Newsletter 30 November 2011

Christmas Markets, Cool Vodka Luge, Covent Garden Discount Shopping Day and the latest openings and foodie news…

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Christmas Markets Special…

1282 Newsletter 30 November 2011


Whisper it gently – Christmas is just round the corner… which means it’s time to get down to the many Christmas markets popping up all around London…

Christmas in Covent Garden from 24 November
Head down to Covent Garden where they have a multitude of super-sized Christmas decorations, including giant trees, a reindeer farm and carol singing from some of London’s best-loved choirs.  The Real Food Market (open Thursday-Sunday) will also be getting a Christmas makeover, with delicious festive foods from local producers to treat the tastebuds.

Traditional Christmas Market @ Southbank Centre

Sixty traditional twinkling wooden chalets have been set up along the Queen’s Walk providing all manner of unique hand-crafted gifts and unusual Christmas presents. Expect everything from wooden toys and jewellery to gingerbread hearts and quirky gifts. If that sounds like hungry work, there are plenty of food stalls serving temptations such as bratwurst, roasted pork and potatoes, roasted chestnuts and warming mulled Wine.  There is also a festive food market on 2-4 December and 16-23 December.

Winter Wonderland @ Hyde Park, until 3 Jan

One of the biggest Christmas themed spectacles in London, highlights include an outdoor ice rink and Zippo’s Christmas Circus.  They’ve also got loads of rides, a German Christmas market and plenty of festive treats to enjoy. Grown-ups may want to check out the Spiegal Saloon too.  Set in an antique travelling ballroom, guests can enjoy free cabaret and live performances whilst enjoying a fantastic range of winter-warming meals and bar snacks.

‘The Long Table’ Dalston Night Food Market, every Friday until Christmas

Running from 6pm until midnight, the Long Table offers an impressive selection of East London’s finest street food, a bar and live music.  Literally a long table, on offer is a range of small plates and food from some of the area’s top street food vendors including steak from the Hawksmoor, hot dogs, Vietnamese dishes and tapas.  Located in Abbott Street car park.

Christmas Wonderland @ The Courtyard at Bluebird, SW3. 7-25 December

A winter wonderland will descend onto the Courtyard at Bluebird with a fabulously festive Christmas grotto.  Big and little children will be treated to hot dogs, toffee apples and warm salty popcorn, before meeting Father Christmas and delving into Santa’s sack for a present.  Grown-ups will also be treated to mulled wine and a hog roast, and will also no-doubt be tempted by the foodie stalls selling fresh goodies from the Bluebird Bakery.

20% Discount Shopping Night in Covent Garden


20% off Late-night Shopping & Dining in Covent Garden, 1 December

Save yourself a load of stress and a fair bit of dosh by getting your Christmas shopping done early in Covent Garden.  120 stores in Covent Garden’s Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard will be offering 20% off especially for this festive shopping evening.  Restaurants and bars are also involved to offer festive discounts for hungry shoppers.  The fun continues with live DJ’s, gifts with certain purchases, complimentary nibbles and a Pop-up Bar in St Martin’s Courtyard serving free drinks to those bearing the 20% voucher.  Voucher and details at


New Openings…

Kitchen Joël Antunès, W1

1283 Newsletter 30 November 2011Long-standing party favourite, The Embassy, has called on the considerable skills of chef Joël Antunès to reinvigorate its restaurant offering.  The building has undergone a total interior refurbishment to create the stylish new 95-seat ground-floor restaurant and extended 40-seat terrace.  The restaurant showcases a largely Provençal-based menu, with dishes including traditional Coq au vin, Sweetbreads with porcini, Tarte tatin and a somewhat quirky Kit-Kat peanut bar.  The interior provides a mood of understated chic, echoing mid-20th century Riviera glamour, with French patterned limestone tiles, a marble topped bar and some impressive modern art.

