Super Tuscan Wines

These exquisite wines of Italy bear two faces. They are some of the most impressive wines made in Italy, yet they are labeled as mediocre wines by the Italian appellation
system. Super Tuscans were first created by the nobles in the Antinori family but their noble stature was no match for the wine making capabilities of some of the other Tuscan vintners. Aljoscha Goldschmidt is a Swiss vintner who works with his wife to produce premium wines and cheeses. His top wine, Il Corzano, blends Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, and scored 93 points on its most recent release.

ornellaia vineyards Super Tuscan Wines

Ornellaia Vineyards

The idea of Super Tuscans allows the creativity and quality demands of artisan vintners to bypass the strict laws of the Italian appellation systems. This idea came about in
the late 1980’s when a few red wines from the region gained international attention. They were recognized and sold as ‘vini da tavola,’ table wines. The use of international
varietals were forbidden in the Italian appellation system, but these wines were far superior in quality and fell outside of the appellation. With European Union legislation
the appellations were changed. The table wine designation for vintage dated wines was dropped and the Italian government was forced to create a new appellation. The
Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) regulations were very loose and allowed vintners to do what they wanted for the sake of artisanship. Tuscany was the main region for these types of wines and regulations. The government gave some of the top super Tuscan wines new appellations such as the coastal region of Bolgheri received its own DOC. Sassicaia wines even received its own appellation within this DOC.

A super Tuscan ranges in content from pure Sangiovese to a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or slight tones of Pinot Noir. This freedom allows a stronger focus on quality and technique. Some restrictions do exist but they are very basic and unrestrictive.

Some of the best super Tuscans available are Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia Masseto, a pure merlot cult classic. The Antinori Solaia is one of the originals with a single vineyard crop of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. The Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia’s Ornellaia, blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. It has been called a cross between Napa Valley and Margaux. The Tua Rita’s Redigaffi is a Merlot made on the Tuscan coast that commands high prices. The Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia is a must for most collectors of Italian wines. It blends Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and requires at least 6 years of aging.

Sassicaia is one of the archetypes of the Super Tuscan tradition. It was created by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta near Bolgheri and the Tyrrhenian coast. In 1944
he planted cuttings from Chateau Lafite on his vineyards and brought back French oak barrels for aging. After his nephew Piero Antinori convinced him to sell some of his 1968 vintage, Sassicaia became legend winning tastings in London in 1978.

Sangiovese and Cabernet is a classic Super Tuscan blend that has been used since 1968 some dating back to the 18th century. The success of the Super Tuscans has been a
variant of the success of the new international variety plantings alongside the Sangiovese varietals. Sassica was the first wine from a single estate to be granted its own DOC.
Many other estates began releasing native Super Tuscans and blending other international and domestic grapes. Super Tuscans are issued and sold in elegant bottles with designer labels and creative names to enhance the idea of originality. This creativity although a complement to the creativity of the wines can in some areas create mistrust and an opportunity for black market wines by the lack of government sponsored appellations. As can be expected it creates tension within the winemaking community over techniques and varieties. Their superior and creative quality and style has given these wines a sense of power over the doubt.

Super Tuscans are known for their deep colored, full-bodied, balanced red wines. They have a long capacity for aging. The types of international varietals used are
expanding and now include such varieties as Syrah and Pinot Noir. New clones are being experimented with to combine international and domestic varietals. Recently the
European Union has begun to put restrictions on the wines and the classification system especially the table wines, of which the Super Tuscans are categorized. Even with the
strange categorizations it has become known as one of the world’s greatest wine regions

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Irish Craft Beers – The Microbrewery Revolution

Ireland has enjoyed a prosperous brewing culture for over 200 years and in the late 18th century there was an explosion in the brewing industry – by the beginning of the 19th century over two hundred breweries were registered across Ireland. Government legislation in the 18th century reduced the taxation on brewing against distillation in an effort to encourage the consumption of less harmful alcohol, this and increased demand in Europe ensured that the country’s industry flourished into the early 19th century. Exports to England rose sharply and there seemed to be no end to the industry’s good fortunes.

irish craft beers Irish Craft Beers – The Microbrewery Revolution

However, the number of breweries declined significantly in the early 20th century, the rise to fame of Guinness meant that more than a few breweries closed as they were unable to compete in the market place. Until recently, the brewing industry in Ireland has been dominated by large, powerful brands, both Irish and International. Heineken have an importance presence in Ireland, possessing the biggest share of the larger market. Yet, those who would suggest that the country can only offer a few high profile names would be mistaken. A microbrewery revolution has taken place in the last 20 years which has totally shaken-up the market place, and although the number of microbreweries is relatively small, the industry is more dynamic than it has been for many a decade. Exciting news indeed, not least for the consumer who has never enjoyed as much choice of quality beers and with so many breweries performing at the top of their game, it can only get better!

