In a search of finding the best meat in London I went and visited Natural Kitchen in Marylebone. On my way I discovered really cool wine shop – Social Wine & Tapas.

 

It’s an exclusive wine shop belonging to Jason Atherton restaurant group. Ask for a retail wine list. It’s just amazing. From Turkish, Lebanese and Syrias wines to freaking nice skin-contact naturalist like Josko Gravner, Radikon, Tom Shobbrook, Gut Oggau, Zampaglione to wine world classics, smaller ones and bigger names.

Just 5 min walk from Social Wine & Tapas is Natural Kitchen. It was founded in 2007 just as organic retail shop. Now you can find many through London, mostly as casual dining places, delis and cafe’s. Locations

The Marylebone one has his butcher’s ”section ” next to open room organic supply shop and cafe-deli style eatery. They sell a wide range of high quality free range & organic meats, sourced directly from small traditional farms giving full traceability.

Sirloin steak is a cut from the back of the animal. From 3 sirloin parts top sirloin is the most prized from the rest.

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How to cook it: Medium 3 min from each side. Since sauces, stocks and condiments are really important when I’m cooking, I found really nice gravy produced by Kents Kitchen (http://www.kentskitchen.co.uk). Lamb and beef gravy is always in my fridge.

I have lot of friends who are vegetarian. I discovered that vegan food world is astonishingly good and diverse. But still I have to admit that I love well prepared meat. Farming, ethical and environmental meat production and consumption are sensitive topics. The one and most important thing when buying meat never to buy from superstores, bulk retailers and frozen meat.

#ethicalcarnivore

http://www.thenaturalkitchen.com

Met Sashi Moorman and Jamie Kutch. Great Californian wine producers.

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Roberson Wine held a Sandhi and Kutch wine tasting. Finally I got to meet Sashi Moorman, winemaker of Sandhi. For couple years I have followed Sandhi and finally moving to London gave me a chance to taste the wines.

sandhi

Sandhi is a small Californian producer focusing on select vineyards from the Santa Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County. It was founded in 2010 by Rajat Parr, Charles Banks, the former owner of Screaming Eagle, and esteemed winemaker Sashi Moorman.

Sandhi is dedicated to making wines of finesse, mineralogy, acidity, structure and balance. Wine achieves power and beauty through the seamless integration of these qualities, and this is the inspiration for Sandhi.

For reds and whites they use neutral barrels and concrete vessels and employ small amount of new French oak. All white wines go through light fining and filtration. All wines are wild yeast fermented.

Still I have to admit the entry level Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2013 is just amazing. All others from St. Rita Hill, Sanford & Benedict, Bentrock were great and differed a lot from each other. Another favourite was Bentrock – just only 6 year old vineyard has unique location, close proximity to the ocean produces low yielding high quality grapes. Wine shows great potentiality and has intensely concentrated classy and sublime fruitiness.

Next to Sandhi’s Chards tried Kutch vibrant, balanced Pinot Noir’s. Jamie Kutch is great example how dreams can come true. Wine was literally a hobby for him, a second life, next to being a NASDAQ trader in New York. His Pinot Noir’s were balanced, reflecting deep ripe dark cherry character, full of earthiness.

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Pleasure in classic French cuisine, the very best one – Le Gavroche **

My recent restaurant experience was many many weeks ago. Since my dear friend Marko Mägi is working there we used a great opportunity and visited that great historic restaurant.

Now the one who does not know about Le Gavroche, has to make few clicks on webpages and the grandiose history with famous culinary names will open and one of the kind story will be told.  This is a perfect place for a Sommelier to work, breath and experience high level of restaurant life. I’m so proud and happy for him.

Since the moment we stepped in, it all seemed like we entered into well written play. I can recall that feeling..

First all guests are welcomed and directed to the bar. Duval-Leroy Cuvee Femme 2000 was served as complimentary. All the people I met were sincerely welcoming. What is more enjoyable when you (from the hospitality) find yourself in relaxed atmosphere, not fake or pushed around. What an an amazing start it was.

We chose our menus in the bar, while we were enjoying our canapés and champagne.  After a while we were directed into -1 ground floor into (epi)centre of the restaurant.

Overall the atmosphere was dim, rich, classic and personal yet letting room for privacy. Predictable classical service standards were flawless. Oh dear lord, how I enjoyed it. My mind was resting while I didn’t have to worry about anything. Just enjoy the company and the creation of M. Roux. I’m not a snob, but that was heaven I tell you. No single mistake – not that I was looking for some or what so ever. But for me it worked like a swiss clock. I felt like my brain was taken over, and my only duty was to enjoy every mouthful. And I did it.

