25 May 2016

WINE: Shepherd of Wine

BEYOND low slung canopies and a double yellows-coloured frontage, Shepherd’s Wine House, nestles in Shepherd’s Market. The venture began as a six week pop-up last November, becoming permanently rooted end of March. Steering it is Nathan Lowry, founder of Pall Mall Fine Wine and London Beer House as well as a licensee of easyCoffee, and manager, Ben Van de Meutter, previously Head Sommelier, Butler’s Wharf Chop House.
Read more »

15 May 2016

TRAVEL Domaines Ott*

WE taste newly-launched, irresistible second label, By. Ott in the dining room of minimalist mansion, Villa Ott, bordering the vines of Clos Mireille then white sand and sea whipped with white horses. The only picture I recall on the wall was the small oil of Jean-François’s grandfather, Marcel, who, despite having a beard, bore an uncanny resemblance to his grandson... 
Read at The Buyer >

29 Apr 2016

RESTAURANTS: Launceston Plates

THE BUYER caught up with Piotr Pietras just before he headed to Argentina to perform memorably in the Best Sommelier in the World competition where he went through to the semi-finals. Here we find him doing his day job at London’s Launceston Place where he gave Douglas Blyde a hint of his sommelier talents with his own personal wine and food matching... 
Read at The Buyer >

27 Apr 2016

CULTURE: Anna Koska

PRAISED for her detailed approach by chefs including Nathan Outlaw, Gary Rhodes and Daniel Galmiche, the Cornwall raised artist best known for bringing ingredients to life has illustrated over 100 books. 
Page One, Two, Three

19 Apr 2016

TRAVEL: Provence in Pictures

THE  photo series takes the viewer on a journey through the history of Domaines Ott*, starting with its creation in 1912 by Alsatian agricultural engineer, Marcel Ott, who ‘dreamed of founding an illustrious wine estate near the Med...’
See at Drinks Business >

4 Apr 2016

WINE: Doña Paula Estate

MARTIN Kaiser and Marcos Fernandez are at the tasting room of Doña Paula’s El Alto vineyard at Ugarteche, Luján de Cuyo, part of the estate’s sustainably-managed, ecologically-inclined holdings which totals 1,737 acres throughout Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, Argentina. Compared to the city of Mendoza, with vintage Cadillacs, Art Deco buildings and tango bar dens 30 miles west, the wood cabin is serene, brushed by fronds in the breeze of a willow, overlooking myriad vines from the cusp of a reservoir. “It’s never hot here, leading to firmer tannins and acidity,” appraises head winemaker, Fernandez.
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21 Mar 2016

DESIGN: Music To Dine For

IN booming London, New York, Paris and Hong Kong, he says, ‘everyone’s trying to innovate. Expectations have risen. For destination experiences, you’re trying to touch customers’ hearts through the senses...’
Read article from Good Things (page one / page two)

8 Mar 2016

DINING: All Roads Lead to Rhône

Preview of a wine-themed dinner at The Cross, Kenilworth - which you too can savour on 14TH April…
EDGED by a notably well-trimmed hedge, the handsome, Victorian inn, with stone bay windows and various smoldering fireplaces, has launched a volume of Bacchanalian dinners, the latest of which draws inspiration from the authored Syrah by revitalised Northern Rhône wine producer, Paul Jaboulet Aîné.
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7 Mar 2016

TRAVEL: Fire, Fika and Fish Aprons



Douglas Blyde travels to Sweden to meet two of the country’s best-known gastronomic personalities: lauded home cook and cook shop owner Leila Lindholm, and fire-cooked food fanatic Niklas Eksdedt.
Read at Good Things

1 Feb 2016

WINE: Innovation at Chile's Oldest Wine Producer

 
The sleek tasting hut of Carmen, Chile's oldest producer - under Santa Rita Estates' mantel - is framed by canals carrying pure Andes melt-water to fledgling Cabernet Sauvignon, a variety driving the firm's investment in the Alto Maipo. Inside, a glass table etched with a map describing Chile's slender form is laid with glasses showing the five ranges of Sebastián Labbé, winemaker since 2005.
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6 Jan 2016

TRAVEL: Of Plants and Politics

Douglas Blyde motors to market with leading Mauritian chef, Ravi Kanhye...
(An extended version of an article for Good Things magazine - subscribe here)
WE ARE are cowed by canes or shaded by flamboyant, red and violet, and orange and white bunting as we travel the backstreets of the rugged, ravishing island. Both sugar harvest and national elections are scything through. ‘40% of the island is covered in it,’ says Ravi Kanhye, executive chef of resorts, Heritage Le Telfair and Heritage Awali. Apparently Ravi refers to the sugar crop, although I imagine the same could be said of political paraphernalia.
Read more »

27 Oct 2015

#MuscadetMagic


Hosting the #MuscadetMagic challenge...

