Angela Hartnett – W1

October 23, 2006

Hmmm.

Ok. So, you decide to arrange a pleasant combo social/business dinner on a Sunday evening for some Middle Eastern clients who normally stay on Park Lane. Why not Angela Hartnett?

It starts well. Efficient reservation staff is usually a good sign and A.H. has great reservation staff.

Following a drink at the Dorchester Bar (mid-90’s interior design realised in the mid-00’s with awful music too loud, although they have Junipero, so… they can be forgiven), we hopped in a taxi (I know, ALL THE WAY) to the Connaught.

I have to say, before continuing, that I adore the Connaught. It is, without a doubt, the best kept secret in London for a charming drink, a good meal, and a roaring fire in Mayfair. But for all of that, we were off to A.H.
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Cellar Gascon & Comptoir Gascon – EC1

October 21, 2006

Whenever I get the opportunity to pop into Cellar Gascon, I try to take it. Cellar Gascon
Last week, I had a meeting in the City and on my way up to Farringdon station I popped in for a quick glass of the Cotes de Gascogne (£6) and a read of Le Monde which is always there. It’s great if you can get in before the city crowds make it, and have a seat at the bar, and a chat with the barman (who, from the southwest of France, is probably a runner up in the cute waiter department).

Meeting up with some friends at the Cellar on Friday, we enjoyed a bottle of the Chateau de Sabazan which is one of our own personal favourites at home. img_sabazan_cotesdesaintmont_1995.jpg
Sabazan is a charming spot in the south of the Gers, and the wine produced from the vines there by Plaimont is one of their best. Available here in London at Nicolas for around £12 – £15, a bottle at the Cellar is still reasonable at £24. Sabazan is produced on 16 hectares and kept in oak for 10 – 14 months at the chateau before bottling. If you end up in the Gers, then I encourage a quick stop in Sabazan if just to admire the view (the chateau remains private).

After some drinkettes at the Cellar, we moved on to the Comptoir…
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Cep Success!

September 30, 2006

After a bit of hunting around at Borough Market on Friday afternoon, I finally managed to find some ceps! Well, to be fair, I only took half of one given that they were going for £50 a kilo. (Meanwhile, one of the tantes in the southwest of France has been out collecting twice in the past week and has managed to find 250 ceps.)

Together with some diced confit, the Frog (about whom you’ll learn more over time) made the famous tartelettes with ceps and confit covered in puff pastry. They’re then turned out to make a sort of savoury tarte tatin. A recipe to follow!

We had Lawyer Boy (LB) over for dinner, and opened up a magnum of Ch. Haut Batailley 1995. Drinking perfectly now for those of you who have it in the cellar. For those of you who don’t, I recommend talking to Goedhuis & Company, an excellent London based wine merchant that stores its wines with Octavian. They deliver 3 cases or more for free, and they always have the inside line on what is interesting.

After the tartes, I whipped up some veal chops, panfried and then deglazed the pan with some Sancerre in order to make a sauce with girolles and cream. The veal was accompanied by an aligot, the traditional French potato puree with garlic, creme fraiche, and cantal cheese. And to top off the mains, some julienned carrots and small onions, steamed and glazed. For dessert, mini sticky toffee puddings for everyone. Yum!

Today, we’re making some veal stock for future use. And, having found some beautiful English plums at Borough, I’ve made a quick half litre of plum jam.