We went for few dishes. My choice of the dishes were:

For the starters we each had to have ‘the one and only’ Soufflé Suissesse

Following with

Duck Foie Gras pan fried, roast red onion with apple and quince, parsley condiment, duck jus with xeres vinegar

Grilled fillet of Galloway beef, boulangere potat, braised celery, wild mushrooms and red wine souce with shallots

And there was a whole different journey with wines. We had a 3 different blind tastings served and surprised by Assistant Head Sommelier Sandra.  I must say once we were very close but mostly we were fooled and tricked by utmost trickster wines ever.

Here are the wines:

With first wine each all had different opinions: Sauvignon, Ribolla, Chardonnay etc. To our surprise it was a blend of all – Vintage Tunina! Chateau Pradeaux was chosen to company our mains. This was a true  trickster one- we all could define Syrah character, but we could’t catch  the warmth of Mourvedre. Very simple and good example of that region were we all have visited but just could ‘d pin it. We were tricked and big times. We felt fooled but very happy.

The service was immaculate and elegant. Food was ridiculously delicious, mind taking and wines were amazing.

On youtube you can find many nice videos of Le Gavroche:

If your subscribed to Decanter magazine, then you probably noticed that M. Roux has started to publish recipes.

Michel Roux mushroom agnolotti

http://www.decanter.com/food/recipes/

Thank you Le Gavroche team for the great experience and thank you, Marko!

Salute!

 

What is your favourite wine?

Now and then somebody asks that question which should be an easy one for sommeliers but as I know it´s always the most difficult one actually: What is your favourite wine?

I should have an answer already set in my mind but it´s never there. And that question has been bothering me quit a while. Wines come and go. I get excited discovering new wines, new producers and new tastes. What I can tell for sure they change a lot and frequently. So I made it simple and decided to list at least my Top 10 and let´s say according to 2014-2015 discoveries. There is no nr. 1 or nr. 2 just my favourit 10 wines:

  • Holus Bolus, Rousanne 2012, Santa Barbara County, USA
  • Vouvray 2010 `Clos de la Meslier´, Peter Hahn, Loire, France
  • Pinot Noir 2013, William Downie, Yarra Valley, Australia
  • Sauvignon blanc 2012, Marjan Simcic, Brda, Slovenia
  • Zibibbo 2013, Azienda Agricola Serragghia, Sicily, Italy
  • Spätburgunder 2009 `Blauschiefer´, Meyer-Näkel, Ahr, Germany
  • Krug Clos du Mesnil 1996
  • Pouilly-Fume 2005, Didier Daguenea, Loire, France
  • Primitivo Amphora 2010, Cristiano Guttarolo, Puglia, Italy
  • Domaine Leon Barral `Jadis´ 2011, Faugeres, Languedoc, France

Those are the wines which are still lingering on my mind and I would like to open them again and again. That doesn´t mean that they are the only ones I get excited about. There are and will be many others around. Like for example recent nice wines I tried are glorious deep blackberry flavoured Sine Qua Non Five Shooters 2009 (Syrah) and Pur Sang 2005 by D. Daugeneau. These may be highlights of some evening services at Murano but nothing else. Like for example much sought after D. Dagueneau has been long listed as my favourites. Since the great winemaker passed in 2008 and the winery was passed to his family to run with new vintages coming out year by year, nothing of them tastes as much as those famous while he still was in action. It must of been him and those vintages!

Personal wine preferences change by time. It´s sometimes interesting to discuss about favourite wines. Taking account longer time scale, does our choices and tastes change?  Are you a wine aficionado or geek, it´s always good to know your answers..

Londoners: Keep an eye on Golden Company

Golden Co is social enterprise. Their profits are re-invested for their community. They work with a small number of young people from the local areas, supporting, teaching young people and staff in their personal and career development.

http://www.thegolden.co/

One of their projects was with my Head Chef Philippa Lacey (Murano). They learned how to make pasta. And believe it not with edible worm touch.

Last Saturday they sold that fresh pasta at Borough Market and I thought why not to support them and try something new. Never tried that kind of pasta. And here is a nice video to sum it all up:

It was really nice experience – Bagliore Di Pasta, Fresh fettuccine pasta with mealworm and tomato. Ingredients: organic wheat flour, tomato puree, free range eggs, Tenebrio Molitor (mealworm) flour, semolina. Just put in hot water, bring to boil for 3 min. Peace of cake! The result was great. Added some shrooms, few drops of truffle oil and tomatoes from my Grandmothers veggie garden. Excellento!