Irish Craft Beer

Visitors to this beautiful and friendly country know what they should really get excited about in the beer department – delicious Irish craft beers made with care and pride by smaller outfits offering something more distinctive than the big boys. After many years of big brands dominating the Irish beer scene, small microbreweries began to emerge in the early 1990s. The first outfit that dared to succeed was the Biddy Early Brewy Pub, which did eventually close after many years of trading. However, they were followed by niche, enterprising start-ups like the imaginatively named Galway Hooker Brewery, Trouble Brewing and the Dingle Brewing Company in County Kerry. The Franciscan Well Brewery joined this growing group of successful start-ups in 1998 and is still going strong, in fact it is today one of the premier reasons to Visit Cork! It was constructed on the site of, unsurprisingly, a old Franciscan Monastery, dating back the the 13th century. The Brewery produce a wide range of ales and stouts, the Rebel red ale being our favourite!

More recent additions to this ever-growing family are the Dungarvan Brewing Company and Bo Bristle. The latter was re-launched and re-branded as  Breweyed this year during the country’s first ever Irish Craft Beer Week in August! The Dungarvan Brewing Company was founded in April 2010 on the Irish South Coast by the Dalton and O’Dwyer families, an unstoppable team who sought to prove that handmade, Irish craft beers could compete in a corporate marketplace. Their small brewery produces a spectacular range of beers – The Black Rock Irish Stout, Copper Coast Red Ale and Helvick Gold Blonde Ale. Since their inception the brewery has won critical pundits and consumer acclaim, adding to the impetus for smaller breweries to reclaim some of the Irish market share.

8degrees brewery Irish Craft Beers – The Microbrewery Revolution

However, the poster child for this micro-brewery movement is undoubtedly Eight Degrees Brewing , who have risen in a very short space of time from producing minute quantities of beer at home to running a  state of the art Criveller Brewtech Brewery, capable of producing 12,000 bottles of beer per week!

Eight Degrees Brewing is the brainchild of Scott Baigent and Cameron Wallace, who had lived together in Dublin when Scott first moved to Ireland. Located in the beautiful Ballyhoura region of Ireland, Eight Degrees are on a mission to make modern interpretations of traditional Irish ale styles, providing distinctive malt and hop characteristics. Scott and Cameron have invested their heart and soul into this project, electing to study at the renowned Versuchs und Lehranstalt fur Braurei (“VLB”) institute in Berlin. Today, they are professional brewers par excellence and continue to astound the press with the quality of their Irish ales.


The world’s most popular and best-selling style of beer, lager has taken some time to win the hearts and minds of the Irish population. The first lager brewery, Darty Brewing was founded in 1892 in Dublin and only managed to stay open for five years, before competition from stout breweries drove it out of business. A second brewery, named Regal Lager Brewery opened in 1937 and managed to last until 1954. Lager only really became a permanent fixture in Ireland when Guinness and other international companies started brewing foreign brands under license in Dublin and other cities. Heineken dominates the lager market today in Ireland, which has overtaken stout as the most popular style in the country. However, several micro-breweries also produce a larger style, although their ales and stouts are really what they are famous for.


Ireland’s most famous beer style, stout actually originated in London in the 18th century and became extremely popular in Ireland towards the early 19th century. Dublin became the porter (a dark style of beer) capital in Europe and large quantities were exported to England. The most widely recognised brand is, of course, Guinness, which was founded in 1756 by Arthur Guinness, who built a small brewery in Dublin. However, smaller, more characterful and individual stout brands now abound in Ireland, the thirsty stout lover is no longer forced to drink Guinness for ever-more.

First on our list would be the brilliant stouts produced by The Porterhouse Brewing Co, the largest craft brewery in Ireland now has bars in London and New York in addition to their main brewing site in Ireland. The brewery was founded in 1989 by two passionate gentlemen,  Liam LaHart and Oliver Hughes, who have since gone on to win countless awards for their range of stouts and ales. One of their most popular is the Plain Porter – a lighter, aromatic stout that continues to garner gold medals. Also worth checking out is the best selling Oyster Stout, a rounder, fuller style with just a hint of sweetness and spice.

carlow brewing company Irish Craft Beers – The Microbrewery Revolution

Of Course, Porterhouse aren’t the only successful micro-brewery making stout today. They are given some stiff competition from the O’Hara family, who founded Carlow Brewing Company on the site of a decaying 19th century disused brewery site. Most of the successful micro-breweries in Ireland have emerge over the past 5-10 years, but Carlow have been around since 1996 and are still one of Ireland’s biggest micro-brewery names. Their multi-award winning stout is one of the richest around, tasters speak of coffee and dark chocolate, Carlow recommend serving the stout with parma ham and shellfish, no less.

Moving to Northern Ireland, the region’s infamous Belfast Black stout is another one to watch out for, produced by the Whitewater Brewery of Kilkel. The Brewery was founded in 1996 (that year again!) and in little over 15 years has Northern Ireland’s largest, and arguably best microbrewery.  All their range has won pundits, in particular the Clotworthy Dobbin porter and aforementioned Belfast Black, which compliment their lagers and ales.

