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Did someone mention Rosé?   I may not be able to drink rosé in the South of France, more specifically Languedoc with my friends at their place close to Beziers (which has a fantastic wine shop Caves Paul Riquet with some of the best rosé I have ever tasted of every hue) but I am looking forward to cycling to Harrod’s to enjoy Cafe Juliette which opens this Wednesday 16 June.

There will be indoor and outdoor dining including a large terrace on the Basil Street side of Harrods (where Laduree used to be) and a menu of rosé wines and indulgent savoury pithiviers and salted caramel eclairs, vanilla mille-feuilles devised with Victoria Sheppard of Queen’s of Mayfair.

Juliette is a new Provencal Rosé bar for Harrods (with pithiviers and patisserie too)

Talking of Rosé, I was fortunate to taste an outstanding rosé from Chene Bleu which, in a remarkably short space of time has become one of the most highly sought after estates in the Southern Rhone, just outside Gigondas. They are trailblazing a new breed of “Super Rhones” outside the AOC system.  Their rosés consistently scoop multiple awards and critical acclaim.  The 2020 is pale pink and headily complex with almost savoury notes  of herbs, raspberry and redcurrant and some creaminess to the mouthfeel. Find at Justerini & Brooke or  

Have you ever visited an actual Chocolate Theatre? Harrod’s ultra-glamorous new Chocolate Hall really do make their signature range of vibrantly coloured chocolate pralines and truffles including superb unusual flavours like yuzu (the Japanese citrus that tastes between mandarin and lime yet more fragrant) in front of shoppers.  It is mesmerising to watch the whole process from tempering the couverture (melted chocolate) to creating and adding the fillings whether wondrously green pistachios, coffee from Harrod’s enormous in-house roastery or Scottish raspberries and finishing with intricate, colourful decoration.   Next time, I am curious to try their “bread and butter slabs”.  It is overseen by Alastair Birt who trained with chocolatier William Curley (also in the Chocolate Hall) and won the UK Chocolate World Master.  I’d highly recommend the nut clusters and the chocolate dipped candied fruits too.

There’s a whole wall of gorgeous, brightly packaged single origin, sustainably sourced chocolate bars including a 68% cacao from the volcanic Solomon Islands which I loved for its bright red fruits and subtle smokiness.

Intriguing too are To’ak who use the ultra-rare Nacional cacao bean from Ecuador previously thought to be extinct.  The chocolate is aged, much like wine, in oak casks and astonishingly expensive.  

Harrod’s Social by Jason Atherton has just opened on the lower ground floor as part of The Food Hall plan to showcase a roster of the UK’s finest chefs. Majoring on hero British ingredients, I have my eye on the Cumbrian steak tartare and the olive oil cake with Amalfi lemon curd.  The wine list promises to be pretty special too.  

I hadn’t appreciated quite how serious Jason is about his wines until I attended a brilliant immersive live-streamed food and wine tasting experience by devised and hosted by Matt Bird.  For each event, he creates a customised hamper with several “eat treat” dishes by a top chef and half bottles with detailed tasting booklet by their sommelier  

Jason and Laure Patry, his group head sommelier, took us through a tasting of his favourite Italian wines.  The half bottles were delivered in advance with the ingredients for making up Jason’s exceptional tomato sauce (made with balsamic vinegar and wine) a homage to an extraordinary sauce he first tasted in Venice.  My new favourite white wine is now Terlaner Classico 2015 from Alto Adige with multi-layered nuances of lemon balm, mint and apricot on the nose and a beguiling mix of freshness and minerality on the palate.

The next Rebottling event, good timing for a Father’s Day gift, Monday 28th June 7-8pm (plus after party!!) costing £89.00 is with Medlar, one of those restaurants that seems to fly slightly under the radar and is, almost, in the league of Chez Bruce, no surprise really as its owner David O’Connor and head chef Joe Mercer Nairne are CB alumni.  Their award-winning sommelier Melania Battiston will lead the tasting.

