Casa Amate – Mayakoba, Mexico

I would like to share my experience of dinner in Casa Amate at Mayakoba. This was quite simply the best experience I had at the magical Mayakoba and follows on from my earlier post about the resort.

Casa Amate is the lead dining experience at Andaz Mayakoba offers excellent food and drink in a very impressive homely space with the best service I have experienced for a very long time.

When you are in the restaurant it is very easy to feel like you are in the home of a well-traveled friend, who has invited you over to choose from a very appealing menu of delicious Latin American specialties which borrow ideas from their travels around the globe.

My recommendation would be to pre-book the outdoor terrace which offers a beautiful setting at dusk and do take their drink recommendations particularly for the local Mexican wines and tequilas. The barman makes a mean cocktail too.

Casa Amate Salad DishCasa Amate Octopus Dish

The standout dish was their Octopus as pictured above which was simply outstanding and the best I have ever eaten, and believe me I have eaten a lot as ‘Pulpo’ is a favourite wherever I travel, to be honest I am mildly concerned about sprouting tentacles.

What capped off eating the best ‘Pulpo’ to date was the friendly staff who have real charm and were genuinely delighted with our praise and couldn’t have done more to make sure we chose well and enjoyed the experience.

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Cost of a 3 course dinner and bottle of wine:
£85 per person

Food:
8 out of 10 – difficult to choose from a menu in which all dishes appealed

Atmosphere:
8 out of 10 – the restaurant wasn’t busy on our visit but when buzzing would be 10 out of 10

Service:
10 out of 10 – warm, genuine, attentive, perfect

Overall:
9 out of 10 – a near perfect experience that will live long in the memory

Summary in seven:
The highlight of our Mayakoba resort experience

Details:
Carretera Federal Cancun-Playa Del Carmen Km. 298
Playa del Carmen-Solidaridad
Quintana Roo
Mexico
77710

Open every day 06:00 til 23:00

Website: Andaz Page for Restaurant
Phone: +52 984 1491234
Email: reservations-mayakoba@andaz.com

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The Signature Collection at Celtic Manor, Wales

Celtic Manor is an interesting part of Welsh history going back to at least 1634 when it was recorded as the the residence of the High Sheriff of Monmouthshire, Lewis Van. Following this The Manor House itself was built over two hundred years later in 1860 by Thomas Powell then the world’s most prominent exporter of the black gold Wales is famous for, coal, he was also the first coal millionaire.

The current owner Sir Terry Matthews was actually born here as it had changed use to become the Lydia Beynon Maternity Hospital in 1940, he then purchased the Manor house in 1980 spending over 100 million converting the residence to accomodate 17 bedrooms.

Celtic Manor today boasts some 70 rooms, a spa, several restaurants and 10 lodges. However most notably the resort is now a world-class destination for golf, with three championship courses, The Twenty Ten course built to stage The 2010 Ryder Cup, Roman Road and The Montgomerie as well as a Golf Academy and two clubhouses.

I was invited by my guests to experience the very latest chapter in their history; The Signature Collection, and I was eager to see what Wales has to offer Golfers having enjoyed a recent trip to Gleneagles.

First impressions are quite breathtaking as the hotel gradually appears on the horizon then in no time at all looms above you as you approach from the M4 motorway down below appearing like a colossal man made mountain, albeit one with red awnings. Once inside the building the lobby you are presented by an impressive light open glass lobby space which is somewhat undone by two of the only odd things I didn’t enjoy during my stay; plastic flowers and dated looking wooden dragon sculptures.

The Signature Collection of rooms can be found at the top of the hotel up on the sixth floor along with the hotel’s best views but what sets these rooms apart from the rest of the resort is that extra slice of luxury we found, each room was designed for adults only and finished to an impressively high standard with a relaxed modern ambience. All rooms have a 6ft king-size double bed, sitting area, a really nice marble bathroom with a large vanity unit, bath and separate shower.

All guests here have access to the Signature Lounge a stylish bar which made a great location for our first Gin & Tonic courtesy of the stunning views from the balcony and Breakfast is served on the same floor so any early morning stress can be avoided.

