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Make Mine a Martini

Make Mine a Martini

September 1, 2014

Come next month, your beach-read addled brain will, no doubt, be crying out for some intellectual stimuli. So we’ve found you a suitably improving tome. No don’t stop reading… it involves alcohol.

Make Mine a Martini by cool food writer and broadcaster Kay Plunkett-Hogge is a round-up of 80 of her favourite cocktails and 50 delicious canapés compiled as a guide to planning the perfect party. Recipes from her favourite bar smiths around the globe include everything from the Martini to the Margarita alongside mouth-watering bites such as Vodka & Caraway Cured Salmon, Pork Crackling with Rosemary & Fennel and Cervice Shots plus plenty of boozy stories and anecdotes.

A former model agent and movie co-ordinator, Plunkett-Hogge also runs a bespoke catering company for the fashion industry, Kay Cooks For You – the ‘You’ being clients including photographer Alasdair McLellan, titles such as UK and American Glamour and French Vogue and brands from River Island to Stella McCartney.

Sure to leave you shaken and perhaps a little stirred…

Published by Mitchell Beazley from 1 September

Posted by Stephanie Hirschmiller at 10:36 am | Comments »
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Dan Loftin

The Great British Cook Off

August 29, 2014

What could be better than a chef cooking for you? Two chefs cooking for you and battling for your approval that’s what. Oh and the profits going to Action Against Hunger too.

Happening over at Almeida, The Great British Cook Off will take place on the 29th September and will see host head chef Tommy Boland sharpening his knives, making his chef whites extra white and cranking up the heat as he prepares to take on head chef Dan Loftin from sister restaurant Kensington Place. Each will be cooking up 3 dishes: one meat, one fish and one sweet dish which diners will score out of 10 not knowing who has cooked what, it’s all very Great British Menu-esque.  

Dishes include wild rabbit terrine with pickled carrots, rabbit liver parfait, sorrel and hazelnuts, fillet of turbot with peas, herb gnocchi, palourde clams and samphire and Amalfi lemon with meringue and raspberries, but we can’t possible tell you which chef is behind each dish – we don’t want to sway any opinions/it’s top secret.

Drinks are provided by Boutique Brands including GVine G&T Martini with reduced grape tonic on arrival created by Kensington Place’s bar manager Imants Zusmanis. Food critic Joe Warwick will be hosting the event, presenting a range of live and silent auctions and providing an interactive running commentary of Tommy and Dan as they work hard in the kitchens.

Let’s just hope they cook fairly – we don’t want any sabotage. 

www.endhunger.actionagainsthunger.org.uk

Posted by Emily Gray at 10:42 am | Comments »
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Chef at the open plan kitchen in Vauxhall pub The Black Dog

The Black Dog Review

August 28, 2014

By all appearances The Black Dog in Vauxhall looks like any other pub, even inside it rocks a kind of shabby chic design with tables crammed just a little too tightly together but this is where the drawbacks end.

It is always a sign of a confident kitchen team when the kitchen is open plan, as you can combine a perfect opportunity to snoop on the cleanliness and preparation of your food with a pre-meal show. They should be confident as the food, although simple, is surprisingly good with fresh flavours coming through easily and as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Cauliflower and Cheese soup is a great take on a classic English dish, and although scalding on arrival, was delicious when it cooled. There is nothing better in my mind than taking something healthy and deep-frying it so thumbs up for the Courgette Fritters starter spiced up with a sweet chilli sauce.

The mains feature dishes like ‘Ginger Pig’ Toulouse sausages with mash potato and Savoy cabbage, and Lemon sole served with beurre noisette and new potatoes. The staff throughout the night is friendly and helpful and the venue was buzzing all night, as for every customer that finished and left, a steady stream was headed in.

We ended the night with a delicious Pecan Pie with cream, and Brownie with the correct squidge factor required of a faultless brownie. The Black Dog is located a 5 minute walk from Vauxhall station and even has a garden, when (if) the sun shines you can also take-away any of the food and drink from the pub across the road to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens – not a made up name. Be aware the pub is only open on Saturdays for private bookings though!

www.theblackdogvauxhall.com

Posted by Charlotte Knight at 10:39 am | Comments »
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Mont Blanc Chalet

You’re going skiing and you want decadence? Well prepare for an opulent overload with the launch of the most luxurious chalet. Ever.

