17 Sep 2014
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
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
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
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....
More images at Visuals >
17 Jul 2014
WINE: Babich Goes Underground
DAVID Babich is general manager of the family-owned Babich Wines, which reaped its first vintage in Auckland’s Henderson Valley in 1916. With Dinah Kinnear, Sales Manager for Europe, Babich introduced trade customers of distributor PLB, as well as press and bloggers to the wines at an event hosted at Old Street’s Underground Cookery School, motto of which is “everything is salvageable!”
7 Jul 2014
DESIGN: Knife, Fork, Spoon...
DESPITE Jesus being content to break bread with his hands, cutlery has helped define civilisation. In addition to aiding the efficiency, aesthetics and general enjoyment of consumption, the gastronomic holy trinity of knife, fork and spoon can affect food’s taste and may even have altered our physiology. With technological advances come new instalments of cutlery and quirky ways of delivering them. But can these near essential implements ever be re-developed to form a genuinely new lexicon of dining paraphernalia?
Read at Aura >
30 Jun 2014
TRAVEL: Sniffing Out The Black Gold
WE watch Jaumard deftly excavate dark soil with a sharp pick. The spectacle evokes archaeology, only in fast-forward. At once, the heady aroma of moist, ripe truffles surfs the icy, dry Mistral wind. “A nest!” Jaumard announces, trying hard to hold the salivating Mirette back with her rope leash...Read at Grand Luxury Travel >
27 Jun 2014
TRAVEL: Revived by Prague
IN the warmly-lit bathroom, a small but handsome analogue clock, crafted by a now defunct firm, built into the steam-free plate mirror reads 7:03am. I look at my temporarily aged hands, and urgently lather them with the aromatic Asprey wash. I look into my eyes, a Stracciatella of fatigue, and watch as a flicker of optimism for the day ahead blurs some of the strain away. I look down at my lumpen feet, being claimed by gravity, yet calmed by the weave of the Turkish rug. I begin, mentally, to look respectable to take the tour of Prague’s first five-star hotel, where I have awoken...
Read at The Arbuturian >More images at Visuals >
24 Jun 2014
WINE: The Fat Duck meets Fera
“THE Fat Duck” surrendered their sixteenth-century dining room of 42 covers (attended to by no fewer than 43 chefs) for an evening hosted by Hugh Johnson OBE of the Royal Tokaji Company, while “Fera” at Claridge’s was the just-beautified, art deco setting for a more intimate lunch for 12 hosted by Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy. Johnson founded Royal Tokaji in 1990 - the same year Geoffroy begun his authorship of Dom Pérignon...
20 Jun 2014
TRAVEL: Savour Singapore
A TAX-free trading post turned Asian tiger and tourist magnet, Singapore is arguably Southeast Asia’s most misunderstood country. While detractors of the diamond-shaped island and its 60 strong dot-to-dot of islets lazily accuse it of being “boring”, “conformist” and “censored”, etching politeness and civility into law need not be a bad thing. This is a land where you can easily avoid the spectacle of littering, spitting and smoking in public. And state media controls can also have unlikely advantages – sparing viewers of shows like “Sex In The City”, for example, allows them more time to focus on crucial matters such as what to have for dinner....
Read at Good Things >Subscribe here >
19 Jun 2014
SPIRITS: Bringing Veggie Back
BEING a committed carnivore, the prospect of a vegetable-rich, meat-light diet initially struck me as potentially upsetting. After all, my best meal to date saw me shoot grouse in the Scottish highlands in the name of dinner, accompanied by a generous slug of Dalwhinnie single malt. However, having nearly tripped over countless pavement A-boards promising gourmet burgers, luxury hotdogs and gentrified kebabs while en-route to what I know will be meat-laden football match parties,, eating mostly roots and shoots starts to look more appealing...
Read at Alexander & James >
9 Jun 2014
SPIRITS: Raising Spirits
WILLIAM Borrell steers ‘Disco Volante’ towards Islington at three knots. “I feel affinity with Slow Food,” he tells passengers from the tiller. These include front of house from on-trend burger eatery, Patty & Bun who offer Borrell’s Vestal with a mixer for £4.50. “I don’t want to keep playing small harp but have to,” he says of what his PR terms a “Vestal Voyage”, although he prefers calling the first floating pop-up bar “a temporary erection.” The cruise is Borrell’s way of “saying thank you” to purchase and bar managers and the public who support his product.Read at Drinks Business >
8 May 2014
TRAVEL: Hungary is Dry
A GENTLE breeze sifts scrub as an old orange Russian-made truck wobbles by, threatening to spill its cargo of freshly-hewn boulders. Far away on the periphery of the crater that is this open mine stands a supervisor, surveying István Szepsy Jr. and our troupe of transplanted sommeliers.
5 May 2014
SPIRITS: Southern Food, Southern Drink
BOURBON. What does the name evoke for you? The chocolate-rich Brit-biscuit dipped to almost breaking point in strong Arabica coffee? Heady scents of split vanilla steeped in cream? Or a crisp rendition of the first beer brewed in Europe’s far-flung, rugged isle, Réunion? While all may lay claim to the name, a spirit connoisseur’s first thought will be of the barrel-aged corn-based American whiskey, bourbon, a spirit with such vociferous fans that its flavour spectrum is etched into law.
29 Apr 2014
TRAVEL: Kabuki Raw at Finca Cortesin
A MEAL, as a life, needs a structure. Like fleeting youth, lingering middle age and then the inevitable gradual decline into fluffy grey forgetfulness, a meal in three courses (or acts) must appetise, sate, and then comfortably conclude, diner high on ferment, with sweet reward...
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...
11 Apr 2014
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
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...”
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?
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
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
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...
Read at French Wine Bulletin »
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
25 Nov 2013
WINE: The Evolving Muscadets of Haut Bourg
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
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
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 »