Sunday, August 30, 2015

Craggy Range Chardonnay Kidnappers Vineyard 2011

Date of Tasting: 17 April 2015
Wine Type: White
Grape Varieties: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 13%
Origin: Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
Appellation: Te Awanga
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR15
Chubby Appreciation: 89/100
Critics' Opinion: WS - 89/100, WE - 87/100, JS - 91/100, FS - 87/100, JR - 16/20, CT - 88/100

Appearance: Light yellow
Aroma: Aroma of citrus and tropical fruits. Undertone fresh herbs.
Palate: Medium-full and creamy on the palate with balance of crisp acidity and minerality. Notes of apple and lemon. Clean and pure. Dry and stony.

Clean, crisp, and subtlety in style. It is a great table wine as well as for drinking as aperitif. I like the way that it does not need much attention to enjoy it at the same time it can still manage to keep its momentum throughout. This perhaps exhibits the style in the similar pace to Chablis. Its life might not last long and it might as well last long in your cellar. Cheers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

L'Enclume @ Cartmel, United Kingdom

Cuisine: British
Charged Price: GBP55 per person
Visited: 25 June 2015
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 8/10
Services: 8/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

L'Enclume at Cartmel, which is in Lake District area and not far from Windermere, is definitely a place worth detour if you happen to be in the area. Cartmel is a historic small village and L'Enclume is an old house converted into restaurant headed by Chef Simon Rogan. Within the dining hall, clients can still feel the touch of original structure whilst the relaxed contemporary additional decoration provides comfortable environment. I love the fact that there is a small part which can accommodate around 5 tables in the glasshouse overlooking the garden of L'Enclume: pretty relax indeed.

What I would like to emphasise further is that L'Enclume in Cartmel is not just a destination for dining. The village itself is also beautiful. A slow walk around the village before or after a meal there is not a bad idea at all. In addition, service here is as wonderful as its environment. Staffs were friendly and attentive. As for knowledge wise, they were pretty much clear about explanation of each dish.

L'Enclume @ Cartmel, United Kingdom

the old building on Cavendish Street of L'Enclume

converted contemporary interior

seats in the glasshouse

L'Enclume may be a destination for British food. However, dishes are not quite classical, there are modern technique and twist incorporated in each dish. The restaurant also owns an organic farm within a close range which provides vegetable for the restaurant.

During the meal, in-house sourdough was the bread of the meal. It was nice as in good standard sourdough. The nice twist is that it was served along butter and pork fat. Yes, pork fat. Flavourful indeed. I have to say that this is a nice little touch. If you ever use pork fat to stir-fry vegetable, you will realise the difference in the taste. We often use pork fat in the family and I love it.

For wine list, the range is quite wide with moderate marked up. Some are priced at higher multiple whilst some are in acceptable range. During the meal, I went for wine by glass instead with one on white and one on red. The price for wine by glass is usually of course more expensive but there are interesting ones to try. For white wine, I had Domaine des Huards Cour-Cheverny Cuvee Francois 1er Vieille Vignes 2009 (90/100) at the price of GBP8.00 per glass. This is an organic and biodynamic wine produced from Romorantin grape. It showed excellent apricot, peach, and honey notes with mild peppery touch. Medium body on the structure. Lively, refreshing, and delicate. A wonderful Romorantin wine from Cour-Cheverny in Loire, it is. Pretty nice table wine that is worth stocking up if you could find in market. 

To follow the organic and biodynamic range of white wine, I chose to go for Domaine Genoux Chateau de Merande La Belle Romaine 2012 (89/100), at GBP9.00 per glass, for red wine. This is a 100% Mondeuse Noire, which is a rare ancient red grape from the region of Savoie Arbin in France. It was light ruby in colour like those of young Pinot Noir. The present of tar, spices, and ripe red fruits aroma were lovely. Medium on the body with fine tannins grain. I believe it is accessible young. Another nice table wine. 

sourdough with butter and pork fat

Domaine des Huards Cour-Cheverny Cuvee Francois 1er VV 2009

Domaine Genoux Chateau de Merande La Belle Romaine 2012

At L'Enclume, you can forget the typical a la carte choices. There are only tasting menus here. During lunch time, they also provide less courses choice. As in my case, the 6-course lunch was priced at GBP45.00 per head. You may choose for higher level which should be around 15 courses more or less depending on the day.

