Tuesday, 21 December 2010



Dego’ is a brand new degustation restaurant at Oxford Circus, the brainchild of a talented Italian sommelier, Massimo Mioli, with one of the best Italian wine lists in London. Together with the executive chef, Dario Schiavo, who has worked with Michelin star chefs Gualtiero Marchesi and Alain Ducasse, Massimo imports 80% of the wines on the list directly from Italy and is passionate about great and unusual food and wine combinations. Many high quality wines are also served by the glass. Dego’ is going places, so we are fortunate to experience this new restaurant whilst it’s still new. Beautifully styled with a modern urban design with black lacquer, deep reds and leather mosaics for the wall coverings, the interior is chic and welcoming.
For this first event at Dego’, we are showcasing the wines of Franciacorta, and although I don’t yet have confirmation, I am also hoping to bring you a guest speaker from the winery. Franciacorta is both a splendid region of Lombardy and the name of the wines made here. Famous throughout the world, the wines bear the highest DOCG classification, obtained in 1965 when Franciacorta was the first Italian wine produced exclusively by bottle refermentation. Only 10 designations in the whole of Europe enjoy this privilege, and of those 10, only three are obtained by refermentation in bottle: Cava, Champagne and Franciacorta. Tonight you will learn the difference between Prosecco and Franciacorta, and enjoy a Prosecco di Conegliano Extra Dry with the canapés, followed by a Prosecco Brut DOCG Borgo Antico, Franciacorta Brut DOCG Cuvette, and Demisec DOCG Rose’. The wines are accompanied by a three course dinner, including an ancient and traditional Vicenza dish.

The all-inclusive price for the event is £40 for current members, four wines, canapés and three courses, service and VAT. Please book soon in order to secure your space at this very special event . If you know someone who wants to attend and is not on email, please ask them to get in touch with me and I will do the rest

Thursday, 9 December 2010


If you enjoy the tradition of Christmas, it’s time to indulge in the party spirit of the festive season and lift the mood with the delicious menus on offer at The Saracen’s Head, High Street, Great Dunmow, available from 1 to 23 December.

This charming coaching inn has been impressing the locals for sometime with its high standards of locally sourced food, and Christmas will be no exception, with turkeys and sausages coming from prized local village butcher Sweetlands. Bring yourself or all your friends, come with a colleague or with the whole office, have a relaxed meal or book a party, The Saracen’s Head has something for everyone.

What’s more, if you book a pre-Christmas party before 8 November, your name will go into a draw to win a meal for two during the month of January.

With three richly adorned Christmas trees, for the bar, the restaurant, and for the Flitch private dining room which can accommodate parties of up to 25, the atmosphere is just magic. And beware of the mistletoe, unless a Christmas kiss from the innkeeper is what you are after……

A scrumptious pre-Christmas, three course meal is just £15 per person at lunch, or £20 at dinner, with children under 12 years of age paying £5 less. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are turned into tasty dishes of Royal game pie of pheasant and venison in a rich red wine sauce, a lighter Oven baked salmon with a prawn sauce, not forgetting the Traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings. Leave some room for the Old English treacle tart with Chantilly cream, or the White chocolate crème brulee.

The popular bar offers a fine selection of wines, real ales and spirits, and the charming beamed restaurant is the ideal choice for Christmas Day lunch. Here, the talented kitchen team will be serving up a menu at choice to include Seared scallop on pork belly with a pea puree, Fillet of beef Wellington, Traditional roast turkey, or Baked sea bass fillets with fish bisque for fish lovers, as well as vegetarian choices. From a tempting dessert selection, indulge in White chocolate and Baileys cheese cake, or try the English cheeses from the board. Pull a Christmas cracker too! All this for £55 per person, with children under 12 paying £25.

This Grade II-listed coaching inn, which his believed to date back to 1560, is opposite the old Market Place in the heart of the market town that was once a Roman settlement. It has an impressive 18th century façade along with a mix of Georgian and Tudor-style architecture and its warm, welcoming interior is ideal to enjoy time together over a meal. Located close to the M11 and Stansted Airport, The Saracen’s Head is at High Street, Great Dunmow, Essex CM6 Tel 01371 873 901. Open every day. Info@thesaracens-head.com www.bespokehotels.com


Sourcing food locally is chicken feed for this award-winning Wiltshire inn. They do it in the back garden!

Cutting down on ‘food miles’ and sourcing food locally is what most responsible bars and restaurants do today. But at The Horse & Groom in Charlton, nr Malmesbury, Wiltshire, using local produce takes on a whole new meaning.

Here guests are invited to the back garden to search for their own freshly laid eggs at breakfast, as this popular inn has added a dozen chickens to their team! The staff are on hand to fetch the free-range eggs, but nevertheless some guests have embraced the idea with gusto. Every day, the chickens lay enough eggs to cater for breakfast, with eggs left over used in the preparation of other dishes.

Probably the freshest food offer in Wiltshire, raising chickens is the brainchild of resident manager Emma Dall, a lady of action when it comes to serving good, fresh, local food. Cosy in their chicken house at night, the chickens are free to roam during the day, and are kept in a happy and natural environment. ‘These are super healthy chickens’ she says, because we feed them our own fresh vegetable leftovers from the kitchen, and we also waste less by recycling some of our food waste organically’
Now Emma wants her chickens named, and is inviting the locals to suggest 12 names, offering a meal for two with champagne as a reward for the best suggestions. Look out for the ‘Name the Chickens’ suggestion box at the bar.

Emma has just introduced a great two-course menu for £10, available Monday to Saturday at lunch and featuring pub classics such as Home cooked ham with free range eggs and hand cut chips, Traditional beer battered cod and Butternut squash and rocket risotto. No prizes for guessing where the eggs come from! Fired up by the success of her fresh eggs, Emma has already planned a herb garden, which will be fully ready by next Spring, so that fresh herbs grown on site will be used in the cooking of the many dishes The Horse & Groom is rightly famous for. A vegetable patch is also planned.