  • The featured wines in the Medlar hampers include:
    • Nyetimber, Classic Cuvée, Sussex, England, NV
    • Coppo, Pomorosso, Nizza DOCG, Piedmont, Italy, 2017
    • Seifried Estate, Sweet Agnes Riesling, Nelson, New Zealand 2019
  • The ‘eat treats’ in the Medlar hamper will include:
    • An aged Comté Gougères (a French savoury made from Choux pastry and cheese)
    • 36 months Comté and 42 month Gouda 
    • A delicious Financier (buttery almond cake)

My alfresco dining pick of the week is Stanley’s Chelsea, a stealth lockdown newcomer just by The Chelsea Gardener on Sidney Street which has a sizeable terrace with timbered booths with luxurious seating for Covid-safety/privacy besides exquisite flower strewn delicate dishes devised by Olivia Burt, formerly with Fera at Claridge’s who has appeared on “Masterchef: The Professionals”.   I especially loved my unusual steak tartare with pickled mushrooms, shallots and smoked egg yolk, a fragrant citrus brined chicken with chicken butter and summer beans and superlative whipped buttermilk custard tart with first of the season, heady plums.


Life is better outside, though dining out al fresco has become a competitive sport with many of us who prefer more spontaneity in our lives losing out to smug serial bookers who seemingly have their social life mapped out until July.

Here are my recommendations for eight restaurants/cafes that are either walk-in only or bookable yet keep some tables back for spur-of-the-moment socialising. Most are a little under-the-radar and more likely to offer solace and calm for an epic catch-up with friends, family or lovers as well as that so missed lively hum of conversation, food to savour and exclaim with pleasure over that’s different to what you’ve been cooking endlessly at home. And, joy of joys, being looked after, waited on with soliticious urbane charm and no clearing up.

Kudu, Peckham’s hottest restaurant (close to Queens Rd station) run by Amy Corbin and her South African chef husband Patrick Williams (they’re soon to expand to Nunhead too) have converted what used to be the fag and bin backyard into a glorious, colourful and (importantly) covered oasis. Both the secret garden and pavement seats are bookable, though some tables are kept back for walk-ins.  Signature dishes include the smoked bacon butter with house brioche like rolls cooked in a copper pan, hazelnut choux bun with chicken liver parfait and smoked pineapple “snacks”,  mussels potjie with seaweed cooked over coals.  For brunch, expect boerewors sausage with romesco and white beans, and French toast chocolate babka with orange cream and miso caramel.

Minnow, overlooking Clapham Common has always had a gorgeous, blink-and-you-will-miss-it tiny vibrant patio out back resplendent with fairy lights but now they have a greatly expanded pavement terrace with plenty of tables and always keep some back for the day.  They’re open from breakfast through to dinner for every from a croquette snack to a full blown dinner and on Sunday from 4pm-9pm serve a roast with all the trimmings plus seasonal trad pudding and BYO £26.00..

One of the sunniest and busiest pavement cafes South of the River is Balham’s Milk London on Hildreth Street, it is a personal favourite, even if I am often the oldest “hipster” there.  It is strictly first come first served and I would advise arriving well before 10am especially at weekends if you don’t want to queue for ages.   For brunch, I favour Young Betty: invariably perfectly poached eggs with dry-cured bacon or Moxon’s smoked salmon and divine smoked hollandaise. Below, an example of their adventurous specials.  The coffee is excellent, and, at weekends, they have definitive pastries, savoury & sweet from Flor besides their own.

Jefferson’s ice-cream parlour in the heart of Balham has a real suntrap patio garden for excellent coffees, housemade organic milk ice-cream: the chocolate and coffee flavours are both superb, plus extravagant ice-cream sundaes, pancakes and waffles made to order.

A favourite of Islington intelligentsia, Bellanger (North London’s The Wolseley with the same owners) has a spacious pavement terrace with a smart blue canopy cover and serves a Grand Cafe menu encompassing breakfast, croques, salads and crepes.

Darjeeling Express, culinary and social activist for independent businesses, female and migrant run enterprises, Asma Khan’s restaurant has moved to Covent Garden and has bookable tables on King Street for lunchtime Thali’s.  The palm leaf platter of small dishes is served throughout the afternoon too when it is strictly walk-ins only.  Choose from Methi Chicken (cooked in rich tomato sauce & fenugreek), Lamb Gosht (cooked with dried red chillies & tomato), Bengali Prawns in a delicate coconut milk sauce or vegan aubergine cooked with nuts with tamarind.  All served with lentil fritters, lemon rice, channa dal, potato and peas, tomato chutney and poppadoms £20.

Summon up Santorini in Notting Hill at Mazi serving exceptional, sophisticated Greek food: seafood manti (dumplings) evoke the azure Med, calamari are filigree light and  loukoumades (a kind of Greek doughnut) with lavender honey, crushed walnuts and chocolate sorbet a decadent dessert. There is a pretty whitewashed patio garden with furniture in that dazzling blue so familiar from Greek holidays.

