Posts Tagged ‘dining’
Celebrations are in order. We’ve been given another chance to appreciate the sunshine and relax a little with the arrival of this beautiful Indian summer. So don’t shelve the barely worn shorts and sandals just yet, there’s still plenty of alfresco dining, Champagne afternoon teas on the terrace and maybe the odd barbecue still to be had.
If you were a little disappointed with the summer and missed out on that holiday feeling, think of this as a stroke of good fortune. Steal a moment at lunch to sit in the warm air. Take the opportunity after work to dine alfresco with friends over a bottle of chilled sparkling wine recommended by the sommelier. Set your alarm clock a little earlier to catch the most stunning sunrise to inspire you for the day ahead and grab a coffee and some you-time before nine.
It’s not often we get a second chance, so let’s grab this one with both hands and have a most wonderful Indian summer. After all, autumn is just around the corner.
Ross Bootland. Head Chef at Hotel du Vin & Bistro Newcastle
Ross trained at the prestigious Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh for 2 years, winning Scottish Junior Seafood Chef of the Year, before moving down to London to add to his experience at the Manderin Oriental for a year. It was after this that he joined the Malmaison group in 1997 for 5 years – beginning in Edinburgh opening Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds and returning to Edinburgh.
He has also previously held position of Head Chef for Dakota Hotels in Glasgow and then for Forth Bridge Edinburgh achieving several awards in a short space of time including:
Hotel Restaurant of the Year 2008
Restaurant of the Year Scotland 2008
Seafood Restaurant of the Year 2008
and nominated as one of the top ten in Scotland.
Ross has been inspired over the years in particular by Keith Shearer, Executive Head Chef of Hotel du Vin and Malmaison and by award winning Roy Brett, Head Chef of Ondine Restaurant.
Ross is now Head Chef at Hotel du Vin Newcastle. Take a look at his favourite dishes and take part in the Northern Face-off on Facebook Hotel du Vin Newcastle.
It is fair to say that the British climate is sporadic at best. A patch of warm weather brings a flurry of wardrobe rearrangements to find the summer dresses and bare leg exposing shorts. But it also gives the ideal temperature to sit outdoors, take in some fresh air and dabble in a little after work tipple or have a nibble on something straight off the barbecue. We are great fans of all things alfresco – Veuve Clicquot in the Courtyard Champagne Bar at Hotel du Vin Edinburgh, the garden at Tunbridge Wells or sitting under the sails at Poole with an ice-cold beer. There is something that makes you feel relaxed and free when you’re able to wine and dine outdoors, as if on holiday. We say bring on the Indian summer and plenty more balmy nights. Of course, if the sky looks temperamental we’d just head to Hotel du Vin York who are prepared for every eventuality to prevent dampened spirits with the brilliant installation of a retractable roof. Indoors outdoors or outdoors indoors, you choose. Just one question to ask – who’s up for a spot of alfresco?
I was checking out the festivals and outdoor events in the hope of continued light jacket weather, when I realised just how many great things are happening over the summer months. I haven’t got any holidays planned yet and time is ticking to get something booked in before all the good dates get snaffled from the work rota, so I’m thinking this might be a rather interesting way to chill out closer to home rather than panic into a last minute overseas package deal.
Here’s a few that I think look compelling:
1. Henley Royal Regatta. Regarded as one of the best regattas in the world. It’s a favourite of all oarsmen and fans of the sport. Famous for the great sporting occasion as well as the great buzz of the day and its competition. Spectators make a break of it enjoying Champagne, afternoon teas, sunshine (hopefully) and mingling with fellow fans at Hotel du Vin & Bistro Henley-on-Thames.
Held from Wednesday 29th June to Sunday 3rd July.
One for the ladylike tea dress, sunhat and Pimm’s I think. I might get a glimpse of the Queen, Prince Albert of Monaco or Dame Kelly Holmes at the prize giving.
2. Harrogate Festival Fringe. This menagerie of wonderful activities and events looks great fun. A mixture of performing arts, literature including hip hop, jazz, dance, crime writing, children’s festival, quartets and ‘The Building of a Global Iconic Brand – Kit Kat’. So many exciting elements not to miss, this will keep me entertained nicely.
Held from 1st July to 31st July.
If only I had a month off to do all of this. I shall need to choose wisely. This one is a must – 30th June is the Glitzy Gala Opening featuring the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra called ‘Putting on the Ritz’: A celebration of Fred Astaire and his leading ladies – this calls for a cocktail aperitif at Hotel du Vin Harrogate Bar beforehand in my glitzy frock.
3. Cambridge Summer in the City – A free weekend of rock, pop and blues music, entertainment, a French market, sports and fireworks – sounds like fun and is in the centre of this beautiful city. Handy for Hotel du Vin Cambridge for when I need to put my feet up with a large glass of Rioja after a day’s rocking out and exploring the French delicacies on the market.
Held from July 11th July to 13th July.