Signature Collection

Most importantly there are many great dining options at Celtic Manor:

Steak on Six – a steak restaurant and part of The Signature Collection described as “showcasing signature steaks from around the British Isles, Steak on Six offers contemporary dining with a relaxed, rustic flavour“. We ate a fabulous t-bone steak here which was cooked perfectly medium rare and the restaurant had a great wine menu to choose from.

Epicure by Richard Davies – a modern European dining option also part of The Signature Collection described as an “exquisite modern dining experience is sure to impress with its intricate menus and fresh, intense flavours“. We did not eat here but shall do if I return.

Cen at Celtic Manor – Asian fusion cuisine by Larkin Cen a 2013 finalist of BBC’s MasterChef UK described as “from delicious fluffy steamed bao buns to slow cooked oriental pork belly and succulent sharing platters of Cantonese duck, savour this sociable dining experience bursting with authentic pan-Asian flavours“. This was perhaps the highlight of our stay, we all thoroughly enjoyed the Asian dishes, excellent cocktails and relaxed restaurant ambience.

Rafters – a restaurant set within the prestigious Twenty Ten Clubhouse, the cuisine here is described as simple and elegant “from the finest locally reared beef to fresh fish and seafood, Rafters’ talented chefs use some of the best ingredients Wales has to offer to create succulent steaks and grills with a uniquely Welsh flavour”.

The Grill – another clubhouse restaurant offering relaxed informal dining of honest and simple food described as a “tempting menu of wholesome ingredients mixes distinctive flavours and textures offering a mouthwatering selection of comforting favourites including succulent steaks, pasta, fresh fish, salads and burgers”.

Olive Tree & Garden Room – the resorts family friendly dining option.

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Something very rare happened at Celtic Manor which surprised me: We didn’t eat a bad dish during our stay! I can therefore say on behalf of a group of four quite demanding customers that I can recommend visiting the resort purely for dinner.

There is plenty to do besides golf, too many activities to mention in one post, particularly if you have kids.

The activities I spotted and took part in include:

  • Forest Jump – I tried my hand at this treetop assault course and sadly have to admit I was truly terrified! The logo is deceptive rather than being an activity for kids it really puts your bravery to the test. There is a lower version for kids also.
  • Laser Clays – Having done quite a bit of clay shooting recently with the outstanding Phillip Thorrold Shooting Academy I enjoyed having a go at this activity which I found surprisingly realistic and much less noisy!
  • Fishing Excursions – Sadly I didn’t have the time but the river Usk is definitely worth a trip as is Wales for fly fishing in general.
  • Shopping – a couple of clothing boutiques and gift shop with a nice selection of designer labels.
  • The Forum Spa – the staff here were truly great and I would definitely visit again for another massage which really helped ease my aches and pains from the assault course.
  • Above all what impressed me the most during my stay was the relaxed atmosphere and warm welcome from all of the staff which made me feel very much at home in Wales. I will definitely be returning here for dinner again soon on the way back from one of my fishing trips to the River Usk.

    The Celtic Manor resort
    Coldra Woods
    The Usk Valley
    Newport
    South Wales
    NP18 1H2

    Tel: +44 (0) 1633 413 000
    Travel Info: Driving M4 (J24) Trains from Newport Rail Station or 90 minutes from London Heathrow and 45 minutes from Cardiff and Bristol Airports.
    www.celtic-manor.com

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    GT Approved: Yaxell Knives

    I have recently been introduced to Yaxell, a Japanese brand who make high quality kitchen knives favoured worldwide by many top professional chefs, and an amateur like myself.

    I’m sure you will agree from the image above that their ‘Ran 25.5cm Chef’s Knife’ really looks the part for a very affordable RRP of £129.95. This, along with their other blades, are produced in Seki Japan formerly the traditional home for the manufacture of Katana swords for over 780 years.

    Quite sensibly a law was passed in 1876 prohibiting public sword-wielding and this forced skilled tradesmen to find a new outlet producing fine domestic knives, a tradition which has carried on to this day, with Seki remaining at the forefront of worldwide knife manufacture.