The above is, of course,  merely a snap-shot of how fast the brewing landscape has changed in Ireland over the last two decades. Powerful brands like Guinness and Heineken no longer have the nation strangled with a monopoly on brewing – Ireland now has more micro-breweries than at any time since the early 1920′s and the outlook is bright. These are generally family concerns that have have survived a competitive arena and emerged victorious, winning customer loyalty with the most important of things: quality and individuality. With the raw talent of visionaries like the founders of Eight Degrees, Porterhouse and Dungarvan,  Irish beer lovers have never had it so good.




Wines of Sassicaia

The mythical Super Tuscan wine estate of Sassicaia is located in Tenuta San Guido, Italy. Sassicaia is produced by the Incisa della Rocchetta family. The family’s history has played an important role in high society since medieval times, and particularly since the Renaissance of Italy. During the peak of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, one of the Incisa ancestors, Leopoldo, retired from a high ranking military position. He decided to take up winemaking on his family vineyard. He planted rare Italian and foreign vines, in an innovative move which today are a point of reference in oenology.

sassicaia1 Wines of Sassicaia

Wines of Sassicaia

Mario Incisa, heir of Leopoldo, got married and began a stud farm on the land and began experimenting more dramatically with the foreign varieties. Despite local protests, he diligently kept experimenting with these foreign varietals (namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and improving his wines. He planted more low yielding vineyards on the family estate and after years of hard work and international acclaim (while the local regulatory board ignored their wines), Sassicaia was eventually awarded its own DOC, DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia.

The estate is about 2500 ha in area and is very diverse in terms of tierra and use. Two thirds of the area is left to the forest, 150 ha is used for a horse training center, and 50 ha are used for olives and cereal. Less than 2.5% of the land, approximately 75 ha is used for winemaking. Sassicaia is located between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the hills behind Castle Castiglioncello. The land altitude is more than a thousand feet above sea level. Protected from the winds by the hills and Mediterranean climate provided by the proximity to the sea add to the altitude to make an ideal microclimate. Tenuta San Guido is split up into varying vineyards with diverse altitudes above sea level.

Vineyards planted as ‘cordone speronato’ produce about 5000 kg of grapes per hectare. 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc is planted. The harvest in September is followed by a 12-14 day fermentation process. The wine is aged in French oak for 24 months for Sassicaia wines and 12 months for Guidalberto wines. After bottling, they are kept in the cellar for another 6 months before being released to market.

History of Super Tuscans
The history of the Super Tuscans begins with the DOC installation in the 1960’s. The big names in Italian wine were being black marketed by lesser quality vineyards and taking away the prestige. These new laws didn’t stop the black market so in 1970 a group of Tuscan winemakers began to experiment with the French grape varieties and new methods. Their wines were so new and innovative that the DOC laws labeled them ‘Vini da Tavola,” Table wines. These wines were at the low end of the DOC hierarchy, yet some of the best (and most expensive) wines in Italy. Their prices were 10 to 20 times higher than the other wines in their appellation.

Sassicaia wines are a rare and wonderful twist on the traditional Tuscan and Piedmont varieties, which concentrate on Italian grape varieties, namely Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. Sassicaia has added French varieties to enhance its character towards that of an “International” Cabernet Sauvignon taste. The decision to plant Cabernet was because of its aroma enhancing qualities and because of the grape’s affinity for the terroirs found on the Sassicaia estate. Tenuta San Guido has gravel soils similar to Graves in Bordeaux.

Italian consumers did not incite huge demand for these wines as they were used to the light local Tuscan varieties. The Sassicaia wines also took more time to mature. From 1945 to 1960 Sassicaia was only drunk on the estate itself. A small number of cases were stored in the cellar, and it was discovered that they greatly improved with age. In 1965 more Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc varieties were planted and all of the wine produced on the estate became known as Sassicaia. The 1968 vintage was the first sold on the open market and was received very highly. The cellars began to modernize, controlling temperature, using stainless steel for fermentation and French oak for aging. Sassicaia became the first recognized Italian winery abroad. Sassicaia wines are now among the elite wines of Italy and in wine collector’s cellars all over the planet.

