Category Archives: Restaurants

Royal Ascot with Raymond Blanc,
Phil Howard & Bollinger

IMG_6883It’s mid-February and I am sashaying down the impeccable lawn of Royal Ascot close to the finishing line flaunting my black and purple straw hat last seen at my wedding 28 years ago, eyeing up the jockeys and their trainers fetchingly dressed in designer tweeds and most extraordinarily beautiful horses I’ve ever beholden.

My first ever day at the races, what a treat.  I’m doing it in style at the Panoramic Restaurant with its awe-inspiring views from the balcony across the racecourse and woods beyond with the Shard just visible on the skyline.

After several glasses of Bollinger, and another, a honeyed nectar of a champagne with an impressive weight to its mouthful and a host of Rhubarb canapés – most notably exceptionally moreish stilton and walnut sables, we’re seated for feasting.

Raymond Blanc’s starter is a homage to his long love affair with Thailand.  Cornish crab with a fragrant, lemongrass imbued coconut bisque and shards of fresh coconut – clean, fresh and wonderfully redolent of flavours I last experienced in Bangkok.  The dish is accompanied by Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee AND Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2015.

IMG_4944Superb fillet of beef with an extraordinary rich oxtail stuffed potato and field mushrooms with truffle butter and red wine shows off Phil Howard’s prowess of taking the best ingredients and treating them simply to enhance their purity. The Chateau Tour Pibran Pauillac 2009 is a treat.

IMG_6877IMG_6870A deconstructed Black Forest gateau dish with kirsch cherries by Gemma Amor, Ascot Executive chef is a little dated and would benefit from more intense chocolate.  I
concentrated more fully on the Hungarian Royal Tokaji Late Harvest 2013.   Wines superbly chosen by Bibendum.

Did I bet?  Sure, though my winnings sadly didn’t prove sufficient to book a return visit for Lady’s Day at Royal Ascot.

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The sheer artistic brilliance and creativity of Massimo Bottura

Oops I dropped the lemon tartMassimo Bottura is simply unlike any other chef I’ve ever met.  He effervesces with creativity and talks quickly and passionately mixing art, jazz, memories , families and humour in a way that is utterly mesmerising.  So I knew I was in for a treat when he cooked  lunch for lucky press last Monday before doing a one-off dinner in the evening too. It could never quite capture the magic of eating at Osteria Franciscana among their incredible collection of modern art with Massimo darting out of the kitchen and Lara Gilmore, Massimo’s brilliantly incisive wife interpreting the dishes, though it came close…. Highlights were my favourite An Eel Swimming Up the River Po – lacquered with the most incredible grape must and the delectable Oops I Dropped the Lemon Tart with the zing of Sorrento lemon off-set with the saltiness of capers from Pantelleria, hot pepper, bergamot and oregano plus sheer decadence of croccantino of foie served with a glass of Sauternes mixed with Massimo’s Villa Mandori balsamico traditionale.