14 Apr 2014

DESIGN: Sir David Chipperfield

AT 60 years old, Sir David Chipperfield continues to design and reinvigorate buildings likely to outlive him by centuries. He was knighted for services to architecture in the UK and Germany and has received a tally of more than 100 awards including RIBA’s Stirling Prize and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal... 
Read at Kensington & Chelsea magazine >

DRINKS: Sherry Mon Amour

WITH 11 distinct styles, arguably unparalleled food friendliness, and a perceived sense of offering value, sherry provides retailers, restaurateurs and bars a unique tool. At 30% of sales, the UK market remains sherry’s secondary market to Spain by a fraction, followed by Holland and Germany, and then the USA and Japan, where sales are rising. I spoke to leading operators about how they are handling the sherry cause in 2014...
Read at Harper's >

11 Apr 2014

RESTAURANTS: BIBO

CHEEK by jowl to a very active Domino’s and well fitted out Nando’s, Greg Wallace’s brunch-focused Putney bistro, Wallace & Co, motto of which was “great right now” has given way to an Italian from people of pedigree. BIBO, defined as “simply the Latin, Bibo (I drink) - Bibo ergo Sum if you will,” by consultant-sommelier, Zeren Wilson, is brought to you by restaurateur Rebecca Mascarenhas, mind behind local stars, Sam’s Brasserie and Kitchen W8, and chef Chris Beverley, “one of Theo Randall's top boys.” 
Read more »

10 Apr 2014

SPIRITS: The Ever Drier Martini

ONCE described as “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet” by “Sage of Baltimore”, Henry Louis Mencken, the martini originally combined gin and the aromatic, fortified wine, vermouth in equal measures. This created by all standards, a sweet cocktail. However, 150 years on from those early serves, today’s mixologists are more likely to craft the martini blotter-dry, with vermouth barely present at just one part per 100 of gin... 
Read at Alexander & James >

4 Apr 2014

RESTAURANTS: Margaux

MARGAUX is the first operation from business partners and partners in life, Sylvia Kontek (from Piedmont) and German-Hungarian, Vittorio Monge. Kontek précised their story: “we both grew-up around wine and wanted to create a place where great wines would match simple, but authentic, fresh dishes. So far, so good...”
Read at Harper's >

17 Mar 2014

WINE: Fells First Forum

COMBINE one part history lesson with another part insight into the running of five family businesses, with a final part of tutored wine tastings, and the first Fells wine forum would result... 
Read at Harper's >

24 Feb 2014

WINE: "Macedonia, Douze Points"

Craig Duggan, business development manager for Signature Wines talks to Douglas Blyde about reviving an ancient wine tradition... 
How long has Macedonia made wine?
For at least 700 years before France (2,500 years). And emerging evidence from the city of Stobi suggests earlier still...
Read at Harper's >

20 Feb 2014

TRAVEL: Northern Cool, Helsinki Jaunt Reveals...

THE final vignette of Jim Jarmusch’s 1991 film, ‘Night On Earth’ features a bumpy taxi coursing through Helsinki’s icy avenues. Its’ human cargo is as dismal and emotional as it is liquor-sodden. Faced with divorce, pregnant daughter and very recent loss of his job, one passenger slumps, cataleptic, while his colleagues reason then curse his predicament. Matters gradually unravel until dawn’s ablution... 
Read at Grand Luxury Travel magazine (pp. 22-23) >
More images at Visuals >

12 Feb 2014

BARS: The Whip by Chase

“The Whip” cocktail lounge above Mayfair’s oldest pub, The Running Horse (1738) launched last week, three months after the minds behind, James Chase of the eponymous distillery and Dominic Jacobs, former bars director of Sketch, reinvigorated the wood and tiles-lined ground floor saloon. The effect is at once smart, cosy and even decadent. Walls are painted with Jockey prints (silks also cushion landing walls) while Turkish rugs rest on the floors. Of one of the latter, I observed a group of late night revellers kindly rolled it up to spare it their dancing machinations. Although James Chase wanted to incorporate hunt paintings – “usually, I’m screw it let’s do” he told me - his team was wary of a backlash from more reserved clients, hence the presence of oils of stately, sedentary thoroughbred horses. Of the etymology of the bar’s name, Chase mentions it can allude to a car, hunting dog, or “an entirely different purpose...” 
Read at Harper's >

