Newsletter 11 July 2012

Cocktail Institutes, Strawberry Picking in Soho, Bourbon Bars, plus the latest Food News and Openings!

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News & Events…

The Courvoisier Institute of Grand Cocktails, WC1. 13-14 July

 Newsletter 11 July 2012Never one to do anything by halves (anyone remember the ballroom filled with punch?), Courvoisier are once again the talk of the town with their Institute of Grand Cocktails.  Courvoisier will take you on a tour through a once derelict institute at The Heritage Rooms in Bloomsbury Square, where you can explore a surreal world of cocktails past and present.  Set up by Courvoisier over a hundred years ago for the world’s grandest bartenders to perfect their cocktails, the Institute has returned for these two nights only.   Courvoisier will open the doors for you to explore three classic cocktails and their creative setting which has been frozen in time with three bartender characters still producing impeccable cocktails.  The one hour sessions cost £10, including cocktails from

Rioja Tapas Fantasticas, Potters Fields Park by Tower Bridge, 14-15 July

One of our favourite events, even the dodgy weather shouldn’t put a dampener on the Rioja Tapas Fantasticas Spanish food and wine festival.  Now in its fifth year, the popular festival celebrates the produce of the Rioja region in the north-east of Spain, renowned for its delicious food and wine.  Over 40 vibrant wine and tapas stalls will be present to provide a tasting of wines from some of Rioja’s most famous vineyards as well as tempting the tastebuds with mouth-watering tapas from London’s best Spanish restaurants.  Entry is free and most tastings and food inside are charged at very reasonable prices.

 Newsletter 11 July 2012
Pick Your Own Strawberries in Central London, W1. 11-13 July

Given that we are unlikely to have anything resembling a summer this year, we’ve got to commend companies such as Bloom Gin for putting on events like this to at least pretend the sun is here!  Amidst the bustle of Soho, Bloom is bringing a sense of calm for 3 days of strawberry picking in Central London, where the public can pick from rows of strawberries before enjoying a strawberry based Gin and Tonic!  47 Beak St, Soho.  Open from 12-8pm.  More details at

The Red Market Pop Up, E1, 6 July- 2 September

London’s original Night Market and Streetfood trailblazers The Red Market returns to the scene of last year’s successful run to pop up over the summer.  Returning with an urban beach scene, Petanque lanes, table tennis, giant screens showing movies and sport, and table comfy hammocks Red Market is an oasis in the middle of Old St from midday into the late evening.  The artistically inclined will no doubt also be impressed by the Red Market sculpture park, where around 50 UK and international artists will showcase their talents as well as providing the setting for an unseen piece of work by Banksy.  A regular programme of live music, dance and theatre completes what promises to be one of the most exciting spaces in London this summer.


New Openings…

Dach & Sons, NW3
Fluid Movement, the award-winning quartet behind Purl and Worship Street Whistling Shop have set their compass to North for the launch of their latest venture in Hampstead.  Specialising in hot dogs and sliders, craft beer and American whisky, the project is a bold departure from the conspicuous prohibition and Victoriana gin palace vibe of the current venues.  Such is their commitment to the food offering that they have even employed an in-house butcher to produce their own sausages, burgers and frankfurters.  The ground floor of Dach & Sons showcases a restrained, industrial aesthetic, taking its cue from New York-style interiors, whilst the first floor sees the installation of a second outpost of their Purl cocktail concept that specialises in theatrical, scientifically conceived concoctions.

Champagne + Fromage, W1

 Newsletter 11 July 2012Champagne and cheese, two of France’s most exciting exports, have come together for the opening of Champagne + Fromage, a shop-cum-bistro selling the best of both in Covent Garden.  The shop itself is Gallic at its most annoyingly gorgeous: displays of Champagne, cheese and charcuterie make for a chic centrepiece, whilst mismatched furniture and reclaimed materials – including bright red chairs sourced from Parisian bistros and old wine crates from drunken days gone by – add a stamp of authentic French flair. The focal point is the fabulously oversized fromagerie that’ll have foodies tripping over themselves to fall inside.  The bubbles will have amateurs and enthusiasts excited too, with the venue championing ‘grower’ Champagne (the great value stuff made by independent producers which is often far better than the fizz from the big brands).

Mazi, W8

Mazi aims to turn out-dated misconceptions of Greek cuisine on their head by combining traditional produce and classic recipes with a modern twist.  The informal tone of the venue is set by a large communal table where visitors can grab a quick bite and a coffee; for those after a more intimate experience, regular seating is also available.  The menu features dishes such as Warm Feta Pastry Marinated in Honey & Black Sesame and Lobster with Orzo Pasta.   Mazi also features a deli with a selection of Greek delicacies such as Fava from Santorini, Thyme & Pine Wild Honey from Thassos, Handmade Orzo as well as wine and premium spirits, all imported from artisan producers in Greece.


Try This Week…

 Newsletter 11 July 2012Gin Mare

Forget about the torrential downpours and get into the Mediterranean spirit quite literally with Gin Mare (pronounced mar-ray).  The gin is the product of a new generation of a family with a long history of distilling fine spirits in the very heart of the Mediterranean on the beautiful Costa Dorada.  An artisan approach sees the unique botanicals including Arbequina Olive, Thyme, Rosemary and Basil distilled separately in a Florentine copper pot still before being hand blended to produce a distinctive gin with smoothly balanced big bold flavours.  If you like your martini’s dirty then this is definitely the gin for you and Gin Mare also adds an interesting dimension to a classic G&T.  Available for around £35 from good drinks specialists and online retailers.


David Oliver Fresh Ragu Sauces

 Newsletter 11 July 2012With their emphasis on fresh ingredients and using traditional slow cooking methods, David Oliver Fine Foods has done a great job of making ready meals an acceptable dining practice for those of us who enjoy eating but don’t have time to cook.  Following the success of their classic country meals based on game and wild foods, the range has been expanded to include four new rich and delicious ragu sauces.  Forget humdrum Bolognese, this range includes recipes such as slow-braised British pork with red wine, smoked bacon & rosemary and Rabbit with cider & sage.  The sauces are a great accompaniment to pasta or as a topping for a jacket potato, but our favourite is to serve them simply with some crusty bread and a side salad.  Available from selected Waitrose stores, Ocado and for around £3.70



OXO Tower Brasserie, SE1

 Newsletter 11 July 2012Given the OXO’s stunning views across the Thames and central London, its popularity isn’t necessarily a surprise.  However, it still has to back up the style with substance and it’s with the cooking that the Brasserie really shows why the venue has stood the test of time.  Credit here has to go to Head chef Deon Jansen, who has created a quintessentially modern brasserie menu with a diverse range of dishes handpicked from around the globe.  Moreover, should summer ever decide to make an appearance, there aren’t too many better places in London to watch the world go by than the OXO Tower Bar, particularly if you step out onto the terrace. 


Meter Bar & Eatery, EC1

What do you get when you let a DJ open a restaurant?  Massive slices of pizza apparently! Meter offers a slice of Italy in urban Shoreditch, where Italy’s finest export – pizza – is served by the meter alongside an exciting drinks list, all set to a discerning soundtrack thanks to owner, acclaimed DJ James Priestley.  Meter provides suitably laid back but tasty sustenance for the DJs, artists and fashionistas that make up the regular crowd.  Fortunately James is just as discerning with his taste in food as he is about his music, which means the undeniably stylish concept is backed up by some seriously good food.