Newsletter 14 December 2011

Christmas Drinks Special, Celebrity Chef Mince Pie Auction, Christmas Cookery and the latest foodie news and openings…

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News & Events…


1303 Newsletter 14 December 2011Quick Christmas Cookery Classes @ L’atelier des Chefs, W1

Christmas lunch is probably the single most important meal of the year, and if you’ve taken the responsibility of doing the cooking, there’s going to be more than a little pressure to ensure everyone leaves with a happy belly.  Whether you need a quick brush up on your skills or require some culinary inspiration for your festive feast, L’atelier des Chefs in Wigmore Street is holding a series of Christmas inspired cookery classes for cooks of all levels.  Classes range from £15 for a 30 minutes session that can be completed in your lunchtime, to £72 for a two hour cookery extravaganza.

The Sushi & Sake Ice Bar @ Aqua, W1

1304 Newsletter 14 December 2011This winter, uber-trendy Japanese restaurant and bar, Aqua Kyoto, is set to be the coolest venue in town with the launch of their Sake & Sushi Ice Bar.  Guests will have the chance to embrace the big chill and dine alfresco in the stylish outdoor retreat featuring an array of dazzling festive decorations and hand carved ice sculptures.  Located high-up overlooking Regent Street and Oxford Street, the bar provides stunning views across the West End.  Guests will also be able to enjoy warm sake cocktails and hot bowls of delicious Japanese dishes, all whilst surrounded by outdoor heaters and wrapped in cosy cashmere blankets.

Celebrity Chef Charity Mince Pie Auction

Truly a unique opportunity, 35 of the UK’s best known chefs (and Gregg Wallace!) are offering the public an opportunity to bring their mouth-watering culinary creations into their homes with this charity auction of mince pies.  The initiative takes the form of an online auction, with each chef’s unique and freshly made batch of 50 mince pies going to the highest bidder.   Chefs involved include Michel Roux Jr, Angela Hartnett, Raymond Blanc, James Martin and Marcus Wareing, and with the lowest priced mince pies available for just £50 at the time of writing, it’s well worth a punt!  Make your bid before 16 December at

‘A Christmas Carol’ @ Barts, SW3

In honour of the festive period, Chelsea speakeasy bar, Barts, will be transformed into a Dickensian dreamland, with Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge all on hand to spread some festive cheer.  From the moment they enter, guests will be transported to a Victorian winter wonderland with staff dressed as characters from the novel to serve mulled wine, mince pies and lead sing alongs to everyone’s favourite Christmas carols!

Merry Christmas – See you in 2012!

Thanks again lovely readers for joining us on our culinary adventures during 2011 – we hope we filled you with plenty of foodie inspiration!  We’ll be putting our feet up now and enjoying all of the indulgences that Christmas has to offer, so have a fantastic holiday and see you in 2012 (world-ending prophecies permitting!).


New Openings…

1305 Newsletter 14 December 2011Soho Whisky Club, W1

Soho Whisky Club has been launched by Vintage House, the renowned specialist whisky retailer that has been a beacon for malt-lovers since 1944.  The Club has been launched to provide a haven for discerning patrons with a passion for whisky and cigars.  With over 300 whiskies to explore and regular tastings and masterclasses, the intimate space also provides a place for enthusiasts to learn and share their experiences. The Club also has the benefit of a large roof terrace in which to enjoy a cigar in shelter and comfort during the cold season.  Membership is £200/year.

East Street, W1

East Street specialises in serving dishes traditionally found at bustling street-food markets and noodle vendors across far Eastern nations such as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan and Korea.  Featuring steaming noodle dishes, slow-cooked curries, sizzling stir-fries and sticky rice desserts to name a few, dishes are cooked to be tasty and healthy using fresh seasonal ingredients.  The atmosphere is authentically informal, with long tables designed for communal dining, whilst the keen pricing makes it ideal for a quick lunch or laid-back dinner.

Atrium, SW1

The latest opening from eccentric chef, Johnnie Mountain, Atrium heralds the beginning of a new culinary direction for Johnnie after the sale of his former restaurant in the City, The English Pig.  The venue provides two distinct dining styles, with The Atrium Floor providing a menu of ‘molecular meets traditional’ that is ideally suited for a long lunch or dinner;  the Terrace, on the other hand, keeps things more conventional for those after a quick bite, with dishes such as Fish & chips.  Adjacent to the open kitchen is also a bar area where visitors can relax in the big cosy armchairs whilst exploring the diverse wine list.

Christmas Drinks Special – Festive Tipples…

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Innis & Gunn Highland Cask Beer

If Christmas is about indulgence then beer drinkers need look no further than this limited edition brew from pioneering beer makers, Innis & Gunn.   Matured in oak barrels previously used to mature 18 year old single malt Scotch whisky from the Highlands of Scotland, the new Highland Cask is a smooth, complex and warming beer brewed to 7.1% abv. With its hearty toffee, oak and fruity flavours Highland Cask is ideal for savouring by the fireplace on a chilly winter’s day, but is equally well suited to pairing with red meat and rich puddings. £2.50 from Sainsbury’s.

