So, as you may have guessed from some of my previous posts, I’m rather prone to wandering down the wine aisle in a bid to spot new bargains, particularly from Central and Eastern Europe. Last week, while I was in M&S I happened to notice a rather pretty label in a light aqua teal shade. It turned out to be a new Hungarian wine, a Furmint Tokaji, very reasonably priced at £9.99.
I normally associated Tokaj with sweet, dessert wines, so I was rather intrigued to try this one. It was pale in colour and as it turned out, refreshingly crisp to drink. There were notes of pears, apples with just a hint of honey flavour to give it balance.
The drinking suggestions proposed enjoying it with paprika chicken or roast pork which I could see working well. It’s delicate in style so simple grilled fish would also be a good match.
I’ve noticed that when M&S tends to get new wines in they tend to be priced slightly lower, in an attempt to get you hooked, so I’d suggest you make the most of it while you can. Plus if you order six online you’ll get a discount. For more information go to M&S Furmint Tokaji here.
After some delays, Turkish all-day restaurant cafe chain, Kitchenette, will open its first outpost in the UK on 18th November, 2013 (it was originally slated to open in September).
It’s no secret that I completely fell in love with Istanbul when I visited in 2009 and I have fond memories of spending some time in a couple of the Kitchenette outposts in the city, drinking coffee and eating cake, so its arrival in London has got me rather excited.
Kitchenette first launched in Turkey in 2005. The chain has expanded to boast 24 branches, not just in Turkey but also Baku (to read more of my tips on visiting, eating and drinking in Azerbaijan go here), Moscow and St Petersburg.
The London restaurant will open at 200-204 Putney Bridge SW15 2NA. Restaurant interiors have been designed by Michaelis Boyd. The 80-cover restaurant will feature lots of warm natural timbers and handmade tiles. In terms of food, you can expect good brasserie dishes, a few daily specials and excellent desserts in a really relaxed environment. It’s thought that the brand plans to expand quickly in London and potentially elsewhere in the UK.
Kitchenette is owned by TAG Restaurant Holdings which invested in Tom Aikens’ dining concept, Tom’s Kitchen. However, Square Meal reports (read more here) that the Michelin-starred chef is likely to only play a very minor, executive chef role.
Last night I attended the UK launch of Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd’s – of Ghostbuster, Trading Places, and Blues Brother fame – Crystal Head vodka at Dstrkt in London’s West End.
The party was a huge success and Aykroyd was on top form. There was a great blues rock band playing (The Beekays) and at one point Aykroyd even took to the stage to sing Born in Chicago (see the video below). Aykroyd was also good enough to do a bottle signing for those who want their very own unique skull vodka bottle. We were lucky enough to have him write a favourite quote from Trading Places on our bottle (picture to follow).
I love the concept, let’s face it, it’s nice to see a unique bottle, rather than just the same old, same old we’re used to by the established brands. Plus the party was absolutely fantastic. Dstrkt’s a great club and the mini burgers with brioche bun were a culinary triumph with just the right amont of gherkin. How successful Aykroyd’s vodka brand will be remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, he’s going into this venture with as much gusto he has dedicated to any project.
I’ll keep you posted on what the vodka tastes like, as yet I’ve only tried it in a pomegranate sling (delicious but not exactly the best way to test out a vodka, but then, this was a Monday night and I had work the next day so knocking back shots was rather out of the question!) Keep your eyes peeled for more information on this soon – I’m still awaiting the hard facts!
I am a huge fan of Zubrówka. I first experienced it at Na Zdrowie (now The Polish Bar) in Holborn while studying at university. Since then it’s become one of my favourite tipples so I was terribly excited to hear that the premium Polish vodka brand is opening a Pop-Up Cinema at Browns Courtrooms in Covent Garden.
Zubrówka has teamed up with Appletiser to create the Frisky Bison which can be enjoyed while watching iconic films such as: Cocktail, Point Break, Animal House and Rebel without a Cause. Tickets cost £15 and include a complimentary Frisky Bison and Bison Bites. There are just 70 seats available each night so make sure you book your ticket before they all run out!
