Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Zaha Hadid has designs on wine

In an interesting marriage of wine and design, Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid has designed a bespoke wine bottle for Austrian producer Leo Hillinger. The limited-edition was created by the architect for Hillinger’s Icon Hill 2009, of which just 999 bottles were made.
Known for her curvaceous structures, the bottle’s elongated form is inspired by the shape of a drop of wine. "A continuous spatial curve was projected onto the bottle's surface, defining areas for the concave indentation and suggesting the waves created when droplets break a liquid's surface,” Hadid said on her website.

The concave indentation and the bottle's surface have the same curvature, enabling a set of bottles to interlock. A dimple in the base meanwhile, provides a thumb hold for pouring. Both the bottle and its packaging seem to take cues from the world of fragrance.

While this is Hadid’s first wine bottle design, it’s not her wine world debut ­– in 2006 she completed a five-year design project for a wine shop and tasting room for renowned Rioja producer López de Heredia. Last year, Hadid was made a Dame for her services to architecture.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Brixton gets a Champagne bar

In surely the strongest sign yet of the South London district’s gentrification, Brixton is to get its first Champagne bar as Covent Garden-based Champagne + Fromage branches out to a second site. As reported on db.com, the bar, which is set to open in Brixton Village Market on 15 October, will sell glasses of Champagne for £8-12, with bottles available to take away from £25.
In addition to grower Champagne, the 40-cover bar will also serve sharing platters of meats and cheeses sourced from artisanal French producers. “Brixton Village is an exciting and special place in London with traditional shops where you can try things from all over the world,” Champagne + Fromage’s co-owner, Stefano Frigerio, told the Evening Standard.
“From a business point of view, it’s a trendy, booming market with small restaurants like us that are trying to do new things. Small Champagne producers are passionate about quality and are less expensive to stock than the big brands because they don’t pay for global marketing,” he added. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

15 new London restaurants awarded Michelin stars

Fifteen London restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars in the 2014 edition of the Michelin Guide. As reported on db.com, Lima in Fitzrovia has made history by becoming the first Peruvian restaurant in Europe to wine a Michelin star. A collaboration between Venezuelan brothers, Gabriel and José Luis Gonzalez, and celebrated Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez, Lima London opened last July offering a broad spectrum of Peruvian cuisine including wild produce from the Andes and the Amazon.

“I am so proud of our team who work to exceptional standards at every service, and feel this is a testament to all of our hard work over the past year. To be the first Peruvian restaurant to achieve a star in UK and Europe is a huge accolade,” said Gabriel Gonzalez. Jason Atherton’s Soho bistro Social Eating House also scooped a star, just five months after opening.
Bed & Breakfast at Bo London
Matching sister restaurant Pollen Street Social’s one star, head chef Paul Hood, who was cherry picked by Atherton to head up the restaurant, which pays homage to the best of British cooking with international influences, said: “A Michelin star is an incredible accomplishment. I am so proud of my team who have worked so hard over the last five months to achieve this.”
Also honoured this year was Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, which opened in March at The Halkin hotel. Ametsa is the London outpost of three Michelin-starred San Sebastian restaurant Arzak, run by father-daughter duo Juan Mari and Elena Arzak. Another London outpost for an international chef – Alvin Leung’s Bo London in Mayfair, was also awarded a star for Leung’s signature brand of “X-treme Chinese cuisine” given an English twist in dishes such as Bed & Breakfast.

Celebrated French chef Eric Chavot received a star at Brasserie Chavot in Mayfair, as did one-to-watch Tom Sellers at Story in London Bridge, which offers the likes of Three Bears Porridge and beef dripping candles. Meanwhile, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge and The Greenhouse in Mayfair were both honoured with a second star, while L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Covent Garden lost its second star, though with 21 stars, Robuchon remains the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

King of Soho Gin honours dandy and porn baron

A new gin launched in London last week to honour legendary Soho porn baron Paul Raymond. As reported on db.com, King of Soho London Dry Gin, made by Thames Distillers, is the brainchild of Raymond’s son Howard. A colourful character, Paul Raymond opened the UK’s first strip club in 1958 and launched soft porn magazines Men Only and Escort, leading him to be dubbed the “King of Soho."

Housed in the former Doric Ballroom in Soho’s Walker’s Court, Raymond’s club was attended by the likes of actors Peter Sellers and John Mills. He was named the richest man in Britain in 1992 with an estimated fortune of £1.5 billion. His eventful life was turned into a film, The Look of Love, released this year with Steve Coogan cast in the title role.  

“My father’s favourite tipple in the ‘60s was gin, a drink reminiscent of the parties and clubs of that era. London is now driving an international renaissance of gin and fittingly, The King of Soho Gin is distilled in the heart of London,” said Howard Raymond. The 42% abv, juniper dominant gin is made from 12 botanicals, including citrus, grapefruit, angelica root and cassia, and is distilled in two small pot stills.

Featuring a fox-tailed dandy in a red jacket and top hat reading a book and carrying a French horn, the gin’s blue glass bottle seems a hat tip to another King of Soho – Sebastian Horsley. An artist by trade, the self-styled dandy lived in Soho, dressed in a signature red velvet suit and top hat, and was vocal about his reliance on local prostitutes.

He is best known for having undergone a voluntary crucifixion without painkillers in the Philippines as preparation for a series of paintings on the subject. Horsley was found dead in his Soho flat on 17 June 2010 after a suspected heroin overdose. Marc Almond, Will Self and Stephen Fry attended his funeral. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Skinnygirl hopes to sparkle with Prosecco

Skinnygirl, the low-calorie wine and pre-mix cocktail brand founded by US reality TV star Bethenny Frankel, has added a Prosecco to its ever-expanding line-up. As reported on db.com, the brand has launched the northern Italian sparkler in a bid to capitalise on the growing thirst for the Prosecco in the US and improve upon its 23% dip in sales over the first half of 2013.
The 11% abv fizz is a limited edition release aiming to offer “guilt-free” enjoyment over Christmas and the New Year, with a 750ml bottle carrying an RRP of US$19.99. Its makers describe the wine as: “delicate and fruity with a hint of honey, a touch of sweetness and a fresh finish.”

In addition to Skinnygirl Prosecco, the brand also launched three new lower alcohol single varietal wines this week: Skinnygirl Chardonnay, Skinnygirl Pinot Grigio and Skinnygirl Cabernet Sauvignon, all weighing in at 10% abv. In order to appeal to its health conscious female audience, each of the wines claims to boast 100 calories per 5oz serving compared to an average of 123 calories found in non-diet wines.
The Chardonnay is described as: “a complex combination of white peach, French oak vanilla and orange blossom”, while the Pinot Grigio offers “aromas of tropical fruit balanced with a hint of natural grape sweetness.” The Cabernet Sauvignon meanwhile, has “aromas of dark berries and warm chocolate, mature tannins and bright acidity.”

Joining Skinnygirl Moscato and the brand’s original trio of wines, the new single varietal wines make the Skinnygirl range 20-strong, including the likes of a Cherry Vodka and a premix Mojito. Skinnygirl is the brainchild of entrepreneur Bethenny Frankel, who appeared in American reality TV show The Real Housewives of New York City.