A December Day

This particular December day was busier than most with endings as well as beginnings.       .

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Hal Borland

December day Continue reading

A Perfect Cellar in The Clock Tower

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerI’d arrived at St Pancras to find the Perfect Cellar in The Clock Tower. I could see the proud clock tower on this handsome Victorian building which has always delighted me whenever I was on the Euston Road, London.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock Tower I had been told that the entry was somewhat discreet so I walked into the station to search for the front door but was quickly distracted by the poet and writer, Sir John Betjeman, who was instrumental in saving St Pancras from demolition.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerBack outside I did find the correct entrance and was ushered up to the fifth floor and along a long, vaulted corridor to the east end of the building to the lofty room beneath the clock tower. Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerOriginally the winding room, when the building was refurbished at the turn of the century the clock was electrified releasing the grand, tall space which is now used as a party venue as well as a rather special suite to stay, known, unsurprisingly, as The Clock Tower.

The walls may have been stark but the welcome was warm from the Perfect Cellar team as well as colleagues from ThinkersPR. Principally an on-line wine merchant, The Perfect Cellar does have a shop in Clerkenwell, London.

There were just four wines on show, but what a show! Each of the wines was presented with an elegant display of fruit and spices indicative of the the aromas and flavours of each wine.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerTendil & Lombardi Champagne Brut Rosé
Mid rosé, red fruits, big red fruits, dry, good acidity, ascerbic acidity, weighty rich dark red fruit, chunky long. Pinot Noir

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerDecelle Villa Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay 2011
Pale greeny gold, gentle yellow fruits, dry, good acidity, stony minerality, biscuity with a crispness on the finish.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerTeso La Monja Victorino do Toro 2012
Deep ruby, dark black fruit, dry, maturing tannins, bags of red fruits, licorice, some toasty oak. Long, rich.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerMas Amiel Vintage Maury Rouge 2012
Deep ruby, with a bouquet of raspberries and cinnamon, lusciously sweet yet has sufficient acidity to not allow it to be cloying; as well as the red berry notes there are hints of ginger and candied peel.
A wine reminiscent of a good Port, it is a
real treat from Maury, Roussillon in the far south of France.

As we were tasting and talking we were offered small, plates of food, which complemented the wines well. They were prepared by a chef from La Belle Assiette, a specialist company who organise a service preparing meals in your home.

Perfect Cellar in The Clock Tower

From the small selection of wines on show and chatting to everyone involved with this wine merchant I can see how keen they are to encourage wine drinkers to discover good wines from small producers and different regions of France and, now, other countries.

Indeed, when you search the wines on the Perfect Cellar website, hover over the bottle picture to discover another image of the fruits and spices that describe the wines. A novel idea –  a sort of visual scratch and sniff…

Perfect Cellar in The Clock TowerGood night, St Pancras.

Statues and Spanish Grapes film in London

Spanish Grapes Film in LondonThe day was appropriately hot and sunny to attend a special screening of Zev Robinson’s Spanish Grapes film as well as see some sights in the heart of London on my walk to the venue.

Spanish Grapes Film in LondonSt Paul’s was thronged with tourists with city workers and tourists enjoying the sunshine and the public statues which appear all over London.

Spanish Grapes Film in London

The Lovers by Georg Ehrlich

In the shadow of St Paul’s I found the young loversContinue reading

Rocking It in Raglan

Rocking It in RaglanKiaora Bro! Hello! A Maori greeting emblazoned on the wall which matches the welcome from the friendly staff at this great little cafe in Raglan.

Rocking It in Raglan

A couple of hours from Auckland, nothing in the scheme of things!

We were staying with good friends who live near the little coastal town of Raglan, which has a laidback atmosphere because of several good surfing beaches nearby.

Rocking It in Raglan

gone surfin’. A sign seen on many shop doors in Raglan when the waves are rollin’

After an invigorating, blustery walk along the beach we’d worked up a good appetite we felt it was time to be rocking It in Raglan. It was time for brunch, one of New Zealand’s delightful customs. Brunch is a meal that seems to be served all day in many cafes and diners – fortunately none resembling the greasy spoons of yore in the UK!

The Rock-it cafe is a recent venture, situated in an unprepossessing shed which shows its origins. It started as a surfing shop, which still occupies part of the building,

Rocking It in Raglan

I dig Tractor Radio 88.2 Raglan

and also accommodates a local radio station’s studio, Tractor Radio 88.2 Raglan.

Rocking It in Raglan

Like so many places in New Zealand the welcome is terrific!

It was good to get out of the wind and choose from the menu displayed behind the counter. Most of the food is prepared on the premises using local produce where possible, with one exception that we discover later.

Rocking It in Raglan

We started with hot drinks. My particular NZ indulgence is a moccachino, a combination of hot chocolate and coffee. The former for, er, my memory and the latter for the kick! Another of New Zealand’s delights is the respect and pride they have for making good coffee, as here.

Click on the photos to see the dishes.

Rocking It in Raglan

Our food didn’t take long to arrive and, as you can see, it was a good thing that we’d been out for our invigorating walk!

A visit to Rock-it would not be complete without a taste of an intriguing speciality which I’d never heard of – the Cronut. Have you heard of this pastry?

A cross between a croissant and filled doughnut, this delicious (and calorific) confection is the exception to their home cooking rule as it is made by a specialist baker in Auckland.

Rocking It in Raglan

On a fine day as well as more seating on the deck there is a great safe open space

Rocking It in Raglan

and a tractor to play on.

We were intrigued by this bench-with-no-view… Click on photos to see why.

The Rock-it cafe serves delicious friendly food and is a good addition to what is on offer in Raglan. It has just been granted its alcohol licence and is open on Friday evenings as well as every daytime. As it is just outside the town by a creek you can paddle your kayak there!


Jazzy Street Eats, Auckland

Jazzy Street Eats

At the end of August the Auckland Restaurant Month finished with a day of Jazzy Street Eats in Shed 10, Queen’s Wharf.

With a diverse line up of central city restaurants serving up their favourite street food for this one day only. There were tastes from around the globe, from Middle Eastern shawarma to Asian summer rolls, Tuscan donuts and much more.

We arrived late in the day when some of the food was running out after the end of a very successful event. But we enjoyed sharing in the fun of the AKL Street Eats with everyone relishing the good food and wine as well as great music.

Dishes from around the world

There was wine, and beer, as well

Happy eaters

Busy kitchens

Interesting people…

Not forgetting traditional food trucks too

All served with great jazz by the Liam Neeson Tribute Band