Contact Information:
Compagnia Italiana Terreni Allevamento E Impianti C.I.T.A.I
Loc. Le Capanne n. 27
57020 Bolgheri, Italy

Phone: 0039-0565-762003
Fax: 0039-0565-762017


Crema Catalana Recipe

Many of Spain’s desserts are egg based. Over the centuries, the Spanish monks clarified their wines with eggs and donated the egg yolks (“yemas”) to the local nuns who then used them to make desserts. The entrepreneuring nuns would then sell their desserts to the villagers. Natillas, Cuajada, Flan and Crema Catalan are all egg based Spanish custards. Crema Catalana comes from the Mediterranean region of Catalonia, and you will literally find this delicious dessert on menus everywhere from Barcelona to Tarragona. It is the perfect end to a gourmet dinner, and pairs sublimely with Spain’s dessert wines such as a Moscatel from Alicante, a Pedro Ximenez from Jerez or an old vine Garnacha from Malaga.

crema catalana recipe Crema Catalana Recipe


  • 8 Egg Yolks
  • I Liter of Whole Milk
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 30 grams of Maizena (Cornstarch)
  • 1 Zest of Lemon
  • 200 Grams of Sugar

Dissolve the Maizena in milk. Bring the milk to a boil with the cinnamon stick and lemon zest. In another bowl, mix together the sugar, egg yolks and the Maizena (already dissolved). When the mil is boiling, remove from the heat, storing with the whisk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place it on low heat. When the “crema” begins to bubble, turn off the heat. Pour the “crema” into the earthenware dishes and let it cool, then refrigerate. Before serving, sprinkle sugar on top of each “crema” and carmelize with a hot iron (or red hot bottom of a pan).

Chef’s Note: Always caramelise the sugar immediately before serving.

Try this dish with: Emilio Lustau Oloroso

A Brief History of Port Wines

Port wine traditionally comes from the Douro Valley in beautiful Northern Portugal. The wineries are called Quintas” and they line the terraced hills rising up from the Douro river, east of Oporto nearly reaching the border of Spain. The name “Port Wine” is protected by the Appellation system (Denomination of Origin), just as “Champagne” can only be placed on a bottle if it comes from the Champagne region of France. There are wine regions in the world producing Port style wines (South Africa, California and Australia in particular), but they cannot use the name.

brief history port wines A Brief History of Port Wines

This world famous fortified wine first became popular when the English were at war with France during the Peninsular campaigns, and they stopped drinking French wines. This period in history gave the Portuguese a chance to launch their wines into the important British market. In the 18th century, however, the prices dropped due to market forces and the British accused the Portuguese of “doctoring” their wines. In order to protect their interests the port farmers created an appellation system called Companhia Geral dos Vinhos do Alto Douro. This group was established by the Royal Charter in 1756. It began as a method of ensuring quality to balance production and trade as well as equalizing prices.

In 1850 Phylloxera and oidium destroyed most of the vineyards in the previously demarcated regions. In 1865, a new trading administration began to open up the demarcation regions and to expand to the Upper Douro. Before the end of the century, new methods of viticulture and vinification were implemented- planting techniques, and regional selections for grafting, fertilizers and pest control use, as well as much more controlled winemaking procedures. With steep terraced hills, this region proved to be a rewarding challenge for British and Irish entrepreneurs in regards to wine production. In order to survive the long ocean travel, Brandy was added to the wines to give them longer shelf life and resist the temperature changes. Brandy is added to all port wines (20% of total volume) elongating shelf life and the fermentation process within the bottle. From this technique grew the new category of fortified wines, and Port is among the most famous.

There are dozens of grape varieties that are permitted in Port wines (up to 80). The most common varieties being Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Francesa. Port requires long oak aging and vintages are blended using the  Solera method to keep a consistent taste. It is fortified and aged in the bottles. Port needs to be decanted and served in narrow wine glasses to keep the alcohol from overwhelming the flavors. It goes well with cheddar cheese and also with chocolate. It usually emits a black current aroma with a peppery smokey aroma in its bouquet. Port has the capacity to age sublimely, Vintage Ports only peaking after 50 years of aging.

There are five basic types of port wine. Whites tend to be simple multi-vintage blends that range from sweet to dry. The ruby and orangey ports are also multi-vintage blends which are sweet and can be aged. Dated ports are the quality orange wines that are marketed by their age. Harvest ports are not blended and are aged for at least 7 years. The final type is the vintage ports. These are made from a single harvest and are of very high quality.

oporto A Brief History of Port Wines

The Oporto region is located in Northeast Portugal, in the Douro River basin. It is completely surrounded by mountains giving the area a perfect and characteristic soil and climate. The Port region stretches over 250 000 hectares of land. It is divided into three very diverse sub-regions according to terroir- the Alto Douro, the Douro Superior, and the Cachao de Valeira canyon. After 1936 the Cachao de Valiera canyon split into two regions, The Baico Corgo and the Upper Corgo. Each year licenses are awarded by the officials according to the location, soil content, variety, and age of the vines used for each vineyard. They are classified then from A to F, with A being the highest priced. This is called the Beneficio system. This system helps keep quality and style of Port true to tradition and in high demand throughout the world. Port is a huge industry for Portugal (historically and now) and symbolizes Portugal to the rest of the world.