Sipsmith Sloe Gin

Famous for converting a garage in Hammersmith into London’s first copper distillery in 200 years and going on to create some of the finest gin that the city has tasted in that time, it’s no surprise that the boys at Sipsmith sell-out of pretty much everything they make.  Perfect for Christmas, their Sloe Gin is only the third spirit they have released and it’s certainly worth seeking out.  A blend of their renowned Sipsmith London Dry Gin and Dartmoor sloe berries, its small batch production and outstanding ingredients gives it a rich taste and truly smooth drinking experience.  £23.50 from Waitrose and Majestic.

Drambuie 15

After decades of pretty much owning the whisky liqueur market with the original 12 Year Old variant, Drambuie has decided to look to the past to increase its appeal to modern drinkers with the launch of its 15 Year Old.  This new version has already earned the respect of the malt whisky world, which is no mean feat for a whisky liqueur, and is drawn from a quality selection of 15 year old Speyside Malts.  Selected for their soft, complex fragrance and flavour, the rare Speyside Malts ideally complement and balance the herbs and spicy aromas of Drambuie’s famed secret elixir to create an exciting and interesting new taste experience.  Around £35 from good spirits retailers, including

Baileys Biscotti

As hard as you may try, I defy anyone to go through Christmas without a little swig of Baileys along the way.  However, this year they have given us a reason to have a cheeky tipple with the launch of their utterly delicious new Biscotti flavour.  Infused with the essence of the traditional double baked Italian biscuit, the texture and flavour of Bailey’s Biscotti has a somewhat spooky way of making you want to chew it even though it’s a silky smooth liquid!  Drink neat or pimp your coffee with it and you won’t be disappointed!  Widely available for around £15

Highland Park 18 Year Old Whisky

Splash out this Christmas and indulge in a bottle of Highland Park 18.  With a hatful of awards and an impressive 95.5 points from The Whisky Bible, this 18 year old single malt is one of the most respected tipples in the whisky world.  Highland Park 18 provides a wonderfully rich and full flavoured drinking experience, with hints of honeyed fruit, peat and delicate spicing.  Often described as ‘Christmas cake in a glass’, it’s the ideal dram for the festive period.  Widely available for around £60.

Christmas Drinks Special – Fizz & Wine…

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Chapel Down Pinot Reserve 2005 Vintage

Fly the flag for Britain this Christmas with a bottle of festive fizz from the acclaimed Chapel Down Winery.   They may not be able to call it Champagne as it is produced in Kent, but in terms of quality and indulgent taste, this sparkling wine is up there with the best that France has to offer.  This fabulous fizz has a rich nose, reminiscent of toasted almonds, rhubarb and red berry crumble with light floral notes, and the palate continues with bold red berry characters and a yeasty complexity.  Costing £24.99, Pinot Reserve 2005 is great value, particularly when you consider its Vintage status. Available from and selected Majestic Wines

Sainsbury’s Blanc de Blanc Champagne

If it’s great Champagne on a budget you’re after, this is up there with the best.  Unlike most Champagnes that are blends of different grapes, this is only made from Chardonnay grapes, making it more elegant and delicate in style, with floral and citrus aromas and refreshing acidity. It’s also got the wine experts in a bit of a spin, having won Bronze in Champagne category at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2011 and a Silver at the International Wine & Spirits Competition 2011.  £20.99 from Sainsbury’s (on offer for £13.99 until 3 Jan 2012)

Freixenet Cava

Give your Christmas fizz a Mediterranean twist with the Freixenet range of Cava sparkling wines.  With their stylish bottles and range of endlessly quaffable varieties, we reckon they are great for providing the sparkle of Champagne without the pricetag.  There’s something for all tastebuds, including the Cordon Rosado (£9.49) for those partial to fruity flavours and the super-stylish Elyssia Gran Cuvée, with far drier and savoury flavours and a crisp finish.  Widely available in supermarkets.

Taylor’s LBV 2005 Port + Port Guide Website

Weird concoctions during our university days aside, Christmas is about the only time most of us come near a bottle of port.  Taylor’s LBV 2005 is one of the most popular due its versatility and easy drinking style that make it ideal with cheese or rich puddings.  However, if you want to get a little more adventurous, Taylors has just launched a website providing all manner of simple tips and advice on choosing a port, including matching it with food.  Who knows, it may even have you drinking port throughout the year!  Taylors LBV 2005 widely available for £13.79.  For advice on port visit

McGuigan Wines Classic Range

For a combination of great value and outstanding quality, look no further than the range from McGuigan Wines. Having recently been crowned International Wine Maker of the Year at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, the Australian company has decided to make choosing one of its wines easier with some clever new packaging.  With easy to understand tasting notes, food match ideas and a comprehensive range of the most popular wine styles, they should have something to complement everything you eat this Christmas.  Widely available for around £6.99/bottle.