If you, like me, love Tokaji, or you just want to find out a bit more about Hungary’s most notable wine, then Suffolk-based Brudenell Hotel’s Royal Tokaji gourmet tasting dinner on 5th July, 2013, will be right up your street.
Founded in Hungary in 1990, the Royal Tokaji Wine Company has become one of the most prestigious wineries in the region producing single-vineyard wines from Mezes Maly, Nyulaszo, Szt Tamas and Betsek. Brudenell Hotel’s head chef, James Barber, has matched a different wine to each of the four courses.
Wine, dine and stay from £120 per person based on two sharing an Aldeburgh coast facing room, including a full Suffolk breakfast. Or book in for just dinner, priced at £55 per person. The evening begins at 7pm with an aperitif. The dress code is smart casual.
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!
This April Moscow’s Chekhov International Festival returns to the UK with a new production of The Tempest. Cheek by Jowl’s Russian sister company brings to life this disturbing masque of power, control and illusion. With powerhouse performances and innovative interpretations of classic texts, Barbican Artistic Associate Cheek By Jowl continues to inspire audiences season after season at its London home in Silk Street Theatre. Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod’s internationally renowned Russian ensemble were previously seen at the Barbican in Twelfth Night, Three Sisters and Boris Godunov.
The Tempest Cheek by Jowl Chekhov International Festival at The Barbican
7th to 16th April 2011
Performance Time: 19:15 (also 14:00 on 9th and 16th April)
I recently visited Pure Massage, located on the first floor of luxury department store, Fenwicks, in London’s West End. I initially had a chat with founder of Pure Massage, Beata Aleksandrowicz. Of Polish origin, Beata is a huge believer in the health benefits of massage. At her spa in Fulham, and the off-shoot at Fenwicks, her therapists practise without an abundance of chemically-loaded lotions and potions. This is very much a Polish tradition – spas there are much less about pampering and more about health benefits. Personally, as much as a little pampering is nice, I think this is the way it should be everywhere.
After chatting to Beata one of her highly-trained therapists talked me through the 60-minute Body Pure Massage (£73) – the brand’s signature therapy. After discussing my problem areas (my particularly dodgy left shoulder), the massage began. Using a lavender oil the therapist gave me one of the most intense massages I have ever received. She talked me through a series of breathing techniques in order to get the most from the massage and breath through the pressure. This was really impressive and did work to an extent but as I’m suffering with my shoulder at the moment, there was only so much I could take. It was evident that I really needed a series of sessions to get myself back into shape. As Beata and her therapists explain, having a massage is like going to the gym – a concept I had never really thought about before – the results only last for so long. I certainly came away feeling lighter, healthier and with far better posture – so much so I couldn’t wait to go back! I’m booking in for a series of sessions imminently. Once I’m into a better routine and things have improved overall, I will only require regular mini sessions and then the odd longer one. I suggest you investigate doing the same!
Pure Massage 3/5 Vanston Place, London SW6 1AY / Fenwick Bond Street 63 New Bond Street, London W1S 1RJ
Christmas Markets are a true highlight of the advent period and are sure to get everyone into the festive spirit. Head to one of the many markets in Eastern Europe to enjoy some real festive fare including local wine, beers, sausages and artisan crafts. Here’s our top ten…
During Advent Vienna is a city of nostalgia and romance with many concerts, nativity displays and traditional Christmas markets taking place throughout the city. The most renowned markets include the Viennese Christmas Markets on Freyung, at Spittelberg, at Am Hof and in front of the church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche).
Prague, Czech Republic
Christmas is a special time of year in Prague and the Christmas markets (Vanocni trh) are a key ingredient in the Czech festive magic. The Prague Christmas markets bring visitors and locals together to share the holiday spirit in a true ‘winter wonderland’ setting. The main markets can be found at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square with smaller ones at Namesti Republiky and Havelske Trziste. Open 9am to 7pm daily.
The Festive Fair, held in the Town Centre (Breg and Cankarjevo nabrežje embankments, Prešernov trg square) is well known for its vibrancy and cheerful atmosphere. Festively decorated green stalls, designed specially for the fair, sell a fine choice of products suitable for giving as gifts including food and drink, clothes and fashion accessories. Open from 10am to 10 pm daily.
Each festive season Nuremberg’s Old Town is decorated in its Christmas regalia and the tempting aromas of mulled wine, sweet roasted almonds, sausages and gingerbread create a truly unforgettable atmosphere. The Christkindlesmarkt is situated in the heart of the city which is steeped in more than 400 years of tradition providing an international showcase for all Franconian and German Christmas Markets. While younger visitors can enjoy the Kinderweihnacht (Children’s Christmas Market) where historic steam-powered merry-go-rounds and other activities are waiting for them. Open from 9.30am to 8pm Monday to Thursdays, 9.30am to 10pm Fridays and Saturdays, 10.30am to 8pm on Sunday.
