Posts for the 'Berkshire' Category


The Dining Room at The Oakley Court

THE DINING ROOM AT THE OAKLEY COURT

The Oakley Court is a quintessential four-star country house hotel, set in a 33-acre estate in Windsor, about an hour’s drive away from London. Running through the estate is a stretch of the River Thames, which makes the property ideal for long walks or for exploration by bike. The property is well equipped with its own gym, indoor swimming pool, tennis court as well as a 9-hole golf course. Most famously however, Oakley Court has been the setting for many a movie including The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Oakley Court - London Food Blog

Oakley Court

We stayed in one of the Director’s Suites at the hotel, a spacious, comfortable and well-appointed room overlooking the lovely groups of Oakley Court as well as the River Thames. This was as quintessentially country English as you can get with charming antique furnishings.

Oakley Court - London Food Blog - Director's Suite

Oakley Court – Director’s Suite

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Royal Ascot 2014 – Restaurant & Catering Preview

Royal Ascot 2014 will span the dates of 17 and 21 June, and as with every year, Royal Ascot 2014 promises to be something special. Last weekend I had the good fortune of being invited to a press event at Ascot Racecourse to experience a spectacular tasting menu designed to provide an insight into the cuisine that will be served throughout these five magical days.

Ascot Racecourse offers a number of fine dining options and this year two Michelin starred chefs will be cooking at Royal Ascot to present their Michelin starred food. Atul Kochhar from the one-Michelin starred Benares will be on hand to serve his modern take on Indian cooking at the Panoramic Restaurant, which as the name suggests offers unrivalled ‘panoramic’ views of the racecourse. Also cooking is the two-Michelin starred Tom Kerridge from The Hand and Flowers who will treat guests to his smart British classics in the soon to be opened On Five Restaurant overlooking the final furlong. But the premier dining venue at Royal Ascot is without doubt The Parade Ring Restaurant. Located adjacent to the Royal Box, it is here that Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal party comes to dine. Guests who savour the food at The Parade Ring Restaurant are presented with canapés on arrival followed by a five course à la carte menu and a full afternoon tea from Ascot’s Executive Chef Steve Golding.

Royal Ascot 2014 - Salmon

Salmon

Our day at The Panoramic Restaurant started with some gorgeous canapés from Rhubarb, the caterers which will oversee the private box hospitality packages during the five days of Royal Ascot. Here we were treated to salmon mi cuit – beautifully fatty salmon with a yuzu dressing, some rich and decadent foie gras rocher – foie gras parfait coated with hazelnuts, and some fresh and sunny Cornish crab. Also delicious were the garden pea panncotta with its beautifully creamy texture and a superbly tasty duck with mooli. To wash down these delicious treats was a glass (or two or three) of Bollinger champagne.

Royal Ascot 2014 - Foie gras rocher

Foie gras rocher

Royal Ascot 2014 - Pea pannacotta

Pea pannacotta

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Vineyard at the Stockcross

The Vineyard at Stockcross

The Vineyard at Stockcross

My first visit to The Vineyard at Stockcross in Newbury was a few years ago when I stumbled across a last minute special offer of a weekend night’s stay in one of their delightful Atrium suites for £120, a room that normally costs several hundred pounds. I was well happy, not just because of this bargain rate, but also because this 5-star hotel was truly a delight. It has a luxury Californian vineyard feel to it, boosted by the spa facilities that make this a great weekend escape. We also had an amazing meal, cooked by John Campbell who was the Head Chef at the time and helped The Vineyard to two Michelin-stars. As part of his tasting menu I had this salad which long lives in my memory as one of ‘the’ best salads I have ever tasted.

John left in 2010, and chef Daniel Galmiche, who was previously at the famous Cliveden and Michelin-starred L’Ortolan in Berkshire, has since replaced him. Daniel continues to hold a one Michelin-star at The Vineyard and occasionally features on Saturday Morning Kitchen.

Other changes since my last visit include the installation of a spectacular glass-panelled cellar in the lobby that showcases some of the 30,000 wines housed at The Vineyard, some of which are Californian award winners. Custodian of the cellar is the charming Head Sommelier Yohann Jousselin who was The Academy of Food and Wine Service’s (AFWS) 2011 UK Sommelier of the Year.

The cellar at the Vineyard at Stockcross

The cellar at the Vineyard at Stockcross

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The French Horn: A weekend of indulgence (part 2):

The morning after the night before, I awoke afresh after having slept off the previous night’s dinner decadence at La Famiglia with a renewed sense of anticipation for the lunch to come. Still more sleep couldn’t hurt, and the hour ride to our destination with designated driver in tow would allow me some catch-up snooze time before our feast. As mentioned in Part 1, Sunday lunch was at The French Horn, a classic French restaurant in Sonning, famed far and wide for their spit-roast duck.

Duck roasted over a spit in the drawing room

Duck roasted over a spit in the drawing room

The restaurant has the look of a classic French manor. French period furnishings dot the drawing room where, as we entered, four ducks were being roasted on a rotisserie in plain view at the fireplace. With aperitifs to start, we perched ourselves by the fireplace. Not only was it warming for the soul on this damp autumn afternoon, it was also a mouth-watering way to pre-empt our lunch, watching the act of cooking before the actual act of eating itself. With the ducks glistening as they turned on the rotisserie, it was a truly a feast for the eyes.

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