Monthly Archives: November 2010

Home from home in Mayfair

Deep in the heart of Mayfair the South-West of France is alive and well. The wonderfully traditional Connaught Hotel on Carlos place, The Connaught a stone’s through from Berkley square, is where daughter of the South West, Helene Darroze, set up shop in her eponymous restaurant and earnt her 1 michelin star.

The lunch deals are amazing starting from about £40 with an eclectic choice of wines by the glass influenced by France of course, although not exclusively the South West. However the cuisine has a South Western flavour in the choice of ingredients, with a nod to local seasonal dishes such as game, a very tempting white truffle menu and even an original take on a pumpkin dessert

– a humorous and delicious take on Thanksgiving perhaps?
The wait staff are young, attractive and international and the skill and sense of humour of the young and sommelier only adds to the pleasure of dining.

But all is not French ; typically English afternoon tea is served in the beautiful glass fronted Espelette restaurant where there is more accessible lunch and dinner menu and more buzz as you can watch the world go by.

You can take a Blonde out of Bordeaux, but you can’t take Bordeaux out of the Blonde!

So many books, so little time

Two great new books about Bordeaux. James Lawther MW is no stranger to Bordeaux, he has lived here for many years and through his writing for Decanter Magazine and his books, has helped amateurs and professionals alike in understanding this wine region. His previous book about the Graves Pessac Leognan appellation The Heart of Bordeaux ‘ is a beautiful and detailed description of this historic area of Bordeaux. His new publication The Finest Wines of Bordeaux is a wonderful in depth study of the leading properties of Bordeaux and the owners and wine makers behind the bottles.

Château La Louviere by night, for the book launch earlier this week.
With Pessac Leognan in mind, André Lurton has just celebrated 45 years of owership of Château la Louviere with a spectacular book that follows the history of this beautiful property and at the same time is a reflection of the history of Bordeaux. Château La Louviere, Le Bel Art du Vin was launched at an event held in the new cellars of Château la Louviere, perfectly illustrating how the past and the modern present come together to make Bordeaux so unique.

These should keep you busy preparing your next trip to Bordeaux as the winter nights draw in.

Andrée Putman at the CAPC

The funky restaurant on the top floor of the Bordeaux Modern Art Museum was opened 20 Years ago. A stone’s throw from the waterfront the restaurant reopened in September this year after renovation. Nothing has changed as far as the decor is concerned; the same monumental mud paintings by Richard Long still ordain the walls (mud from the Gironde next door I’ll have you know) and the restaurant has been re christened taking the name of the illustrious designer.
But it has all changed behind the scenes. The kitchens have been completely renovated where Philippe Gauffre is now in charge. A simple regional and seasonal menu is served every lunch time except Monday and Brunch is served on Sundays. Need some refreshment after all the very contemporary art ? They are open in the afternoon for snacks too. Access to the Museum is free for diners.

Seeing red in Castillon

A British lady in the kitchen and a wine journalist – jazz musician as sommelier is quite a daring proposition for a restaurant in French wine country. But it’s a great combination, La Table Rouge is in a beautiful spot on the banks of the Dordogne River in the little hamlet of Cancadoual across from Castillon la Bataille.
Kate Thomas originally from Liverpool as been cooking in Bordeaux for several years and, judging by her menu, has obviously grown to love the region and its products.
Fabien Barnes’ wine list is also mainly local heavily influenced by the bio dynamic wines produced using the consulting skills of Stephane Derenoncourt.
The views are spectacular, with a waterfront terrace for summer dining. Even on these cooler autumn days the glass-fronted restaurant makes the most of the view.
Open in the evenings and for lunch on the weekends.

Small is beautiful in Margaux

Margaux may be the biggest communal appellation in the Medco but there are small hidden gems to discover amongst the vineyards.
Oliver and Sophie Rosa have brought a new lease of life to the tiny deserted railway station at the entrance to the village of Cantenac. Previously they specialised in creating meals for local châteaux matching food to their wines wine for private dinner. One of their most faithful clients, Château Siran owns the building where is now their tiny restaurant, La Gare Gourmande, with its atmosphere of a country conservatory, hosts 25 for lunch from Monday to Friday and dinner on Thursdays and Friday. The table d’hote offers two variations on a single menu prepared from food chosen fresh from the market that morning by Olivier. Sophie is a charming hostess and has selected some delicious local specialities to take away. Make sure you book on 0556359238 the 25 seats are snapped up quickly by local winemakers bringing along their bottles. Do the same there is no corkage fee.

Sophie offering a warm welcome

If you want to stay overnight, carry on north up the D2 to Soussans, another of the 5 villages in the Margaux appellation. Here La Maison de Soussans has two charming guest rooms with ensuite shower rooms in their B&B. La Maison de Soussans is right on one of the circuits for ‘La Medocaine’ cycle route if you want to work off lunch.

Spend the weekend in Margaux

Margaux is the biggest village (Communal) appellation of the Medoc with 5 villages and 21 classified growths. The weekend of 19-21st November is the perfect opportunity to get to know this appellation better. Margaux Saveurs will open the doors of many Margaux properties for the weekend and it’s not just about wine. As well Châteaux visits and tastings, (including Château Margaux on the Friday).
Properties will offer different themes; technical wine tastings, will include varietal tastings, blending workshops and barrel tastings. Other properties will show how these are the perfect food wines with wine and food workshops from Foie gras to Chocolate. With markets, music, art exhibitions and even a visit especially for children at Château Kirwan it’s a full on weekend.

Check out which châteaux are doing what and when non the interactive map and programme at www.margaux-saveurs.com

The cellars at La Tour Bessan, where you can discover how the wines of Margaux are blended