10 Oct 2015

WHISKY: Jim McEwan

I recently wrote a piece on Master Distiller, Jim McEwan, who has worked in whisky for over half-a-century, for Whisky Quarterly. Jim talked about reviving Islay’s eighth distillery, surfing the wave of Ginza bars, and the inspirational ‘Ugly Betty’ Grable in this, his last interview.

8 Sep 2015

Restaurants: Extended Shell Life

ON OPENING in 1927, L’Escargot became Britain’s first restaurant to serve snails. ‘Amusingly enough, the word oleaginous comes to mind when describing Tony, our snail man,’ purrs the Soho stack’s co-owner and reviver, Brian Clivaz, as we appraise salted morsels roasted over coals and bathed in butter. ‘He’s a wonderful fellow with two-to-three million Herefordshire snails. They’re hermaphroditic. I read a snail can have same-sex sex for 16-hours without realising it.’ Clivaz draws breath. ‘How do scientists know that?’
Read at Lusso

18 Aug 2015

RESTAURANTS: The Iron Lady

JUDY JOO, the French-trained, Korean-American Londoner behind new eatery Jinjuu talks to Douglas Blyde about fixed income derivatives, Playboy bunnies, and her father’s escape to Jeju… 
Read at Good Things

17 Aug 2015

SPIRITS: The Aviation Sour


CAREY Hanlon, who is almost in silhouette against a forest of gin bottles gently lit by green-shaded bankers’ lights, shakes a classic Aviation into life at the Merchant House bar beneath Bow Lane. The result is irresistible: a fragrant potion redolent of Palma Violets, but crisp too, to the point of near tartness, and super long-lived on the palate...
Read at Luxardo

20 Jul 2015

PROFILE: Committing Chefs to Canvas

PAINTER predominantly of people, Henrietta Graham has realised studies of Gordon Ramsay, George Lazenby and even Jack Nicholson over a vivid career. She talks to Douglas Blyde about her latest oeuvre: a portrait of Britain’s leading chefs... 
From Good Things magazine >

6 Jul 2015

SPIRITS: Edgar Harden, Spirited Approach

‘I TRY to get as many fun things as possible’ says Harden, revolving the square, porcelain lid of Buton Cherry Brandy which features hand-painted King of Clubs and Queen of Diamonds. Meanwhile, beyond film protection, the gold and black vessel of a Japanese green tea liqueur evokes a vase, or cocktail shaker? Of the edition of Bols which contains a pirouetting ballerina, Harden commends the quality of the musical movements as ‘very high, unlike modern Chinese crap.’ But the gin fronted by the once Equity card holding Rough Collie, Lassie is ‘a bit silly.’ 
Published at Good Things magazine >

3 Jul 2015

RESTAURANTS: Buns & Seats

FOLLOWING a year of trips to the humid, seismic, mountainous island of Taiwan, where the team suffered their food hell of ‘plane food’ too often for comfort, Bao ‘mark two’ follows the Xiaochi, or ‘small eats’ snackerias in Erchen’s hometown, Taipei. ‘Better for your metabolism to snack throughout the day rather than eat three big meals,’ appraises Wai Ting while Erchen monitor a steamer. ‘We went to a remote, barely signed Baozi outside Taipei where, out of nowhere, we saw thirty people in a queue. Curious, we joined it. Inside, ten men and women worked in front of us, making the best, really fluffy buns. Sadly, you could only get five to take away: the softest, lightest things…’ 
Published at Good Things magazine >

17 Jun 2015

FOOD: Urban Buzz

‘YOU become obsessed by them,’ says Toby Mason softly but clearly as he checks the frames, seemingly unnoticed by the industrious occupants. ‘Hives are incredibly complex. On one level, it all seems simple: bees bring in nectar and turn it into honey. However, it takes an incredible amount of organisation, allocating different jobs to 50,000 creatures, from cleaning, to guard duty, nursing and foraging.’ He pauses. ‘But I’ve never seen revolutions or strikes! In that sense, these likeminded creatures work as one. And each hive can have a different personality, from lively to lazy, and sickly to strong...’

