Monday
Feb212011

Heston Blumenthal opens London restaurant

 

 

Three-star Michelin chef Heston Blumenthal opened a new restaurant in London this week focused on the revival and modernization of British recipes.

 

Simply called "Dinner," the restaurant is tucked inside the five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel near Hyde Park in the upmarket Knightsbridge neighborhood.

 

The menu will feature simple contemporary dishes inspired by Britain's gastronomic past and recipes dating as far back as the 16th century, such as scallops with cucumber ketchup and peas, bergamot cured mackerel salad and slow cooked short rib of beef.

 

Blumenthal's reputation for experimental "scientific" cuisine such as snail porridge or bacon and egg ice cream catapulted his Fat Duck restaurant in the southern English village of Bray into the highest constellation of fine dining. Only three other British restaurants can boast a three-star rating.

 

Blumenthal said the name of the new restaurant, although simple, actually reflected the complex relationship between the advancement of British society and its main meal of the day.

 

The word "dinner" comes from the 13th century French word "disner" which stood for breakfast and developed into the main meal of the day, with the evolution of the word in English reflecting social and economic changes.

 

Dinner was originally eaten in the middle of the day, and as people could afford candles in the 1700s it moved forward to evening and with gaslights and electricity became later still.

 

"Anyway, it just seemed quite entertaining and typically British in both history and language play, so for me it was an obvious choice and if nothing else, I hope it's at least easy to remember," Blumenthal said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

 

Inside the leather-clad and exposed brick walls of the restaurant a large pulley system, resembling an oversized watch movement, rotates a spit in an open fire, all visible through a curved glass wall. As guests enter the bar area, a wall displays 16th century British cooking recipes taken from antique cookbooks behind a one-way mirror.

 

There are 136 seats in the restaurant including 10 for private dining and six at the Chef's table. The restaurant will serve lunch, afternoon tea and dinner with a three course set lunch from 25 pounds ($40) and a three course a la carte dinner from 55 pounds.

 

 

Wednesday
Jan122011

Blue Fine Tuna 

 

 

 

 

Record Set for Bluefin Tuna

 

A tuna has sold at auction for a record 32.49m yen in Tokyo, nearly $400,000 (£257,320).

The fish was a blue fin, a variety prized for making the finest sushi. It was bought by a joint Japanese and Chinese bid.

The first auction in January at Tokyo's Tsukji fish market is a cherished part of Japan's New Year celebrations, and record prices are often set.

Japan is the world's biggest consumer of seafood.

After bells rang at 0500 local time (2000 GMT on Tuesday) to start the sale, bidding was brisk.

More than 500 fish were laid out on pallets on the concrete floor.

But the lot that attracted the most interest was a giant 342kg blue fin tuna caught off Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

The winning bid was made jointly by the owners of a restaurant in Tokyo's upmarket Ginza district, and a sushi chain in Hong Kong.

Restrictions on catches have been tightened in recent years because of concerns about overfishing.

Traders at Tsukiji market say growing Chinese demand for sushi is also helping to push up prices

Monday
Aug232010

Counterfeit fine wines hit the market 

After counterfeit designer bags, counterfeit fine wines
Petrus, Romanée-Conti, Chateau d'Yquem are among the wines coveted by connoisseurs and targeted by counterfeiters.