Soif, SW11

With the ever so brilliant Brawn and Terroirs already under their belt, Ed Wilson and Oli Barker have looked to Battersea for the next chapter in the restaurant story.  Like its sister restaurants, Soif continues their ethos of cooking well-sourced seasonal ingredients with care and precision, complemented by an extensive range of natural and bio-dynamic wines.  As is the vogue, the menu is written daily based on the best available ingredients, with dishes including some of the finest charcuterie around, Jugged hare and Scallops with Lardo di Colonnata.  Just as interesting is the 150-strong wine list that provides a good selection to explore by the glass, whilst the restaurant itself provides a laid back and rustic space in which to enjoy the food and drink. 27 Battersea Rise, SW11 1HG. Tel: 0207 223 1112 (website coming soon)

1284 Newsletter 30 November 201134 Restaurant, W1

Caprice Holdings, the operators behind restaurants such as The Ivy, Scott’s and Le Caprice, have ventured into the world of serious meat with the opening of 34.  Aimed squarely at carnivores, the menu is designed to showcase the parrilla grill that has been imported from Argentina.  The wide variety of beef includes Scottish dry-aged grass-fed, Wagyu, US prime Creekstone Farm, and free-range organic grass-fed Argentinean; there are also a range of British lamb, seasonal game and seafood dishes available.

Colchis, W2

There aren’t too many types of cuisine missing from the London dining scene, but we’re pretty sure that there aren’t too many places to enjoy the culinary delights of Georgia.  Located just off Westbourne Grove, Colchis is a new restaurant championing the country’s food and wine.  With Georgia situated at the crossroads of the East and West, their food is influenced by both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern tastes, resulting in a rich interplay of culinary ideas carried along the trade routes by merchants and travellers.

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Try This Week…

Luge in a Box

1287 Newsletter 30 November 2011

Remember the good old days when Christmas parties were lavish events created with little concern for budgets and there was almost always a vodka luge to get the evening going.  Our budgets may not have loosened lately, but we may be able to see a return of the luge thanks to good people at Luge in a Box.  Available in four great designs and LED-lit to make the ice sparkle and shine, simply open the box and pour your poison through the top of the ice and it will arrive into the awaiting mouth or glass perfectly chilled!  At £159, these cost just a fraction of the price of the original versions, and is surely a must have for any party this Christmas!

We all know vodka is the best thing for a luge, so give one of these interesting spirits a try for something a little different1286 Newsletter 30 November 2011

Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka

One of the oldest Polish vodka’s available, Zubrowka has been distilled in the north west of Poland since the 15th Century.  The vodka takes its name from ‘Zubr’ meaning bison and is made with Polish bison grass from Bialowieza – one of Europe’s last herds of wild bison.  The bison grass is picked by hand, carefully dried and then added as an extract to a pure golden rye Polish vodka before distillation.  Whilst it’s popularly mixed with Apple juice for a simple and refreshing cocktail, Zubrowka is genuinely delicious served neat.  Not strictly a flavoured vodka due to its subtly, Zubrowka provides a floral and herbaceous nose, whilst the mouthfeel is incredibly creamy with rich notes of vanilla and spring flowers coming through.  They have also just launched a great Christmas gift bottle, complete with a green fur jacket, which should be all the excuse you need to grab a bottle.  Waitrose and Sainsbury’s from £17.50.

1285 Newsletter 30 November 2011 

Davna Czeri Cherry Vodka

You can’t go wrong with a good flavoured vodka and this stuff from Davna not only looks good, but has an incredibly moreish taste too.  Produced using traditional methods dating back 180 years in Silesia, an area of Poland famed for producing the finest flavoured vodkas, Davna uses crystal clear mountain water in the distilling process along with whole Polish cherries, to create a pure, clean vodka packed with natural flavour of the fruit.  Once the cherries have macerated for two weeks, it is transferred to aged Polish oak barrels and rested for a year prior to blending, when natural flavours of almond, cinnamon and cloves are also added.  £17.95 from Harvey Nicholls.


The Rosendale, SE21

1288 Newsletter 30 November 2011In the greenest corner of South East London, The Rosendale in West Dulwich has been reborn courtesy of peranial pub-upgrade specialists, Renaissance Pubs.  Once a Victorian coaching inn, the generously proportioned pub boasts a spacious bar, large dining area, two private rooms and three distinctly individual gardens which now stand proud at the heart of the neighbourhood.  The predominately British pub menu makes extensive of use of local ingredients, with dishes including Ham hock & chicken croquettes with piccalilli, Rabbit loin & braised leg ‘cottage pie’ and Sticky toffee pudding.  Good value and good food combine to make for an ideal local pub.

Click here to read full review…