10 Feb 2014

SPIRITS: Distilling at Dinner

AN outdoor sculpture depicts what looks like tortured Ribena currants at Domaines Francis Abécassis. Apparently the mass of goggling eyes on stalks and bared teeth does not perturb the neighbours (not that there are a great many to perturb). Perhaps because what goes in the bottle is so governed by doctrine in the world of drinks, the ‘art’ outside it becomes ever more overstated... 
Read at Harper's »
More images at Visuals »

3 Feb 2014

COOKING: Dale-icious: Swinton Park’s Cookery School

ALTHOUGH Bulmer’s perpetual hectoring of his good-natured and frankly, amazingly tolerant young sidekick (or should that be assistant?) Mike grates - I think Larkin's verse, 'Man hands on misery to man...' could sum-up the emotional scars inflicted in many a 'professional' kitchen - I leave armed with confidence and considerably more knowledge than when I entered the bright kitchen, bleary-eyed, pining for coffee. I even ably un-assistedly replicate Iman Bayeldi in the week that follows. 
Read at Foodepedia »

28 Jan 2014

TV: Who Are The Grumbleweeds?

A SHORT from filmmaking days on comedy duo, The Grumbleweeds - their aim to return to fame. 

26 Jan 2014

PREDICTIONS: What does 2014 hold in store for diners?

TRENDS and themes from a gourmet hamper-load of England’s most prominent and attractive mobile stomachs (for Story PR)...
Part One »
Part Two »
Part Three »

7 Jan 2014

TRAVEL: Mission Médoc

A BOTTLE bigger than a very big man towers over revolving baggage at Bordeaux airport. Around it, sommeliers gather. Bacchanalian worship. They are set to explore the Médoc. Between the Atlantic and river Gironde, 12,000 acres of tropical sea then marsh drained by merchant Dutch in the seventeenth century support tenacious vines. The châteaux with the best hand of land gained lasting recognition from the 1855 classification ordered for Napoleon III’s Universal Exposition. It emerged all reds bar one (Haut-Brion, Graves) were reaped from the Médoc. However, in addition to those hallowed bottles (the Grand Cru Classé accounts for 20% of production) this is a land of diversity...
Read at Harper's » 
More images at Visuals »

29 Dec 2013

VISUALS: 2013

ANOTHER year which included fun. But I also felt, too often, like protagonist number one in Mary Mapes Dodge’s tale of The Little Dutch Boy (who plugs the dam with his finger). I raise something with strength to toast to 2014. 
See Visuals »

22 Dec 2013

Merry Christmas

19 Dec 2013

WINE: Globally Raising Glasses of French

A GASTRONOMY writer for English, Singaporean and Canadian titles and sommelier for fashion and celebrity parties, Douglas Blyde is ever-eager to cross continents in search of extraordinary wine and food matches. In this article, he discovers spirited and aspirational suggestions from our French Wines with Style ambassadors on which French wines match best with their local cuisine... 

10 Dec 2013

RESTAURANTS: Les Trois Garçons

LES Trois Garçons unravels in an 133 year-old pub. Once a squat “cared for” by its’ 30 residents, “Garçons”, Hassan, Michel and Stefan (from Malaysia, France and Sweden) lavishly restored the building in 1996, making the upstairs floors exclusively their home. Four years on, they opened the ground floor restaurant, unleashing on the public design tastes which have since become sought after by a celebrity clientele...
 Read at Harper's »

4 Dec 2013

RADIO: 'No Opt Out - Facing Death'

THERE was a time when I was doing acceptably in the production of TV and radio documentaries. Here is a radio programme I made back in 2004.  'No Opt Out - Facing Death - The moving story of how a couple dealt with a serious heart attack, cancer and the tragic death of a beloved sister...' Features the late Big George and family. Hoping it makes your tube journey more bearable..
Download via Google Docs »

