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After Russia I headed to the warmer climes of the Middle East. My first stop was Bahrain, most famous for it’s hosting of the Formula 1. A small island country with a population of about 1.2m, Bahrain is nestled between Saudi Arabia and ...
After Russia I headed to the warmer climes of the Middle East. My first stop was Bahrain, most famous for it’s hosting of the Formula 1. A small island country with a population of about 1.2m, Bahrain is nestled between Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the Persian Gulf. Few Westerners head to Bahrain as a tourist stop – when they think Middle East, they think Dubai. But Bahrain shouldn’t necessarily be overlooked when on a tour of the Middle East for it is not without its charms. The country is easy to navigate and taxis are affordable. The architecture is modern, and sights include the likes of the ancient Bahrain Fort that dates back 5,000 years and Manama Souq. Attitudes are very liberal for a Middle Eastern country and prices are somewhat cheaper than Dubai. Entrance to the Bahraini F1 track In Bahrain I stayed at the Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel. The hotel only opened about two years ago so the finishings are dazzlingly new. It is linked with the City Centre Shopping Mall, the largest mall in Bahrain with hundreds of of outlets. It is also home to Wahoo, the Middle East’s first ever indoor-outdoor waterpark. Covering an area of 15,000 square-metres you can be assured of a plentiful number of fun rides and water slides. The Kempinski is a city hotel with two buildings, the Grand and the Ixir which are each individually decorated in modern European and traditional Arabic styles. The hotel houses five restaurants, a bar and a nightclub, and facilities include an infinity pool, a fitness centre and a luxury spa. Apart from the usual wellness and beauty treatments, the spa also offers a Turkish Hamman. I popped into the spa to try a 45 minute hamman (BD35 – about £57) and it was truly luxurious. The session begins with a full-body scrub after which you are then draped in a senuous body foam and given a massage. The experience was traditional in the sense that it followed the age-old Turkish rituals, but unlike the ancient hammans of Turkey, the hamman at the Kempinski was state-of-the art and the therapist was charmingly professional to complete a truly unique experience. Turkish Hamman Saveur Restaurant was where the busy breakfast buffet was held. It offered a generous array of goodies and of note was the delicious fresh honeycomb, a nice touch compared to the usual range of jams and other spreads at most hotels. Lunch at Saveur was also a buffet, but dinner was an à la carte service that proved to be a quieter affair. Saveur buffet Fresh honey To start was an excellent Asian themed rock shrimp tempura with a miso dip and a daikon soy sauce (BD6.000 – about £9.80). The shrimps were firm and tasty, and the batter, although not a traditional tempura batter, was super crunchy and well made. The daikon soy sauce coating made for a great combination and the dip was excellent. Shrimp tempura Next a pan-seared foie gras with brioche, dried apple, wild berry chutney (BD7.500 – about £12.20) was nicely done. The foie gras was rich and flavoursome and there was a nice balance of acidity in the dish. However the side salad wasn’t, but should have been dressed. Foie gras Lobster bisque with diced fresh Atlantic lobster and herb oil (BD6.500 – about £10.60) was creamy with a delicate lobster flavour. It was a yummy soup, but with a slightly more intense concentration of lobster flavour it would have been perfect. A main of pan-fried hammour (BD10.000 – about £16.30), a popular Middle-Eastern fish, was beautifully fresh, well cooked and moist, although a crispier skin would have worked better. An interesting sauerkraut accompaniment really worked with the fish as it gave it a lovely acidity. Rounding of the dish was a delicious, buttery potato purée and a creamy mustard chive sauce. Hammour Desserts were for the most part very, very good and consisted of a daily unlimited buffet selection of assorted treats (BD4.500 – £7.30) , perfect for those who love to hoover up lots of sweets. The Western desserts were surpris
about 10 hours ago
Strolling down Taksim Square in Istanbul you wouldn’t think that just this summer there had been violent clashes here sparked by the eviction of protesters against the redevelopment plans of the nearby Gezi park that quickly spiralled in...
