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.

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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 …

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