21 May 2015

WINE: Whine Wine Whine

DESPITE the insistence by my overpaid, non-journalist friends that they surely are ‘drinking holidays’, wine press trips can prove to be compact, intricate endurance tests. Yes, I can hear you all now as you go to your store rooms to locate the world’s smallest flight case, carefully extracting from it the world’s smallest violin to play the world’s smallest sad song. Well, micro-fiddle away. You should understand this: press trips – to quote the great arbiter of the finer things in life, Mr Frederick Mercury – ‘ain’t no bed of roses. No pleasure cruise’...
Read at Lusso >

2 May 2015

RESTAURANTS: Sky Garden

SHOWING me his long “To Do” list, Berastegui mentions he spends much time working out where to shoe-horn bottles over his three cellars, from the one he is cultivating in the eaves above us for up-to 400 bottles, to the main hold “at floor -1...” 
Read at Harper's >

11 Apr 2015

TRAVEL: In Sugar-Cane Land

‘I SPED away over the ocean into a region of tropic sunshine and blue waters, of islands built by volcano or raised by coral insects, there to see the sugar-cane grow and study the people who grow it,’ wrote Eden Phillpotts in his 1890 travelogue, In Sugar-Cane Land. I discovered the Victorian’s intense words in a dark, dusty bookshop in Putney one wintry morning. A century-and-a-quarter after it was published, the prose of the insurance officer turned author, dramatist, poet, and best friend of Agatha Christie, inspired me to set course for the West Indies... 
Read at Good Things >

19 Mar 2015

SPIRITS: Future Proof

BUT what of the discerning tippler’s future? Despite our inherent inability to envision with accuracy, humans remain addicted to future-gazing. I asked several minds on both sides of the bar counter what cocktails might look, smell and feel like in five, 50 and 100 years time...

16 Mar 2015

PROFILE: Godfather of Chinatown

STANLEY Tse surveys frontage of Lisle Street’s SeeWoo. He opened the shop – one of the first Chinese businesses in London’s Chinatown – in 1975 with his brothers. Today coherent with brightly-lit, fully-stocked aisles, it is actually formed of three units bought over time, including, says Stanley with a glint in his eye, a comparatively shadowy ‘peep show palace…’ 
 Read at Good Things >

2 Mar 2015

RESTAURANTS: Stoke Place

STOKE Place, a characterful Georgian pile unfairly tarred by its Slough postcode has retained the accolade of AA Notable Wine List year-on-year. While the hotel may be a little scuffed around the edges, the 30-page wine list authored by general manager, Terry McEvoy is lovingly put together. For example, worth noting, should the bank rule in your favour, a 75cl bottle of 1998 Chateau d’Yquem is significantly cheaper than retail (£140) within these sturdy walls. Among his suppliers, McEvoy praises Bibendum for their “great customer service and team training” and Amathus for whom “nothing is too much trouble.”
Read at Harper's >

4 Feb 2015

SPIRITS: To Toast, Or Not To Toast?

CRAFTED from fermented grains, distilled, then matured in porous clay pots, baijiu is China’s most popular spirit. However, for a Western dilettante the drink’s distinctive profile may seem unusual. Hammant Patel Villa of Brixton’s Courtesan ‘Birdcage Bar’ and ‘Boudoir’ notes, “It’s a very complex, earthy spirit – brooding, dare I say it, angry – challenging every aspect of a Western drinkers’ notion of an enjoyable practice.” 
Read at Alexander & James >

28 Jan 2015

RESTAURANTS: Oakley Court

TONIGHT’s meal, realised by sous chef, Meaden was bright, meticulous and very edible while being dramatically at odds, stylistically, with the presently drab dining room. However, when plans to redecorate are enacted, I predict a healthy tremble of critics will visit given the team’s inventiveness and energy. Indeed, I learnt at my 9am breakfast that Futcher had only finished hand-washing his much-loved comprehensive range of Riedel XL glassware a few hours before... 
Read at Harper's

21 Jan 2015

WINE: Fluid Investment

“GONE are the days when a 40% mark-up would lazily be slapped on a bottle. As the market has become more efficient and transparent, so too have wine merchants. Which is a very good thing...”
Read at The Wharf newspaper.
(Page One / Page Two)

SPIRITS: The Land of Cîroc

WHY, he wondered, did I stir the spirit in an ice-laden shaker for a full two minutes? With Cîroc, there was no need, he explained, to insist on dilution and chilling to the point of killing flavours, seeing as there were few if any harsh edges to begin with, thanks to the grape base of his drink... 
Read at Alexander & James >