Soho is packed at the moment, though it is worth taking a chance on The French House for outstanding gutsy, stripped back French & British bistro food courtesy of Neil Borthwick, chef-proprietor and partner of Angela Hartnett.Try the finest tarama with fat radishes and sharply dressed leaves, Spring lamb navarin and textbook Paris-Brest – a chocolate-drenched, hazelnut-spiked choux bun named after the famous cycle race. A few of the dozen-ish tables on the street are bookable though most are first-come-first-served.


Thermals discreetly at the ready, from tomorrow we can visit restaurants as long as we’re prepared for whatever combination of sun, sleet, showers & snow ensuesin the time it takes to devour three courses outdoors.

Those of us who are super-prepared have already smugly made reservations (I have a couple I am greedily anticipating) many have been so hyped and appeared in so many breathless guides that they have no tables until July.   

Here are six of my recommendations where you may still score a sitting.


The Scandinavians have form when it comes to terraces stylishly furnished with fleeces and blankets and food that is warming yet different enough to feel special.  Ekte (meaning genuine) owned by Danish Sorren Jensen in the Bloomberg Arcade excels at hygge and is especially pretty at dusk with plenty of discreet lighting.  Even if you’re a raw herring sceptic you may be converted by chef Robin Freeman’s spiced pickled herring, potato, red onion, egg with crème fraiche, capers & brown butter. It is one of the very few places to try smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) including prawns with a tangy lemon mayo or caramelised celeriac with garlic mayo and the extra crunch of toasted hazelnuts. I’ve enjoyed roast cod in brown butter with dill pickled cucumber and barbecued celeriac, but even better are the pork meatballs, called frikadeller served in a warm hug of gravy with creamy mash, pickled cucumber and tart lingonberries.  Among desserts there’s a crunchy Danish crumble with spiced apple and cardamom that reminds me of a dish my late Mum made which she quaintly called ‘peasant with a girl”


I’ve long admired the playfully adventurous outlook on sustainable dining practised by Ivan Tisdall Downes and Imogen Davis founders of Native, though even I was surprised to discover that their new home will be within Brown’s, the beautiful clothes shop where I’ve never been able to afford to shop.  They may seem surprising bedfellows but as their opening mantra goes: “it is all about the delight of discovering something rare, delicious and hyper-seasonal.”   Foraged ingredients that may be unfamiliar give a wild twist to their courtyard menu of garden plates, natural wines and cocktails.  There are gems like fermented potato waffle with chicken liver parfait and pickled apple, Native fillet-o-fish with ray cheeks, crab rarebit, seaweed tartar and hay ice-cream affogato.   For larger dishes siDorset brown crab with duck egg and foraged sea herbs, roast cauliflower, nasturtium and brown butter, we need to wait until to dine indoors.   Do try their seaweed infused “Mermillionare” shortbread and chocolate and bone marrow caramel, ‘the Marrowmel.


Who needs to go to the Chelsea Flower Show?  Discreetly hidde  down a secret path, Chelsea newcomer Stanley’s (just by the flower stand on Sidney Street) with its glorious, generously planted large courtyard, luxurious upholstered booths separated by reclaimed timber  and glass screens, has huge parasols and awnings too to ensure a truly cosseting experience.  The big lure is Olivia Burt,the first female chef to make it to the Roux Scholarship finals who was incredibly impressive on Masterchef the Professionals too.  After working at Fera at Claridge’s (hence much use of edible flowers and herbs) this is her first head chef role and the menu is enticing for a balmy lunch: sourdough crumpets with shrimps and crab, beef tartare with cured egg, citrus brined chicken with wild garlic, salt-baked turnips chicken butter, barbecued beetroot, wild garlic and caper pistou, hazelnuts, chicory, jasmine cake with early strawberries and lemon verbena.


Three more outdoor dining possibilities

For the first time in its 90-year history, The Dorchester is launching a rooftop restaurant with spectacular views across Hyde Park. It promises to be a glamorous spot, even if you are swathed in luxurious blankets. There are garden menus by both Tom Booton of The Grill including prawn scotch egg, grilled turbot and blood orange posset and Jean-Claude Blondel of three Michelin star Ducasse at the Dorchester offering cucumber, bottarga and goat’s cheese, grilled octopus with confit of red pepper, citrus vacherin.