Strolling down Taksim Square in Istanbul you wouldn’t think that just this summer there had been violent clashes here sparked by the eviction of protesters against the redevelopment plans of the nearby Gezi park that quickly spiralled into nationwide anti-government rallies. Turkey’s biggest city (13.85 million in 2012) is back to its normal and very busy life with a never-ending stream of people flowing through its streets, eating Turkish bagels (simits), smoking nargile water pipes in the outdoor cafes, drinking tea and coffee and enjoying peaceful days. With the earliest settlements dating possibly to 13th century BC, Lygos-Byzantium-Constantinople-Istanbul has been home to Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and many, many others. It is a place where at the Bosphorus strait Europe meets Asia, where Paganism morphed into Christianity, which in the 15th century was pushed aside by Islam and the powerful Ottoman rulers. Istanbul offers various treats for tourists from sightseeing in the old city, shopping in the Grand Bazaar, washing in Turkish baths and eating mackerel sandwiches by the Galata bridge, to dancing in the ‘Reina’ nightclub side by side with the city’s rich and beautiful. If you want to enjoy a truly local experience, I suggest you say at the Marti Istanbul hotel, very close to Taksim square in the commercial heart of the city. Marti is a Turkish hotel group that began operations in 1969 with the country’s first real resort property in the seaside town of Marmaris. The five-star Marti Istanbul opened last year with 270 guest rooms and suites spread over the 11-storey building. The hotel has been designed by internationally acclaimed interior designer Zeynep Fad?ll?o?lu, who is famous for being the first woman to design a mosque. Ms Fad?ll?o?lu is well known for combining Eastern and Western traditions, mixing old and new and telling the story through colours, textures and textiles. Marti hotel is a contemporary hotel with Ottoman flair and is dominated by purple, blue and various shades of beige, brown and grey. Most rooms feature marble floors, traditional handmade Turkish decorations and a special pillow menu. The Turkish suites have Hammam-style basins and double sink vanity units. I was very impressed by the Regal Suite on the 10th floor that stretches over 2700 square feet and consists of a hallway, huge bedroom, living-room with an elegant piano, kitchen, study, walk-in closet and a magnificent Hammam-style bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub. The hotel’s gym, spa and an exclusive Top Floor Lounge are located on the 11th floor overlooking the city. There’s also a rooftop bar with loungers and Jacuzzi tubs, but unfortunately it was closed during our stay due to bad weather. I absolutely loved running on the treadmill in the gym with its floor-length windows offering magnificent panoramic views. The 850 square metre spa is a beautiful Ottoman inspired space with five treatment rooms, saunas and steam rooms for both men and women. I had the Turkish Hammam Bath treatment and full body (60 minute) traditional Bali massage that were absolutely perfect. If you’ve never tried the Turkish Hammam Bath treatment, I highly recommend doing it in Marti’s spa – it is luxurious and very relaxing. The ancient Ottoman traditional treatment allows the skin to breath, following a thorough exfoliation of the body that leads to an increased blood flow making skin feel supple and refreshed. First you get warm in the steam room and then lie down on a flat table-like surface in a marble hammam. A therapist starts the procedure by gently scrubbing off the dead skin with a special cloth, then washes it off and picks up something that looks like a pillow case and creates so much foam that you feel like you are in the middle of a cloud. After that, you get a massage while still covered with the foamy cloud, then it’s a mix of hot and cold water, and voila! You feel like you are born again. The whole pleasure lasts about 40 min
about 15 hours ago
Words & Photography by Felicity SpectorThe nearest I normally get to a farm is the omnibus edition of the Archers and my carefully chosen Marc Jacobs-slash-Opening Ceremony outfit was more Shoreditch than the Shires.So it was with some t...