Winner of the Wiltshire Life Pub/Restaurant award in 2009, the Horse & Groom continues to impress with its standard of food and service, and for its many initiatives. The Horse & Groom Inn is at The Street, Charlton, Nr Malmesbury, Wiltshire SN16 9DL, Tel: 01666 823904, just a few miles from both junctions 16 and 17 on the M4. Open every day. www.bespokehotels.com


Make this year’s Christmas party something totally different at The Carnarvon Arms in Burghclere, nr Highclere Castle. Particularly popular with the smaller groups wanting the big party atmosphere, The Carnarvon Arms’ Shared Christmas Parties offer everything you are looking for: good food, great atmosphere, Christmas novelties, dancing – and a keen price.

Held from Thursday to Saturday until 23 December, these shared parties for a minimum of 10 people are ideal for the smaller company, individual offices and groups of friends. Keenly priced at £35 per head in the evening, inclusive of a three course meal, coffee and home-made mince pies, DJ music, dancing and Christmas novelties, there is no organisation to look after, just book your table and share in the fun – you may even end up making new friends across the room. Or stay the night, and the whole package will cost you just £60 per person inclusive of breakfast.

Lunchtime parties without music are also available at £25 per head and of course there is a choice of individual packages for larger bookings.

Christmas Day lunch is a delectable choice of traditional and modern dishes in true Carnarvon Arms style, famed for its excellent cuisine based on locally sourced produce. There is Roast Partridge, Crab and Avocado Tian, Confit Duck Rillettes, Traditional roast turkey, Roast belly of pork and much more to choose from, plus dessert or a selection of local cheeses. Priced at £69.95 per person with children up to 16 years paying just £30, the menu also includes a glass of champagne on arrival, and offers two lunchtime sittings.

If you have spent Christmas Day at home, you will be ready to enjoy an outing. Save the leftovers for sandwiches on another day and head for The Carnarvon Arms for a freshly cooked Boxing Day lunch at £35 per person. Too good to miss.

See the New Year in and celebrate in total style with a champagne reception, a five course feast, dancing to the resident band and then staying the night, with a champagne brunch on New Year’s Day. All this for just £120 per person in a twin or double room.

The preferred location for the crew and cast of the successful period series Downton Abbey filmed at nearby Highclere Castle, The Carnarvon Arms pays homage to its illustrious neighbour in style and décor, which is inspired by the castle’s Egyptian collection brought back by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. With an ornate fireplace, the overall effect is warm, welcoming and traditional. The Carnarvon Arms, Winchester Road, Whitway, Burghclere, Nr Newbury RG20 9LE Tel: 01635 27822. Also check www.bespokehotels.com


Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat but don’t get stressed if you have been charged with planning the office ‘do’ or a bash with family and friends. Whether you are looking for a small and intimate celebration or a large fun-filled gathering, The Black Boy Inn in Milton, Banbury, offers just what you are looking for.

Whilst head chef Kevin Hodgkiss gets ready to wrap 3,000 Roast turkey parcels in pancetta – one of the best sellers, and stuff over 5,000 Field mushrooms with ricotta, spinach and sun blushed tomatoes – a deliciously popular starter, you can just relax, put in your booking and turn up on the day to enjoy.

And if the tantalising menus weren’t enough, those who book and confirm a Christmas party night for a minimum of four people before the end of November, will automatically be entered into a draw to win a coveted Wii video game console, worth over £150.

The winner will be announced on New Year’s Day, when the Black Boy Inn will be open as usual to welcome his guests, and wish one customer in particular an extra special Happy New Year. Whether you win the game for yourself, or chose to give it to a family member or a friend, someone is going to be extra happy on the first day of 2011. Even if you are not a winner, you can still celebrate New Year’s Day at The Black Boy with a special lunch at just 25 per head.

The Christmas Party Menus at The Black Boy Inn are an inviting £19.95 at lunch and £24.95 at dinner, for three courses, with coffee and home made mince pies. Ring the changes from the traditional fare with Smoked trout and beetroot salsa, or Pan-seared fillets of plaice and crayfish sauce, and leave room for dessert. Try the award-winning Christmas pudding, or the Mulled wine poached per with vanilla ice cream or the Warm apple turnover with cinnamon and honeycomb ice cream.

And don’t forget Christmas Day lunch at £59.95 per person, a four-course meal with coffee and mince pies, served around the woodstove in the idyllic surroundings of this 16th century inn, full of character and tradition. The Black Boy Inn is in Milton, on the Milton Road, Banbury, Oxon OX15 4HH Tel: 01295, 722111. Open every day. Also check www.bespokehotels.com


It's that time of the year again and I remember some of the Christmases spent with my relatives. If we went to a restaurant it would be somewhere in the mountains, restuarants with big windows from which you could see stags leap around whilst you were having your meal. Magic. But also magic was getting together at home around the table (one of the relatives in Ivrea, where I used to love to go, had La Cantinetta - a cellar which had been turned into a basement dining room, fully equipped and with a vey very long table. Here we would have La Tavolata, there would be about 20-25 people all sitting around, and the food would just come out, be put on the table, and everyone helped themselves. And the food kept coming and coming. Also magic.

I have found that same thing here in London, at Spaghetti House of all places, where they have this lovely Tavolata with around 8 courses, all put on the table, and half a litre of wine per person for around £20 - crazy. To be snapped up immediately. And the food is not just pasta - there are a lot of dishes that come out from the kitchen, including a lovely dessert. Give it a go. just google Spaghetti House to find them.


New discoveries of the Sicilian wine kind were on offer at Dego' new degustation restaurant at Oxford Circus last night. Three autoctonos (indigenous) white varieties, and three red. The whites included Inzolia, Grecanico and Grillo. All very high quality, the first two from Caruso & Minini from the 2009 vintage. But the Grillo was probably my favourite. This was a 2007 Sicilia Bianco Grillo IGT from Fazio. Their vineyards cover an area of about 100 hectars planeted on hills at an ideal altitute between 250 and 500 metres. The microclimate is excellent (northernly winds and sea breezes) and the soil is poor, causing the roots to go deep down thus increasing the quality of the wine. Grillo is quite a serious wine with peach and pear on the nose, some pineapple, and an almondy finish. In another life, I would compare it to the 'style' of a good Mersault, luscious, deep gold yet dry and layered. Lovely.
Of the reds the tipical Nero D'Avola could not be missed, followed by Frappato and Nerello. The 2009 Sicilia Rosso Frappato IGT from COS impressed me no end. Byodinamically produced, no alterations are made in the wine, not even in bad vintages, as the aim is to let the wine speak for itself and tell its own story. This company even ages teh wine in ceramic amphoras, in an effort to preserve the purity of this traditional grape. It was quite light in colour, with notes of almond and straw, with a brisk and decisive palate and a concentration of fruit. A cool red wine. Read more tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 November 2010



‘Tis the season to be indulgent…and healthy too!