29 Nov 2013

TRAVEL: Reap of Muscadet

UNLIKE Australia, where a nip from the small, but spitefully venomous Redback spider, or more conspicuous (three metres long) King Brown snake can effortlessly hospitalise a harvester, few risks exist near Nantes in the ‘garden of France’. Nonetheless, I heed advice to take care not to slice-off the fingers of my left hand with the precise vendangette (secateurs) in my right. That would effectively blend my blood with Christ’s... 
Read at The Wharf » 
More images at Visuals »

26 Nov 2013

DESIGN: Bill Amberg

A FEW words for Square Meal on Bill Amberg's collaboration with Japanese whisky, Yamazaki.

25 Nov 2013

WINE: The Evolving Muscadets of Haut Bourg

“SOWING the future in a middle of a crisis,” I remark, gazing deep into the monochrome photo. Sturdy ox gently tug primitive-looking planting equipment. Beyond, hare guards encircle just transplanted, sappy vines. The effect is not unlike pets wrapped in anti-itch collars. In the foreground, a photographer’s shadow looms large. The sunny year, according to the Choblet brothers, is 1944, and the shadow is their grandfather.
Read at Harper's »
More images at Visuals »

14 Nov 2013

TRAVEL: The Médoc

IMAGES charting three action-packed days in the Médoc with sommeliers: Indira Salcede (Brasserie Chavot), Antonin Dubuis (Maze), Michael Jenni (Orrery), Marcin Oziebly (Albert Square Chop House), Joris/Boris(?) Beijn (Marcus Wareing) and Sopexa’s Claire Coleman may be found at Visuals »

WINE: Sandro Saadé

SANDRO Saadé, co-founder with brother Karim, of Bekaa Valley Château Marsyas and Syria’s Domaine de Bargylus - described as “the finest wine produced in the Eastern Mediterranean” by Hugh Johnson - talks to Douglas Blyde about realising an ancient dream... 
Read at Harper's »

4 Nov 2013

WINE: Fine English Through International Eyes

“ENGLAND has quite a lot of quite good wines, but few have thought through what their mojo is,” says Trevor Clough, co-founder with husband, business partner, and “breadwinner” (a computer speech recognition specialist), Jason Humphries, of Digby Fine English sparkling wines. A former corporate strategist advising Fortune 500 firms, the American/Englishman, born north of Boston and raised in Germany, cites California as inspiration to quit his job to invest time in wine. “I want a tiny part of Napa’s fairy dust to rub-off on England...”
Read at Harper's »

29 Oct 2013

RESTAURANTS: One Leicester Street

KEY members of St. John’s staff remain at cosier incarnation, One Leicester Street. Formerly the first hotel from Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver who described it as “a mini grand urban hut”, and before that, Italian, Manzi’s, the sheer, slim, China-town stack has been given much-needed texture, colour and comfort by Singapore operator, Loh Lik Peng (also of Bethnal Green’s Town Hall Hotel incorporating Viajante, 196 Bishopgate, and, in Shanghai, The Waterhouse Hotel and Table No. 1 by Jason Atherton). 
Read at Harper's »
Read about the venue's previous incarnation at Fork »
Read a review of The Waterhouse at Prodigal Guide »
Read about Viajante at glass »

23 Oct 2013

TRAVEL: When In Romania

“YOU had to come to Romania to see it,” says Mihaela Tyrel de Poix. Sheep, soon to be culled for Orthodox Easter banquets, graze barren terraces. “Vines weren’t grubbed-up for subsidy; this is symptomatic of the market’s poverty.” 
Read at Harper's »
See pictures at Visuals »

14 Oct 2013

RESTAURANTS: Game On

JUDGING by the tall wall of taxidermy behind the bar, mobile of hares strung over the stairs, and glass meat locker where a cleaver artfully bisects a pig’s head, The Jugged Hare clearly caters to a carnivorous clientele... 
 Read at Harper's »