Zubrówka Pop-up Cinema at Browns Courtoom runs from 26th to 29th July 2011.
At this year’s Taste of London Festival in Regent’s Park (16th to 19th June) you can discover the delights of Russian vodka at the Russian Standard Cocktail Bar.
Eager gourmands are invited to explore Russian Standard’s House of Vodka with two mixology master classes each day, run by leading mixologist Glen Hooper who has over 10 years experience in the heart of London’s cocktail culture. Glen has travelled the world and brings with him a wealth of mixology expertise to share with the attendees. The sessions will explain how to truly taste and enjoy premium vodka; educating participants about the key differences between Russian Standard Vodka, Russian Standard Gold and Russian Standard Platinum.
In each class, Glen will elaborate on the history and heritage of Russian Standard Vodka, including an explanation of Dmitri Mendeleev’s original vodka formula created for the Tsars in 1894. True foodies will also be able to learn about Russian zakuski, small plates served on the arrival of guests alongside vodka and a bubbling samovar.
For thirsty visitors keen to kick back with a cocktail, a choice of five refreshing Russian Standard Vodka drinks will be on offer to purchase by the glass or pitcher. These include the Bolshoi Basil, a unique and refreshing tall drink, and the Appleflower, a summery cocktail featuring delicate elderflower and apple flavours. Sunday festival goers will also be able to treat themselves to a Classic Russian Bloody Mary, the perfect way to ease into a sunny day spent sampling the festival’s premium food and drink.
The Russian Standard Vodka bar will be at stand S5, which is near the main entrance to Taste of London.
Advance tickets for Taste of London start from £23.50, while tickets on the day start from £26. Visit www.tastefestivals.com/london to secure your ticket today.
Yet more airline route news! This April Rossiya Airlines is launching a new route between St. Petersburg and London Gatwick. Flights will be operated on Wednesday and Sundays but by May the number of flights is expected to increase to five a week – on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday. Departures from St. Petersburg fly at 11.30am and return at 12.50pm.
From 13th April to 12th June the intertwined artistic lives of husband and wife painters Zoran Music and Ida Barbarigo will be explored in an exhibition comprising some twenty-five works as well as photographs and ephemera at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art.
Zoran Music and Ida Barbarigo met in Trieste in the spring of 1944, when Barbarigo was persuaded by a friend to visit an exhibition of paintings by an artist whom she described as ‘a handsome chap’. After this, Ida found that she kept on bumping into him and soon ‘very shyly he plucked up the courage to ask for my telephone number, to call me sometime’. However, romance was soon put on hold. The area was, at the time, occupied by Nazi forces and in October 1944 Music was arrested – reputedly taken as a spy and accused of collaborating with dissidents. He was questioned and attempts were made to recruit him to the SS. When he refused, he was sent to Dachau.
Zoran Music (1909-2005) was born in Gorizia on the Italian-Slovenian border into a Mitteleuropa world shaped by the Austro-Hungarian empire. In his youth he spent time in many different countries. The family was evacuated during the First World War to the Austrian province of Styria. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in the 1930s, then travelled to Spain in 1935, where he stayed until the civil war broke out, copying works by Goya and El Greco in the museums. He also spent time on the Dalmatian coast, where the rocky hills of the Karst would have a profound influence on his palette.
Music moved to Venice first in 1943 and he returned there in 1945 after his internment in Dachau. He found on his return that he was ‘dazzled by the Venetian light, by the cast sky and the huge horizon around the lagoon. I couldn’t believe I was free and that I could work freely without having to cut up my drawings and hide them under my shirt’. The lifelong effect of his experience of a concentration camp was not immediately obvious in his painting – ‘when I came out of the camp and went back to Venice, I painted pictures that were full of light and happiness and gaiety’. However, the effect was there indirectly as he found, when he came to paint the bare hills around Siena, that ‘these whitish mounds reminded me of the piles of corpses that had been part of everyday life at the camp.’