Words & Photography by Felicity SpectorThe nearest I normally get to a farm is the omnibus edition of the Archers and my carefully chosen Marc Jacobs-slash-Opening Ceremony outfit was more Shoreditch than the Shires.So it was with some trepidation that I ventured down to The Farmers Club in Whitehall, where I had been invited to a special gourmet evening hosted by chef Brian Turner, to mark the start of British Food Fortnight.I soon discovered I was the only one who had asked for the vegetarian option at this very meat-centric dinner, which was supported by the organisations promoting Britain's exports of beef, lamb and pork.There was some consternation as the starters were delivered: plates of Trealy Farm air dried ham. Mine was quickly snatched away, along with my cutlery, eventually replaced by a terrine of indeterminate composition, which I have to admit I left.However things swiftly improved. Brian Turner came out to welcome everyone, jovial as ever, waxing lyrical about the saddles of lamb he'd been roasting off for the main course. "It's not the cooking that's important", he declared, "It's how long you rest it. And these are beautiful pieces of meat." He couldn't resist a slightly retro joke about the "ladies in the room" and the calories in the blackberry Eton Mess dessert - before marching back towards the kitchen, ready to oversee the rest of service.Despite the focus on British meat, there was a fish course: a fillet of mackerel simply grilled with some roasted tomatoes: good, and fresh.Next came the main event: that saddle of lamb with huge chunks of fondant potato for everyone else, and a sizeable piece of salmon with herb oil and (slightly overdone) fennel and carrot for me.The lady opposite me peered at my name tag, which proclaimed, rather grandly "Felicity Spector: The London Foodie." She clearly thought this meant I was some kind of culinary guru, and started quizzing me in detail about her meal. "What is the saddle? How have they cooked it? How did they do this potato we've got?" With all the confidence of a non-cook who has, however, watched many, many editions of Masterchef, I talked her through the boning, stuffing and rolling process, and how to baste a fondant potato. I hope I was right.The Eton Mess arrived: far nicer than I had imagined, with a thick pool of tart blackberry compote, and a rich, but light blackberry mousse.An unusual London night out for me, then - but all credit to The Farmers Club for showcasing such fine British produce - and Brian Turner as its tireless champion.
about 15 hours ago
Our journey through France and Catalonia was all via train and while yes, it’s certainly a slower way to get around, there’s still something quite romantic about travelling by train. As a bonus, I don’t suffer from as m...
Our journey through France and Catalonia was all via train and while yes, it’s certainly a slower way to get around, there’s still something quite romantic about travelling by train. As a bonus, I don’t suffer from as much motion sickness on the train and hence I’m able to read and stare out the window and also eat…. because I love train picnics! I love shopping for train picnics. These tend to come from supermarkets only because I’m never prepared enough to organise one from foodstuffs obtained from a proper market. Our 5.5 hour TGV ride from Paris to Toulouse was on a Sunday so it was a rush in the morning to obtain our supplies before the supermarkets closed (at about 1pm). With a couple of plastic forks and knives obtained from a fast food chain, we dined like kings on a baguette, pate, cheese, nuts, tomatoes. Not pictured below, the rest of the tomatoes, crisps, rice crackers and plums. A bit of everything makes it feel more balanced and doesn’t it look much better than a sad train sandwich? Our next train picnic occurred only days later. We took two trains to get from Toulouse to Barcelona, changing at Latour de Carol/La Tor de Querol. It’s not a proper train picnic per se but a train station picnic. We picked up supplies at the small town’s only supermarket (about a 10 minute walk from the station) and then picnicked on a bench while waiting for the Rodalies train that would take us to Barcelona. This turned out to be the right thing to do as the tiny shop at the station only had a supply of cold sandwiches and it closed for lunch soon after we arrived! Similar stuff in this picnic – I like to think of them as the basics of a French picnic! The baguette was one of the better ones we had on that trip, and that pate de campagne, and that cheese! What do you like to bring to eat on long train journeys?
about 24 hours ago
Fluffy yellow beginnings The life cycle of a goose, from cute walking yellow duster to serial killer-eyed beak snapper to pork-stuffed joint of juicy meat, is not one I’ve observed before. Until this year, geese barely featured in ...
Fluffy yellow beginnings The life cycle of a goose, from cute walking yellow duster to serial killer-eyed beak snapper to pork-stuffed joint of juicy meat, is not one I’ve observed before. Until this year, geese barely featured in my life. As a meat, it’s the kind of thing that appears [...]
1 day ago
DANIEL Patterson believes frequent family travels to France with his mother, a teacher of French and English, and lawyer father, influenced his feelings towards cooking. Beginning as a kitchen porter aged 14, Patterson’s fervour for food...