11 Oct 2013

DESIGN: Bushel to Box - Vakka at Helsinki Design Week

Douglas Blyde discovers minimalist storage solutions at Helsinki’s Design Week - largest of its kind in Northern Europe. 
FINLAND, a modest country in Scandinavia compared to its royal neighbours, is famous for designing practical, durable, liveable furniture and fashion, from the Aalto Vase to Marimekko fabrics. 
Read more »

8 Oct 2013

CHEFS: Daniel Patterson

DANIEL Patterson says frequent family travels to France with his mother, a teacher of French and English, and lawyer father, influenced his feelings towards cooking. Beginning as a kitchen porter aged 14, Patterson’s escalating fervour for food saw him drop out of English studies at Duke University, North Carolina. He launched Babette’s, Sonoma aged 25 with then partner, Elizabeth Ramsey. He subsequently opened Elisabeth Daniel within San Francisco’s financial district, which embraced aromatherapy and molecular gastronomy. COI, which makes use of foraged ingredients, opened in 2006 in San Francisco Bay (two Michelin stars). Also sharing that accolade is London’s Ledbury restaurant, where Patterson crafted eight courses for trade and press to celebrate the launch of his latest book, ‘COI: Stories and Recipes’ (Phaidon Press). Pretty, not dainty, cheerfully-coloured, and always finishing fresh, precise dishes included: ‘Earth and Sea’ (tofu coagulated with sea water, tomato and fresh seaweeds), and ‘Monterey Bay Abalone’ (nettle-dandelion salsa verde, spicy breadcrumbs, and wild fennel flowers). 
Read more »

4 Oct 2013

TRAVEL: Harvest in the Loire

ALTHOUGH harvest 2013 may be meagre in many parts of Burgundy and Bordeaux, the Western Loire appears gifted respite from climatic calamity. Main article to follow in The Wharf. Meanwhile, find photos of recent visits to châteaux: de Champteloup, de Fesles and du Cléray (part of the Grands Chais de France group, proving there is more to life than their fruitful cash-cow, J.P. Chenet), an unexpected flying visit to Château de la Fessardiere (whose cellars incorporate a producer of jaw-stoppingly/droppingly good jam, Muroise et Compagnie) and an ad lib. visit to a hunting exhibition... 
...at Visuals »

2 Oct 2013

GUEST POST: Food Couture, The Art of Food and Beer Pairing

BEER is renowned for its variety of flavours, which gives it incredible flavour matching prowess (writes Nakia Garriques). As well as its versatilities, many food lovers are suddenly realising beer’s amazing ability to be paired with all of kinds of food, which has resulted in a massive surge in the growth of beer sommeliers and beer and food tasting events...
Read more »

1 Oct 2013

COMPETITION: Utter Gastronomy

BEYOND bored of food and drink writing competitions where winners seem chosen for political motive rather than ability to perform on the page, I am launching my own. Via the inaugural 'Utter Gastronomy', I am seeking recognition for genuine, engaging talent. 

First prize: £100 and a magnum of boutique Prosecco; £50 to two runner-ups. Awarded over dinner at my home, rinsed with cool flutes from the Nino Franco range.

Funding by Dr. C.J. Luo, and wine-sponsorship by Nino Franco (Rustico Prosecco) are gratefully acknowledged.

To enter, please craft a piece, from 450 to 1,450 words on why food, drink, or food and drink matters beyond satisfying hunger, and send it here. Winning entries published on this site.

Deadline: 1st December 2013.

30 Sep 2013

WINE: Hattingley

A MINIBUS ordinarily reserved for the school run chugs restaurateurs, sommeliers, and writers of various generations from Basingstoke station to Hampshire’s Hattingley Valley. There, chicken sheds have made way for a winery which, beyond cobbled walls, is cutting-edge, complete with Coquard press from Epernay run by solar power. 
Read at Harper's »

23 Sep 2013

DESIGN: Helsinki Design Week 2013

HELSINKI Design Week, largest of its kind in Northern Europe, evolved around the them of 'Action!' this year.