‘Without Dachau,’ Music felt, ‘I would have been a merely illustrative painter. After Dachau, I had to go to the heart of things.’ Music had drawn secretly during his time in the camp, but only a handful of the 300 drawings he made there survived and it was not until the early 1970s that he approached the subject again. ‘All of a sudden,’ he explained, ‘I had to return to Dachau. What emerged was the series We Are Not the Last. The jumbled landscapes of corpses in these works are harrowing, but also reflect the ‘terrible beauty’ and ‘tragic elegance’ that Music found in such scenes, and which was to haunt him for the rest of his life.
Ida Barbarigo (1925-) was born into a family of Venetian artists stretching back to the 16th century. Her father, Guido Cadorin, was also a successful painter. Barbarigo (although born Ida Cadorin, she later adopted the pseudonym Barbarigo) studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Venice, an experience she found ‘both useful and useless. Those who naturally know how to draw do not need to learn, and those who go to learn are not born artists.’
The couple married in 1949. Although Barbarigo did not believe in marriage or want to start a family, she ‘simply wanted to establish a noble, true bond with a person I truly admired’. They remained happily married, a relationship based on mutual trust and respect, but continued to lead quite separate lives. They maintained separate studios and, until shortly before Music’s death, even separate apartments, meeting to dine together and to discuss the day’s events each evening. Barbarigo was Music’s muse and the subject of many of his paintings; the sharing of ideas and techniques is also clear in their work, but this degree of separateness allowed them both to develop and flourish as artists in their own right.
For the first time, the story of these two connected yet distinct artists, which provides a fascinating reflection on their tumultuous times, will be told in the UK. The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same title by the curator, Giovanna Dal Bon, available from the Estorick shop for £35.
Last week Ukrainian airline, AeroSvit, the biggest in the country, launched its new route between London’s Gatwick Airport and Kiev. The airline will be flying five times a week to the Ukrainian capital, catering for both leisure and business travellers. It is hoped that once travellers land in Kiev they will visit other regions such as Frankovsk, Lugansk and Odessa. It is expected that around 65,000 passengers will fly from Gatwick to Kiev this year on the new AeroSvit route.
Since BAA sold Gatwick Airport to to Global Infrastructure Partners it has gained no less than 18 new routes including airberlin flight to Hamburg and Nuremburg. easyJet has also launched a new route from London Gatwick to Zagreb this year – the airline’s third route between London and Croatia.
However, Wizz Air attempts to maintain its premier position as the number one airline carrier from London to Eastern Europe, this year opening a new route to the Macedonian capital, Skopje. This brings the number of Wizz Air routes from London Luton to the region to 23.
So, it looks like if you want to travel to the region there’s never been more flexibility! Long may it continue!
This weekend, should one have a rabid appetite for sampling some Russian culture, we at Charlotte’s VVeb recommend taking a trip to the annual Russian Maslenitsa Festival taking place on Sunday 6th March in London’s Trafalgar Square. The annual festival is set to be bigger and better than ever before and will feature a Russian Standard Vodka bar and traditional Russian delicacies to taste.
Maslenitsa is also known as Butter Week and blinis are traditionally eaten during this period. The celebration is held just before Lent, however, its roots are pagan as it heralds the coming of spring. As Russia’s national drink is vodka we can expect that lots of lovely blinis will be washed down with a chilled tipple or two at the festival!
Plus for music lovers there will be fabulous performances by Moral Codex, Bayan Mix, Ludmila Rumina and Anastasia Stostkaya. We can’t wait!
Russian Maslenitsa Festival in London’s Trafalgar Square
A little while ago I came across a take-away menu for Assorti in London’s West End. Assorti is a very small restaurant serving up traditional Russian and Central Asian cuisine and providing take-away and delivery to those who want to enjoy these dishes at home. Let’s face it, this is an eternity away from pizza, Chinese or Indian to which we have all become accustomed to. The small restaurant is open Monday to Sunday, 12 noon to 10.30pm.