You know it’s almost Christmas as lunchtimes have suddenly become a lot more exciting. Sandwiches come with Turkey and Cranberry stuffing, tempting mince pies abound, but at what cost for the waistline? It is refreshing to know that you can tuck into gorgeous Christmas food knowing that is actually good for you, and without counting the calories. Christmas has never tasted so good at Tossed, the healthier eating place at Westfield London, W12. Shop ‘till you drop for all those Christmas presents, and when you need a break head for Tossed in the Balcony area, overlooking the stunning atrium.

For £12 including a glass of festive Möet & Chandon champagne and a Christmas cracker, discover pure indulgence without the guilt. The ultimate treat for a Christmas lunch ‘on the go’, Santa’s salad at Tossed is a very tasty combination of turkey, pigs in blankets, sage and onion stuffing, roast parsnip and potatoes, carrots, cranberry yoghurt served on mixed leaves freshly tossed in French dressing. It’s high in protein, low in calories and saturated fats (just 2.4g), with no added salt and nutritionally balanced, and at only 547 calories for a very large serving, this is where health meets pleasure…. in a bowl. Or ask for the veggie version, same price, 468 calories.

Pull the cracker quickly, because this is no ordinary cracker. Many of the crackers offered with Santa’s salad contain vouchers for tasty treats from the Tossed counter, from freshly made smoothies, freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices, to frozen yoghurt desserts, redeemable on the spot or on another occasion at Tossed Westfield only.

The Christmas salads are also available at all other Tossed in the West End’s high streets, selling at £5.95 for a large portion without alcoholic drinks (£5.25 for the veggie option).

Taking healthy eating to a whole new level with its upscale healthier foods, Tossed counts calories and nutritional content, ditches mayo and uses low GI carbs. It’s just that you wouldn’t know it because everything tastes so good. Packed with superfoods and protein, the quality, presentation and creativity of Tossed’s healthy choices is on a par with those found in restaurants.

Find Tossed at: 31-33 Baker Street, W1J 8EJ, Tel:020 7486 8555; 47 Mortimer Street W1W 8HR Tel 0208 616 1187; 10 Sheldon Square, Paddington Central, W2 6EZ Tel 020 7289 2516; 101 St Martin’s Lane, Soho, WC2N 4AZ Tel 0207 240 3599; Tossed @ The Qube, 101-106 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 5AB Tel: 020 7998 6454; Westfield London Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, White City, W12 7GE Tel: 020 8740 9613. Just in time for Christmas a new Tossed opens in the City at Leadenhall Street in mid December. www.tosseduk.com

Monday, 22 November 2010


Great News! One of my favourite new restaurants was in the Telegraph Weekend and in the Sunday Telegraph as part of the new 'Eat Out' promotion. They are offering a two course meal for £15, with two Telegraph tokens. Really worth trying out if you have not yet been, great wines by the glass (it's a degustation restaurant after all) and rather good food! Go now.


Luisa Welch Restaurant Guru: DEGO' IS HERE - DEGUSTATION RESTAURANT: "I dont get the time to write as much as I would like on my blog these days, but when I come across something as special as Dego' - I simply ..."

Dego on Urbanspoon

Friday, 12 November 2010


I dont get the time to write as much as I would like on my blog these days, but when I come across something as special as Dego' - I simply have to make an exception.

Dego’ (with an accent on the o) and is at Portland House, 4 Great Portland Street, London W1V 8QJ Tel 020 7636 2207.

(2 minutes walk from Oxford Circus Tube).

It is a degustation restaurant Deg = degustation 0 = osteria. Osteria meant in the modern urban sense, not the old fashioned osteria with wooden tables and Chianti flasks hanging from the ceiling. Osteria in Italy is becoming a trendy word again, and in today’s urban Italian environment has come to mean a new interpretation of what in England we would call ‘wine bar’ – just far more sophisticated.

Behind the concept is a sommelier, Massimo Mioli, whose passion for good and unusual wines really shows on the wine list. He comes from a family of restaurateurs. Together with three partners who have also been his friends since childhood, they came to London and opened Dego’. The head chef is Dario Schiavo, young and highly talented, having already worked with Alain Ducasse and Gualtiero Marchesi. His food is quite different, both in texture, flavour combinations and style. His Suckling pig fillet with bacon served with steamed mixed vegetables and Barolo sauce is already a hit, but even something simple like chocolate ice cream tastes like velvety melted ganduja, because of the way it’s made. The food changes regularly, so if and when you go, these dishes may no longer be on the menu.

Massimo chooses the wines personally, and many are imported directly from Italy for Dego’. He is a lover of Franciacorta and takes great pleasure in explaining to customers the difference between Prosecco and Franciacorta. The Refosco from Pierpaolo Pecorari impressed me no end. Obviously coming from North East Italy, he has selected the best from the area, but you will also find the more unusual wines from the south, such as Pecorino and Falerno. He has even built a humidity controlled cellar to store his wines correctly.

Upstairs, Dego’ is a degustation bar, with many wines by the glass, all served in 125 cl for the perfect degustation experience, along with freshly cut salumi, blue goats cheese and burrata. They are also developing a ‘tramenizzeria’. (bit of a mouthful, literally), eg a place where you taste tramezzini, which are the dainty, crustless sandwiches you get in the best bars in Italy.

Downstairs is an a-la-carte restaurant and cocktail bar, with an even more extensive wine list. Based on Northern Italian food and taking its inspiration from the towns of Venice and Vicenza, the menu changes frequently to reflect the best and freshest market availability. Here, a big feature will be the ‘bigoli’, a hand made pasta from Vicenza which will be twisted at the table, before being cooked.