See a vintage Nokia, a MiG on a mall, and sauna over a river at Visuals »

SPIRITS: Royal Society Launch for Glenfiddich Malts

THE minds behind Glenfiddich, the most awarded and potentially most exported single malt whisky, gathered in Piccadilly at the HQ of the Royal Society of Chemistry to launch three newcomers to the range. 
Read at Harper's »

16 Sep 2013

WINE: Veuve with Verve, Goodwood Revival

LEGEND  holds that the deep yellow-coloured yolk of Madame Cliquot's breakfast egg inspired the brand identity of the 241 year-old Champagne house. Carefully thought out flashes of Veuve Cliquot's commanding colour certainly helped brighten spirits at Goodwood's Revival event - the world’s most popular historic motor race meeting, focusing on the 1940s, 50s and 60s...
See a gallery of cars, sky, Richmond enclosure and even a retro Tesco at Visuals »

11 Sep 2013

TRAVEL: Fine Line Dining

SPORTING Pullman regalia embroidered waistcoat, Service Leader, Jon Filby prepares the Penzance to Paddington train for lunch, laying silvery cutlery on white tablecloths. Meanwhile, Paul Tregillis, railwayman for 20 years (and chef for six) slices courgettes in his long, shiny galley. It is modestly but effectively equipped with grill, oven and a four-burner stove. These will garnish mains of a recently-re-launched menu series by celebrity fisherman and restaurateur, Mitch Tonks (in conjunction with Rail Gourmet). 
Read at Harper's »

9 Sep 2013

RESTAURANTS: Up The Shard

PLANNING a visit to Aqua’s latest London restaurants? Then it is advisable to don glad rags rather than beachwear (“No sportswear, shorts or flip flops” says the website). The Shard – tallest skyscraper in the EU, nine years in the planning, and three-and-a-half years in the building – is the vision of Renzo Piano. The “best buildings” of the Genoese architect evoke such “serenity” claims former New York Times critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff, as to “almost make you believe that we live in a civilized world.” 
Read at Harper's »

5 Sep 2013

TRAVEL: Cognac

THE town of Cognac rises, centre-point to an emanation of nearly 200,000 undulating acres of hardy Ugni blanc vines. An ivory-coloured web, its soaring ecclesiastical spires, time-smoothed cobbles, and slanting timber-framed buildings bearing the salamander emblem of local King, Francoise I are fringed by the surging, bottle-green River Charente. But the annual ‘Cognac Blues Passions’ breaks the habitual calm of little leafy squares and the botanical gardens beside the food market. Here, over 80 acts unravel over 19 hours a day during the week-long summer festival. Vital Swedish garage rock band, The Hives and tender-voiced Irish artist, Sinead O’Connor dominated this year’s line-up... 
Read at The Wharf » 
Read about distiller, Olivier Blanc at Harper's »
See images of Cognac at Visuals »

28 Aug 2013

SPIRITS: Distiller, Olivier Blanc

“I WAS officially in charge of half the world of perfume,” says Olivier Blanc, leaning forward from his director’s chair. Born to a UN diplomat father, the self-titled “breeder of Cognac”, spent five years at the head of Chanel’s perfume division before launching artisanal house, Léopold Gourmel in 1972. “The family had been making Cognac as a hobby since 1961,” he says, “and I was the one that decided we should sell some bottles...” 
Read at Harper's »
See images at Visuals »

20 Aug 2013

WINE: China’s First Traceable Wine

Johnny Chan: Pioneer of Provenance (for Vertu
‘LET’S change this industry: come clean and let the land speak,’ says Johnny Chan about Chinese wine while swirling a glass of his lime-flecked, subtly cardamom spiced Chardonnay. Named after the year Admiral Zheng He commanded his sixth voyage, to Hormuz, Africa and Arabia, ‘1421’ is China’s first fully traceable wine, and is intended to capture the pioneer admiral’s intrepid spirit. 
Read more »