Cologne holds an impressive seven Christmas Markets. The four largest Christmas markets are located at Cologne Cathedral, on the Alter Markt (Home of the Heinzel Christmas Market), on the Neumarkt and on the Rudolfplatz (Fairytale Christmas Market). Every year these four markets attract almost 2 million visitors. Open every day from 11am to 9pm.
With well over 50 Christmas Markets and advent bazaars every year, Berlin features prominently on Germany’s calendar of Yuletide events. A popular market is situated next to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church amidst the bustle of shoppers on the high street between the Kurfüstendamm and Tauenzien. The Berlin Christmas Market shown on the map on the left is WeihnachtsZauber situated on the Gendarmenmarkt. This is probably one of the most popular markets in Berlin and is well sited in terms of nearby hotel accommodation. Open 9am to 9pm daily.
One of the most popular Christmas fairs in Europe awaits the lovers of winter programmes this year again in the heart of Budapest, in Vörösmarty Square. There are more than 100 wooden pavilions, which sell unique high quality folklore and applied arts products. Christmas decorations, small presents, candles, gloves, woollen hats, wrought iron and woven products are also sold here, as well as other special articles that cannot be found anywhere else. You can experience the real wonders of winter while enjoying traditional products that have been evaluated by a jury, and satisfying your appetite at typical Hungarian buffets, which offer mulled wine, kürtoskalács (sweet Hungarian pastry), roast chestnuts and other market snacks. Open 10am to 8pm daily.
Sibiu Christmas Market is one of the most popular events of the year in the city. Being the first traditional Christmas Market opened in Romania, it was first held in 2007, in the Little Square located in the downtown area, with a total number of 38 wooden cabins. In 2008 and 2009, Sibiu Christmas Market took place in the Large Square, one of the best places to be visited in the historical center of the city. Open from 10am to 9pm daily.
Cologne in London, UK
Once again Londoners and visitors to the city can enjoy a taste of Cologne this Christmas at the London Southbank Christmas Market. While wandering about, look for and find unusual Christmas presents such as amber and silver jewellery, hand-crafted toys, fragile glass ornaments for your Christmas tree, hand tatted laces, tin toys, candles in all shapes and sizes, hand-made ceramics and creative metal design. Sip on a glass of glühwein or bottle of Kölsch” and nibble on some gingerbread hearts, roasted almonds and candies or even a delicious crepe. Open 11am to 8pm Mondays to Thursdays, and Sundays, 10am to 10pm Fridays and Saturdays.
Estonia’s medieval capital is inherently festive and though temperatures do dip quite drastically this time of year, the city’s celebratory atmosphere does well to dispel the cold. Tallinn’s Christmas Market may be one of the most recently established but it is now among the most well-loved in Europe. December’s darkness is dispelled with colourful lights, music and an abundance of activity. Head to Tallinn’s Town Hall Square, Raekoja Plats, and visit more than 50 merchant stalls featuring products by local artisans. These stalls surround a beautiful Christmas tree. Open daily from 10am to 6pm.
In an ambitious move set to break new ground in nightlife experiences, the world’s leading vodka brand The Smirnoff Co. has unveiled ‘The Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project’. Continuing on a mission to inspire and enable more one-of-a-kind experiences, this bold attempt will see 14 countries, including Poland, work with respected nightlife figures to discover and celebrate the best elements of their country’s nightlife. These ideas will be packed-up in a crate and transformed into exciting event experiences. In an epic finale on November 27th, the world will swap nights, with each country exchanging the best of their nightlife with that of another.
Leading the charge and inspiring the nation’s night owls, club gurus and music fans to get involved and decide what will represent the best of British nightlife is BBC Radio One DJ and pioneer of new music and nightlife – Zane Lowe. The DJ, musician and broadcaster will be getting people talking to encourage them to enter their suggestions on the Smirnoff GB Facebook page and will have the final say in what should represent Britain before the crate is exported for the exchange. Hailing from six continents, the 14 countries taking part are Great Britain, USA, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Lebanon, Poland, South Africa, Thailand and Venezuela. Each showcasing the many vibrant sights, sounds and tastes of global nightlife culture today, will bring a unique and exciting flavour to the project.
In a bid to get the nation talking about what makes Britain’s nightlife great, the Smirnoff team has hit the streets across the country to ask people what they think should go in the crate. This might be a specific type of music, a local cocktail or a fashion trend unique to a particular region. The Smirnoff team has also asked people to record their views on what’s best about their local scene. The vodka brand has worked with top nightlife gurus in each city to give their verdict on what should put their city’s scene on the global map. Once all the suggestions are in, it will be up to Zane Lowe to decide what goes in the crate, the contents of which will be announced on October 22nd. The question is – which country will Great Britain get in return?
All applicants must be above legal drinking age. Terms & Conditions apply.
On 25th September an exhibition entitled Treasures from Budapest: European Masterpieces from Leonardo to Schiele will open at The Royal Academy. Running until the 12th of December, the exhibition showcases the breadth and wealth of one of the finest collections in Central Europe. The exhibition comprises works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, with additional key loans from the Hungarian National Gallery.
