Wine

Wine

There’s a new’ish place on the King’s Road for meat lovers. Or more specifically, jamon fans. It’s called Casa Manolo and recently I paid a long overdue visit with Gary from The Foodaholic. With both of us living locally, it was the obvious choice for our first catch-up since our original meeting. Plus it was the latest Chelsea opening, which we both had to check out.

Casa Manola King's Road

Located halfway down the King’s Road, a few doors along from The Ivy Chelsea Garden and almost opposite Sydney street, Casa Manolo is a jamon and … Casa Manola King's Road

… and wine shop where you can also … Casa Manola King's Road

… pick up some cheese and wonderful anchovies as spotted by Gary. I can’t remember where they come from but if love anchovies (which I do), it’s worth stopping by to have a look.
Casa Manola King's Road

As well as the store, there are also stools which you can perch on to order something from the menu. To start with, I ordered a glass of Rioja which was gorgeous. Deep in body and rich in flavour. Casa Manola King's Road

And whilst we waited for our food, we were served a black pudding-esque amuse-bouche which I surprisingly enjoyed. Casa Manola King's Road

For our starters, Gary and I had some bread with tomato sauce. Needless to say with such a description, I was enjoying the conversation too much to scribble down the precise names of each dish. Apologies.Casa Manola King's Road

We also chose some jamon. It’d be very very wrong not to. And along with the wine, this was exactly what I wanted from the evening. Something light but satisfying in every way. Casa Manola King's Road

Gary had ordered the prawns dish for his main. Admittedly these weren’t identical to the Twitter snapshot making its rounds as I learned. But I tasted the sauce which had a lot more depth than your average garlic butter. It had substance and I loved it.Casa Manola King's Road

Me? I ordered the duck leg because as soon as we sat down I saw a man enjoying his dish and I simply asked for ‘whatever he’s having’. Casa Manola King's Road

The menu here is very simple and authentic. For the time you are sitting down you do feel as if you’ve walked in off the streets of Madrid. Casa Manola King's Road

But it’s not just the setting, the food and wine that make this place authentic. Most of the staff are also from Madrid and a lot of their charm is that they are new to London too. This just adds to the feeling that you could easily be wining and dining in Spain.

Casa Manolo, 187 King’s Road, London SW3 5EB. 
Chelsea Girl

I popped into Casa Brindisa in South Kensington recently. It had taken me so long to try this place out because in terms of local tapas, I don’t think you can get much better than the trio of Cambio de Tercio restaurants on Old Brompton Road.

But given Casa Brindisa’s close proximity to where we were when we decided to find somewhere to eat – pronto, we decided to give it a go … and we weren’t disappointed. 
Casa Brindisa

For drinks, I stuck to the Valenciso Reserva 2007 Rioja – just a responsible couple of glasses on a Sunday evening.
Casa Brindisa

And for our tapas dishes, we ordered the patatas bravas … Casa Brindisa

Garlic prawns with chilli … (It’s worth holding onto the dish when the prawns are finished to dip your bread into.)
Casa Brindisa

Octopus leg on garlic mash which was SO good. The freshness of the octopus and the flavours of this meaty dish made me very pleased we had decided to try this place.

Casa Brindisa

We also shared the chorizo on toast … Casa Brindisa

And finally, a chicken dish which was a lightly zesty alternative to the other dishes which had deeper flavours.

Casa BrindisaThe restaurant was packed and buzzy and no wonder why. The food is dependable and the wine recommendation hit the spot.

There are a few of these restaurants in London: Soho, Shoreditch and London Bridge, along with the South Kensington one. And if I fancied tapas again and was anywhere near the other locations, I would consider popping in.

Casa Brindisa, 7-9 Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2HE.

Hello September, my favourite month! It’s good to see you finally. You are my birthday month, my anniversary month and I just love watching the seasons change. And as much as I love summer, when it comes to London fashion I can’t help but love autumn fashion too.

So what do you have in store for us this year?

… Ah right …

1. So this is one for Formula One fans, movie fans and anyone who is excited about the Niki Lauda biopic, RUSH, due out this month. There will be a screening and live Q&A with the film’s screenwriter, Peter Morgan, on 5th September at 6.15pm. You can book your tickets here.

2. Sadly Vogue Fashion Night Out won’t be happening in London this year but Somerset House will be hosting Vodafone’s London Fashion Weekend from 19th until 22nd September 2013. To find out more about the events and how to purchase tickets, click here.

3. Admittedly, I’ve never been to a singles night before so I can’t say what to expect from Lust & Love London’s next event at Beaufort House on 5th September. But it does sound like it could be fun. Find out more here.

LOVE LUST LONDON.jpg-large

4. The Scotch Egg challenge is back and it’s another excuse for local Chelsea folks to head back over the water to The Ship Wandsworth on 17th September, if you’re not heading over before. There will also be a Scotch Egg auction from the likes of Whyte and Brown; Fino; The British Larder; Duck & Waffle; The Modern Pantry; Cinnamon Club and last year’s Challenge winner the Bladebone Inn, with all proceeds going to Action Against Hunger. Find out more about the auction and live event here.