Yes that’s right, ever and it’s brought to you by Consensio Chalets, Chalet Mont Blanc is opening in the French resort of Megève on the Jaillet Piste. This isn’t just some log cabin though, oh no it has ski in and ski out access and 7 en-suite bathrooms (which sleep 12 adults and 4 children); but let’s get to the super fancy stuff. Like the fact that it comes with a chauffeur, an infinity pool, calming spa, hammam, hair salon and an indoor pool with jet streams, cool huh?  Oh and a nonchalant helipad.

After a day on the slopes or (if you’re like us a day in the chalet’s spa) then it’s time for cocktails on your mezzanine floor bar, or revel in the glory that is your home cinema whilst your private chef prepares your dinner using wines from your own private wine cellar, obviously. Little ones are looked after by The Consensio Little Concierge who will fill their holiday with pizza making classes, snowman building competitions and crazy snow dances – is there an age restriction?

www.consensioholidays.co.uk

Posted by Emily Gray at 10:26 am | Comments »
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Grass Roots

I hate to break it to you but autumn is coming, it’s just around the corner, waiting to pounce. So it’s time to give summer a send-off until its return next year and what better way to celebrate the wonderful British summer than with a four course meal? 

Step in Caravan in Exmouth Market with their Grass Roots event happening on the 8th September who are doing just that. For their second quarterly dining session they will be serving a four course feast championing seasonal, home-grown and local ingredients, using ingredients from King’s Cross Skip Garden, a community garden charity youth project which grows fruit and vegetables for local cafes and restaurants.

Hosted by Caravan’s Executive Chef and Co-founder, Miles Kirby, the night will include live music on the terrace and a Skip Garden Honey Cocktail on arrival before guests sit down to dishes such as Salmon ceviche with pickled radish, chilli, lime, furikake, popcorn black rice, along with hearty mains including Grilled Welsh lamb leg with charred spring onions and aubergine relish and to finish the night, puddings will include Semolina cake served with Skip Garden honey, rosemary cream and seasonal berries. To go with the meal they will also be serving up bespoke cocktails including the Border Herb Martini which uses herbs grown in Caravan’s own herb garden.

So make the most of the last of the long summer evenings, dance to the DJ sets on the Exmouth Market Terrace, indulge in the cocktails and dig in to the food… summer isn’t quite done yet.

Grass Roots at Caravan Exmouth Market on Monday 8th September is £38 per person. Sittings will be at 7pm, 7.30pm or 8pm, and with only 50 places available, booking is essential. Tickets: 020 7833 8115 / restaurant@caravanonexmouth.co.uk

www.caravanonexmouth.co.uk

Posted by Emily Gray at 10:46 am | Comments »
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Walk in the clouds with Bompas & Parr Glaceau Smartwater launch

We  all know the English weather has been a massive let down since the start of ‘summer’ but now Bompas & Parr want to bring the storm inside to celebrate the launch of Glacéau Smartwater in the UK! You might remember Smartwater from US ambassador Jennifer Anniston proudly brandishing bottles of water in her ads, well now the fancy hydrator has made its way to our shores and we are celebrating in an unusual way.

Prepare to look at h2o in a whole new light with an immersive, multi-sensory journey through the clouds (yes, indoor clouds) as you experience the excitement and electricity of an indoor thunderstorm. Apart from getting to see, hear, taste, smell and touch one of nature’s most overlooked creations up close, there will be special guests and talks throughout the day including one from Europe’s only water sommelier (betcha didn’t even know that was a job) from 8.45am.

The Glacéau Smartwater launch takes place tomorrow at The Dairy Art Centre, RSVP tosmartwatervip@exposure.net to attend.

Posted by Charlotte Knight at 10:14 am | Comments »
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The Bingham, Richmond

The Bingham's Mystery Menu

August 26, 2014

So you want to go out for dinner, you choose a restaurant, book a table and peruse the menu so you know exactly what you want to order beforehand. Well it’s time to think again, throw caution to the wind and live on the edge, because The Bingham have created a mystery menu where you have no idea what you might be served, how many courses there are, and what you might drink.

With The Handbook being risk takers (although with chef, Mark Jarvis at the helm you know it’s going to be good) we signed up and headed over to Richmond to see what was in store. Having told them what we liked and didn’t like (vegetarians, vegans, pescetarians and anyone with allergies don’t panic they take it all into account) they rustled up a menu using the freshest seasonal ingredients.