The exhibition features over 200 works and includes paintings, drawings and sculpture from the early Renaissance to the twentieth century. Selected works by artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, El Greco, Rubens, Goya, Manet, Monet, Schiele, Gauguin and Picasso are on display, many of which have not previously been shown in the UK.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest houses the state collection of international art works in Hungary and includes the Esterházy collection, acquired by the Hungarian state in 1871. The collection began in the seventeenth century but expanded during the rule of Prince Nikolaus II Esterházy (1765 – 1833) who was responsible for developing the fine collection of Old Master paintings and drawings which will be showcased in the exhibition. One of the highlights of the exhibition will be Raphael’s ‘Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist’, 1508 (known as The Esterházy Madonna).
Georgia has been producing wine for thousands of years. Yet, despite the UK’s growing interest in wine, its offerings are often dismissed or entirely overlooked. This is such a shame because good Georgian wine is not just good, it’s superb, rivalling anything that France, Spain, South America, South Africa or Australia could provide. In fact, on a blind taste-test most people would easily mistake a bottle of Georgia’s finest as being something from these more popular regions. Nevertheless, the Georgian Wine Society has begun to educate, inform and provide the UK market with treats from the Caucasus.
One bottle to be recently added to the society’s collection is the Orovela Cuvee Chandrebi Saperavi Cabernet Suavignon 2006. Orovela is the traditional lyrical song of the lone ploughman which seems quite apt as this bottle originates from the foothills of the Caucasus mountains, between the Black and Caspian Seas. The soil here has a rich viticulture and ensures that each bottle is rich and velvety.
This particular bottle is created from a blend of historic grape variety saperavi, unique to Georgia, and the heavy-weight champion of the wine world, cabernet sauvignon. On first look, its deep ruby red colour promises an intense aroma and flavour, and that’s exactly what it provides. This wine is overflowing with the aroma and flavour of berries, particularly black mulberry and cherry. While many wines from Central and Eastern Europe can be accused of being too acidic, this wine is smooth and effortless to drink. Nevertheless, it is best matched to food such as traditional Georgian grilled meat dishes. I enjoyed this particular bottle with some beef and chicken shashlyk, served with a red pepper sauce, buckwheat kasha and salad.
Orovela Cuvee Chandrebi Saperavi Cabernet Sauvignon 12.5% Vol. 750ml, £12.99
Plus, remember when ordering your bottle that 10% of the Georgian Wine Society’s profits go to the charity ‘EveryChild’ which provide childcare programs in Georgia
Tomorrow, the sailing ship Fryderyk Chopin, the world’s second largest brig, will cruise up the River Thames and at 11am will moor at St. Katherine’s Pier for ten days, each packed with events devoted to her namesake, the great 19th century Polish pianist and composer. Live concerts, performances and presentations taking place aboard and around the sailing ship will be based on the themes that embody the true Polish spirit: passion, youth, music, love, romanticism, freedom and creativity.
This message will be expressed through the universal medium of music and dance and conveyed by a group of enthusiastic young Polish students who will arrive aboard the ship as Ambassadors of modern Poland. President of the Polish Tourist Organisation, Mr Szmytke will be in London to offically launch the Chopin celebrations in the UK. The event will start at 2pm aboard the Fryderyk Chopin, in the presence of representatives of London boroughs, the Director of the Mayor’s Thames Festival and VIP’s from Poland and the UK.
Every day, there will be visits aboard the ship for the public, with the young crew acting as guides. Other Chopin events staged in London between 3 and 12 September will include: breathtaking shows by dancer, interactive sessions for the public, including painting mock pianos and erecting a statue of Chopin using umbrellas and bowler hats and classes in Poland’s national dance, the Polonaise.
The events will be part of the Mayor’s Thames Festival, starting on 11 September. Poland’s presentation will take place in five marquees situated in the New European Village 2010 in front of the Royal Festival Hall. The Polish National Tourist Office will also be joined by partners from several regions of Poland.
The ship’s voyage is part of a Europe-wide project, launched in June 2010 by the Polish Tourist Organisation, to commemorate the 200th birthday of Frederic Chopin. It has addressed wide audiences across Europe, highlighting Poland’s cultural and artistic achievements and showcasing Poland as a modern country with strong roots in the common cultural heritage of Europe.
When I was invited to attend the Russian Standard Vodka Originals Pop-up Bar Party at the Vinyl Factory on Poland Street in London’s Soho, held last Thursday, I naturally jumped at the chance! An evening of fabulous, chilled Russian vodka cocktails (The Russian Tea being my personal favourite – bringing back all the flavours and aromas of the Russian samovar, zakuski feasts and the iciest, driest vodka) combined with music from DJ Mr Hudson, Tim from the Filthy Dukes and Sam Bell and a fantastic crowd made for one of the best nights I’ve had out in a long time.
Check out a little video compilation from the event below…
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