The décor is very sleek and elegant, styled around a red and black theme mixing lacquer, leather mosaics and soft textures on the wall for a really stunning effect. Wine buckets are inset into the tables for a striking effect, and the super modern, space-style lights add a touch of futuristic glamour.

The wine bar upstairs is open from 12 to 23.00 and the restaurant is open from 12 to 3.30 and 6 to midnight Monday to Thursday, and 6 to 0.30 Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday (but they might open for a few Sundays in the run up to Christmas, they are too new to gauge the demand for a Sunday opening just yet).

For the full wine list, current menu and more information you can also check www.degowinebar.co.uk (don’t be put off by the word wine bar, because it’s nothing like a wine bar).

Thursday, 16 September 2010


It's that time of the year again, and the great idea of a coffee morning paying a few pennies for your coffee, donating the money to Mcmillan, has grown into an initiative which last year raised 7.8m in the UK alone.
This year the charity is aiming to raise £8m, so we need to drink a little more coffee.

And when the coffee is as good as you find it at Tossed, the healthier eating venue, this is no hardship. With a triple certification of organic, fairtrade and freshly roasted to order, this is a coffee to relish - whether you take it as an americano,a cappuccino or an expresso or even a latte if you really must. What Tossed are doing on the 24th is to offer coffee and a toastie for just £2.95 - an incredible bargain,a great way to eat healthily as the toasties are low fat and high protein, and raising money for McMillan. there are six Tossed venues in London at Westfield, St Martins Lane, Tottneham Court Road, Baker Street, PaddingtonCentral, and the new Mortimer Street. See you there!

Monday, 6 September 2010


Hello everyone, starting today Spaghetti House if offering all pasta dishes at £1 - anythign from the delicious linguine con gamberoni which normally sells a t £11.95 to anything else is just £1. you book on line on www.spaghettihouse.co.uk and there are 55 dishes to be had at this price, at 5 of the main Spaghetti House restaurants, lunch and dinner, every day from 6 to 10 September. Whn it's gone it's gone, so book early, from 9 am every morning this week.
And from today until 30 September you can have any dish from the special anniversary menu at £5.55 each. When you eat from this menu, you are given a voucher for £5.55 to come back another time. Not bad for an offer, tell your friends

Friday, 27 August 2010


Braving yet another rainstorm, I made my way to Knightbridge for a meal I had been looking forward to for sometime: Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. With its own entrance from the street, the feeling is sheer luxury, but in a relaxed way. It's just so good to be welcomed by people who seem genuinely pleased to see you. Pre- bank holiday, and the bar was buzzing, full to the brim, with people eating at the bar from the bar menu and at the informal bar tables. I loved the bar, which is a spectacle per se. A spray perfume bottle contains vermouth, with which the glass is sprayed to make the driest martini, and there is also a jar of olive brine for a dirty martini, and all sorts of other little containers. The barman is a mine of information too. House champagne is Ayala, delightfully dry and crisp. Simple nuts are served, but the mixture is the best, salty and sweet, for a great flavour. Moving onto the restaurant, this is everything I would want from a dining room. The kitchen in full view, so that I see what's going on but I dont hear anything. Tables large enough not to have to push the salt and pepper on the edge. Chairs and banquettes which are actually comfortable. Then in walks the lovely Brian Turner OBE, one of my favourite chefs, probably just back from South Africa, with a great tan and looking very fit - the new slimmer line figures really suits him. He is here too, good sign. We say hello, so nice to see him. The menu is very well conceived, with sharing dishes, hot and cold appetizers, and the famous cured meat board. Good to see a meat slicer, meaning that everything is freshly sliced for the best flavour. The board offers not just sliced meats, but press' of rabbit, and a sausage tasting. We opt for the small portion of seafood and share that: delicately blanched cauliflower, carrot and haricot verts, accompany a plump scallop, mussels and cockles. Freshly steamed, served with aioli, a perfect start to the meal, and we have a glass of Picpoul de Pinet to accompany this. Wonderful to see some of the more unusual regional French wines on a wine list, which incidentally is very extensive and I love it. Shame that my favourite Washington State Pinot Noir is no longer on the list,there is only the one from Oregon, so we opt for something else to go with the rest of the meal. Attention-grabbing is the Givry, at £66, but in the we opt for the complex and delicious Rasteau 2006 at around £39. The wonderful spiciness of the Mourvedre comes through, mitigated by the richness of the Syrah aged in oak, giving the wine a slight woody sweetness. A good choice. My Beetroot salad starter with mixed leaves and blanched fennel, with Sardinian caprino, tossed in a flavoursome dressing, is so complex and interesting that I relish every mouthful. My companion's sausage starter - there is a whole sausage section on the menu, in true Daniel Boulud style - looks great and smells divine. Mains see my favourite lamb arrive, saddle and leg, cooked to perfection and beautifully assembled. The other starter is the most massive pot of moules marinieres I have ever seen. I taste one. Plump, juicy, delicately flavoured, a real treat. The signature chips, served in paper and presented in a silver pot, also arrive. We share a simple bitter chocolate torte with caramel ice cream for dessert (which we dont really need but we cannot resist) is bitter-sweet and almost digestive. Another good choice. I give this restaurant 99 out of 100, and although I have been fortunate enough to eat in some splendid establishments (Capital Hotel and Waterside Inn will forever be imbedded in my mind) this one is a place I would like to return sooner than later. I absolutely loved it and I do recommed it. The food is quite affordable and they also have a set menu at around £22.50 I think, but the wine is quite expensive. But many wines come by the glass, so if you choose carefully, you dont have to go overbudget. Thank you for coming to London, Daniel Boulud!