Trafficking of fake wine is on the rise according to French wine professionals
According to French wine professionals, a handful of rare and fine wines face the same threat from fraud as designer handbags and designer sunglasses.
Trafficking in fake wine has "always existed a little, but it's definitely amplified with the rising prices of fine wines", said Sylvain Boivert, director of the association representing Bordeaux wines that had a classification back in 1855, the Conseil des Grands Crus Classes en 1855.
To the relief of many, the fakery remains small scale.
"We are not dealing with industrial counterfeit production, unlike the luxury brands," he said.
The counterfeiting "touches five to six of the very top wine estates in Bordeaux where there is a real potential to make a capital gain and where there is a world-wide demand because the products are rare," said wine tycoon Bernard Magrez, owner of 35 estates, including several in Bordeaux.
Nor have Bordeaux's rarefied cousins in Burgundy been spared, notably Romanée-Conti, one of the world's scarcest and most expensive wines.
Jeroboams - the equivalent of four bottles - of the 1945 vintage from this 1.8 hectare (4.4 acre) estate have recently been sold in auctions, according to Laurent Ponsot, a renowned Burgundy producer.
Alas, Romanée-Conti did not bottle their 1945 in Jeroboams.
Ponsot, owner of Domaine Ponsot, has had his own misadventures with counterfeiters.
At a sale in New York in 2008, the vintner was shocked to discover that "106 bottles out of 107" were fakes. The catalogue listed "a sale of Clos Saint Denis 1945 and other old vintages when we didn't even begin producing this particular appellation until 1982," he recounted.
"The counterfeiters aren't Asian, they are European or American", said Ponsot, who had to fly to New York to stop the sale.
The methods used to fool buyers are only limited by the imagination of the counterfeiters: photocopied labels, different chateaux names on the capsule and the label, to name a few.
Sometimes the bottle is authentic but does not contain the wine or the vintage indicated, or only partially, the level of the wine having been topped off with another wine by using a syringe.
"The farther one is from the original market, the cruder the fakes," said Angelique de Lencquesaing, founder of the internet auction website IdealWine.
As new markets emerge, fraudsters seize the opportunity to cash in.
According to Magrez, counterfeiting increased "when Russians began consuming after the fall of the Wall".
"There was an enormous temptation, because of the considerable demand."
Add to that the immense Chinese market. While the problem of counterfeit wine remains "very anecdotal" on the French market, it "could take on a much more serious amplitude in Asia because the market is developing at a dazzling speed," she said.
China is "the principal counterfeiter," according to Renaud Gaillard, deputy director of the French export trade body, Federation des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiritueux de France (FEVS). While the main targets are champagne and cognac, according to Gaillard, "one can find Petrus and Margaux in some little stores" in China.
In addition to export markets and Internet marketplaces, fake wines slip into circulation through the auctions.
"The auction houses are not always as demanding as they should be," noted David Ridgeway, chief sommelier at legendary Paris restaurant La Tour d'Argent.
For example, "Romanée-Conti 1945, we know there were only 600 [bottles] produced. But I don't know how many thousands of bottles we have seen at the sales," he said.
Unlike designer goods groups including LVMH, which have the financial power to fight aggressively against fake goods, most vintners do not.
"There are no funds. Each lawsuit costs 500,000 euros (£444,397)," said Ponsot. "Vuitton has the means. The vintner, even if he sells all of his merchandise, it's small scale" production.
There are also those vintners who prefer to avoid any publicity regarding fake wine.
"They file a complaint, but always quietly," said Claude Maratier, the French wine expert. "They are too afraid that their entire production will be put in doubt."

Wednesday
May192010

Ramsay closes New York Restaurant

 

In a long article chronicling the decline of Gordon Ramsay's fortures this summer, the Wall Street Journal revealed that after shutting down lunch service in his New York restaurant Gordon Ramsay at the London, removing flowers, and adding a $65 pre-theater prix fixe to attract more traffic, he was still $5,000 short of breaking even each month. Fast forward four months, and a court source tells Eater he is currently being sued by vendors for upwards of $100,000.

Thus, it's not a huge surprise that economic realities have led Gordo to transfer ownership of the sinking ship to the restaurant's hotel, as he did earlier this year in both Paris and LA.
On November 22, The London NYC took over as owner and manager of Gordon Ramsay at the London, but as is the case with some of his other properties, the space will keep the Ramsay name (and the two Michelin stars that go along with it). It is presumed that Gordo will obtain some sort of licensing fee, but don't expect to spy the foul mouthed chef anywhere near Midtown.

Here is a letter sent to all vendors last month:

Oh, and it should be noted that the TV chef invested $3 million of his fortune into the project when it opened back in '06.

Tuesday
Apr062010

DRESSED TO KILT