4. Winchester Hat Fair – Britain’s longest running festival of street theatre and outdoor arts with a great reputation for outdoor performances, unique shows and community arts. Street theatre at its best – the art of street entertainment. And it’s free throughout Winchester’s ancient streets.
Held from 1st July to 3rd July.
Look out for the Hat Fair iphone app to keep you informed. For up to date information about which artists are performing where and when, where to eat (I’m thinking an afternoon tea at Hotel du Vin & Bistro Winchester), and park, download this FREE.
These are just a few I’ve selected so far. I’m thinking of compiling some together and doing a little summer festival tour. A different way of spending my well overdue holidays which I’m really looking forward to. Any other suggestions very welcome to add to my list.
I’m organised for once. I’ve bought my card in advance. Isn’t this one of those dates to remember, that unlike Mother’s Day, often gets forgotten? I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the macho versus emotions thing. Well this year, I want to make sure it and he gets remembered. He deserves to be put on a pedestal. It’s the perfect opportunity (or excuse) to have a family get-together over dinner. I’m thinking of surprising him with a whisky tasting too. A bit of quality time over some quality drams. A little treat is the least I can do. He makes me laugh. He’s always in my corner on any of my battles and my biggest supporter in any of my achievements. He nurtures the most amazing plants with the greenest of fingers. Has the innate ability to fix a car over the telephone line. And he’s always made the most perfect boiled eggs with soldiers. And that just skims the surface of my appreciation. So here’s a little reminder for those who feel the same as me. June 19th let’s fly the flag for fathers and for all the loans, taxis, advice, laughs and dippy boiled eggs, take some time out to say thank you.
I should do this more often, Father’s Day or not.
All seems calm. St John Street, Clerkenwell. But there’s something bubbling away behind the scenes. Car chases, mystery, action… and ‘Gotham city police station’. All directed by Christopher Nolan (of the massively successful Inception). So bat fans, it’s time to check out Gotham’s finest. You might not catch a glimpse of the Dark Knight himself, but as I sink a spoon into one of the temptingly gorgeous cheese soufflés with a glass of Merlot at hand, I wistfully smile to myself. Forget Batman, I prefer our local food heroes. Sitting right amongst the buzz of the action, behind our trademark green canopy and wine barrels, keeping an eye out for Mr Bale et al on one of their breaks, I look forward to the movie release and will always remember, in the wise words of his super onscreen lady friend Rachel Dawes, “It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you”.
What are you going to do tonight? (eccentric billionaires welcome)
Big city neon lights. Big clothing. Bigger hair. Even bigger mobile phones. With The Apprentice hitting our screens again and a menagerie of ever hungry young guns treading over each other to be the next big thing, I find myself hooked once more. The catchphrases, the tasks and the cunning strategies of the select few individuals that shine through, got me to thinking.
It may come in various guises and face an assortment of good and bad challenges over the years depending on the world’s economic conditions, affecting perceptions, trends and decisions from top to bottom. For example, the time to be seen to be flash, big and ballsy is one of the past. Old school business ways are perceived as too showy, not productive, a waste of spare pennies – why have a top meeting over lunch in a local restaurant or bistro, when you can grab a severely pale coffee from the machine and stay within the beige four walls of your 6m x 6m office? Companies are still looking for ways of doing business that show value for money whilst at the same time seen to be ‘looking after’ their clients and colleagues and show that they are important to them. A meeting of minds over an unpretentious brunch and a Bloody Mary, or a late Friday afternoon lunch arrangement that turns into a nip or two of malt to see in the weekend, gives the impression that you care to take the time and show the importance of your clients or colleagues. An important trait to gain loyalty and trust.
Technology is advancing at the speed of light so much so that we don’t even need to be in the same room to have a meeting or hold a conference. I feel a little sad that this may cut out some of the personality, the face-to-face that helps build trust and longevity in business.
The world may have changed, but I believe business on a whole has not. The hunger, the drive, the ambition and the dealing, all still make up the bones of business. Whether a small business of one, or an organisation of hundreds, perception and creating an impression is still a major factor. Ok, so we can’t be seen to be splashing the cash on fancy locations, travel, and popping the Champagne on a regular basis – this doesn’t make good business sense especially in this current climate.
But there’s a balance. To build good relationships and discuss important deals and decisions, there needs to be some sort of respect given to this process. Is it not all part of the perception to take a leaf out of the old school style and add those little touches that made the difference? That impressed or made clients or colleagues feel relaxed and confident in each other? A local beer in the bar was always where the best nuggets of an idea formed, a quick and efficiently served lunch on comfortable stools round the open island kitchen is a great way to kill two birds and eat while you meet. A glass of bubbly to celebrate a success is always well deserved and keeps up spirits and moral.
So, it looks like the big hair’s making a come-back so I say let’s invest in a glass of exceedingly good Claret or chew over a decision on a succulent, melt in the mouth steak once in a while – the devil is in the detail, and if you’re going to do business with him, we should all embrace him.