5. London Cru, which is London’s first winery and is located in Earls Court, is about to start making wine from its first delivery of grapes. The public will be able to tour the venue which will also be open for events, wine-making experiences and courses from November. And I can’t wait to taste the wine!

“Food is music to the body, music is food to the heart.”

– Gregory David Roberts

Barbarella’s relaunch party was such a blast that I was keen to return, to try the restaurant as soon as I could. So I headed back down there a few days later.

I had all sorts of imaginings on how the night would play out. With tables and banquets around the dance floor, Carlito’s Way did cross my mind. But a gangster’s den, Barbarella certainly is not.

Sitting at our table, there were a couple of large birthday parties as well as smaller tables of more intimate groups around us. One set seemed to have turned up for just the food whilst everyone else was there for the whole night.

When you arrive at the start of the evening, the tables are laid out and presented very tastefully: the glamorous dining experience is underpinned by an understated chicness.

Official Press Photo

And when you first look at the food menu, it is so easy to wonder about the quality of the dishes. After all, first and foremost, Barbarella’s first impression is clearly a nightclub. And from experience, late-night dining isn’t always the best – with a few rare gems scattered around London

But as soon as I tasted my first bite of the starter, any such musings had quickly dissipated. The prawn and lobster cocktail was too good to allow any further doubt to seep in. The wonderful 70s-esque presentation aside (and you know how I love most things served in a martini glass) – the ingredients were fresh and tasty. The prawn and lobster were juicy and the sauce was spot on.

For my main, I had the seared tuna loin with caramelised onions. Admittedly, I had relished most of it by the time I remembered to take a photo. So unfortunately, there is no photographic evidence of another well-presented dish. As for the tuna, it was cooked exactly how I like it. It’s so easy to overcook tuna. That’s why I hardly choose it when eating out. But in this circumstance, my request was translated eloquently onto my plate and my tuna was perfectly pink – and not a dull grey – in the middle.

For my dessert, I ordered the tiramisu which was heavenly! You know when you’re in a public place and the last thing you try to do is scrape every last bit of your pudding, off your plate? Well, that.

There was a custardy topping that increased its moreish appeal. I know, I know, tiramisu doesn’t have custard. But trust me when I say, this really works!

After dessert, the bf and I didn’t want to leave. The place was getting busier as more people were turning up for the club. So we decided to order another bottle of wine and stay longer. And after some time later and another empty bottle, it was time to stretch our legs and head to the bar.

Official Press Photo

As we paid the food bill and stood up, we headed around the corner to find that the bar was already quite packed out. Leaving the restaurant vibe and stepping into a bar, without having to leave the building was pretty awesome – especially as you felt like you’d walked into somewhere new.

In the meantime, the table cloths and cutlery were being taken away as diners finished their meals. And as we continued our circular tour of the venue, past the booths and onto the dance floor, it was time to burn off the yummy pudding until the early hours of the morning.

Am so going back! x

Barbarella’s website.

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

  Edith Sitwell

The Builders Arms is one of my favourite pubs in Chelsea. It sits on one side of St. Luke’s Gardens whilst my first school sits on the other side. And for me, it is the perfect wintry pub in London. Nestled on a back street behind the King’s Road, this pub feels like a home away from home. It’s cosy and serves up good hearty meals as well as fine wines.

Last week’s bloggers’ food and wine matching evening was a celebration of what works so well for The Builders Arms. With the wine being selected by Ellis of Richmond and the menu carefully prepared by the pub’s fabulous chef, I was finally ready to settle into the mood of winter feasting.

The menu included …

Quail “Hindle Wake” matched with Roaring Meg Pinot Gris 2011, Central Otago, NZ

Brandade of Salt Cod & Potato matched with Gavi di Gavi’ Ca do Bosio Single Vineyard’ 2011 Piedmont, Italy

Roast Saddle of Mutton Stuffed with Sweets Breads, Seared Giroles, Dripping Scones & Pan Gravy Watercress Salad matched with Tinto Roble Tempranillo, Bodega Vina Vilano 2011 Ribera del Duero, Spain and Sangiovese Cabernet, Ripa delle Mandorle 2011, Tuscany, Italy

And finally …

Eccles Cake, Shorrocks Lancashire Bomb matched with Muscat Beaumes de Venise, Vidal Fleury, France

Who would have thought that you could match an Eccles cake with a slice of cheese but it does absolutely work. Admittedly, it crossed my mind that a large slice of ice cream was on the plate instead of the Lancashire Bomb but I discovered soon enough that Eccles cake and cheese was in fact a delightful pairing – and quite moreish! 

Whilst we were sipping, scoffing and chatting away that night, Geronimo Inns also won Pub Company of the Year at the R200 Awards. *Cheers guys and congratulations!*

Another great excuse to pop into The Builders Arms is to take time out from shopping on the King’s Road. I, for one, love escaping there – as much as I love the hibernating feeling of being holed up in a pub with a glass of red and some good pub grub on a winter’s evening. True winter bliss!

13 Britten Street, Chelsea, London SW3 3TY. 020 7349 9040.

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