16 Aug 2013

DESIGN: Great Northern Hotel

THE historic Gothic fantasia of the reopened St. Pancras Hotel now has some not-so-new competition. Douglas Blyde takes the grand tour of the Great Northern Hotel, Victorian London’s very first railway hotel. 
Read at Civilian Global »

13 Aug 2013

TRAVEL: Great Grapes of Lebanon

Douglas Blyde defies foreign office rhetoric to meet the stars of the Lebanese wine industry, beginning in the Bekaa Valley... (for Foodepedia)
BORDERED by Israel, the Golan Heights, Syria and sea, fertile Lebanon is home to four million Lebanese “and eight million strangers - poor Lebanon” says driver, Tony. A further 2m tourists usually visit annually, although potentially hyped statements from the UK foreign office (“high threat from terrorism”) contributes to under-capacity at palatial hotels like Beirut’s Phoenicia. 
Continue reading at Foodepedia » 
Read Q&A with Lebanon correspondent, Nicholas Blanford »
Read Q&A with Lebanon wine expert, Michael Karam »
See pictures of Lebanon at Visuals »

6 Aug 2013

SPIRITS: Twenty Two Mile Cocktail

Douglas Blyde heads to Four Seasons, Hampshire to sample a summer cocktail crafted from local ingredients (for Harper’s
“I THINK of myself as a junior mixologist, steering drinks,” says James Edwards. Compared to previous roles at a steak and lobster house and over 21s live music venue, Edwards “couldn’t be happier” at Four Seasons, Hampshire, where he has worked since 2009. Alongside, he completed studies in business enterprise development with the aim to pursue consultancy. However, Edwards decided to continue working at the five-star hotel’s bar, 1086 – a reference to the year the manor was recognised in the Domesday book. “I didn’t want to leave,” he says, “in fact, I didn’t even look for another job.”
Read more »

5 Aug 2013

RESTAURANTS: Nooror Somany Steppe

Special Envoy of Thailand’s Cuisine (for Vertu
NOOROR Somany Steppe orders enough dishes to paint the table. ‘I dream in food’ she says.
Read more »

31 Jul 2013

WINE: Waves of Taste Along The Loire

The Loire Valley is grossly underestimated. The prices are fair, and the wines are real. 
[Gary Vaynerchuk]
THE minds behind Sopexa, promoters extraordinaire of French food, wine and lifestyle, asked me to craft culinary pairings for two 2011 icons from the West of the Loire, the country’s longest, most diverse and evocative river. Their criteria: dishes should “really surprise.” Determinedly attempting to rise to the challenge, I donned laundered apron and set about raiding the nether regions of my kitchen cabinets. The results spoke of India and the Orient.
Read more »

30 Jul 2013

RESTAURANTS: Massala

CHEF Sunil Kumar Sinha is keen to dispel “the myth” that Indian food is automatically fattening. “The truth is, real Indian food is incredibly wholesome,” he says firmly. “Many spices have health benefits that stimulate the body’s metabolism and promote weight loss.” Sunil blames “traditional” high street curry houses for Anglicising dishes on which diners “gorge” themselves. “Ordering deep-fried papadums, sweet chutneys, a starter, several main course curries, with rich, oil-laden sauces, pilau and copious amounts of booze means it’s not uncommon for a diner to consume 5,000 calories in a sitting,” he cautions. “We don’t go mad with ghee, cream nor oil.” On ordering too many carbohydrates, Sunil give frank context: “different regions of Indian eat rice or bread, not both...” 
Read at Harper's »

18 Jul 2013

PERFUME: Sheikh Majed

Nose behind The Fragrance Kitchen (for Vertu)
DRIVEN to craft scents which linger “long after their wearer left the room,” Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah unites traditional aspects of Middle Eastern perfumery with the aptitude of a leading lab in Provence. Through his label, The Fragrance Kitchen, Sheikh Majed, who claims to have the “olfactory equivalent of a photographic memory,” has launched over 60 scents. 
Read more »