    Established in 1932 Yaxell combine their knowledge and expertise with cutting edge technology to produce several knife ranges; Gou, Super Gou, Ran and Tsuchimon. On all Yaxell knives the tang is forged from an 18/10 stainless ingot which is then seamlessly welded onto the blade and is as strong as the blade itself and this construction itself is unique to their knives.

    Yaxell Knives are only available from a company called Steamer Trading, a family owned cookshop from Alfriston East Sussex since 1985.

    Their website is definitely worth a look and they also have stores throughout the UK. You can browse their Yaxell Knives here but they also offer a great range of other knives and cookware; a useful gifting source for gadget-lovers.

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    The Globe Tavern Restaurant, Borough Market

    The entrance to The Globe Tavern looks like any Borough boozer; noisy and bustling with media, legal, and creative types.

    Inside the only indication toward the restaurant is underneath a chalked “toilet” sign. We hope some people get lost on the way and end up in the dining room and what a delicious detour that would be.

    The Globe Tavern restaurant is managed by Michael. He waits on the room like you were in his own home but it turns out we are as his flat is above the restaurant*. The restaurant is horseshoe-shaped and split into two dining rooms both wrapped with windows that look down onto Borough Market. In the far room a banquette takes one side and a few tables the other. In the near room the main focus is towards the missing wall that splays open the kitchen in all its shiny, prepping, glory.

    Open kitchens, despite the nature of them being open, often feel very closed yet Head Chef Luke Hawkins and his team step beyond the invisible wall and actively work the room. They serve the bread and the glorious brown butter butter. Brown Butter Butter. Brown butter mixed in equal parts with butter. Double butter. What a perfect way to start an evening. Hawkins also brings around the Special (often a larger cut from supplier downstairs in the market) and says they “actively speak to each table at least once”. This interaction releases the pressure cooker and the room is open, relaxed, hospitable. Have a question about the dish? How did you make this sauce? Where does the lamb come from? Catch their eye and if they don’t shout the answer from behind the pass (in the nicest possible way)  they wander over and explain at your table.

    Chef Luke Hawkins

    You could be in a country pub. You could be in a neighbourhood restaurant. Actually you are five minutes walk from The Shard and sitting above 1002 years of trading history with many more thousands of people passing by every day.

    And the food, well, similarly neighbourhood. If you were located within a market why wouldn’t you wander our of your door and pick the brightest and best produce? It seems logical to most however sadly not always put in practice; GT has witnessed beautiful fresh Scottish lobsters leave Loch Inver for France while Roux’s Inver Lodge Hotel looks down from the hill and orders theirs from Billingsgate.

    Thankfully at The Globe Tavern the menu reads like a local shopping list with ingredients that utterly shine and what the menu doesn’t say translates to much much more.

    Take the “Beef, Apple, Scallop, Broccoli” dish. The beef is from half a Dexter from Swaledale butchers in Yorkshire that Hawkins and his team butcher themselves and the scallop roe is made from hand dived Dorset scallops then dehydrated.

    “Asparagus, Smoked Egg Yolk, Pickled Spring Onion, Ramson Flower” is asparagus from Portwood Farm in Norfolk, via Turnips in the market, and the accompanying egg yolk is cooked for two hours at 65 degrees then smoked with Earl Grey.

    Strawberries? Raspberries? Nothing less than Gariguette and French Tulameen.

    More dishes such as “Crab, Clementine, Peanut, Chicory”, “Lamb, Cockles, Jersey Royals, Sea Purslane” and “Sea Bass, Tomato, Red Pepper, Nduja, Black Rice” offer the same simple listing with complex results like our lovely Brown Butter Butter.

    When it’s this good who wouldn’t double up?

    Mains Dish

    Dessert

    Cost of a 3 course dinner and bottle of wine:
    £43 per person

    Food:
    9 out of 10 – picked straight from the market you can’t get more seasonal and fresh

    Atmosphere:
    8 out of 10 – homely, informal, welcoming and lively although perhaps a little stark for some. Ditch the paper napkins Michael!