Best Producers


Useful Links

Experience Chile’s wine paradise with the complete VIP treatment from Cellar Tours

Luxury Wine Tours of Chile

Luxury travel specialist Cellar Tours  has started offering clients the experience of a lifetime in South America’s premier wine tours destination – Chile. Established customers of this family run, high-end outfit will already know what to expect – custom designed, VIP wine tours of the finest vineyards, beautiful cities, charming seaside and historic villages, and gourmet food destinations.

chile wine tours Experience Chiles wine paradise with the complete VIP treatment from Cellar Tours

According to Genevieve McCarthy, co-founder of Cellar Tours, “Our group has spent the last year building relationships with only the very best wineries, hotels, and restaurants in Chile to bring you something quite special. On our private tours of Chile, you will have your own driver, select charming accommodations (from luxury boutique wine hotels to historic properties), private VIP tours conducted in English and special icon wine tastings at premium estates and lesser known wine discoveries, and a range of unforgettable meals – from rustic vineyard barbecues to high end romantic venues.”

As a destination for food and wine lovers, and for those who simply love luxury and unique travel, Chile is certainly able to satisfy all of the above. Visitors can expect to encounter stunning, dramatic scenery, from lush vineyards tucked under graceful mountains, to verdant alpine scenery with turquoise lakes. Not to mention some of South America’s most exciting and vibrant cities, of which Santiago and Valparaiso are just two highlights. Above all, Cellar Tours strives only to work with a select number of prestigious wineries that also offer memorable and warm hospitality, so you may sample only the best Chile has to offer.

Be prepared to be astounded and amazed when you arrive in Chile’s capital Santiago,  for this is a wine country like no other. Chile is completely unique geographically with the Pacific Ocean to the west, the regal Andes Mountains to the east and 2500 miles of diverse micro climates and movie-set scenery stretching north to south. First things first though, after arriving at your hotel, your group might be whisked away for a sommelier led tutored tasting of some top Chilean wines, before dinner at one of Santiago’s exclusive restaurants like Astrid y Gaston. Then relax at your hotel before enjoying a well-earned night’s sleep!

Refreshed and re-energised, Cellar Tours would then transport you privately to some of Chile’s premier wine regions, a great first stop would be the Maipo and Casablanca valleys. These regions are today producing some of the country’s best red and white wines, our partner wineries will treat you to a VIP tour, lunch and of course an extensive tasting of their fantastic bottles. Perhaps the following day the group would like to explore some of Chile’s other wonderful cities? Well, how about a walking tour of Valparaiso? This could include incredible views of the bay and historic areas of Valparaiso (colourful, historic homes and hotels), accompanied by a local guide.

After exploring Valparaiso’s famous hills, you will no doubt be eager to sit down, relax and sample more of Chile’s superb wines. Well you are in luck as Cellar Tours will take you to the San Antonio and Colchagua Valleys, where legendary wine estates Casa Marin and Viu Manent will welcome you with convivial private cooking classes, vineyard walking tours and an extensive tasting of their wines. Culture lovers are not forgotten, as your tour would include a visit to the darling Santa Cruz museum. Enjoy the richness of Chile & its culture, both past and present. Exhibits include an exploration of Pre-Hispanic Chile, the conquest and the colonial period and important art exhibits. Then you could finish your tour with a final farewell winery visit and even a horse-riding lesson, before journeying back to Santiago for one last taste of the capital’s famed night-life.

The main hub, Santiago is easily accessible with most major airlines flying to Chile several times a week. Cellar Tours prides itself on providing only the best VIP treatment to customers, be it luxury boutique hotels, unique insights into wineries or gourmet cuisine from the region’s finest restaurants. Its Chilean wine adventures are the latest exciting addition to the Cellar Tours portfolio, and they look forward to welcoming you to South America’s most enticing wine destination.

More Information on Chile Luxury Tours:

The private luxurious Chilean wine tours are available year round upon request for private groups of minimum 2 people. Cellar Tours will organize unforgettable packages in Chile that include wine and adventure touring. If you would like to customize a private high-end tour of Chile for you, email Cellar Tours at:

Best fish and chips in London

best fish chips london Best fish and chips in London

Fish and Chips are arguably the UK’s greatest cultural contribution to the world! Don’t listen to those who tell you that Afternoon Tea is the number one of British institutions – more than 225 million portions of Fish and Chips are sold in the UK each year, so it’s safe to say that the British love them.

Although this great institution is today popular worldwide, with variations found in the USA, Canada, even Pakistan one friend reported, its birthplace is London is the 19th century. Prior to the 1860′s, they existed as separate entity oddly enough, the English author Charles Dickens refers to a “friend fish warehouse” in his novel Oliver Twist. Meanwhile in the North of England, fried potato shops were spring up everywhere. Then one man had the brilliant idea of combing the two; business savvy Joseph Malin opened the first recorded Fish and Chips Shop in 1860. Today’s patrons would undoubtedly be shocked (or perhaps impressed) at the extremely basic facilities. Typically, a shop would have a large cauldron of cooking – fat, heated by a coal fire.

