The Vineyard at Stockcross.

  • I know, I know what you’re all gonna say.  You’re reviewing the gaff where your hubby works.  Well yes I am, but dearies I have always loved the Vineyard from when my former colleague David Sharland was Head chef.  I literally live 6 minutes away but associate The Vineyard with sanctuary. Over the years the quality and consistency has always been on par from the rooms to the food.  Let’s talk about wine, well the owners are wine makers too and the Michael family vineyards in California produce award winning and to die for wine.  The hotel boasts stunning wine, unrivalled food, non stuffy service.  The service in fact is non intrusive with a sprinkle of just right humour.  This adds to the overall feeling that the team on site are genuinely delighted to be with one another. I believe The Vineyard is entering a very exciting new era.  Service is bang on, business is booming and the golden gem of a brand new head chef in the form of Robby Jenks is just the ticket.  I had the pleasure of tasting the new Spring Menu last week, and for me frankly the food is the best I’ve tasted. 

   

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Delicious Vinos-Chateau Tayac Cru Bourgeois Margaux 2002.

  • We have six bottles of this little beauty, and after googling it and discovering that one cannot buy it wondered if I should opening it or flogging it. I decided on the former due to the fact that I’ve been drinking far to much mediocre vino lately and deserved a little treat.  My father in law purchased this little stash who very sadly   is no longer with us.  I lit a candle, put it next to his photo, poured a little glass for him too and raised mine to his honour.  My father in law (Fouad), was a lover of all wonderful things.  Fine wines were one of his passions alongside treating his family every year to a holiday in Provence en mass.  Being a middle eastern family, things never ran smoothly especially when we used to traipse around Cannes looking for a table of 20 most evenings.  Caution to the wind is how we lived on those holidays and wonderful they were. I’m going off piste here, so down to business……this wine is a Bordeaux blend, silky, distinguished, luxurious, wonderfully classy with thin tannins.  The 2002 is a divine example and literally went down a treat last night.  So moorish in fact that it felt like it had evaporated.  I had to share the bottle but could have happily drank the entire bottle plus more I guess.  I doubt though that I would be feeling so bright this morning as I do.  At 12.5% abv it was just perfect in fact- no grogginess for me.  The wine is made from grapes from the Soussan commune in the Margaux appellation, and the chateau itself has had a renovation of sorts providing stunning brand new oak casks.  Not sure if that was pre or post my wine but the clarity was just spectacular in any case.  Highly recommended by me if you can get some….. Cheers to you Foufou.

The Bull Inn Sonning.

  • This gorgeous pub is steeped in wonderful history and is totally one of my favourite places.  Mainly of course because it serves a good glass of vino, but also down to the whole vibe.  Sonning it seems is a very close knit community who one would not want to annoy.  The Bull, along with its owner St Andrews Church who now rent the pub out to Fullers, is the hub of the village.  Sonning itself is an adorable place, with some absolutely breathtaking sites.  The Bull is a must visit and sums up olde worlde England in a nutshell. The Bull is next to The church and would be an ideal venue for a wedding drinkie or a place to stay whilst attending nuptials. The food is delicious and rustic and the interior is gorgeously cosy.  Outside there are tables that get crammed at the sight of the Sun. I love everything about The Bull including all the quirky stories, the cosiness, the smell, the food, vino  and of course it’s English charm.

Delicious Vinos- The Ned Pinot Grigio 2015

I am such a fan of this winemaker and have introduced so many of my friends to the Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio.  For me the Pinot Grigio is my favourite version of Pinot Grigio.  I just love the Pink Blush colour without the taste of Blush.  I always feel that I am being duped by drinking Blush wine as for me its an aperitif, so generally will have a glass or two of it before moving onto something White, then normally Red if I’m really going for it. With this wine though, duping is not on the cards it satisfies both my needs. I discovered these wines around 18 months ago when I bought a  batch for my work colleagues at a very reasonable £7.50 per bottle.  Obviously I kept a couple for myself before handing them out and have been hooked ever since.  The Winemaker is Brent Norris from the Marisco Vineyards which is lovingly placed in the Waihopai Valley, Marlborough NZ, of which is on my never ending bucket list to go visit one of these days.

The taste is fresh, lush, Grapefruity, Gingery, Lychee like and reminds me of a young and innocent frivolous young lady in a pink floaty little number with sophistication on the brink of elegance. What will turn it into elegance will be keeping it for a couple of years before drinking if you can wait that long!

To be honest I could drink this wine till the Cows come home…. 

 

Delicious Vinos- Chateau Kefraya Grand Cru 2008

All I can say is what a bewitching little number this is…  My friends returned last week from Beirut to with a couple of bottles of this corker.  Chateau Kefraya is located in the heart of the Bekaa valley in Lebanon, and clearly these vineyards are capable of providing outstanding and elegant wines.  Elegant is what it was by the way in terms of packaging, look and taste. A beautiful harmony of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon produced a sexy voluptious body draped in silk. I married into Lebanese family who have had a penchant for Fine French reds and I have had the pleasure to taste some of the finest. I absolutely found this divine as a comparison in every way, and absolutely adore a Lebanese who can hold their own!  I love the strapline by the way- A Terroir, a soul, a great wine.  Spot on! 

     

    Ribollita 

    • So basically my restaurant reviewing is a little on the slow side, mainly due to the fact it’s an expensive old hobby.  The intention is still there so stick with me, there’s definitely more to come. I thought I could write about other things that delight me also, and of course being a really keen rustic cook, recipes and wine deliriously tick the delighting boxes.  My plan is to post a few of my adored recipes which are so easy to produce and tasty and are normally influenced by the continent and Middle East.  I used to spend many a day with my  Italian Grandmother who I am so alike, watching her produce rustic dishes galore, and am reminiscent of her kitchen as a warm and happy place full if heavenly aromas.  I have never found or tasted a Ragu as good as hers in the time since she last cooked for me which is over 20 years ago. I have also been really fortunate to have spent a lot of time in France, a country that I adore and having a father who will not set foot on a plane, our Summers before I flew the nest comprised of 3 day journeys by car and boat down to Provence for which unraveled 3 weeks of idyllic.  What about the Middle East I hear you ask, well my Lebanese surname speaks for itself.  You do the math!
    • When my husband called to ask what was for Dinner last night, he did not sound overly impressed when I said soup.  I have made this recipe for years, the husband associates Saturdays with red meat but Ribollita is so easy to make, is undeniably delicious, filling, healthy and very low in fat. My recipe makes enough for six hearty bowls.  Ribollita itself stems from Tuscany and there are many versions and tweaks to it that one can make.  The most important ingredients to define it however are the chunks of stale country bread, Cannellini beans and Tomatoes.
    • Combine one diced onion 2 chopped celery sticks, two garlic cloves in a large pan in a good dollop of Olive oil.  Sweat gently for a minute before adding 2 tins of Cannellini beans 450 grams in total and cook for another minute. Add 200gms of greens or chard, 150grams of chopped french beans, 5 diced and peeled potatoes, 2 tins of tinned, chopped tomatoes, one and a half litres of chicken or vegetable stock, a sprinkle of Sage (fresh or dried) and simmer for 40 minutes. Finally add two generous handfuls of stale chopped bread and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Finish with some ground salt, black pepper and Parmesan.     Dish up with some good bread, a glass of Chianti maybe some cheese to graze on and enjoy your Italian inspired supper or Lunch-Buon Appetito!