Archives for posts with tag: Tony Conigliaro

Sometimes a few different influences coincide to deliver something new to me and by putting them together I have an exciting discovery. This week it was of the alcohol variety

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In the past few weeks I have been finishing the Christmas buying for our shops and invariably the December purchases revolve around alcohol as much as anything else. I was pointed towards Termini Negroni – a bottle that the guys had been served at a party. It was made by cocktail guru Tony Conigliaro and looks super lovely as well as apparently tasting pretty good too. In his blog (where I sourced the pic), Mr Conigliaro talks about the fact that they combine the ingredients and then cook them sous vide to really fuse all the flavours and ensure consistency. This is apparently called flash fusing – read more here.

I then looked up the recipe for a classic negroni which is one part each of gin, vermouth rosso and campari garnished with orange peel and served over ice. It is a little too full on for me, but it got me thinking about sofagirl from Campari and Sofa and I was just going to e mail her when another bottle came to light.

This time, it was a bottle of Vermouth from the clever team at The Ethicurean. I only recently discovered this team of food and drink enthusiasts who seem to be doing lovely things with food from the Barley Wood walled garden down near Bristol as well as supporting smaller artistic projects so they are most certainly on my list to visit right now. But in the meantime, I was able to meet a couple of them the other weekend when I popped along to the Do Market to meet the team behind The Do Book Co. The market was a combination of the fashionable Shoreditch set so a bit young and hip for me but all that changed when I discovered the Vermouth stand and I was hooked.

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The Collector Vermouth is made from 20 botanicals picked at the Ethicurean’s walled garden and the surrounding Mendip Hill. It has taken three years of experimenting with herbal combinations and alcoholic processes to perfect their drink but they certainly have it right now. It has a purity of flavour that really does capture the essence of the herbs and is so wonderfully packaged and branded that I just had to get a bottle.

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We tried it in the office as soon as I got back to work and everyone loved it. The recommendation is to simply have it over ice with a bay leaf in it but I was convinced that there was something between the pure Vermouth and the Negroni inspiration so made a mix of my own. I knew that there needed to be a nod to the orange/citrus flavour, so simply mixed it with freshly squeezed clementine juice which is seasonally available from Pret these days and hey presto…a simple yet very effective cocktail to be proud of.

Now all I need is the expertise of Sofagirl, who is the best person I know to experiment with cocktails so when are you coming over to try some?

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The man himself - Bruno Loubet

The man himself – Bruno Loubet

Bruno Loubet was my first chef crush.

I remember him turning carrots at the BBC Good Food Show many many years ago and I was in awe of someone who could be so passionate about a little orange vegetable. Many years later I was equally enamoured by another carrot loving chef, this time Dan  Barber of Blue Hill. Dan was extolling the virtues of his carrots, grown organically at his Blue Hill restaurant on Stone Barns farm.

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Course number one of our incredible meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns

These little beauties demonstrate the benefit of great sourcing and respectful farming, which add up to something oh so much better. Our first few courses at that restaurant were all raw, eaten without cutlery and just super super tasty. No carrot has ever tasted sweeter and if you don’t believe me, listen to the podcast and see what Dan has to say.

But back to Bruno, I followed him ever since the food show, trying his various signature recipes and eating at his restaurants until he escaped to Australia. On his return, he went back to classic Loubet land at the Zetter hotel, but it was apparently only a toe in whilst he brought to us his new approach to food which is now well and truly launched at The Grain Store. It is said to have been 2 years in the making and a concept that he has wanted to create for many more years than that.

The overall premise is to respect the vegetable as much as the protein. This is not a vegetarian restaurant and nor would you expect that from a classic French chef, but Bruno certainly redresses the balance and that ticks lots of boxes for me. The decor is funky, the menu interesting and there are great cocktails to match. Partnering up with the equally fabulous Tony Conigliaro is another sign that Bruno has his finger on the current pulse. There is a great cocktail menu including some wonderful non-alcoholic ones. My French Blonde came complete in a brandy glass and was just fabulous.

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Overall, I enjoyed the tone of the place. It is open, honest and just a little bit quirky. The designers have had some fun with this one and at times it is a little bit over done but it adds up to something different and I like that. The best bit for me is the kitchen itself which is at the heart of this vast space, with Loubet plonk in the centre conducting the orchestra. He is an imposing host at the centre of the modular pass with nothing separating the kitchen from the seating. It’s almost as if we are sitting in his kitchen somewhere in the country….and that’s hard to create in the middle of Kings Cross.

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Loubet is trying to show us that we don’t have to eat meat to eat a meal. It goes back to the way his family ate and the truth is that most people shouldn’t be eating meat every day. Not only is it not great for you (or your purse) but it’s also not great for the environment. We shouldn’t need to breed the amount of animals that are projected to be needed just to suffice our appetites. Loubet understands this and is leading the way. Clearly people are following and I would recommend you do too.