    Service:
    7 out of 10 – friendly greeting and the whole team were amiable with their guests including the Chef and brigade

    Overall:
    7 out of 10 – excellent food and service although the restaurant is rather hidden and the toilets leave a lot to be desired

    Summary in seven:
    Brilliant market kitchen that deserves more customers

    Details:
    8 Bedale Street,
    London,
    SE1 9AL

    Sunday/Monday: 12:00 – 19:00
    Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday: 12:00 – 15:00 and 18:00 – 21:30
    Saturday: 12:00 – 21:30

    Website: theglobeboroughmarket.com
    Phone: +44 (0) 20 7407 0043
    Email: hello@theglobeboroughmarket.com

    *The flat above the restaurant also belonged to “Bridget Jones”. Michael has not started any official tours as yet although the mention of this on The Globe Tavern’s new website could possibly increase demand. Watch this space!

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    Brunch at Bandol, Chelsea

    Having recently read there was a new restaurant in my neighbourhood with a brunch worth investigating coming from the husband and wife team behind popular Chelsea restaurant Margaux I was hopeful to discover a new place to revive myself on a Sunday afternoon.

    The restaurant is named Bandol after the charming wine region in France’s South West I once visited as a boy and they specialise in Niçoise and Provençale sharing dishes but more importantly, could Bandol be a new destination for those acceptably late Sunday breakfasts and the prerequisite caffeine, I wondered curiously.

    I was also keen to see how such a tiny space, formerly a bar I frequented serving good cocktails (including picklebacks; a Bourbon and pickle juice shot drunk back to back) and rather poor Americana food, could be transformed into a neighbourhood restaurant.

    Having visited Margaux before I felt safe to assume there would be a significant upgrade but I wasn’t expecting the transformation to be quite so brilliant. The restaurant is quite literally gleaming with bronze and rather tastefully furnished indeed. The masterful interior designer deserves great credit for making the best use of the limited space, the restaurant floor now looks three times the size and even offers space for two additional private dining areas.

    Our waitress proudly informed us that we were their very first brunch customers which I suppose made us the inevitable guinea pigs so we put our new role to effect immediately ordering with haste two lattes, a tapenade and anchoïade dip to share followed by eggs benedict and eggs royal.

    We also chose two freshly squeezed juices of pink grapefruit and apple-orange-ginger. Admittedly these are simple brunch items but also very easy to ruin and I have almost more often than not been disappointed with eggs benedict, quite amazing how many people don’t know what hollandaise sauce is, mine however was excellent and future Sunday afternoon visits are all but guaranteed.

    Bandol Brunch
    Eggs Benedict

    Cost of brunch with one coffee and a fresh juice:
    £20 per person

    Food:
    7 out of 10 – good selection of brunch items, presented nicely and well cooked

    Atmosphere:
    7 out of 10 – hard to tell being the first customers but the dining room is a really pleasant space to dwell

    Service:
    8 out of 10 – friendly greeting and the staff were very attentive

    Overall:
    7 out of 10 – attractive in both menu prices and decor this is a great choice for a casual brunch and dinner

    Summary in seven:
    The perfect spot for brunch in Chelsea

    Details:
    60 Hollywood Road,
    London,
    SW10 9HU

    Monday to Friday: Lunch 12:00 – 15:00 / Dinner 18:00 – 23:00
    Saturday: Lunch 12:00 – 16:00 / Dinner 18:00 – 23:00
    Sunday: Lunch 12:00 – 16:00 / Dinner 18:00 – 22:00

    Website: barbandol.co.uk
    Phone: +44 (0) 207 351 1322
    Email: contact@barbandol.co.uk

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    GT’s Best Of 2015

    Best Of 2015 is a retrospective look back at my favourite items and experiences of 2015, an excellent year in which has seen much exploring as well as the opportunities to brush up on sailing, golfing and fishing.