Combining New York cool and Scandinavian sensibilities with incredible modern art, The Stratford is well worth the trek to E20 and will be home to both the V & A East and new Sadler’s Wells.  It has an ultra sophisticated sunken rooftop garden, with elevated wildflower meadow, elegant seating and a cedar wood cantilevered roof providing shelter.  At Allegra, overseen by former Chiltern Farmhouse chef Patrick Powell the bread is superlative, served with house made butter and a green salsa made from discarded vegetable and, hopefully, the outrageously rich, irresistible choux bun filled with pistachio, liver parfait and preserved kumquat  Endearingly, The Stratford have invited a number of restaurants with no outdoor space to do a pop-up five course dinner each including Perilla.

Such is the demand for al fresco dining close to me in Clapham, that I understand Adam Byatt’s Trinity Outside well spaced tables with smart parasols are already booked at conventional mealtimes into July.   Yet, he assures me they will take mid afternoon walk-ins which sounds a good, more impulse option to me for a menu ranging from Sardinian charcuterie and crudites with anchovy dressing to bbqed John Dory with seaweed butter and similarly grilled pluma of Iberico pork with tomato salsa.

Singapore for the weekend? At-home restaurant meal kits make this possible: WHY THEY SHOULD CONTINUE

I went to Singapore for the bank holiday weekend.

My Hainanese chicken feast was a thing of dazzling deliciousness, daringly different to my already adventurous home cooking and a doddle to prepare with the excitement of unwrapping the scrupulously recyclable packaging akin to playing pass the parcel.  And no jet lag. 

The meal arrived as an at-home restaurant kit from Elisabeth Haigh’s Mei Mei Kopitiam (coffee shop/cafe) in Borough Market, somewhere long on my must visit list having enjoyed her cooking at several pop-ups and when she won a Michelin star at Hackney’s Pigeon restaurant. 

It reinforced my belief that the restaurant meal kit has longevity and is here to stay. Yet it needs to be carefully thought out and is not a formula suited to all restaurants or menus.  At best, it can open up additional new revenue streams for chefs/restaurateurs that must surely be a positive amongst the dire challenges of lockdown and, most crucially, reach a wider nationwide customer.  It has helped business keep busy, keep people employed, provoked a more flexible attitude to work roles. It is a great marketing tool to spread one’s reputation and, most basically, a means to survival, if not initially to profit.  I understand that the intricate work involved in the tech and researching packaging and logistics/delivery platforms can’t be under-estimated and teams generally spend more time packaging than cooking.

I think what’s key to the restaurant kit’s success is choosing a truly emblematic dish whether Mei Mei’s Hainanese chicken, Koya’s udon noodles and dashi broth (with a modest £14 price tag for two plus including DPD delivery), Darjeeling Express’s biriyani (recently enjoyed for a virtual dinner party simultaneously in Balham, Wimbledon and West Sussex) or Dishoom’s bacon naan that epitomises a restaurant’s cooking whilst satisfying our gastronomic wanderlust and uses unfamiliar culinary techniques and seasoning nuances difficult to replicate at home from scratch without years of experience, so giving us a new perception on food-travel, without the footprint.

Curious to know its origins and better understand its significance, I discover Hainanese chicken maps 150 years’ immigration from China’s Hainan Island to Singapore and Malaysia, where the dish is often known as Hainan chicken rice; to Vietnam, where it is called “Hai Nam chicken”; and to Thailand, where it has been renamed “khao man gai” or “fatty rice chicken”.  Born out of frugality, it became popular as a dish immigrants made so that their chicken would go further, a sentiment I recognise familiarly being from Ashkenazi Jewish stock raised on chicken soup. 

The chicken is poached gently to both cook the bird to a sublime silky texture and produce the stock.  The bird is then dipped in ice and rubbed in sesame oil and salt to produce the extraordinary glazed skin, and hung to dry.   It arrived fully cooked. The stock along with garlic, ginger and pandan leaf are used to cook the rice, the focus of the dish. It is probably the best, most mesmerizingly fragrant rice with beautifully separated grains I’ve ever cooked.  The bird is carved and served with a dipping sauce of shaoxing wine and dark soy sauce, slivers of cucumber, spring onion, coriander and a side order of spring greens with oyster sauce and crispy shallots.  I ordered Nonya Achar, pickled vegetables including carrots, cucumber, cabbage, cauliflower and pineapple in turmeric, chilli pickle finished with sesame seeds and peanuts as an additional side which I remembered as an accompaniment when I first tried this deceptively simple, deeply nourishing dish at famed hawker stall Tian Tian in Maxwell Market, Singapore.