DANIEL Patterson believes frequent family travels to France with his mother, a teacher of French and English, and lawyer father, influenced his feelings towards cooking. Beginning as a kitchen porter aged 14, Patterson’s fervour for food saw him drop out of English studies at Duke University. He launched Babette’s, Sonoma, with then partner, Elizabeth Ramsey aged 25. He subsequently opened Frisson in San Francisco’s financial district, which embraced aromatherapy and molecular gastronomy. COI, which makes use of foraged ingredients, opened in 2006 in San Francisco Bay (two Michelin stars). Also sharing that accolade is London’s Ledbury restaurant, where Patterson crafted eight courses for trade and press to celebrate the launch of his latest book, ‘COI: Stories and Recipes’ (Phaidon Press). Dishes included: ‘Earth and Sea’ (tofu coagulated with sea water, tomato and fresh seaweeds), and ‘Monterey Bay Abalone’ (nettle-dandelion salsa verde, spicy breadcrumbs, and wild fennel flowers). How important was it to endure a tough kitchen upbringing, washing dishes and sweeping floors from age 14? I don’t think it’s possible to become a chef without putting time in as a pot washer and prep cook. Like any other craft, you have to learn it properly and completely. You won’t really understand an onion until you’ve dealt with 1,000. No matter how modern the equipment can be, cooking is a traditional craft. Give me a fire and I’ll make food. There’s something about human desire that is expressed more and more strongly as time moves on: the depth of emotion becomes greater. Why did you drop out of university? Cooking is a young person’s game. So I had to make decision. My parents imagined a different life for me. When I started in the 1980s, there weren’t many celebrity chefs, so dropping out of school to be a minimum wage line cook looked like I was chucking my life away. Over time, they came to respect how important it was for me. Having said that, I would prefer my kids (aged five and two-and-a-half) not to go into cooking ulitmately. What was your brief to Maren Caruso, photographer of COI: Stories and Recipes? What I told Maren, who grew up in the area, was: capture as much as possible the feeling of a place - convey the strong sense of familiarity. Having lived there for 24 years, I knew a lot of places, from where to forage to farms that had meaning. She took 1,000s of pictures over the course of a year. As well as 50 shots of dishes on a light table, she also shot one menu, beginning-to-end, at the restaurant. Why wasn’t she credited on the cover?You’d have to ask Phaidon. She’s certainly on the title page.Why did you call your two Michelin-starred restaurant, COI? (pronounced ‘Qwar’) It’s an archaic French word, out of common parlance for hundreds of years, meaning quietness or tranquil. I found it on the internet when it turned up in a random search. First of all, although it has its own energy, the restaurant is meant to be a little bit of an oasis in a busy city. Secondly, I liked an obscure word which almost certainly would be mispronounced and misunderstood! Who are your most marked protégés? There have been so many. Right now in the San Francisco area, there’s Brett Cooper at Outerlands, and Evan Rich at Rich Table. Hopefully time with us helped them in some small way. We want people to leave better than they came, and not just in the sense of cooking, but character, values, responsibility and caring. We tell everyone: everything matters, from how you fold your side towel to cleanliness, which is so, so important. This way, you make more space for a calm environment - quiet and uneventful. Not that we succeed in that all the time... Tell me about your cellar? Wine is as much a cultural construct as a product of nature. I work with small producers rather than bigger brands. Our wine list is not huge but well chosen, in that I think it should say something: be at its’ best for what it is. Is Western cutlery too brash for your
1 day ago
  At 6:10am GMT on the morning of  September 25th I flew from London to Naples, Italy. At 9pm CET on the evening of September 25th I flew from Naples back to London. The time between was spent eating Neapolitan pizza at the some of ...
  At 6:10am GMT on the morning of  September 25th I flew from London to Naples, Italy. At 9pm CET on the evening of September 25th I flew from Naples back to London. The time between was spent eating Neapolitan pizza at the some of the world’s greatest pizzerias. My intrepid co-traveler, Chowzter‘s Jeffrey Merrihue, […]
1 day ago
AD12 at T42 is a 12 week pop-up restaurant from Michelin starred chef Anthony Demetre, which opened in Tower 42 in The City on 1 October. The modern bistro menu reflects Demetre’s signature style at his London restaurants Arbutus, Wild H...