    Best Hotel Experience

    The Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire Scotland. Quite possibly best place in the UK to learn to play golf with excellent rooms and faultless service.

    Best Dining Experience

    Dinner on the beach at Four Seasons, Koh Samui. An evening of spectacular entertainment including fire dancers and superb seafood and Thai cuisine.

    Best Experiences

    Catching my first Grayling on the river Itchen in Hampshire. Boating on The Norfolk Broads. Sailing from Athens through the Corinth canal to Kefalonia.

    Favourite Clothing Brand

    Our Legacy. Yet another Scandinavian clothing brand which consistently produces great quality casual clothing. I particularly like their Oxford Shirts which are near perfect.

    Favourite Destination Visited

    Kefalonia, Greece. A beautiful island with many hidden charms and lots of sailing opportunities.

    Favourite Album

    Alabama Shakes ‘Sound & Colour’. I first saw the Alabama Shakes on The Jools Holland show a few years ago and was impressed but didn’t get around to following it up. This year was a different story with another live performance and their latest album ‘Sound & Colour’ which is often on my stereo.

    Favourite Single

    Glass Animals ‘Gooey’. A dreamlike song which best captures the bands unique sound and lingers in your memory.

    Favourite Photograph

    Banks of the river Tweed in October. A stunning Autumn shot with the rusty, orange and yellow leaves at their most magnificent. Pictured Above.

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    The Icelandic Pantry at Borough Market, 7-10 Oct

    Ever wondered what kind of cuisine Iceland has to offer? I was pleased to preview ‘The Icelandic Pantry’ at Borough Market; an Icelandic invasion which is bringing the best of Iceland’s cuisine to London.

    This is the very first time Borough Market has hosted an Icelandic guest so it will be a unique opportunity to speak with and purchase directly from the Icelandic producers from Reykjavik’s largest farmers market. I can assure you they are all very pleasant and speak excellent English so you won’t need an Icelandic phrasebook to get involved!

    According to the producers we met, what makes Iceland a bit different is that their food and production methods are shaped by a harsh climate which makes Icelandic food traditions rather inspirational. There was plenty of evidence of this on the evening from blueberry-cured Lamb to artisan pastries, the world’s only geothermally produced sea salt to an eco-whey drink blended with wild Iceland moss and Arctic thyme.

    Iceland’s different regions are represented with organic lambs fed on Angelica to give it a special flavour from West Iceland, hot-smoked mackerel from the East and artisan rhubarb brittle from South Iceland. Some foods also give an insight into Iceland’s rich history, such as a special flatbread dating from the settlement in the 9th century.

    Borough Market’s David Matchett describes the occasion as such: “The Icelandic Pantry event is an opportunity for the city’s food lovers to sample and learn about Icelandic cuisine, as well as a chance for local and small scale producers from the country to showcase and talk about what’s special about what they eat to a new UK audience. Icelandic people are among the healthiest on earth and are also one of the most resourceful, living in a harsh and unforgiving environment. They also have a focus on sustainability, which is a way of life rather than an aspiration, so as a market we have a lot of shared values and are excited to welcome them here.”

    Icelandic Pantry Dishes

    Two Icelandic Dishes: Beautiful Rich Salmon & Surprisingly Good Barley Canape

    To whet your appetite, here are the artisan producers who are taking part:

    OmNom – Bean to Bar chocolate producers. I have tried these already from the excellent Cocoa Runners and they make some of the very best chocolate money can buy. Well worth picking up a few bars.

    Saltverk – The world’s only geothermally produced sea salt. A very impressive feat and truly eco-friendly as a machine free business.

    Sandholt Artisan Bakery – traditional pastry (Kleinur) and rye bread.

    Modir Jord – Organic farmers from the East with barley products and lactofermented root vegetables. Organic vegetable-based products and cereals, crispbread, jams, chutneys and more. I would never have guessed simple barley on a cracker could be quite so tasty.

    Burid – Angelica products: jelly, chutney, jam and tea all made from the plant.

    Ytri Fagridalur – Fresh Organic lamb which has grazed on Angelica Archangelica. I really enjoyed this lamb which has a distinctive taste.