The formula is simplicity itself – fresh fish, arriving daily from the UK’s ports, cooked in batter combined with deep fried potatoes and hopefully a cup of tea. The fish would usually be either Haddock or Cod but today many different varieties can be used – Plaice, Pollock and Coley are all popular. Customers would stand in the shop, enjoy their food complain about the weather. Quintessentially British.

The first proper fish restaurants were opened by Samuel Isaacs, who started a thriving restaurant business in the latter half of the 19th century. He opened his first restaurant in 1896, where customers got bread and butter and tea in addition to their meal. By the standards of the time they were considered quite plush with china, table cloths and a friendly waitress. They expanded over the years into British seaside towns and the menus grew to include meat dishes. Vegetarians were less well catered for, we hope you like chips!

In the 1980s and 1990s, this great British institution has suffered slightly from the surfeit and popularity of Chinese and Indian takeaways; every British city, town and village has at least two or three. There has been a resurrection, however, in recent years, especially in London, which has huge variety of establishes, some traditional and some up-market. When you visit London, you have to try it at least once; we know you’ll be hooked for life. Not everyone does it right though, so we have prepared below a list of the Best Fish and Chips in London.


Nautilus Fish
27-29 Fortune Green Road, London (West Hamstead) 020 7435 2532

Dining at this establishment is like sitting at your Aunty’s living room but they flock from far and wide to sample “some of the best fish and chips in the world” This West Hampstead stalwart is one of the oldest chippies in London and serves massive portion of delicious fresh fish and chips. Simple perfection.

Geales Fish Restaurant
2 Farmer Street, London (Notting Hill Gate) 020 7727 7528

First opened in 1939, This Notting Hill institution caters to the well heeled crowd with its stylish interior of black and white check tablecloths and high-backed chairs, they even have an extensive wine list! They come for the food ultimately, and it does not disappoint. Try the ‘seaside pick’n’mix’ to sample a range of tangy, crunchy, beer-battered fish (pollack, cod, haddock, sole thank you sir!)

The Rock & Sole Plaice
45-47 Endell St, London (Covent Garden) 020 7836 3785

Another London institution, and right in the heart of the West End so expect a few tourists. The Rock and Sole remains true to its origins, however, as one of London’s oldest and most respected Chippies. The décor has remained pretty much unchanged over the last few decades, try and grab one of the outdoor tables in summer. Battered Haddock, Chips and a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Heaven.

39 Queen Victoria Street, London (Mansion House) 020 7248 3062

Be prepared to step into the past at this never changing, City seafooder thats being going since 1889. They offer a fantastic value lunch menu (this is a lunch only venue) of delicious, fresh fish dishes. There is nothing remotely trendy about the place, which only adds to its appeal. Fusion lovers should look elsewhere!

21 Wellington Street, London (Covent Garden) 020 7836 7161

This is as close as you’ll get to the seaside without actually leaving London. This chain of five establishments is heaven for fish lovers, the friendly and helpful staff will guide you through a menu of beautiful, quality dishes, some with a modern twist. One of our favourites, Livebait is always packed.

Two Brothers Fish
297-303 Regent’s Park Road, London (Finchley Central) 020 8346 0469

This ‘out of the way’ venue is definitely worth a detour for the outstanding quality of the fish and chips. Visitors often order a second helping of the fantastic, down to earth food. One customer exclaimed, “its the freshest ever”. Enough said.

Rudland Stubbs
35-37 Green Hill Rents, Cowcross Street, London (Farringdon) 020 7253 0148

Close your eyes and you’l believe your on the coast at this relaxed, traditional restaurant on the edge of Smithfield market. Not from the seagulls or crashing waves but from fresh fish that’s as good as any found at the seaside.One of the best value in the capital.

Gordons Fish Bar
102 Farringdon Road,
London (Farringdon) 020 7837 3547

This unassuming venue been around for 150 years and its popularity has remained the same. People queue round the block for these traditional, no frills or fuss Fish and Chips. Get there early to secure a table!

Fish Bone
82 Cleveland Street, London (Warren Street) 020 7580 2672

Another old stalwart of the London Fish and Chip scene. Expect fresh fish cooked to order and fried in, unusually, groundnut oil. The choice for the health conscious, take your pipping hot fish to nearby Regent’s park and enjoy.

Laughing Halibut
38 Strutton Ground, London (St. James Park) 020 7799 2844

A perennial favourite for local office workers at lunch time, this is as untrousity as you can get in London. Always busy, always good, reliable fayre, comes highly recommended if your in the vicinity.