The first course was Cod 'yolk' with Pea Shoot, Salt and Vinegar (8/10). It was creamy and fatty with crunchy texture of pea shoot which was fresh indeed. Flavour was fairly subtle but just a bit too much on saltiness. It was then followed by Salt Baked Carrot, Westcombe, Cured Pork and Savoury (9/10). This was one of my favourite dish of the meal. It was a very very carrot dish. Carrot soup was being poured onto below grilled carrots. This small bite dish was coupled along with starchy texture ball and cured pork. The sweetness of carrots balanced well with saltiness of cured pork.

Cod 'yolk' with Pea Shoot, Salt and Vinegar

Salt Baked Carrot, Westcombe, Cured Pork and Savoury

The last one for the first half was Short Horn, Charcoal Oil, Mustard, Apple and Celeriac (10/10). Hey, this was an excellent beef tartare. It was lean but tender. The perfume of charcoal oil was wonderful. Mustard was light and paired perfectly with celeriac.

Short Horn, Charcoal Oil, Mustard, Apple and Celeriac

The final course of savoury was being guinea fowl: Guinea Fowl, Broad Beans, Beetroot and Blackberry Vinegar (9/10). Fowl is typically not my kind of preferred ingredient. However, Simon Rogan and the team made it deliciously. The texture was tender and juicy. The pate served along with added even more flavour to the dish. Sweetness of beetroot, beetroot puree, and blackberry vinegar added complexity to the picture. The last touch of broad beans gave the firmer texture. Brilliant.

Guinea Fowl, Broad Beans, Beetroot and Blackberry Vinegar

For the last two dishes, they were dessert. The first one was lighter and fresher: Almond, Pear, Caramel (10/10), whilst the second one was more fulfilling: Yogurt, Rhubarb, Sorrel and Flowers (9/10). The almond and pear was my kind of dessert. The almond was a creamy ice-cream whilst pear was fine granita. The burnt caramel in contrast provided both texture, aroma, and taste differently. Minor details were then almond flakes and pear pieces. Tremendous dish, it was. For the last one, it was just so beautiful. The overall impression was like having yoghurt with musli for breakfast but a superb light breakfast. Yoghurt mousse was well prepared and balanced out with rhubarb compote and granita which were sweet and sour. Some might dislike rhubarb but trust me, you can forget the old story of yours. The refreshing aroma of flowers was from the restaurant's organic farm.

In brief, this is a must visit restaurant in Lake District. Don't miss it.

Almond, Pear, Caramel

Yogurt, Rhubarb, Sorrel and Flowers

L'Enclume @ Cartmel, United Kingdom
Cavendish Street
Cumbria, LA11 6PZ
United Kingdom

Open Hours: daily from 12:00pm - 01:30pm for lunch (except Monday) and 06:30pm - 09:00pm for dinner
Tel: +44 (0) 153 953 6362

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fontodi Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna del Sorbo 2009

Date of Tasting: 15 April 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 90% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol: 14.5%
Origin: Tuscany, Italy
Appellation: Chianti Classico DOCG
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR50
Chubby Appreciation: 92/100
Critics' Opinion: WA - 94/100, AG - 95/100, WS - 90/100, JS - 95/100, FS - 93/100, CT - 92/100

Appearance: Dense red
Aroma: Tobacco, tar, oak, spices, and mild red berries
Palate: Rich and full. Fine dusty but sweet and velvety tannins. Notes of ripe fruits. Hint of vanilla, tea, and mushroom. Fresh acidity.

Fresh but energetic at the same time. Flaccianello range of Fontodi may be great but Chianti Classico Vigna del Sorbo, on the other hand, cannot be overlooked. It is almost as impressive with complexity but more reasonable priced. However, the overall structure is more like hybrid: not traditional nor modern. Enjoy with rich dishes now and 10 years to go.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chan & Yupa Tearoom @ Soi Sukhumvit 10, Bangkok - ฉันท์ แอนด์ ยุพา ทีรูม @ ซอยสุขุมวิท 10 กรุงเทพฯ

Cuisine: International Food
Charged Price: THB400 per person without alcohol
Visited: 24 May 2015
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 7/10
Services: 6/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

There may be hundreds of tearoom and restaurant kind of place around. However, there is hardly any place that really touches my heart in Bangkok. Chan & Yupa Tearoom in Soi Sukhumvit 10, on the other hand, has just been recently launched and it makes a lot of sense for me: nice atmosphere and decent food in brief. The venue is a house converted restaurant with lovely decoration in a comfy country style. As for location, it might be exactly convenient with some 5 minutes plus walk from BTS Asoke Station as the closest mass public transport. Driving here is a more convenient choice for me. If in doubt of its location, just find Chuvit Garden on Sukhumvit Road and the restaurant is just a few hundred metres in the alley next to the park. Please bear in mind that this place does not operate during dinner meal: i.e. breakfast and lunch only.

