Already a customer?

Monthly Archives: February 2010

  • Don't budget on it...

    We're nearly at the end of February, and still no official confirmation from the government about when the 2010 budget will be. How can the government be allowed to keep its budget date under wraps in the way that it is doing? This prevarication causes major headaches to businesses which are affected by potential duty changes. Any self-respecting business will typically set a calendar of key dates for planning, such as when prices will move, budgets will be set and associated marketing materials such as price lists produced, and it seems incredible that the government cannot do the same. Surely the Budget should be a fixed date or at very least there should be a fixed date for its announcement every year!

  • Beyond the status quo - lunch at Franco Rossi

    In Italy last week with broadcaster Olly Smith; we were travelling to Sicily, but elected (foolishly as it turned out) to travel via Bologna so that we could fly out of Gatwick, and ignore the only direct Sicily flight which goes from Stansted - well, it's another country, innit? I should have heeded Owen's advice. Our group winemaker flies in and out of Italy pretty much every week, and so knows that the more flights you're booked on which go via or to Italy, the less likely you are to get anywhere at the time you expect to. So it transpired; four days before the flight I received an email telling me that the onward flight from Bologna to Palermo had been moved from 1 hour after our arrival to five hours after arrival. But there is one silver lining. Bologna's airport is only a twenty minute cab ride from the Piazza Maggiore in the centre of the city. So we decided to investigate this city of ancient skyscrapers. And as it was lunchtime, my Italian colleague Elisa texted me the name of a restaurant we could eat happily in. 'Franco Rossi' rang a few bells - wasn't that the name of Status Quo's famously pony-tailed rhythm guitarist? Perhaps he was branching into fine Italian dining; we secretly hoped not. The restaurant was quiet, but then it was Monday lunchtime. We were greeted by a suave maitre d' (something that every restaurant in Italy worth its salt seems to have) and quickly were perusing the menu. To my delight it was clear that seafood was a house speciality. I opted for risotto primavera to start, followed by lobster pasta - and wasn't disappointed. The lobster came 'clawed up' - as if to prove they hadn't got it out of a jar... no worries there. Olly followed a palate-sharpening pink grapefruit and artichoke salad with truffle dressing, with a sublime plate of - what else? Spaghetti Bolognese. We were in Bologna after all. We drank a bottle of Pecorino ('sounds like a cheese, tastes like a Sauvignon') and passed on dessert and coffee - we had a plane to catch (or so we thought). Chef appeared, suitably broad, hirsuite and grumpy-looking, from the kitchen. We sauntered into the mid afternoon sunshine, replete and happy. When we got back to Bologna airport, we found that our Meridiana flight to Palermo had entered a twilight world of delays - which we didn't escape until 8.30pm that night. Good thing we had a great lunch. In the words of the Quo: "Again, again, again, again..."

  • Ridgeview Bloomsbury

  • Not grim up north

    Spent a very interesting day in Leeds on Wednesday, visiting restaurants and bars with a photographer, to capture images for our next Wine List. Cyriaque, our (French) man in Yorkshire, took us all over the city. We visited Anthony's, one of Leeds' most celebrated restaurants, and his new operation Anthony's at the Piazza, which is in the stunning old Corn Exchange (see pictured). After this we took in a couple of long standing Italian restaurants, including the legendary Salvo's in Headingley. Set in an unassuming arcade off the main road, inside the welcome was warm and the food authentic, understated and totally delicious. I had an octopus stew to kick off and a very spicy Penne Arabiata to follow, with a glass of Soave from Bertani. An unexpected wine match you might think, but actually the subtle spice in the wine complemented the food well. Time was running, so we decamped to Trio, just next to the Rugby ground, where we ambushed a group of 21 year olds celebrating a birthday by buying them a bottle of wine in return for a few pictures! Then we zoomed around the city to Kobe, a nice wood and steel creation with a very relaxed vibe. Last stop was the very stylish Epernay Champagne bar back in the city centre, where we watched the snow fall as barman Nate talked us animatedly through his very extensive list of Champagnes. A classy bar in what I've now discovered is a very vibrant town. Ps Enotria hits Leeds in March for our roadshow tasting.

4 Item(s)