Sunday, 22 August 2010


It's Kräftskiva time...Right now the Kräftskiva/Crayfish party season is in full swing in Sweden. The crayfish menu starts on Thursday, August 26 and runs to Saturday, September 18. They will be stocking lots of Swedish Nils Oscar beer, OP Anderson and Skåne Akvavits. The crayfish menu can be ordered for parties down to 4 people, as long as you give them minimum 48 hours notice.
This year the menu features both dill and cumin marinated crayfish, herring with potatoes, smoked salmon canapes, Västebotten cheese with Peter's yard crisp bread and mushroom quiche. You can find the full menu on their website.
To book please write an email to reservations@madsenrestaurant.com - remember to mention you are interested in the crayfish party.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


Annual Ken Hom Lecture 2010
organised by
Ken Hom in conversation with Cherie Blair
The value of social entrepreneurship
Thursday 16th September 2010 at 6:30pm
There is no charge to attend the lecture
Main Lecture Theatre - Oxford Brookes University
Headington Campus, Gypsy Lane
Oxford OX3 0BP
Lecture will be followed by a drinks and canapés
reception in Brookes Restaurant in aid of the Cherie
Blair Foundation for Women.
£20 per head - entry by ticket only
It is our pleasure to invite you to this
year’s Ken Hom Lecture on the
evening of Thursday 16th September.
Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie
Blair Foundation for Women, will
reflect on the power of social
entrepreneurship to transform the lives
of those in developing nations.
We have no doubt that this will be a
very special occasion; one that we
hope you will be part of.
There is no charge to attend the
lecture, but it is essential to book in
advance. Please contact Razia Nabi
tel. 01865 483813) to reserve your
We hope to see you on 16th September 2010.
With best wishes
Ken Hom
Patron, Oxford Gastronomica
Donald Sloan
Chair, Oxford Gastronomica
To book contact Razia Nabi
tel. 01865 483813


Just back from Piedmont,where people were not really celebrating Ferragosto (15 August) this year. This is a tradition not just in Piedmont but all over Italy, it's the biggest Bank Holiday when everyone who is not on holiday already will leave town (as it's usually too hot to do anything) and go to the nearest open space, whether that be the cooler hills, the mountains, a beach or, in Piedmont, by a river. By the way, the trouts are just gorgeous, and we have a neighbour who is a keen fisherman who often shares the catch with my mother and I when I go home. Anyway, this is a story for another time maybe. Back to Ferragosto, and this year the weather went from 35 degrees one day to 15 degrees the next, with torrential rains, monsoons, hail and high winds. And it lasted for four days. Grape picking is only two weeks away, and I have heard some horror stories already, in how some of the best grapes, Nebbiolo and Dolcetto, have been damanged, up to 50% will be lost. Prices are likely to soar next year so stock up on this year's wines from Piedmont (and Lombardy) as next year they will not be so abundant. But it's not all doom and gloom. Bonarda was less affected, and this lesser known wine, which often develops a natural second fermantion in bottle, making it very attractive to drink and beautiful with strong cheeses such as Castelmagno DOP or Gorgonzola Dolce DOP, is still available. The grape has also found a new home in Argentina, where it makes a much 'stronger' and stiller version of the original wine produced in Piedmont, and you will find some very decent Bonarda at Gaucho Grill. But it has nothing to do with the equally heady, but rounder, Bonarda from Piedmont. I do remain concerned about Nebbiolo though.

Friday, 6 August 2010


One of the joys of travelling to Italy is shopping at the many local food markets, and finding all those gorgeous foods hard to get over here. One of them is courgette flowers. Occasionally you can find them at Harrods or at some of the best farmers markets, I think I once bought a few at La Fromagerie in Moxon Street. But at what price! So I always buy them in summer, when I am in Italy, where they are plentiful, cheap and available from mos farmers' market stalls.

You never wash them, you just gently clean them with kitchen paper, and then make a light batter of beaten egg, milk, flour and sea salt (just a pinch). You fry them gently in sunflower oil and that's it, angels dance on your tongue.

If the flowers are just ever so slightly past their peek, you gently cut them and use them in an omelette, either on their own or with sliced baby courgettes previously cooked. I cook the courgettes in the microwave for just a couple of minutes for best results when used to make an omelette.

A courgette flower omelette is the ultimate FERRAGOSTO dish, to take on a picnic. Because 15 August is FERRAGOSTO, the day that everyone eats al fresco in Italy. Bit like a Bank Holiday, but with lots of food!

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Oh what a night! I dont really know how to describe the opening night (for us mortals) at Shaka Zulu, tipped as London's hottest restaurant - hot, it was. Or sometimes extremely cold, depending on whether you caught a blast of air conditioning or not. The queues around the block reminded me of the queues at the Seashell in Lisson Grove - oops, perhaps I should be more trendy and say the queues outside the Hard Rock Cafe'. But when I was young(er) and used to go to the Seashell, the waiters used to come out and give tastings of chips, morsels of fish and other goodies to those in the queues, who would continue to faithfully queue until a table became available. That was PR! Shaka Zulu, you missed trick No. 1! Maybe peanuts are not very typical of South Africa, but a few peanuts at the free (for a time) bar would have helped a lot. Interior wise, this place is absolutely stunning and well worth all the delays they faced when waiting for the statues, the carvings, the walls, to arrive. It is amazing. Should I say this? But it reminded me of central part of Westfield London, where you are on the floor above and you look down into the atrium if you know what I mean. This architectural feature makes the most of the natural height of the building, and there is even an up and down escalator, shopping centre style! Cant wait to go back and see the whole thing in daylight - if there is any daylight, I presume so as the facade is all glass. Really, would love to see it in daylight.
The drinks were gorgeous, very good sparkling South African wine, decent still white wine, and the cocktails looked very interesting. But the queues were far too long. A journalist friend of mine gave up after queuing for half an hour and eventually left without having had a single drink or anything to eat at all. Missed trick No. 2: if you invite 800 people to fill the place, limit the drinks to sparkling and still wine, beer and maybe ONE cocktail (prepared in big batches) if you really want to showcase the cocktail making skill of the barmen (gorgeous staff by the way, and very skilled). But because they did things so well and so properly, every cocktail took 15 minutes to make and this is not on at an opening of this scale. Wish I could tell you about the food dear friends, but I can't - they didnt feed me, or any of the mortals upstairs. The super-mortals who got to do downstairs and share a meal with King Goodwill will have to tell me all about it. At midnight though, some little canapes came out, and I could not help by wonder, are these the left overs? But by that time I was too hungry to care, so I had one deep fried prawn (tail, shell, eyes and all, like a whitebait but it was a fully fledged prawn - not the prettiest of sights) and a skewer of what could have been ostrich meat - very tasty, but on the sweet side, maybe brushed with a honey marinade? South African cuisine is not a cuisine I am very familiar with as yet, but I intend to rectify that sooner than later.
The highlight? Seeing King Goodwill and his wife, what an absolutely charming man, very regal in every sense. And the zulu players, these guys played non-stop for hours, it was mesmerising rather than boring, they must have a hidden code of how one can take a quiet break whilst the other two make more noise, so that it still sounds like three people are drumming and singing. Because it is simply not humanly possible to keep up the beat and the singing for two hours solid. Great bodies too, by the way!
The downlight? For a first night, and of such a scale, I think Shaka Zulu did very well. And maybe they were right to serve nothing to the mere mortals. To serve morsels to the masses may not have achieved the purpose of showcasing Zulu cuisine, which is still largely unknown over here, people may not have understood it.