What’s more, it is a meal that keeps on giving. After sharing the feast with a Chinese friend in my garden (whilst the flavour transported me, the Spring chill reminded me I was in lockdown London), I nibbled on leftovers for two grazing meals: it is equally good with the astonishingly aromatic rice enjoyed cold.

The subsequent day I made the carcass into a superb stock and melodious Spring minestrone with courgettes and cannellini beans.   And I am looking forward to watching “Chicken Rice Wars”, a Singaporean romantic comedy based on Romeo & Juliet where the children of two families from rival Hainanese chicken vendors fall in love, just as I fell in love all over again with Hainanese chicken.   £60 to feed four generously.  Order by 5pm Tuesday for delivery next Friday.
Sudi is a food journalist, content creator and NPD/trend consultant @sudifoodie instagram/twitter



I created this dish for the Alexandra Rose Charity “Chefs for Families” event at HelloFreshUK HQ last night.

It is my modern take on carrot tsimmes, a dish traditionally eaten at Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year (celebrated 29-30 Sept 2019). Sweet dishes are eaten to usher in a sweet New Year. Carrots are said to symbolise gold coins,: a dish to usher in prosperity too. During Rosh Hashanah giving to those who are in need is important and known as tzedakah.

During the Rosh Hashanah service in synagoue, a traditional instrument made from the horn of a kosher animal – usually a ram – is blown.

To wish somebody a Happy Jewish New Year, say “Shanah Tovah” which is Hebrew for “A Good Year.”

Serves 6 as a side dish

8 carrots, preferably heritage multi-coloured carrots

1 tbsp baharat, an aromatic spice mix of ground cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, coriander, paprika, cayenne, cloves & nutmeg, available as a spice mix

2 oranges, one cut into thin segments, skin on, one juiced

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 heads of red chicory

1 small bunch of parsley

Walnut tahini:

120g walnut halves, lightly roast in oven for 5 minutes at 200C, keep a handful back for decoration

120g good tahini (Belazu and Al Taj are the best)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 tbsp walnut oil

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

large pinch urfa chilli flakes

1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed

2 tbsp good, raw honey (Bermondsey Street Bees is best)

large pinch seasalt and good grinding black pepper

3 tbsp cold water

To make the tahini: simply blend all ingredients in a food processor to form a thick, paste, adding cold water to achieve the right consistency to drizzle/dollop to your preference.

Heat oven 220C. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over carrots (either leave whole if beautiful and small or cut in slices if using larger carrots) and sprinkle with baharat.

Roast for 10 minutes. Turn carrots with a spatular/tongs and cook a further 10 minutes.

Add orange slices, squeese over orange juice and drizzle honey generously. Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the orange slices are beginning to char.

Arrange red chicory leaves in a bowl or on a wooden platter. Add carrot and orange mixture with any yummy stickly juices. Sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley and walnuts.

Serve warm or at room temperature drizzled/dabbed with walnut tahini.

“Flipping Good!
Pancakes from around the world”

Flipping-Good-Final-CoverI’m getting very excited about the imminent launch of my second book devoted to one of my favourite foods: pancakes in all their incredible cultural and gastronomic diversity. As I explain in this article, I wanted to explore the whole world of pancakes beyond lemon and sugar: from socca and farinata made with chickpea flour to rice flour and coconut jian bing, Swiss chard farcous to potato latkes, blintzes to ultra-hip mille crepe and doriyaki.


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.


Brunch at Eneko at One Aldwych

Eneko at One Aldwych interiorBrunch gets a sophisticated makeover at Eneko Atxa, the 3 Michelin Basque star who’s transformed One Aldwych’s restaurant. It’s a place to make a grand entrance too with sweeping copper staircases leading down to dramatic red leather banquette booths.

For brunch, think tacos, Basque style with corn talos including the freshest of anchovy, tomato and pecorino “pizza” with real depth of flavour, milk buns with slow braised pork shoulder so tender it dissolves in the mouth and scrambled egg, jamon and potato, like an especially melting tortilla. Filigree-light fried egg on talos with wild asparagus were unexpectedly elegant and thoroughly upstaged by ambrosial mashed potato.

Arraultzak fried egg crisp

A little copper pan of hake, clam and mussel stew has real marine intensity. Star dish is an exquisitely presented crisp corn talo with heritage tomatoes that taste of sunshine even in February and a scattering of flowers.

Eneko heritage tomato talo

Being greedily hungry, we had a plate of 16 year aged txuleton, dairy beef, agreeably pink, though the fat needed more charring to reveal its true unctuousness. Subtly salty-sweet caramel mousse with sheep’s milk ice-cream is an exercise in understatement on the plate and makes for a sophisticated dessert. We stuck with the Basque Country and wines from Gorka Izagirre, the vineyard the chef runs with his uncle in the Vizcaya region around Bilbao.

