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. https://www.harrods.com/en-gb/restaurants/cafe-juliette
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 waitroseceller.com www.chenebleu.com
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 www.rebottling.com 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. www.stanleyschelsea.co.uk