Founder of The Pickled Village, Camille Ortega McLean knows how to get you in the mood in the morning. Wake up to a fruity St Valentine’s Day with The Pickled Village’s limited edition Valentine’s marmalade.
The Amorous Breakfast is a heady cocktail of pink grapefruit marmalade with cranberries coupled with a good nip of Russian vodka. Based on the sea breeze cocktail, this marmalade makes a sweet start to the day and is bound to get your Valentine into a deliciously amorous mood. It is also perfect when used with poultry dishes as part of a romantic feast.
While, the Morning After Marmalade is the perfect tonic for those sluggish moments. Its citrus lemon zing blows away the cobwebs, restorative ginger tackles the excesses of the night before and for good measure, a shot of Siberian Ginseng injects a dose of form for the day ahead.
Some days, some weeks, can be tough. I’m spending nearly every minute of every day, bar the six hours (if I’m lucky) sleep I may or may not get each night, working, writing or studying. However, while my days may be busy, they can still be satisfying. This evening I returned home to find 12 random bottles of wine which I have delivered from Laithwaites every four months or so. I love the fact that in most of these boxes, Laithwaites will usually include at least one bottle of wine of Central or East European authority and this month was no exception.
At this time, Pinot Grigio is the world’s most popular white grape. Its most sought-after wines are those from northern Italy, which while are available come at a price. However, go a little further east and one finds the historic vineyards of Hungary are also producing some excellent value, appetising Pinot Grigios like the elegant Baron Lazare.
This crisp white comes from a cellar in the Pazmand region of Etyek founded in 1949, and thoroughly modernised since the fall of communism. This cellar is well-equipped with cool fermentation equipment essential for producing fresh, modern whites, and has won many awards for its efforts. Gabor Laczko is the dynamic young winemaker.
Baron Lazare de Schwendi brought back from Hungary young vines after besieging the town of Tokaj in 1565. He cultivated them on his own land in Kientzheim, near Colmar, where his castle still stands. Baron Lazare de Schwendi is made by veteran winemaker of 40 years, Bardos Benjamin, from the finest Pinot Grigio grapes carefully selected from vineyards surrounding the Nagyrede winery.
The wine itself is medium-bodied, with an attractive, aromatic, floral nose. Well balanced, with lemon notes, Baron Lazare de Schwendi is an ideal aperitif and the perfect accompaniment for poultry or fish. I enjoyed a few glasses with a gorgeous prawn, smoked haddock and salmon fish pie – yum!
There are three restaurants I recommend to anyone visiting St Petersburg. The first is Yolki Palki (Nevsky Prospekt 88, metro Mayakovskaya), a typically kitsch restaurant (now a chain), where the waiting staff are dressed up in costumes and the walls are adorned with everything from fake vines to the heads of animals. OK, this place might sound like your worse nightmare but it’s good fun and produces some reasonable quality food which is also relatively reasonably priced, a rarity in this chic and cosmopolitan city. Yolki Palki will give you a taste of provincial Russian cooking and does not adhere to the airs and graces many restaurants attempting to emulate a European vibe will. The Kalinky pancakes with stuffed meat, or alternatively with salmon, make for great hearty dishes, perfect after a days sightseeing. Even more of a rarity in Russian and Eastern Europe as a whole, is that this restaurant actually offers some great vegetarian options.