Archive for November, 2011

World Cuisine

Learning the skills of local chefs is one of Bordeaux blondes favourite pastimes. Bordeaux chefs Gaelle Benoiste and Georges Gotrand often call in at home to share their secrets with foreign guests, however this time Bordeaux blonde was the foreign guest.

Mauritius is a land of 5 star luxury beach hotels, so an authentic local cuisine experience is a rarity on an island where most visitors concentrate on their tan. The local cuisine is a wonderful melting pot of indian, european and creole and the 5 star resort Shanti Maurice, , more often associated with their ultimate Ayurvedic spa, is also known for the asian fusion cuisine of chef Willibald Reinbacher.

Willibald Reinbacher BBQ’s on the beach

Situated on the unspoilt southern coast of the island their passion for sourcing local ingredients includes working with local farmers and fisherman. They have now taken a step further offering a more authentic experience of Mauritian creole cuisine in the home of a local resident, the grandma of the hotel manager’s PA. Small groups can try the local dishes with the family in their kitchen with dynamic 75-year-old Grandma Goindoo who grows most of the vegetables and herbs in her tiny back garden and then take away the book of ‘Grandma’s Secret Recipes’ to try at home – if you can find the ingredients. In the pipeline, for those who want to take things a step further than the kitchen garden, is the possibility of going out at dawn with a local fisherman to bring back the catch to prepare for a beach BBQ.

This year’s Worldwide Hospitality Awards gave ‘Grandma’s Kitchen’ from the Shanti Maurice the award for ‘Best Initiative in Clients Experience’.

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Hidden in Hedden Street, a little foodie paradise behind Regent street MOMO is a little bit of Oriental glamour and atmosphere in the heart of London. I visited this restaurant, restaurant really does not do this place justice – it’s a whole experience, one evening a few years ago for an amazing night of thousand and one food, wine and belly dancing. Im delighted to report it is still a terrific address and a perfect lunch spot. So close but so far from the madding crowd, an oasis of peace and fabulous food. Being able to eat outside on one of the last sunday days of autumn before the fog rolled in was an extra treat we could almost of been in Morocco for real

Bordeaux blonde even tried a few of the Moroccan wines on the menu, they were made by Bordeaux wine makers Yvon Mau – perhaps why I enjoyed them so much!

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Harlem Revival

Bordeaux Blonde is often in New York City but this was her first visit to Harlem.

In the past decade, Harlem has been rebuilt and transformed and now belies it’s previous rather dodgy reputtaion. New apartments, new restaurants and new galleries have come to Harlem, and I was lucky enough to sample some of these amazing changes a couple of weeks ago with the New York Wine and Food Society invited by friend and president Greg Hurst, this was to be a day out to remember.

Prosecco and Spoonbread’s modern take on traditional Southern Soul Cooking accompanied a live Gospel recital by Bethel Gospel Church, one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Harlem. All this in a newly built panoramic apartment on the 27th floor with views of Harlem all the way down 5th avenue to Central Park.

The view down town

Then for the culture, onto Renaissance Fine Art where owner Curator Paula Coleman gave us the low down on the Harlem visual arts scene – with more wine. Followed by a Backstage Tour of the historic Apollo Theater which aught me all about Harlem musical history; this theatre helped launch the careers of such musical greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Gladys Knight, and so many others.

Finally a well earned dinner at Red Rooster, named after the legendary Harlem speakeasy, this is rightly touted as the hottest restaurant in Harlem with live music, dancing and even cooking classes using local produce. Harlem resident Chef Marcus Samuelsson serves traditional American comfort (the corn bread was to die for). His cuisine was accompanied by South African wines from importer Cape Classics

That corn bread

Altogether an eclectic day that perfectly reflected the energetic atmosphere of this part of New York that really took me by surprise.

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A carnivore in Texas

What a whirlwind visit to Texas! I never knew I could eat so much in 2 days, but my guide, the wonderful Guy Stout, Glazers wine educator extraordinaire was taking no prisoners. The first day Austin, no sooner had I enjoyed my eggs sunny side up than I was whisked of to Gueros for Tacos and Margaritas (hand shaken no less) before heading over bat bridge up the towards the Capitol – larger than Washington’s (but then we know everything is bigger in Texas) and along busy 6th Street.

Having sung for my supper it was on the road again to Houston and to one of the of the many Pappas Bros establishments.The restaurant chain started in the 70’s but is based on the original idea of Greek Pappas and this restaurant empire has spread across Texas offering everything from Steak to BBQ from Burgers to seafood.

We were lucky enough to dine at the Houston Flag ship Pappas bros steakhouse – spectacular! The steaks were large (see below) and delicious, the service impeccable and the wine list was a sight for sore eyes, and deep pockets.

That night they were serving, by the glass, a 1982 Salamazar (9l) of single vineyard Beringer (the last year before they blended apparently?) the sommeliers are not just knowledgeable but strong too!
We honored Bordeaux too with a wonderful Laville Haut Brion 1995 (which has now changed it’s name) and an Armaillac 2005, which, decanted, was much more approachable than I would have thought. I’m not surprised their wine list is an award winner.

No this is not a butchers display but the choice of steaks and lobster at Pappas

I still had a day to go and I hadn’t even scratched the surface. I was not allowed out of town until I’d experienced a real Texan BBQ so it was of to Goode Company BBQ and I was in good company. At lunch time, straight from the office in suits and ties, Texans were queuing for ribs, burgers, beans and dirty rice, eaten at tressel tables all to the sound of country music – I could leave happy knowing I had eaten my way through some of Texans finest even though I didn’t catch a show at Armadillo across the road!

Apologies to my friends at the Back Street cafe which I enjoyed so much on my last visit I just didn’t have a free meal. Salt Lick BBQ is on the list for next year, only in Texas would you find a name like that – I’ll be back

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