I am interested in the food. So, anyone willing to join me for food at Shaka Zulu?

I remain unsure of which crowd they are aiming at. Camden party people? Will they spend the money or will they just dance? Will Amy Winehouse become a regular? This place is practically on her doorstep.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


Located in Central London near many theatres, Spaghetti House is a great family choice this summer, and food is free for the kids between 13 August and 3 September

If you are spending summer in the City, enjoying the many London theatres during the action-packed Kids’ Week with all its theatrical fun, you will also need to feed the little ones as well as keeping them entertained.

Family-friendly, informal and welcoming, Spaghetti House makes everyone happy around the table. Mums and dads can enjoy a glass of wine and a plate of pasta, a summer main course salad or a sharing platter, and kids have their own special menu – for free. For every paying adult eating from the a-la-carte menu one child up to the age of 10 eats free from the children’s menu between 13 August and 3 September lunch and dinner, at Spaghetti House 30, St Martin’s Lane WC2 near Trafalgar Square and Spaghetti House 3, Bressenden Place, Victoria SW1.

In Italy it is traditional for children to choose their meal from the ‘grown ups’ menu. Spaghetti House encourages children to eat healthily, developing their taste and their eating experiences as they grow. Children’s menu dishes have been selected form the main menu, they taste the same, but are served in smaller portions. Children love Ceci Calabresi – chickpeas with spicy Italian sausage, Bruschetta with tomato and fresh basil, Chicken Caesar Salad and Brodo di Pollo, shredded smoked chicken with fettuccine, basil oil and peas in a chicken broth. Differently delicious from the chicken and chips too often found on children’s menus, and very healthy too.

So if you are going to the Criterion Theatre close to St Martin’s Lane and showing the 39 Steps, or catching a Billy Elliot matinee at the Victoria Palace Theatre in Victoria, take a refreshing break as there is a Spaghetti House nearby.

Summer in the City has never tasted so good and at an average of £20 for an adult three course meal with wine, school holidays and theatre outings are easy on your pocket too.

Visist www.spaghettihouse.co.uk for other offers and for a full list of restaurants.


Just thought I would post this little preview, as I am holding a wine tasting dinner on MOnday 20 September, with the theme 'Antinor's Italy'. The Antinori family, original from Tuscany, are spreading their wings (or better, their wine roots) to the rest of Italy. With an established reputation for quality Tuscan wines, they are now the 'company' behind many other quality Italian wines, whose winemakers may not have had the money to invest. Antinori have come in, have provided the financial backing to allow many good wines to blossom and prevent other precious ones from disappearing, and cleverly have ensured that the name was not changed. So in Piemonte you now find the delicous Dolcetto from Prunotto backed by Antinori, and in Veneto you find Prosecco from the Antinori's 'estate'. I am not unhappy about this, as I would rather see these autochtonos vines doing well and making good wines than seeing them disappear. I will also present a three course dinner of Italian specialities. Please make a note in your diary now.


There is this bottle of Barolo which has been staring at me for sometime. It's here, in my office, and the excuse for keeping it there is that, at the moment, it's too hot to drink it. It's not superlative as Barolo goes, it's made by Terredavino (which in Italy is a supermarket brand) but here in England is considered quite OK. ANd it's a 1999, Paesi Tuoi, so can't be that bad! I am thinking of home, of my cellar where my late father stored his prized wines so lovingly for so many years. I am thinking of the unlabelled bottles of Barolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo, beautifully lined up like soldiers, with just 'Barolo, 1966' written on it. I also remember opening a bottle once, which must have been 1959 if not older, and putting it on the sink in disgust as it smelt like pure vinegar. I forgot about that bottle, until the morning after I went in the kitchen and thought that angels were having breakfast. The most amazing aroma pervaded the place, it was like being in the middle of a violet field. That wine took 12 hours or more to open up, and no, I did not drink it for breakfast, (although I did have a quick slurp, for tasting purposes of course), and corked it. Later on that morning I decanted it because there was a lot of sediment, and although it was starting to fade, I thought I died and gone to heaven. I can still smell and taste that wine. For those of you who want to me 'friends', I still have a bottle of that wine, as well as that looking at me in the office.....

Thursday, 29 July 2010


I am not the best morning person, in fact, I will do anything for another 15 minutes in bed. So the thought of having to get up at 6.30 am to wash my hair and travel for an hour to meet a client at 8.30 is never something I look forward to, but the promise of breakfast somewhat lured me. I needed to try this breakfast anyway, as I have to be 'in the know'. But I wasn't expecting it to be so very moorish, so good and still healthy in every sense of the word. So when I arrived at Tossed in St Martin's Lane I was ready for coffee - and this was from fairtrade, organic, 100% arabica beans, roasted to order, then ground, so very very fresh. They did ask if I wanted an americano with milk - really! but apparently people ask for milk. It's worse than asking for a latte after a three course meal, dont you knwo what you are doing to your stomach people? Anyway, the new breakfast 'toasties' were utterly, utterly delicious. They must have read my mind because I did want Ham and cheese but ordered Ham and egg, anyway I got ham and cheese which was the client's choice instead. Really tasty, crunchy outside and soft inside. Loved it. Wish I had room for one of the Tossed smoothies, my absolute favourite, but could not manage another thing. There is always tomorrow.......

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Sip your way to summer at Pescatori, the Italian fish and seafood restaurant and bar in Mayfair’s Dover Street, W1.