What is also interesting about Golden Co is that they are beekeepers. Learning about bees, their lifecycle, how to support them and extract honey to sell it. What a wonderful idea! They look after hives in St. Mary´s Secret Garden. Since my Grandmother used to be also a beekeeper I grew up in a fascinating place where I could see it, do it, taste it and experience it thoroughly (not to mention few dozen of stings per summer season for sure). My fear and admiration is still within me for bees and beekeepers. One thing is for sure, when I will retire I will become an awesome beekeeper (not to buy that stupid unhealthy white sugar from the shops).

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New present for my Grandmother

Just to remind you: bees are the best indicators how healthy your area / environment is!!

So looking for a good gift idea: http://www.thegolden.co/products/#honey

Cheers!

Meeting Marjan Simcic

In the beginning of August I enjoyed my holidays in my home country Estonia and discovering steep vine slopes of Goriška Brda and sunny Adriatic coast of Piran.

Piran is a small summer city in the southwest corner of Slovenia. With medieval architecture and narrow streets you can easily fell in love with it.

It was 11th of August 11.30 am when we arrived to Ceglo 3b, stepped out into 35 degree hotness from our rented car. It has been few years crazy dream of mine to meet that amazing wine producer. And I have to thank Tania Solito for pouring me a glass of magnum Opoka Sauvignon Blanc in Joel Robuchon Atelier few years ago in London that enchanted me so greatly. So thank you, Tania!

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First thing we met Marjan himself and after his wife Valerija made an introduction in their backyard with a view to their vineyards. It was 40 degrees for sure, and that cool turquoise blue pool outside was so inviting to just jump in. After that we proceeded to air conditioned tastinghouse which led us downstairs to winery.

Marijan Simcic is 5h generation producer who is considered one of the best in the country. He and his ancestors believe in soil, which was once under sea. Thousands of years passed and now they have a mineral rich limestone land which gives such unique wines. That very best soil gives a name to their premium wine called Opoka. Opoka is the name for a marl. They are situated in the western part of Slovenia which is called Primorsk (Littoral). Mediterranean climate is the dominant factor here.

Marjan with his wife Valerija, son and parents.
Simcic family

They follow the steps of their (grand)father, vinifyng and producing wine in the most natural way. There is no other way..!

It was all what I expected and even more. Valerija did a profound introduction of history and wine cellars until white wines. Marijan came in suddenly and switched places continuing with with red wines.

Their wines fall into 3 categories: Brda Classic, Cru Selections, Opoka Cru.

Here in London and elsewhere in UK the official supplier is Bancroft Wines – http://www.bancroftwines.com/marjan-simcic/

Warmly recommend!

http://www.simcic.si/

More pictures will be uploaded soon …

Chiltern Firehouse / hoy empiezan mis vacaciones 2015 (30/07)

First time dined at Chiltern Firehouse tonight.

Booking was 6 pm. Arrived 10 min earlier and had a glass of Prosecco in the bar (9). Stuff came in like it was an army. Pretty nice view.

Good start. Crab stuffed donuts, Australian Truffle and Smoked eel. Mains: Wild Seabass with baby Jersey Royals, seaweed hollandaise and medium Iberico pork, seared courgette and Swiss chard pickle.

Smoked medium cooked Iberico pork which was just divine experience!!!
Smoked medium cooked Iberico pork which was just divine experience!!!

I also met C. Firehouse Sommelier – Roman? I think he is French. So nice guy who had excellent wine list. Starting with American Grüner Veltliner to Eric Rodez champagne. I really enjoyed his natural gallant appearance with nice moderate amount of humour! We (Sommeliers) are in a way entertainers. He also gave me few small glasses to blind taste. Since today I´m officially on holidays next 2 weeks and I dont want to see wine…. I just couldn´t resist and had a nice tasting/conversation with him. Thumbs up! Any other time in my private life I try to avoid these moment. Being constantly processing wine is exhausting. I hope any Sommelier reading this can relate..?! Speak your mind..

Willamette Pinoo
Willamette Pinoo

The wine was recommended by Sommelier – which was just what we needed. Refined elegant body, maximum finesse, moss and subtle forestfloor. It´s WILLAMETTE VALLEY PINOO baby! (38 / 37,5 cl )

Service was brilliant. Not over pushed. Not shallow or fake. For me it seemed sincere and caring. Big thank you to all of you! Bisous.