Chan & Yupa Tearoom @ Soi Sukhumvit 10, Bangkok

relaxing garden view

cosy home-like dining room

glasshouse corner perhaps

fancy low tea???

In term of menu, it ranges from Thai dishes to international variety. What really impressed me is the quality to price ratio. I think what customers get here comparing to what you will pay is conclusively reasonable: decent portion, tasty, quality ingredients, and not exaggerated price.

As for us, the savoury range we had was Rocket Salad with Sausage (6/10), Spicy Sausage Spaghetti (6/10), Carbonara Spaghetti (5/10), and Egg Benedict with Salmon (6/10). Rocket salad was enjoyable with a touch of fresh crispiness of radish to go with balsamic vinaigrette. Spicy sausage spaghetti was, in contrast, a pasta dish in a more local style. This kind of pasta is always pleasant as long as level of spiciness has been stated correctly and always always al dente. Carbonara, however, was less impressive. I just expected more of cheesiness and fattiness.....Opppsssss!!!!! Lastly, egg benedict with salmon was a well prepared classic dish. If I could get up very early, popping by this place for breakfast with egg benedict would indeed be fantastic. In addition, Strawberry, Banana, and Yoghurt Smoothie (7/10) was unexpectedly delicious: smooth and rich but not overly sweetened.

Rocket Salad with Sausage (THB155)

Spicy Sausage Spaghetti (THB185)

Carbonara Spaghetti (THB185)

Egg Benedict with Salmon (THB235)

Strawberry, Banana, and Yoghurt Smoothie (THB130)

Dessert range was as well in line with savoury dishes. Cakes are mostly priced at THB110 a piece. We had White Chocolate Cake (5/10) and Chocolate Truffle Cake (6/10). Both were delightful but chocolate truffle cake was more like my style with rich and flavourful character in overall. On the other hand, you may feel like having a sort of structured dessert, Yupa's Style Waffle (6/10) was awesome too. Classic quality waffle to go with slices of banana and maple syrup, what else would you request. For me, the one I like most amongst these desserts was Chocolate Lava with Ice-cream (7/10). Baked to the right point such that molten chocolate inside flow out nicely. Nice chocolate touch and balance. Only if the ice-cream possesses creamier texture, the overall picture of this dish would be tremendous.

These sweets were definitely sweet and rich. Cups of tea would be a perfect compliment and I did not hesitate to order one. Nymph of the Nile Gryphon Tea was the chosen one. It was white tea with aroma of floral. Light on the body and possesses notes of roses. It was such a perfect one to go with rich and creamy sweets. At Chan and Yupa, they operate in a traditional style still. Meaning, you may ask for hot water refill when your pot of tea runs out of water. Of course, as long as your tea is strong enough, refilling with hot water or diluting strong tea in the pot with hot water are standard practices (at least in my sense).

Well, this is a highly recommended tearoom and restaurant. A very good one to relax and chitchatting with friends or a comfy lunch with family. Try out yourself, I suggest.

White Chocolate Cake (THB110)

Chocolate Truffle Cake (THB110)

Yupa's Style Waffle (THB140)

Chocolate Lava with Ice-cream (THB180)

Nymph of the Nile Gryphon Tea (THB125)

Chan & Yupa Tearoom @ Soi Sukhumvit 10, Bangkok - ฉันท์ แอนด์ ยุพา ทีรูม @ ซอยสุขุมวิท 10 กรุงเทพฯ
12 Soi Sukhumvit 10
Sukhumvit Road
Khlong Toei
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: Tue - Sun from 08:00am - 06:00pm
Tel: +66 (0) 2252 6601

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Red Wine 2009

Date of Tasting: 25 March 2015
Wine Type: Red
Grape Varieties: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec
Alcohol: 15.2%
Origin: Washington, USA
Appellation: Columbia Valley
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR60
Chubby Appreciation: 92/100
Critics' Opinion: WA - 94/100, ST - 91/100, CT - 92/100

Appearance: Deep crimson
Aroma: Herbs, smoke, cocoa, tobacco and black fruits
Palate: Full on the palate. Deep exotic spices. Sweet ripe berries, chocolate, graphite, and oakiness. Fine and smooth tannins.