From mid July to 28 August, Pescatori is offering a glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne with any pre-booked two or three course meals, lunch and dinner. Two courses with a glass of champagne are offered at £21.50 and three at £25. The Champagne Menu, which includes classic dishes and seasonal favourites, has been specially created in collaboration with Laurent Perrier to create the perfect food and drink pairing for the summer months.

The delightful citrus notes of the bouquet in Laurent Perrier, followed by a slight yeastiness and biscuity flavour perfectly complement Freschino di piselli con salmone – a chilled pea soup, smoked salmon and crème fraiche and Sgombro Affumicato - hot-smoked mackerel with celeriac remoulade, beetroot & horseradish coulis. The champagne also makes an excellent pairing with Trota di Mare – seared wild sea-trout, whit asparagus and pea-shoot salad.

Other summer delicacies on the menu include Aletta di Razza – pan-fried skate, Calamari Grigliati – grilled chilli flavoured squid with mint & coriander salad, and there are also several vegetarian choices. Coupled with a tempting selection of fresh and light seasonal desserts, the menu is a perfect choice for hot summer days.

Enjoy the Champagne menu in the elegant and cool surroundings of Pescatori, 11 Dover Street, Mayfair W1, Tel: 020 7493 2652 or go for an outdoor table at the contemporary Pescatori 57 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia W1 Te: 020 7580 3289 lwww.pescatori.co.uk


And I am starting with a rather different place, in wild and beautiful West Virginia, Mountain Mama or thereabout. Here at the Greenbrier Resort, a fantastic resort set over 6.500 acres of lush landscape. Here you will find a restaurant called Prime 44 West. The Prime tells you it's a steakhouse and the 44 West is a tip off to baskeball fans that Jerry West (who wore the number) is involved. Here, it is thought that the best cornbread is being baked. This cornbread has wone Best of Show at the Virginia State Fair. The recipe is from Cathy Justice, the wife of the local hero Jim Justice who bought the ailing Greenbrier and brought it back to its former splendour, rather than letting it go to an international hotel corporatation. Well done Jim! And thanks for saving the cornbread. The recipe is simple and terrific
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/16 teaspoon salt (but you can use 1/2 spoon it tastes better)
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg slightly beaten
3/4 cup canola oil (rapeseed oil to us in the UK)

heat oven to 425 degrees F
prepare an 8 x 8 inches oiled pan (or non stick)
mix all dry ingredients
Add liquids (best if you mix all the liquids until creamy and smooth and then add to the dry ingredients)
Stir softly to mix
Bake for 30 minutes

use a toothpick inserted in the centre of the bread and it if it comes out clean, it's done.

Gorge yourself


Hello everyone, no I have not disappeared in a black hole, although I have had a tough time recently. The problem has been that my login details were not allowing me to access my blog and write new material.
Now I am back. Shame because you have missed on a lot of juicy information I really wanted to let you know, but it's too old now to start digging it up again. So I will start afresh, and feed you new, exciting, juicy food-wine-restaurant news.
Watch this space!
thank you for waiting.

Friday, 9 April 2010


The lovely Valentina Harris is launching a new website on 21 April www.cucinavalentina.co.uk - check it out because it is full of great recipes and tips from the master of Italian cuisine. She also runs cookery classes either in London or in the heart of Umbria, and France. Having been to one of her classes before, which are always set in idyllic environments, she adds expertise and sparkle at every step. Brava Valentina!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


Well what do you know? Lidl of all places, have an absolutely superb Teroldego Rotaliano 2006 which is to die for.

The Teroldego vine is an indigenous variety of Trentino where it has found its ideal environment in the Piana Rotaliana. This Riserva is only produced in the best vintages from manually selected and harvested grapes of the most renowned areas of the Piana Rotaliana: Fron, Camorzi and Sottodossi. After crushing and destemming, fermentation occurs at a controlled temperature of about 25°C. The wine is aged for a minimum of twenty-four months, of which twelve months are in oak and the rest is in bottle. Taste: Complex, characteristic fragrance with a pleasant, ripe fruit aroma of prunes and blackcurrant. Full-bodied and well-balanced with a soft mouthfeel.
I love this wine, the older the better. I still have a bottle of 1968 in my cellar, will I ever bring myself to drink it? Be prepared to pay something in the region of £10 per bottle. Waitrose also have it sometime, look out for Mezzacorona. Teroldego 1006 from Dorigadi gets 2 'glasses' from Gambero Rosso, but I have not tasted this one. Get to know this wine, it's worth every drop


I am pleased to announce the Noodle Road, the documentary series presented by Ken Hom has just won the prestigious Peabody Award 2010
The George Foster Peabody Awards (Peabody Awards) are annual, international awards for excellence in radio and television broadcasting. First awarded in 1941 for programs from the previous year, they are one of the oldest honors in electronic media. Lambdin Kay, public-service director for WSB radio in Atlanta, Georgia at the time, is credited for creating the award, named for businessman and philanthropist George Foster Peabody, who donated the funds that made the awards possible. The awards are administered by the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia (UGA).
The Peabody Awards honor distinction and achievement within the fields of broadcast journalism, documentary film making, educational and children's programming, and entertainment.
The Peabody Awards were originally only for radio, but in 1948, television awards were introduced. In the late 1990s additional categories for material distributed via the World Wide Web were added. Materials created solely for theatrical motion picture release are not eligible.
- Noodle Road has been sold to 12 overseas stations aired in 40 countries
Please find below by Country, Station and Coverage

1 France Arte France, and German speaking Europe
2 Qatar Aljazeera Network Middle East & Arabic North Africa
3 Poland Canal+cyfrowy Poland
4 Japan NHK MICO Japan
5 Italy RAI / A Pic. Italy
6 Vietnam IMC Vietnam
7 Hungary Duna TV Hungary
8 Thailand BBTV Thailand
9 Spain TVC Spain
10 Mongol Mongol TV Mongol
11 Hongkong TVB Hongkong
12 Taiwan PTS Taiwan

Monday, 29 March 2010


There is more than a plate of pasta on the menu at Spaghetti House - next time you visit look at the brand new choice of Italian cookery holidays delivered with your meal. This pioneering and enteprising restuarnat group stays ahead of the competition with this fabulous offer for specialist cookery holidays, offered in conjunction with The Italia Connection, for which Spaghetti House customers get 10 percent discount. There is the exclusive Castel Monater at Castelnuovo, Siena, or Il Borgo di Vescine, Radda in Chianti, the Hotel Villa Carlotte in Taormina Sicily and the Masseria Torre Coccaro in Savelletri di Fasano, Puglia, to choose from. What's more, when you visit Spaghetti House you can enter a competition, until 15 June, to win an exclusive holiday at Hotel Costa Fiori in Pula, Sardinia.
What are you waiting for?