AD12 at T42 is a 12 week pop-up restaurant from Michelin starred chef Anthony Demetre, which opened in Tower 42 in The City on 1 October. The modern bistro menu reflects Demetre’s signature style at his London restaurants Arbutus, Wild Honey and Les Deux Salons. The temporary restaurant takes over from Gary Rhodes’s restaurant and will lead the way to Jason Atherton taking over the space from Spring 2014. We are delighted to offer a chance to win a meal for two at AD12 – the menu will involve a 3 course tasting menu with wines selected by the sommelier worth a total of £140! The prize must be redeemed between now and 20th December 2013 and is subject to availability. For a chance to win, simply email us with your full name and contact details – for a greater chance of winning, share this on Twitter or like us on Facebook. The post Competition! Win Dinner for 2 at AD12 at T42 Restaurant appeared first on Bon Vivant Concierge Service by Emyr Thomas - if you enjoyed this post you can read more at Bon Vivant or follow us on
3 days ago
Find out more about this year's London Restaurant Festival, try one of the fantastic Korean restaurants in Little Seoul or if French cuisine and wines are more like your thing, why not head to Terroirs or one of its sister restaurants in...
Find out more about this year's London Restaurant Festival, try one of the fantastic Korean restaurants in Little Seoul or if French cuisine and wines are more like your thing, why not head to Terroirs or one of its sister restaurants in London. These are some of my foodie recommendations for Heathrow Express readers this month, to read more visit their website here.Bibimbap at Hurwundeki
3 days ago
Address: King's Cross Filling Station, Goods Way, London N1C 4UR Phone: 020 8880 6111 Nearest Tube station: King's Cross Ratings (out of 5 *) Price: below £10 Service charge: N/A Taste: ** Service: *** Ambience: **King's Cr...
Address: King's Cross Filling Station, Goods Way, London N1C 4UR Phone: 020 8880 6111 Nearest Tube station: King's Cross Ratings (out of 5 *) Price: below £10 Service charge: N/A Taste: ** Service: *** Ambience: **King's Cross is unrecognisable to a visitor who has last been just a couple of years ago. A two day carnival marks the £500 million revamp coming to a close, King's Cross is now open for business. Not only do existing nearby properties shoot up in value, new private residential developments are popping up like mushrooms. They aren't short of buyers either - Chinese parents are paying cash for them the moment the flats go onto the market. They are perfect for their only child studying in Central St Martins College of Art & Design. Things are looking up along Regents Canal as well. Tracts of disused land are now filled with construction sites; spanking new apartments are expected in the next year or so. Even petrol stations are not spared. One right across Guardian's Kings Place office is now converted to a restaurant. Shrimpy's, which enjoys a canal side setting, has a indoor full service restaurant as well as an outdoor grill and drinks counter. The large outdoor area with long benches and all would have been perfect for a cool beer. Pity it is a bit too early for that when I stop by for a spot of lunch. The place looks a bit lacklustre with just four items on the menu, two of which are tortas (essentially burgette with fillings). A grilled corn and a "seafood bucket" that I hope taste better than it sounds are the other two. The waitress at the counter assures me that "there is a full menu in the restaurant". The weather isn't brilliant but it seems a waste to be cooped up indoor when it isn't raining. My expectation of the English weather has stooped to a new low. That is how I ended up with a tortas and a corn. For the uninitiated, a tortas is a Mexican crusty sandwich roll (pretty much like the Vietnamese bahn mi. Shrimpy's fish and pork tortas (£7) is mostly pork with lined with lettuce, diced avocado and slivers of fish. While it makes a good snack but it tastes oddly unfulfilling - the pork is under-seasoned and the spicy sauce is underwhelming. The Cotija corn's (£3.50) name confuses me. I'm wondering whether the corn actually comes from Cotija or is the corn coated with Cotija cheese. But it comes with a cheesy spread with coriander and mild chilli sprinkled on it. The kernels come off easily but I thought the corn could have spent a longer time on the grill. The corn tastes more like steamed than grilled. Not exactly a satisfying meal but I guess Shrimpy's outdoor area is really more for drinks than anything else. Perhaps its "full menu" in its restaurant is a better bet after all. View Larger Map
3 days ago