Difficult Food and Wine pairings

A remarkable amount of knowledge has been shared, debated and contradicted on the subject of food and wine pairing, useful albeit loosely defined principles and tips that can help us enjoy both the food and the wine, rather than letting one suppress the other. Open an expensive bottle of St-Emilion, eat a flaming hot Mexican chilli and you’ll see what we mean. If you manage to taste the wine at all then congratulation to you, you have a remarkable palate!

difficult food and wine pairing Difficult Food and Wine pairings

It is one of the most interesting questions that crops up during food and wine matching discussions – are some foods totally unsuitable for pairing with any wine? Very peppery, spicy food like the chilli mentioned above tends to sensitive the lining of the mouth; we find that all you want is ice-cold beer to sooth the pleasurable sensation of having our mouth set on fire. Cheese, believe it or not, is another difficult candidate – the idea that wine and cheese are perfect partners is not backed up by experience. Fine red Bordeaux is often thrust on the table and immediately slaughtered by a selection of strong cheeses that only sweet or sharp white wines usually survive. As for pairing chocolate and dessert wine, isn’t the rich, unctuous chocolate soufflé enough sweetness of

At this point, we could be forgiven for concluding that with some foods it is better leaving wine out of the picture all together. Well, it would be fair to say that extremes of flavour in food tend to limit your choices in terms of what wine pairings might work well – if at all. Take Asparagus for example, its slightly bitter flavours are very difficult to match with any wine, until you add butter to the asparagus and oaky Australian Semillon in your glass for gastronomic heaven. The smoky, citrusy Semillon echoes the flavour well but only if you are dealing with a very ripe bottle. Nothing else seems to work – at least not in our experience so alternatives are more than welcome!

So when faced with a troublesome dish, especially ones laced with spice and chilli, it would do not harm to consider the following tips:

  1. Use the sauce, Luke. When pairing wine with food, consider that the sauce is a much more important factor than the meat itself. Tomato based pasta dishes will obliterate fine red and white wines; a ripe, young Zinfandel or Grenache is your best bet.
  2. Acidity is your friend, not foe. Wines that tend to have a bracing ‘cut’ of acidity such as the Muscadets and Sauvignon Blancs of this world cut across the richness of food nicely,
    you are left with a very refreshed palate indeed. Deep fried foods and creamy sauces in particular seem to cry out for quite acidity whites or sparkling wines. Cava and fish and chips works wonderfully.
  3. The table can only handle so many prima donnas. When opening a particularity fine bottle of wine, certainly wines with age, what is needed is relatively simple food. If the wine is the
    priority then let it take centre stage. Old red Bordeaux for example is usually light, delicate and perfumed; spicy rich food could easily kill your bottle of Chateau Margaux.

The golden rule when pairing intensely flavoured foods with wine, is to match the weight of the wine to the strongest flavour in the food. Does the Lamb have a rich sauce? If so, dispense with that bottle of old Rioja you have been saving and open a young, fruity Tempranillo instead. The riper the better! We encourage you to experiment but would also like to suggest an assortment of recommendations for some of the tougher food choices.

Bonne chance!

A bit of a nightmare flavour for wine, being quite bitter. Australian ripe Semillon seems to work well, especially if the asparagus is coated in butter.

Chilli con carne
The riper the better! Zinfandel or Argentinian Malbec.

Chocolate based desserts
Only powerful flavours can compete with the onslaught of Chocolate. Often combining sweet wines with chocolate is overkill. Australian black muscat or even better tawny port seems the best match
to Chocolate.

Cream-based sauces
A medium bodied Chardonnay works best. Try Rully.

Another difficult pairing partner as eggs clash with most wines. Pinot Blanc can work quite well, not to mention sparkling wine and scrambled eggs.

Tomatoes and wine are rarely a marriage made in heaven. Fino sherry seems to suit Gazpacho, and thats about it.

Indian cuisine
A real challenge for the wine lover! Many people advocate leaving wine out of the picture altogether. We find that off-dry Chenin blanc works quite well, the sweetness neutralises the spice somewhat. A refreshing white is the key but never bone dry. Cava also seems to cope with Indian food.

An extremely oily fish that requires a very sharp white: Loire Sauvignon Blanc or Vinho verde works wonderfully as does white Rioja. Also check out Seafood and Wine Pairing

Smoked foods
Acidity is your friend, South African Sauvignon Blanc or the Loire equivalent.

A difficult one as hot wasabi kills wine flavours. Cava works best we find.

Gazpacho – Cold Spanish Soup

gazpacho recipe Gazpacho   Cold Spanish Soup

Gazpacho is a classic summer dish in Spain, light and refreshing. The key ingredient in Gazpacho is the tomato, brought to Spain from the “New World” in the 16th century, along with potatoes, peppers, corn and avocados. Gazpacho was for centuries considered to be the typical Andalusian peasant dish. It wasn’t until the mid 20th century, when doctors recognized the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet that the upper classes of Spanish society began to value this simple but fantastic Spanish dish. With the tourist boom of the 1960’s on the southern Costa del Sol, Gazpacho began to become well known internationally, and today it is considered to be one of the most typical “platos” in Spain. With the first warm days of summer, Gazpacho appears on restaurant menus all over the country. It is one of the most delicious and healthiest Mediterranean recipes and can be served as an appetizer or even on its own. This recipe has been contributed to Cellar Tastings by Javier Francisco Martin Galan, a Madrid based Fashion Designer and Culinary Enthusiast.