The award winning television series The Noodle Road, presented by celebrity chef Ken Hom, OBE, has just been nominated for Best Television Documentary of New York Film Festival 2010. Another great achievement, and let's wait for the results.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


DATE: 9 MARCH 2010
VENUE: ALLEN & OVERY BUILDING 1 BISHOPS SQUARE, LONDON E1 6 AD (opposite Liverpool Street Station on the Bishopsgate side)

The most spectacular Italian wine tasting of the year comes to London as part of its European tour. This is such a great event that it normally sells out months in advance. There are 59 producers showcasing some of the best wines, a total of 240, from Barolo to Sassicaia, Brunello, Amarone and more. Really the top names.
For the trade (this means journalists, and restauratuers, off licences, wine importers, hotels etc) there is a day session from 13.30 to 5.00 with tutored tastings by Steven Spurrier, the noted wine taster and commentator.
If anyone from the media or the trade is reading now, please contact me NOW for your invitation.
I also have a small allocation of 50 tickets for those wishing to participate to the evening tasting from 5 pm to 8 pm - this is a rare opportunity to taste some superlative wines and meet the producers and winemakers, let me know if you can make it! Look up details on http://www.euposia.co.uk/ Salute!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


Well, why go to a restaurant this Valentine when you can cheat with some gorgeously fresh food, prepared by Tossed, then take it home, turn it out on a plate, and pass it off as your own? Beats getting stuff from Marks & Spencer. It's also calorie counted so for once you can drink lashings of champagne (I would!!! valentine or not!!) and eat some well deserved chocolate. And if the Valentine does not turn up, the advantage is that you have not wasted any time cooking and you are still going to have a great meal!

Sexy Salmon Love Salad is the one to have! Go and get it for valentine (£4.95, 338 calories, 5.8 g of fat, what more do you want!)

I had more information to give you but my bloggy blog is not behaving well tonight so I will try again later.


For all you would-be Valentines out there, you dont have to spend an awful lot of money to impress your Valentine. Good food, especially when you know where it's coming from, can do the trick. Read some information below

Spaghetti House Plays Pasta Cupids This Valentine

Share the passion at Spaghetti House this Valentine, with a new approach to pasta as the must-have dish on the lovers’ menu. Available at all Spaghetti House restaurants in the evening only on Friday 12, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February, the two-course sharing menu is an aphrodisiac delight, which also includes an aperitif, coffee and liqueur, all for just £18 per person.

Start with a flute of Prosecco Rosé for sparkling refreshment, before a sharing portion of Spaghettata di Venere is served at the table in a tegamino pan, for lovers to help themselves from. Screaming ‘take me, I am yours’ at every mouthful, this freshly prepared ‘Venus’s Spaghetti’ is a real recipe for seduction, blending the best known aphrodisiac ingredients in one dish. It combines generous helpings of fresh lobster, Mediterranean prawns, light tomato, chilli and white wine for a real taste sensation and a warming aphrodisiac effect. Myth or reality, if aphrodisiac cuisine does not exist, the taste of Spaghetti Venere is still divine, so much so that pasta is thought to be a ‘feast for the gods’…..if it didn’t exist, Spaghetti House would have had to invent it!

The Valentine’s menu then offers a sharing portion of Tiramisu dell’Amorosa, served with two spoons of course. This Lovers’ Tiramisu is served with strawberries and chocolate sauce, two ingredients well known for firing up the passion on Valentine’s Day, so that you can feed the imagination as well as your loved one. Finish with coffee and a shot of Amaretto liqueur, served with a plate of cantuccini, the Tuscan biscuits ideal for dipping in coffee or in the liqueur.

An attractive food platter, a nice potion, a pinch of decorum, a little bit of imagination, and a warm welcome from Spaghetti House are all you need for a Valentine to remember. And if you don’t find love on the night, you might just fall in love with Spaghetti House. Each restaurant has its own distinctive setting and décor, provide a welcoming atmosphere for Valentines of all ages.

The 11 Spaghetti House restaurants are located at Westfield London W12, Woodstock Street near Bond St W1, Goodge Street Fitzrovia W1, Bryanston Street near Marble Arch W1, Haymarket SW1, Knightsbridge SW1, Sicilian Avenue Holborn WC1, St Martin’s Lane WC2, Duke Street W1, Cranbourn Street near Leicester Square WC2 and Bressenden Place Victoria SW1. Also check www.spaghettihouse.co.uk

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


Ken Hom presented a series of food programmes which have now won several awards in Asia.
The Noodle Road - amazing viewing. 'Noodle' is meant in its broadest context: from Marco Polo to spaghetti, from Chinese noodles and more.
Worth ordering if you are interested If you order the entire series


I watched it, it's amazing!


Sabrina Ghayour, who writes up the fab recipes for www.foodepedia.co.uk, has come come up with the idea of a fundraiser for Haiti. Within 48 hours, she got the venue (Le Bouchon Breton, Old Spitalfields Market, E1), two well known chefs already, and lots of people who have pledged to donate food for the six course banquet, wines, big prizes to auction and prizes for the raffle. She aims to raise as much money as quickly as possible to get more help to those affected. Please help her if you can. you can contact her on sabrina@foodepedia.co.uk Dont be shy!

Now, I have not written anything on my blog for sometime, quite frankly, I had nothing new to tell you, and have not been to any fab restaurants at all recently (although all that is changing, watch this space) - but what better way than to start my new year blog than with a news like this.

you can also email me if you wnat more information - just do something beside reading! Thank you.