Dining at Chiltern F. is not cheap / 2 starters, 1 snack, 2 mains, 1/5 wine and few aperetives = ca 250 money

Will go there definitely next time but will try to hit the terrace and enjoy some wine in a cool ambient whenever I feel going posh. Walk-ins ony as I heard.

Being very happy and very exhausted at the same time. premium league of multitasking

Happy Holidays!

Bisous! XoXo

tbt: visit to Fromagerie

Restaurant Murano has the best cheese trolley – I can tell you that! Soon I will upload some nice pics from our cheese trolley. We constantly keep updating and ordering new exciting cheeses. Also follow season ofc.

Few weeks ago we visited Fromagerie, which is our only cheese supplier, and the best in London.

http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/

Cheese is to me a journey and a difficult one.

Here are some cheesy pictures from our visit.

Raw Fair 17 & 18 May 2015

As long as I have been working with wines I´ve always dreamed of going to such a big and crazy wine exhibitions like London Wine Fair etc. It surprised me when I realised that there´s 2 fair´s in `one week´ starting with a weekend and finishing next weeks Wednesdey. Let me just briefly say few words about Raw Fair. This independent wine fair was organised by Isabelle Legeron MW. It was a exquisite opportunity to meet and greet over 150 natural organic/biodynamic growers-artisans from all over the world. Emotions were way too high and I could feel everlasting moment of satisfaction of meeting producers I have admired for many years.

It has been few years now since I last tasted it. For me it is one of the best Cava´s on earth – the Recaredo. Tried new vintages and still loving it. In my opinion it is truly the collectors item at the moment. We are talking about 2 ha terroir based Xarel-lo which has unique micro climate + metodo champenoise.

As I moved to London it gave me enormous opportunity to discover new wines. One on my latest discoveries which went straight to my favourite list is Azienda Agricola Serragghia. What a tremendous and quirky producer. One of my favourites is Zibibbo. At the Raw Fair I was utmost pleased to meet the man himself – Gabrio Bini. The producer is located in a dreamy island of Pantelleria. http://www.serragghia.it/

As I continued to walk further I had to stop quit quickly because I just couldn´t walk without stopping by and meeting Don Chisciotte. Another brilliant and unique natural wine producer in the area of Alta Irpinia, near Calitri. From 1990, it was amongst the first farms in southern Italy which were converted to organic faming. They produce one of a kind Fiano variety wine which is certified organic. Don Chisciotte is 100% Fiano – 2 ha of vines, altitude 800 m, poor soil and a on harsh winds and extreme temperature changes. I had a chance to meet Nerina Zampaglione and her daughter. What a lovely warm people!! http://www.ildonchisciotte.net/

In our wine list at Murano there is one orange wine which I really like – Radikon. We have Radikon´s Pinot Grigio 2010. Amazing juicy-grape-ish wine. A wine which is not white coloured nor possess red ch. So when I ran into Radikon I just had to taste all of his cosmic wines.

Radikon is a crazy hell producer from North-Italy – Venezia-Giulia region, Oslavia. Run by Stanislav Radikon, his wife Suzana and son Saša. The wine itself is uncompromisingly natural! http://www.radikon.it/azienda

As I walked around I saw many old and new producers I know and lot of happy people sniffin-tasting natural wines. I felt happiness and gratitude.. Even met a good friend of mine from my home country Estonia – Ivo Luik. I have known since for many year now. Only person I know who is seriously into discovering some interesting bordeline natural / biodynamic wines. Always searching for something new. Big respect!

Some intresting people I saw..

One of the greates things was a chance to meet Peter Hahn. A man responsible of utterly the most fantastic Vouvray for my taste. http://www.lameslerie.com/

When I first tasted Clos de la Meslier I just couldn´ believe it. It had everything my senses and taste palate find appealing and therefore in my opinion priceless. I experienced at my work 2009 vintage on several occasions. I must admit the depth, lingering ripeness on the palate and amazing well integrated acidity makes it one of my favourites, top 3 denititely! At Raw Fair I had a chance to try younger vintages such as 2011, 2012.. The more younger it went, more time it needed. Younger vintages were too raw, but I could feel the great potensiality in them. Truly a collectors item. I will seek a opportunity and buy at least a case for the future. Big heart!

Thank you Isabelle Legeron for all of the magical work. Even now more and more I see and appreciate the true wines our ancestors drink.

The End

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