    Seglbudir – Fresh lamb and cured lamb, apparently the first Icelandic farm to set up production directly from their farm.

    Solsker – Omar a giant Icelandic fisherman is bringing smoked and hot smoked Arctic char, mackerel and smoked cod roe to Borough Market.

    Islandus Kruss – Whey soft drink with hand picked berries and wild herbs. This was a delicious burst of berries well worth trying.

    Rabarbia – Rhubarb caramels and other rhubarb goodies. Sadly we missed these.

    Bjarteyjarsandur – Award winning blueberry cured lamb. This was one of the stand out products and definitely worth buying at Borough Market.

    Ican – Arctic Fois Gras, fresh cod liver smoked with beech. We all really enjoyed this served on a cracker, makes a great canape.

    Osnes – herring with different marinades, including mustard and curry.

    If you fancy exploring some interesting new culinary delicacies I heartily recommend you take a visit to Borough Market by the 10th of October.

    Icelandic Seaweed

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    LOBOS, Borough High Street

    It’s rare that I immediately look forward to returning to a restaurant in London with so many exciting new openings and old favourites to choose from in our Capital but last week that’s exactly what happened and I now feel compelled to share this exciting new Spanish tapas restaurant with you. Hopefully it won’t become so popular I can never get a table but I suspect it may well happen.

    Lobos resides in the shadows beneath a railway arch on Borough High Street with an unassuming entrance which peaks your curiosity and beckons you in. Once inside you are immediately greeted by a bustling restaurant and uplifting soundtrack that helps to quickly dispel any work-related thoughts.

    When inside you do feel like you are in the wolf’s lair (lobo meaning wolf in Spanish) as the menu is seriously carnivorous as you would expect from the name. This menu is described by the owners as “focusing on the prime cuts of Iberico pig: Secreto Iberico (‘hidden’ cut between the shoulder and the loin), Presa Iberico (the top shoulder) and Solomillo Iberico (fillet), cooked simply and allowing the quality of the offering to shine through”.

    Service here is attentive and fun. I am not sure I have ever described service as ‘fun’ before but the staff all seem to know each other really well and enjoy working together which makes for a very convivial atmosphere. Lobos operates on two floors with a small kitchen upstairs and a bar downstairs and small tables and booths utilising the limited spaces perfectly. The feature my guests admired the most were the neat plate holders hanging from the walls beside the tables, these allow for a small banquet to be served at your table without too much clutter.

    Having lived in Spain for a while it is safe to say that the small things like Pan Con Tomate are a good barometer by which to judge a tapas restaurant and Lobos have the best I have tasted in London, a good start, and I couldn’t wait to try the rest of the menu. We also shared other classic small plates of Manchego & Quince (£7.50), Padrones Peppers (£5.50), Octopus in Vinegar (£5.50) and notably the Croquettas of Ham, Chorizo and Smoked Bacon (£7.00) that were as good as any I have tasted in Madrid.

    The meat we were advised is rather conveniently sourced fresh and daily from the nearby Borough Market, we shared Chuleton Sirloin Steak (£30.00) and Iberico Pork Selection (£26.50) as you can see from images below these are beautifully cooked, perfectly rare in the middle with just the right balance of char from the grill. Our dear friend Mr Foie makes an appearance and who can resist a slice of entière as a wobbly lid to a Rib Eye. Not I! Especially cut so generously for such a respectable price (£14.95).

    Octopus In Vinegar

    The Octopus In Vinegar

    Iberico Pork Selection

    The Iberico Pork Selection

    We did also try a Double Chocolate and Pistachio Cake (£5) from the menu however by this time the full bodied Uruguayan red wine we had been recommended (£30) had begun to erase my memory. I’m quite sure it was very good!

    My advice is to book a table with a few close friends after work before the restaurant becomes too busy.