Eneko salted caramel dessert

In true Spanish style, we were still lingering over brunch at 5pm when pre-theatre guests started to arrive.  A brunch of delicious conviviality and happy, proud, laid-back service.


Basque & vinous pleasures on a golf course – Vinothec Compass

Sudi2confit codDid I expect to find some of the best wines and most delicious Basque food on a golf course close to Canary Wharf? Hardly, but pure curiosity took me to Vinothec Compass last friday evening to meet VC’s Basque Head Chef, Idoia Guzman. Keith Lyon, previously wine buyer at Waitrose partnered with some quirky, crafty liquid matches playing up to the acidity of dishes.

With the anchovy, stuffed chilli and olive ‘Gilda’ appetiser, Keith poured, from height to exaggerate the fizz, Itsas Mendi’s ‘7 Txacoli’. An unusual Txacoli with plenty of spritz and buttery texture.

Next, warm shots of Jerusalem artichoke, one of the culinary world’s hardest ingredients to partner wine with, blended with rocket and almond pesto. I was thrilled by the match with ‘illegal’ unfortified sherry-style from Sanlúcar – La Bota Vino Blanco ‘Florpower’ which rose to the challenge of the soup.

Following on, a velvety smooth, cinnamon infused pinxto of Basque black pudding plus padrón pepper, brilliant with a pour of Basque, Sagardoa Sidra, which suitably cut through the iron bloody richness of the dish

With ripe, vibrant giant, coeur du boeuf tomato salad, flatbreads of anchovy, olive and basil, and ricotta, pancetta and truffle, Keith uncorked a modern style, mesmerisingly supple and berry rich Saperavi from Georgia. This grape is rather unusual in that it contains already tinted juice, meaning producers don’t need to leave skins in contact with this for so long.

Highlight of the dinner was confit of cod with pepper and tomato rage gloriously matched with a highly unusual, mineral rich white Priorat.

With Belted Galloway onglet Keith decanted red – Olifantsberg Syrah – from gnarled vines tugging the Brandwacht Mountain Range in South Africa’s Breede River Valley. Northern Rhône in style, with exceptionally balanced tannins and a good meaty taste.

Finally, poached white peaches with ‘pistachio Anglaise’ – heightened with rosemary. To accompany, a rare Swiss wine, by Favre John and Mike – late harvest, botrytised, balanced Sauvignon Blanc ‘Moelleux’.    Peach-scented white with actual peaches, a perfect late summer ending to an eminently enjoyable dinner with some brilliant new wine experiences.

Real cooking in Shoreditch at Sardine

The best meals are often those that don’t appear to try to hard. Sardine, a new Shoreditch restaurant backed by Stevie Parle with Alex Jackson, who worked with him at Dock Kitchen taking charge in the kitchen, just sings with joie de vivre, the staff are all smiley and know they are in a good place.  The food is packed with appealingly simple, good tastes with no pretence or fussiness. The French influenced menu with splashes of Italian and Northern Spanish influences is absolutely joyful. Even though I’d just returned from SW France, it feels like a breath of fresh air.

I love the “snacks” of radishes, creme fraiche pimped with a little salty, fishy bottarga, an interesting, novel combination, and a sweet ultra flaky anchovy and caramelised onion tart that is utterly moreish. I could eat clams, fresh peas and saucisson sec in a buttery sauce everyday, so summery and conjures up the essence of summer and the sea. I’m going to be cooking fish en papillote a lot more after tasting this delicious, quintessentially Mediterranean combination of red mullet, brill,perfectly cooked with courgettes and tomatoes. Lamb ficelle, beautifully pink and rare with white beans would have benefited from a slightly more punchy salsa with some anchovies thrown in. A side order of chard au gratin goes down a treat, a vegetable too often overlooked.

clams, peas & saucisson seclambficelleswiss chard gratin


A simple crepe dessert with plums and cherries and apricot kernel ice cream is divine too. Only apricot and brown sugar tart is rather dense and would benefit from more apricots to balance it.

Crepes at Sardine

I liked too the mini cocktails especially my negroni infused with peach and was tempted to work my way through the list. Having a combination of individual seating, a communal table and counter seats at the two bars, just adds further to the winning conviviality of Sardine. No wonder it is packed. I’d like one in my neighbourhood.

Sardine interior