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!

    What is Service Excellence?

     I live and breathe Service Excellence.  I would definitely drive out of my way to receive service that I know will match and hopefully exceed my expectations. Recently however, I have purposely visited places knowing full well that in the past, I have been on the receiving end of poor service and gone back for a second helping.

    This is down to the fact that I am so obsessed by Service Excellence, that I need to see and feel the opposite to get my creative juices going, which by the way does not take long if I am experiencing even ten seconds of poor service.

    I start my day by leaving my house at around 6.30am. Normally, down to the fact that I am a last minute type of gal, I  buy petrol in the morning.  My local petrol station opens at 7am, so I have a choice of a couple of others.  For me there is only one choice however, and that’s to visit Della….

    Della is Service Excellence, at 6.30am she is in full make-up, hair perfectly coiffured, and personality to match.  She knows how I take my coffee, she is genuinely interested in me, her personality is zesty, a proper Irish lass in her late 60’s I would say but with boundless energy and unfailing effervescence. She is swift, does not beat around the bush, never flounders and makes me feel special.

    Special by the way is what it’s all about,  genuine smiles, contact but not over familiar, smiling eyes, knowing your name and preferences like how you take your coffee.  I eye the queues every morning; Della has always the longest one, unlike her mate – another story.

    It does not matter where you work and of course I realise that in five star hotels or when buying luxury brands one pays a premium for Service Excellence, however for me service Excellence starts with a kind heart.

    I know, and am aware that I have a five star background with training to match, but actually it starts with the heart, and mine beats with kindness, warmth and genuine affection for all that I meet. I know when people say that they are people person or foodies, its a cliché and said to raise their profile because that’s what folk want to hear.  Deep down there is a lot more to the art of service obsession.  It’s like being a stick of rock and having it engraved though you from birth.

    As a raw 19 year old student who worked part -time to fund my Hospitality career, I had it then and its been built on ever since.  At that age I mentored others in the art of Customer Service.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it can be taught, but will only be fully embraced if its a non- opt out career necessity or if it comes naturally or if the person is genuinely happy and fulfilled at work.

    Those that display kindness are poo pooed and  described as soft, fluffy, walk overs, submissive -but actually for me kindness MUST make a come back, and kind people should be celebrated and snapped up….

    “Clients do not come first.  Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”- Richard Branson.

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