12 Jan 2015

CARS: Joe Macari

I FOLLOW a willowy receptionist up spiral stairs to a small door marked ‘Private’. Joe Macari is beyond. “I’m not a front person,” he says lighting a roll-up. “I’ll always have a dark blue car over red.” News scrolls across screens while banks of CCTV feeds show very shiny bonnets. Beyond an entirely glass wall one of only four California Spiders in aluminum (valued at $12m) undergoes painstaking restoration. 
Read more »

16 Dec 2014

SPIRITS: Chilgrove

CHRISTOPHER Beaumont-Hutchings and I sip violet-tinged Aviation sours alongside positively fatty Scottish oysters at the Rib Room’s bar. The sturdy looking, brass and dark wood build of this old-school drinkers’ haven at the five-star Jumeirah Carlton Tower seems appropriately grand given there is cause for celebration. 
 Read at Harper's >

11 Dec 2014

SPIRITS: Haiti’s Bittersweet Fruits

I STAND amid two years’ worth of skins in sacks. The neatly-stacked stockpile allows Grand Marnier to continue to fulfil orders of its 12 million bottles of liqueurs per year in the face of earthquakes, strikes and even revolutions. “But if we leave Haiti,” says Maille reading my questioning expression, “what happens to the 200 families of the workers?”
Read at Alexander & James >

17 Nov 2014

TRAVEL: Terminal Dining

“OUR studio is like a salmon: swimming against the tide,” says Afroditi Krassa. Her accent is attractively deeply-spiced. Born in Britain in 1974, but raised in Greece, Afroditi defied both her endocrinologist father and solicitor mother by pursuing design rather than follow in either of their footsteps. We meet at a no more than two-at-a time security booth somewhere below the concourse at the recently-rebuilt Queen’s Terminal, Heathrow. As I have my less than enhancing pass picture taken against a makeshift white paper background, Afroditi confides that, despite considering nearly every detail, today will be the first time she will actually dine at Heston Blumenthal’s ‘The Perfectionists’ Café’...
Read at Good Things magazine >
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3 Nov 2014

SPIRITS: Great British Truffles

HIS name is Rudi - short for Rodolfo il Caricatore del Tartufo – Rudolph, charger of the truffle!” says silver-haired James Liddell of his shaggy Lagotto Romano dog who gallops into the distance. Despite having a cute, sheep-like coat, kept closely trimmed – ‘tiresome for a working dog, attracting burrs and grass seeds,’ the enthusiastic beast who constantly, audibly tastes the air, has already unearthed several black ‘diamonds’. “Watch him carefully,” advises James as we try to keep up. “He dictates the speed of the hunt.”
Read at Alexander & James >

14 Oct 2014

TRAVEL: Winter in Mauritius

TO their surprise, two drifters, just married, become six drifters as four journalists clamber aboard the craft to bob upon the inky waters. Once aboard, fisherman Dessie punts ‘Hasslo’, a wooden fishing skiff named after his grandfather, to deeper seas. A cloud of spent two-stroke momentarily chokes the air, hardly visible in the before-dawn darkness. In the distance, clouds shaped like mountains, battleships, and even the island’s mascot, the dodo, threaten to eclipse the sunrise to which we steer...
Read at Arbuturian >
Photos at Visuals >

13 Oct 2014

RESTAURANTS: Steve Manktelow

'I WORKED in bars since age 17, beginning at “The Rock Garden”, Auckland. When the Whitbread Round The World yachts docked, I drudged through double shifts. But, even on a rare morning off, my boss still summoned me in. “Dude, I just worked a week which destroyed me,” I protested. “Just trust me – come,” he urged. When I got in, U2 was singing “Where The Streets Have No Name”. Despite my exhaustion, I remember thinking I had the world’s coolest job...' 
Read at Harper's >

9 Oct 2014

RESTAURANTS: The Salmon

Designer, Afroditi Krassa's inaugural issue of newspaper, The Salmon asks, 'If Chefs Are The New Rockstars, Why Is Fine Dining So Un-Rock ‘n’ Roll?' It also features an interview with me (p. 13). 
Read The Salmon >

8 Oct 2014

SPIRITS: The Wild, The Refined

THE ‘Glorious Twelfth’ of August is one of the busiest dates in the game season, being the first day from which one may aim a shotgun at the warbling red grouse. I recall landing one of these portly little birds on a heather-strewn highlands moor a few years ago. Instantly plucked then barbecued, it was served on incongruously immaculate linen in a remote bothy with Dalwhinnie, the aromas of heather and wildflowers in the dram echoing the scenery. 

