Unwined in Tooting – Wine Bar

IMG_20160511_215508Kiki reaches into the fridge and cracks open a curious bottle of Pinot Grigio. Except far from “grigio” this one is a gorgeous shade of pale, blush, apricot – a result of skin contact – and a taste of it reveals juicy, fruity notes and even a whiff of white peach. It is 10pm and although the Wine Wednesday pop-up tasting finished half an hour ago, the good folk of Tooting attending this casual foray into grapes and wine are in no hurry. In fact a solid hour of chin-wagging has begun as more bottles are opened and more stories told of grape journeys, grape discoveries and even the best wines to pair with Gogglebox or Eurovision. We are at Unwined in Tooting. Not your average wine bar. Continue reading

Padella – Borough Market

20160428_184239From the most excellent dudes and dudettes who brought you Trullo in Highbury & Islington comes London’s latest stupid-buzzy, Insta-meltdown, no-bookings sensation. Located on the edge of the main entrance to Borough Market, Padella – an understated white tile and marble pasta bar has a queue round the block, come rain or shine. Having opened in March, its “pici cacio e pepe” pasta looked like the month’s most Instagrammed food item – and where this kind of plate obsession normally has me bitching like a 2 year old whose ice-cream fell onto the pavement, I can see why. Continue reading

Roberto Petza, Cooking with Coffee and Great Italian Chefs

IMG_20160316_214035I had the pleasure of meeting and cooking with the delightfully sweet and brilliant Sardinian Chef, Roberto Petza of Michelin-starred restaurant S’Apposentu in an evening organised by Great Italian Chefs. His restaurant resides in Siddi, a peaceful, bounteous, mountainous paradise in the centre of the island – far from the tourist hordes and better known beach resorts – a calm tranquil and earthy terrain dotted with sheep and donkeys and fertile soils giving rise to a wild array of native herbs and vegetables of which Roberto makes stars on his menus. Continue reading

Duende – Covent Garden Tapas

IMG_20160411_205013A lot of romance has been written surrounding the spirit of the word “duende” – a Spanish concept for which there is no direct English translation – relating to “having soul” (thus perpetuating that great stereotype that us Anglophones are inferior to the fiery Latins when it comes to this department)…

Well… Covent Garden is not usually where I go to “find soul” or even Latin passion (although a few Margaritas at Benito’s Hat Mexican has claimed a few souls for sure) – and sadly both of these are a tad lacking at newly opened Duende. Small, suitably dark and ever so slightly cold, the few high chairs facing the bar offer diners a spanking shiny copper top from which to eat whilst a scatter of black wood tables line the opposite side of the very tight room. It is slick and chic, rather than quaint and rustic – and I picture City suits rather than trendy, creative Madrileños. Continue reading

2011 CARM Casa Agricola Roboredo Madeira, Douro, Portugal

Carm, Douro Valley

Carm, Douro Valley

A delightful, affordable red table wine from the Douro Valley – CARM 2011 red is permanently on the menu at O Cantinho, one of the many family-run Portuguese restaurants along Stockwell Road – also known as little Portugal and a regular bolthole we visit when we miss the summer holidays… Continue reading

Recipe: Spaghetti con Zucchine

Pasta con zucchine

Spaghetti con zucchine

A quick, simple, colourful and tasty spring treat, this easy Spaghetti con Zucchine is best enjoyed al dente and with a glass of dry, fruity young wine, red or white. Look out for varieties of yellow or stripey zucchini for added colour.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 1 large courgette
  • 160g of dried spaghetti (try De Cecco or Garolfalo)
  • 1 large glug of Olive Oil
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1 pinch of dried birds eye chilli flakes
  • 1 fistful of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano

Bring a large, deep pot of salted water to the boil. Whilst you wait for it to boil, thinly slice the courgette and season. Heat the oil in a sautee pan, sweat the chopped garlic, chilli flakes and parsley, then drop in the courgette slices. Fry until the courgettes have started to brown, lower the heat. Drop the spaghetti into the boiling water. Cook to a minute less than indicated on the packet for al dente pasta. Add a spoonful of cooking water to the courgette pan as they cook to soften them.

Drain the pasta when cooked, tip the spaghetti into the cooked courgettes and toss to coat with the flavoured oil and courgettes. Serve with grated Parmesan.

My version of Persian Khoresh – Stew recipe

IMG_20150207_190536There’s been a glut of new recipe books focusing on the flavours and spices of Persian cuisine recently, and who could fail to be bowled over by the brilliant “Persiana” by Sabrina Ghayour ?

I claim no expertise on the region, nor it’s cuisine, beyond a love of discovering it and eating it. So this is my humble, easy-to-make and relatively loose interpretation of a Persian Khoresh – or stew. Continue reading