    Cost of meal with 1 bottle of Wine and a glass of Cava:
    £35 per person

    Food:
    8 out of 10 – hard to give Tapas a 10 rating but difficult to find better in London

    Atmosphere:
    10 out of 10 – best atmosphere GT has encountered in 2015

    Service:
    9 out of 10 – fun, friendly and fast

    Overall:
    9 out of 10 – already looking forward to returning. Sod it, I’m going tonight!

    Summary in seven:
    GT’s new favourite Spanish restaurant in London

    Details:
    LOBOS Tapas
    14 Borough High St, London, SE1 9QG
    Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 12pm to 3:30pm and 5:30pm to 11:00pm
    Tel: 020 7407 5361

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    Knife Skills for Gentlemen

    I was introduced to Leiths School Of Food And Wine through a work colleague and I was suitably impressed to book one of their courses for myself.

    They offer a range of enthusiast courses of which I chose ‘Knife Skills Chicken and Fish’, mostly because I love gadgets and have recently invested in a decent set of knives after being lured in by the stunning Blok Knives, partly by finding it uninspiring buying packaged fish in supermarkets, also as I often go salmon fishing and would love to put my skills to use when I catch the occasional sea trout.

    I really enjoy learning new skills and the opportunity to use my new knives to correctly joint chicken, game and fillet and skin both flat and round fish seemed like a good way to spend a spare Saturday in April so I decided to take part and share my experience on GT.

    The course was much easier to follow than I had anticipated and I was pleasantly surprised to see I was far better with a knife than I had imagined. With my original fears of showing myself up out of the way I started to really enjoy the course and was very impressed with our tutor Corrine an experienced chef who has worked at Scott’s Restaurant in Mayfair and a charming host.

    The course started with some basic knife holding skills and tips to avoid losing your grip, we then learned how to perfectly joint a whole corn fed chicken which we were able to take home with us. Following this was my favourite part of the course as we were shown two fish techniques, how to fillet a flat fish which was lemon sole and a round fish which was sea bass. We were advised how to check if the fish was fresh but most importantly how to fillet the fish without wasting any flesh or leaving any bones and skin behind. We were also shown how to butterfly a fish which is a technique I will be practising on my forthcoming sailing trip from Athens to Kefalonia.

    Butterflying Fish

    A Live Demonstration On Butterflying A Fish

    At the end of the course our small group ate a light lunch together of our freshly filleted sea bass with a salad and glass of wine, it was a pleasant way to finish off a successful course in which everybody seemed happy and conversation was flowing.

    I would definitely recommend a quick course like this to anyone who wants to gain some much needed kitchen confidence and skills. It will certainly provoke more frequent trips to butchers and fishmongers for me where the provenance and quality of produce is undoubtedly far better than supermarkets. The course cost just £150 and can be booked online here.

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    GT’s Best Of 2014

    Best Of 2014 is a retrospective look back at my favourite items and experiences of 2014, a year which firmly reignited my childhood passion for fishing and included perhaps the best beach holiday I have ever had.

    Best Hotel Experience

    Four Seasons, Koh Samui. More small mountain village than hotel we were surrounded by forest overlooking a white sand beach in the Gulf of Thailand.

    Best Dining Experience

    Korobuta, Chelsea. Had a really memorable meal here reunited with friends in great spirits aided by a really well selected sake menu and their excellent Tuna Sashimi Pizza dish.

    Best Experiences

    Leaving a cold British January behind to attend a beach wedding in Koh Samui Thailand. Catching my first Salmon on the fly from the River Oykel in the Scottish Highlands.

    Favourite Clothing Brand

    Norse Projects. This Copenhagen based company creates seasonal collections which blend streetwear and classical workwear with high-end fashion.

    Favourite Destination Visited

    Benmore, Lairg, Scottish Highlands.

    Favourite Album

    Wild Beasts ‘Present Tense’. The bands fourth album is a masterpiece and you must listen to it. I will say no more on the matter.

    Favourite Single

    Rae & Christian ‘Happy’. Great new material from my favourite music production duo and an upbeat song that always lifts the spirits featuring vocals by Mark Foster.

    Favourite Photograph

    Benmore Lodge catching the sun over Loch Ailsh.
    Pictured Above.

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