  • 2 pounds Large Red, Ripe (and fragrant) Tomatoes
  • 1 large Cucumber, peeled
  • Half loaf day old French Baguette (bread crumbs also work)
  • 1 large, Green Bell Pepper (Italian green peppers are also perfect)
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 Spring Onions
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika (spicy or sweet)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 Quart Water

To Garnish (optional):

  • Chopped avocado
  • Diced Peppers


Chop up bread into small pieces and soak in 1 cup water. Dice all of the vegetables and place in large bowel. Add bread and then the olive oil, stir. Pour three tablespoons of white wine vinegar into the bowel, the paprika, ½ quart of water and salt to taste. Add all of the contents of the bowel along with one quart of water to the blender, and blend for a few seconds until you reach the desired thickness. For thicker Gazpacho use less water. Place the blended gazapacho back in the bowel and chill for at least one hour before serving (or add ice cubes). You can garnish the bright cold soup with avocado cubes and diced peppers.

Try this dish with: Marques de Riscal Sauvignon Blanc from Rueda

Top 5 Tapa’s Bars in Seville

sevilles top tapas bars Top 5 Tapas Bars in Seville

Seville is considered by many to be the “Tapas Capital of Spain”, and hence of the world! There are thought to be more than 3000 tapas bars, the highest concentration anywhere. What is on offer is an amazing range of food. There’s something to suit all tastes and it would be impossible to try to come up with a list of even a fraction of what’s available. But amongst other things you will be able to sample the finest ham, the freshest seafood, all manner of vegetable dishes, popular stews, cheese, olives.

El tapeo, the art of eating tapas, is a social occasion of which conversation forms as much an integral part as eating and drinking. A tapa and a drink are taken in one bar and then you pass on to another and so on until you are satiated. So you get to eat and drink well, solve the world’s problems and with all the walking burn off lots of calories!

Here are my recommended Top Five Tapas Bars in Seville:

El Rinconcillo

el rinconcillo Top 5 Tapas Bars in SevilleThis is one of Seville’s oldest bars, having been founded in 1670. Stepping into the bar is like stepping back in history. It still preserves flagstone floors, wonderful tiling and it has a wonderful old wooden counter. The bar is famous for its traditional tapas and the high quality products from the Iberian pig. Try the espinacas con garbanzos (spinach with chickpeas), albondigas (Spanish meatballs), bacalao con tomate (salt cod with tomato) or the sublime jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn-fed Iberian ham). The prices of what you order will be chalked on the bar and when you ask for the bill the total will be calculated in a flash. No electronic devices here!

C/ Gerona, 40
41003 Seville, Spain
Tel: 954 223 183

This small bar is nearly always full. Not surprisingly, as it serves some of the best and most creative tapas in the city. Even if it’s a squeeze it’s well worth it. The only problem for non-Spanish speakers is that there is no list of tapas. What is on offer can change from one day to the next and may depend on what´s on offer in the market or what the chef feels like preparing. So when you ask ‘¿Qué hay hoy? (What’s there today) you’ll get a rapid fire reply of the day’s choices. This may include such delights as merluza con salsa de pimiento de piquillo (hake in piquillo pepper sauce), solomillo con salsa de mscatel (sirloin cooked in moscatel), láminas de berenjena rebozadas (strips of aubergine in batter). If language is a barrier, just point at whatever interests you that other people are eating!

Calle Zaragoza, 50
41001 Seville, Spain
Tel: 954 224 698

Paco Góngora

paco gongora Top 5 Tapas Bars in SevilleThree bull’s heads greet you as you enter this bar which was converted from a private house. Full of old photos and artifacts it has a definite homely feel. The bar specializes in fine fresh seafood. Try the puntillitas (baby squid), coquinas (small kind of clam) or boquerones (whitebate).

C/ Padre Marchena, 1
41001 Seville, Spain
Tel: 954 214 139

Casa Morales

casa morales Top 5 Tapas Bars in SevilleThis bar which dates from the 19th century is one of the few traditional bodegas that still remain in Seville. In the large back room you can still see the large tinajas or earthen wine containers that were used until recently. Among the tapas served are very good cheese and a large selection of montaditos which are like small toasted sandwiches.

C/ García de Vinuesa, 11
41001 Seville, Spain
Tel: 954 221 242

Bar Giralda

bar giralda Top 5 Tapas Bars in SevilleThis bar occupies what was once the site of Moorish baths, with the columns and arches still being preserved. Even though the bar is very close to the Giralda after which it obviously takes its name, it is in no way a ‘tourist’ bar, although many tourists eat there. The list of tapas is immense with a recent count coming up with sixty-one! Included are calamares rellenos (stuffed squid), cola de toro (bull’s tail), agaucate con langostinos (avocado with king prawns), pastel de calabacín (courgette pie)

Mateos Gago 1
Barrio de Santa Cruz,
41019 Seville, Spain
Tel: 954 227 435

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