Needless to say much. This second wine from Quilceda Creek is surely one of the top of New World wine from Washington. It is sexy and yet opulent. Ones will indeed enjoy a big punch of this bordeaux blend. It is ready now and should be fabulous at least 5 years ahead. Quilceda Creek Red Wine 2009 will surely be a perfect compliment with red meat and rich dishes. Raise the glass!!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

2 East London Bakeries Within A Glab : Lily Vanilli and Violet

Returned to London for the first time after 7 years, we had a chance to visit a couple of bakery joints as well. Both of them are not quite in Zone 1 but still in an acceptable distance. One of them is lovely and adorable whilst the other one is nice but overrated in my opinion. It seems that there are certain trends going on in London either for local or for tourists. So I decided to hop by places with its own personality rather than typicity. Here are the two bakeries.

The Lily Vanilli Bakery and Flour Market @ Columbia Road Flower Market

Charged Price: GBP7 per person for a piece of cake and beverage
Visited: 21 June 2015
Food: 7/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Value for money: 7/10
Services: n.m.
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Lily Vanilli Bakery is my very first stop during the trip to UK. It is just a little bakery hidden in a courtyard on Columbia Road. The most important thing to remember when visiting this lovely bakery is it only opens on Sunday: i.e. when Columbia Road Flower Market gets busy with its visitors. Coming to Lily Vanilli can be a little tedious but it's worthwhile. If you are taking tube, the shop is approx. 15 minutes walk from Bethnal Green Station.

As mentioned, Lily Vanilli might be just a small bakery but satisfaction is not small at all. The place is kept clean and tidy with minimal but lovely decoration. There are a few tables and benches for you to sit while sipping your coffee and eating your cake. I believe it is best to visit during nice summer days when you can enjoy outdoor weather (fingers crossed for rain). It is more like a half self-service here. You choose your interested cake at the counter, where there will be choices to be chosen but the range can alter each week, order your beverage, pay your bill, and enjoy. Range of cake here is interesting and pretty too. I promise they are not those weird combination that would make you think "Uhhh....what is this?".

Lily Vanilli Bakery hidden in a courtyard

variety of freshly baked cakes on store counter

It's tiny but comfy enough inside

What I had during the visit was Elderflower & Almond Layer Cake (8/10) and Banana Choc Rye Cakes with Tonka Beans, Banana, Cacao, & Toffee Shard (7/10). I, especially, fall in love with the elderflower cake one. The texture was nice and dense whilst the frosting added sweetness to balance. The aroma was as well wonderful. Cheers for this pretty cake. On the other hand, banana choc rye cake was enjoyable too. However, its stiffness was a little too much to my liking. Each component played its role harmoniously well.

Indeed a cup of coffee or tea would be nice with these rich cakes. I had cafe latte and it was decent. Not the best but decent. Lastly, I do recommend this little place to anyone who is fond for cakes and those who are visiting Columbia Road Flower Market. It would be wonderful to have half an hour relax before strolling around and shopping your favourite flowers.

Elderflower & Almond Layer Cake (GBP4.20)

Banana Choc Rye Cakes with Tonka Beans, Banana, Cacao, & Toffee Shard (GBP4.20)

nicely together with cafe latte

The Lily Vanilli Bakery and Flour Market @ Columbia Road Flower Market
6 The Courtyard
Erza Street
London, E2 7RH
United Kingdom

Open Hours: Sunday from 08:00am - 04:00pm


Violet @ Hackney

Charged Price: GBP7 per person for a piece of cake and beverage
Visited: 1 July 2015
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 4/10
Services: n.m.
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Violet is another interesting bakery. However, it is a little further from Lily Vanilli in Hackney area. The concept of Violet is chic bakery making american style cake. You can find those classic range of pastry here: cupcakes, loaf cakes, muffins, cookies, brownies, and etc. This place is kept in an even more plain style: hardly any decoration in a two storey house. Yes, it is small and there is no seat indoor. There are some seats in front of the bakery and a few more in the backyard.

Walking inside the store, you can find ranges of pastry in a window shelf on your right and on your left, you will find working space for staffs: i.e. open kitchen right there. To me, this place is enjoyable but not really kick my butt just yet. Things tend to be on the sweet side here but thanks to minimal amount of frosting that keep it alive. In term of pricing, it is expensive in my opinion, especially for a place outside centre of London.

the very local bakery but chic in Hackney

American style cake and bakery products

sliced cakes range

cupcakes of the day

For the day, we Chocolate Violet Cupcake (6/10) and Chocolate Caramel Rum Slice (6/10). Both are kind of similar for me. The chocolate violet cupcake has frosting with violet floral scent whilst chocolate caramel rum slice is topped with cream cheese frosting and is richer on the palate. The texture of both were decent with softness and moisture. To coupling with cakes, we had Iced Coffee: Salty vs. Sweet (5/10) to attack the heat of such a hot day in London. Both were brewed in the same way but one was stirred with a touch of salt and the other one was obviously sugar. They were different in contrast but were just similarly enjoyable. It was ok to drink this beverage. But GBP3.00 per small glass of coffee is just too much indeed.

