone rings. It's our driver waiting to take us to our next adventure to the not so glamorous, but extremely fascinating and historic Billingsgate market, a fish market on the other side of town in East London.
As I get out  the front door, it is foggy as I get into our carriage, I easily fall asleep in a light hazy dream.  I could still hear the faint noise of traffic.  Suddenly, visions of scallops and bacon sarnies and builders tea rounds seemed quite surreal. Piggy's greasy spoon cafe inside Billingsgate Market is noisy and weary. And it was taken over by bloggers by 6:30 a.m.!

Next, I  feel a hand guiding me as we dived into the market and encountered some fantastic sea creatures, and some very agitated fishmongers; "They've been working since 2:30 a.m.," I heard someone whispering behind me.

We heard some great tales about the market and how the river Thames used to be the center of fish trade in London; by the 19th century, Billingsgate was then the biggest fish market in the world.  We were surrounded by fish and crustaceans from all over the world!  The vibrant energy coming from both the fishmongers and the customers of all nationalities and walks of life was almost palpable.

Billingsgate Market


The seaside smells impregnated our boots and clothing.  The wet floors were a bit dangerous at times, and we glided like we were on an ice skating rink, as I recall.  After what seemed like ages, going around and around the market stalls, a sense of excitement began to take over me. We got some fabulous, fresh seafood for our lunch, but before we left, we participated in a crash course on cleaning prawns, gutting and filleting fish, and cooking lobster.  I looked at my watch, and it was 11 a.m.; it all seemed so unreal.  I had been up since 4 a.m.!

squid and Nancy, the Canadian Lobster - Denise's best friend!

Eventually we were brought back to shore, around Old Street; at Central Street Cookery School where everything was in place for the 50-minute marathon cooking event, including an engaging and pleasant Muscadet wine tasting.  Muscadet is such an underrated wine. It's a perfect pairing for oysters and seafood because their clean, fresh, floral, lemon, and sometimes so tropical notes, like pineapple, can depend on Muscadet.

Back to the competition...there were nine pairs of bloggers taking part in the competition for the best fish or seafood recipe to match with the Muscadet wine.  With my partner in wine and crime, Denise Medrano, a.k.a. The Wine Sleuth, we came up with a tasty dish, or so we thought.

Seafood  incl lobster soup

More Muscadet wine degustation issued with our plates was being judged and dissected. I remember vaguely being told that our dish was good, but it was not good enough to win the competition. Then more Muscadet sipping took place until early or late Saturday afternoon, but I can't quite recall.

I woke up Sunday at an undisclosed hour, still in disbelief that all the above happened! Yes, it did, and it's all down to the delicious Muscadet wines that pair so well with fish and seafood. Cheers!

More about Muscadet: Here

Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X
Disclosure: I was a guest at Billinsgate Market tour and this event was sponsored by Sopexa and Loire Valley Wines/Muscadet, with expert presentation of Mr Douglas Blyde
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