1 Oct 2014

WINE: Rough Seas at Quo Vadis

BIBENDUM held a dinner for four of their top South African producers at the much brightened Quo Vadis, Soho, where arguably argumentative art has been removed in favour of characterful woodcuts on menus. The merchant’s head of marketing, Gareth Groves introduced the event: “We thought we’d round them all up in the same place, open some good bottles and enjoy some of chef, Jeremy Lee’s brilliant food.” Gordy Newton Johnson from Newton Johnson, Springfield Estate’s Jeanette Bruwer, Rollo Gabb from Journey’s End and Tertius Boshoff from Stellenrust took turns swapping places and stories around the long table of gannet-like journalists...
Read at Harper's >

22 Sep 2014

WINE: Jackson Estate at Chiltern Firehouse

“I BELIEVE Marlborough will be known for producing the best Pinot Noir over time,” declares Matt Patterson-Green, winemaker of Jackson Estate. In his glass is one expression, Vintage Widow 2012, named, he says, “after women who lose their men to the vineyards...” We meet at Chiltern Firehouse, the Marylebone restaurant voted Best Newcomer at this year’s Harper's Awards. Beside us, beneath lighting globes, a table totalling six young women and one mature gent drinks Champagne...
Read at Harper's >

17 Sep 2014

TRAVEL: Celebrating Scandinavia

AT a recent lecture at Habitat, Swedish “king of the red thread”, Staffan Tollgard attributed the success of Scandinavian design to a deep sense of integrity far removed from the approach of “dip MDF in gold and call it luxury” prevalent in his adopted city, London - something “neither democratic, nor honest.” Tollgard’s remark is revealing. Scandinavia’s design culture, where matt triumphs gloss and silver is more apparent than gold, mirrors the local mindset. 
Read at Aga Living >

11 Sep 2014

TRAVEL: Hidden Places

BROUGHT to life by Washington-based travel website, Expedia, ‘Hidden Places’ is an interactive guide intended to take users to the arguably lesser-known corners of Dalmatia’s Dubrovnik...
Read more »

SPIRITS: Myles Donneky

THE 22 year-old bar manager of “Hutong” above Aqua on floor 31 of The Shard talks to Douglas Blyde about tea punches, pride in service, and competitive pong-pong... 
Read at Harper's >

1 Sep 2014

SPIRITS: The Mushroom Man

MICHAEL Hyams treats me to a bacon sandwich at Tony’s’ greasy spoon in New Covent Garden market. The time is approaching 7am, the end of his working day, but the beginning of mine. “I sell most mushrooms between 11pm and 3am,” he explains...
Read at Alexander & James >

23 Aug 2014

CARS: Joe Macari

Two articles on star car man, Joe Macari:
More images at Visuals >

4 Aug 2014

SPIRITS: Western Spirits, Eastern Table


FROM the mountainous north to the tropical south, a network of 1,483 miles of high-speed railway lines, welded together to stymie vibration, links Japan’s fast-living cities - epicentres of arguably the most refined dining culture on the planet...
Read at Alexander & James >

1 Aug 2014

WINE: Rosé d'Anjou Writers' Event

Above: a nice little video piece covering an event I helped bring to life towards the end of May.

31 Jul 2014

RESTAURANTS: Pavilion

LUNCH begins with a colour-coordinated scallop ceviche woven with lemon confit, baby gem lettuce, green almonds, a little vanilla and camomile (£14.95). Viscardi selects 2011 Friulano from a three hectare site in Friuli (£8.50/175ml, Isonzo, Blason). He says of the match: “It’s from the same region as Pinot Grigio, but much more interesting and cleaner.” Its citric edges provide attractive bite, partnering with the pretty dish’s preserved lemon and satisfyingly crunchy facets. 
Read at Harpers >

25 Jul 2014

TRAVEL: Cherry Red

IN honour of today’s British visitors, the Union Jack is draped alongside the bandiera d'Italia at Luxardo’s distillery near Padua. But both are motionless given the lack of breeze. However, despite this location and the omnipresent Italian flag, the founding family’s roots lie in Dalmatia. Girolamo Luxardo, a Genoese representative of the kingdom of Sardinia, founded the firm in port city, Zara (Zadar) in 1821. However, a combination of Anglo-American bombing raids which saw the distillery blaze for three days, and Tito’s policies, forced the family into permanent exile in 1947....
Read at Harper's >
Read another article at Alexander & James >
More images at Visuals >