We started with the most delicious, creamiest black summer truffle risotto with baby leeks and celery before moving on to organic salmon, compressed cucumber and purple potato. The salmon had been slow cooked in a warm bath so that it was the most beautifully succulent and tender salmon we had had in a long time.

Next up was roast Anjou quail, baby carrots, fig and a truffle honey glaze before meltingly good American grass fed beef, turnip puree and oyster mushrooms which was served with a glass of Clarendelle rouge 2006.

To finish it was caramelised pineapple, coffee crumble and coffee ice cream with a glass of sweet Canadian ice wine before English cheeses and white port. The food could not be faulted and the concept is a wonderful idea, especially as it forces you to try something different and to steer away from your usual order, in my case burgers. The only thing I would say is that the balance of alcohol to food was a little off with there being much more drink than food (which is quite unusual!) also not knowing how many courses and drinks would be served did leave us wondering how much we should drink of each – if in doubt go for all, you can always book a room at the hotel for the night! 

www.thebingham.co.uk

Posted by Emily Gray at 10:56 am | Comments »
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The Colour Palate Review

The Colour Palate Review

August 22, 2014

On Wednesday The Handbook headed down to the launch of new Marylebone venue, Carousel, and Art of Dining’s latest pop-up experience The Colour Palate. The idea behind it is theming your food with colour, each course corresponds with a colour and relevant music, think mellow yellow for the yellow course.

The downstairs room of Carousel has an industrial feel with white walls and stone floors which worked well as a blank canvas for the colour changes. The evening begins with a green theme; coloured lights flood the room and the first course, quail wrapped in a vine leaf served with spinach, is served on a green plate. The exciting part happens when the next course changes and the new light submerges diners while the green plants are removed from the banquet style tables in lieu of a white candelabra. We are then invited to rip off the green paper tablecloth to reveal a white one underneath, this theme continues after each course revealing different coloured tablecloths. The most immersive of the colours had to be the black where the lights go out and the waitresses bring your food to you on black plates with headlamps on to guide them.

The food throughout the night was to a high standard and ended on a high note with a delicious orange polenta cake served with apricot. The only let down would be the music provided by Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney which had clichés songs that you might imagine, Back to Black for…you guessed it, the black course. It would have served well to have songs that evoked an emotional response to each course, a gothic opera for the black course or an uplifting melody for yellow would have really set the scene. The chatter of people enjoying themselves was so loud that the lyrics of the music were basically lost anyway.

Tickets are available on the website at £50 per person. Runs Wednesday 20th - Saturday 23rd, Wednesday 27th - Saturday 30th August & Wednesday 2nd - 6th September.

www.theartofdining.co.uk

Posted by Charlotte Knight at 10:57 am | Comments »
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Eclipse Crackbaby Carnival

So it’s Sunday,  you’ve been to the carnival and now you’re ready for serious night of cocktails, dancing and drums, because hey there is no work on Monday. Well we have just the ticket, as Eclipse are bringing the carnival to Walton Street until the early hours of Monday morning .

Their DJs will be playing a mix of jungle and house alongside live per percussion all night so you can carry on dancing whilst drinking their infamous Crackbaby shots.  Oh and as it’s carnival fancy dress is encouraged, the staff will all be dressed in their finest carnival gear so make sure you join them. If you need a bit of inspiration then they have a makeup artist on hand and they’ll be opening up the Eclipse costume box!

To book a table for the night email chelsea@eclipsebars.com  otherwise just turn up on the night! 

www.eclipsebars.com

Posted by Emily Gray at 10:40 am | Comments »
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Boujis

Boujis' Ibiza Party

August 21, 2014

Why don’t you change things up this Bank Holiday Weekend? Be spontaneous, live a little, seize the day, you get our drift… and rather than going out in London head to Ibiza instead for the legendary Boujis party?

Returning for its 11th year this Saturday it is the best way to kick off your three day weekend party. They’re heading away from the beaches and up to a unique underground club in the exclusive Cova Santa tucked away in the mountains.  The line-up includes Stef Manni, Tom Crane and Rob Marmot as well as a special guest DJ which is yet to be announced!

Advanced tickets include unlimited bottles of Champagne, vodka and the infamous Boujis Crackbaby shots or go for the ultimate Daddy Table which includes  four  Dom Perignon Magnums and unlimited Jeroboams of Vodka and as well as Crackbaby shots! Ibiza we're coming for you. 

www.boujis.com

Posted by Emily Gray at 10:48 am | Comments »
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