If I have to choose to go back between the two places, Lily Vanilli indeed has won my heart. I would not hesitate at all to return to the place.

Chocolate Violet Cupcake (GBP2.90)

square cut view of Chocolate Violet Cupcake

Chocolate Caramel Rum Slice (GBP3.50)

Iced Coffee: Salty vs. Sweet (GBP3.00)

Violet @ Hackney
47 Wilton Way
London, E8 3ED
United Kingdom

Open Hours: Tue - Fri from 08:00am - 06:00pm, Sat from 09:30am - 06:00pm, and Sun from 09:30am - 05:00pm

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Champagne Philipponnat Grand Blanc 2006

Date of Tasting: 10 April 2015
Wine Type: Sparkling White
Grape Varieties: 100% Chardonnay
Alcohol: 12%
Origin: Mareuil-Sur-Ay, France
Appellation: Champagne
Expect to Pay: ~ EUR50
Chubby Appreciation: 92/100
Critics' Opinion: WA - 88/100, WS - 92/100, ST - 93/100

Appearance: Light golden yellow
Aroma: Toasty nutty chalky with scent of orchid 
Palate: Flavour of fresh apple and pear. Mild chalky creamy touch. Fine citrus and minerality. Full and complex with fairly minerality but yet velvety.

This is a Blanc de Blancs version of Philipponnat aka 100% chardonnay. Personally, Blanc de Blancs is my kind of champagne, though some might not like it. This Champagne Philipponnat Grand Blanc 2006 is a fine one. So much joy exhibits out of each glass. What I love about this champagne is the concentration that bursts out and elegant personality. Highly recommended now and especially on a hot Summer day. Keep raising the glass!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Build Your Own Burger at BarSu @ Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok

Cuisine: Pub / Bar food
Charged Price: THB440 per person without alcohol
Visited: 23 May 2015
Burger: 7/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Value for money: 6/10
Services: 6/10
Scale: [1=poor ---- 5=average/standard ---- 10=outstanding/exceptional]

Burger, burger, and burger!!! It is occupying streets of Bangkok these days. You can find grill bar in this corner and perhaps a burger truck a few block away. It is just everywhere. Even in a 5-star hotel like Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit also offers "Build Your Own Burger" now at its gastro bar: BarSu. Just briefly about BarSu first. Though I am a regular at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, it was my first time at BarSu though. The place indeed offers those pub foods as you may expect: fish and chips,  bite foods, pizza, prosciutto, terrines, sandwiches, and etc. The ambient it offers is kind of relax and chill. I believe it is a nice place to hang around and chitchatting with friends and even customers: friendly atmosphere, open until late night (1am though it is close on Sunday), decent food, and variety of drinks. For non-residence, it is also convenient to pop by Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit with a path connected directly to BTS Asoke Station.

BarSu menu

preparation counter and grill station

For "Build Your Own Burger", you get to choose the combination of your liking to pair with a side dish, and a standard drink such as soft drink, local beer, and house wine. All of these is priced at THB440 net. Not bad at all in my view. To create your burger, you start off with choosing a patty (200 grams): beef vs. chicken. Feel like more, tick it for double at some additional cost. There are 4 choices of cheese: cheddar, emmenthal, brie, and blue cheese. Then pick your fillings and sauce, avocado, lettuce, bacon, ketchup, truffle mayo, and etc. Lastly, finish off with your choice of buns: between regular bun, beatroot red bun, and charcoal black bun. Honestly, these buns are just for fancy colour. They are hardly any difference in taste.

For example, I chose to go with beef and charcoal black bun with fillings of avocado, fried onion, lettuce, pickles, brie, and truffle mayo. These were to go with curly fries. Simply and full. Highly recommend. By the way, don't forget to tell them how you'd like your patty cooked, otherwise, it will be well done.

As said, they are so many burger joints around Bangkok nowadays. You better go judge it yourself to see if you like it. For me, I did enjoy it. Fatilicious!!!!

Charcoal Black version

Beetroot Red burger

square cut view

Water Melon Frappe and Pineapple Juice

Build Your Own Burger at BarSu @ Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok
250 Sukhumvit Road
Khlong Toei
Bangkok 10110

Open Hours: Mon-Sat from 05:30pm - 01:00pm
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