wine

Supper Clubs of London

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Words by Elli Hollington Beyond the basics of sustenance and gluttony, food is emotional – closely linked to memory, imagination, and travel.  Supper clubs have cosily diversified the capital’s dining-out options, in which strangers come together along big wooden tables to break bread and share conversation. It is the experience of the intimate dinner party, expanded out, and unlike a restaurant, you know you’re never going to have that evening, those people, this menu in combination again.

Out of London’s growing vogue for supper clubs come two in particular that understand this irresistible lure of food and culture.  The Literary Hour, which originated out of a group of friends' Haringey kitchen, lays on suppers inspired by classic writers and books. Kino Vino, a cinema supper club, puts on stylish evenings of feasting from the national cuisine of the particular film screened at the beginning of the night. This is cooking which inspires nostalgia, whilst also sparking visions of unfamiliar places and flavours.

The Literary Hour has been going strong for nearly two years now. Head chef Jude Skipwith started exploring culinary possibilities with her housemates in the summer of 2015. Thumbing through childhood copies of Roald Dahl stories, they dreamed of snozzcumbers, edible wallpaper, and luscious giant peaches. They put together their first menu, and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ golden ticket chocolate bars were sent out to their guests in the post as invitations. Since then, they’ve done ‘Silence of the Lambs’ for Halloween (duck hearts, lamb shanks, and blood-like gazpacho), and then moved on to the stories of the Brothers Grimm, using pumpkins leftover from Cinderella’s carriage, and peas that rolled out from under the Princess’s mattress, presumably. Beatrix Potter inspired last year’s spring supper club, with their dining table laid with an edible vegetable patch of seeds and olive tapenade ‘soil’, and tiny blue felt Peter Rabbit jackets as table settings.

Over Christmas they made the decision to upscale, moving their pots, pans, knives and pile of battered paperbacks to Styx. The multi-purpose arts venue in Tottenham gave them the space for their most inventive and ambitious supper club to date. Diners found themselves in an everlasting Narnian winter, complete with an indoor forest of fir trees with sprayed-on 'snow' and frequent belchings of dry ice. Warming up with steaming cocktails and hot water bottles, we sat down to feast under the most beautiful canopy of branches and fairy lights. I found myself taken back to childhood evenings reading ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ as the courses began to roll out. To start: a deliciously smooth celeriac velouté in a teacup, served with a black pepper scone and horseradish butter to warm our bellies. As we listened to the words of the Pevensies fleeing the wrath of the White Witch (readings between courses continue to be The Literary Hour’s signature touch), we tucked into an adorable 'ham on the run' picnic spread of the sort the beavers might have packed for them, although perhaps their version wouldn't have had the beaver salami we sampled. Of course, there was handmade Turkish Delight. After some boozy hot chocolate and pudding with marmalade vodka, we were ready for home.

Speaking to The Literary Hour’s founder Jude, it is evident that she is utterly obsessed with food, a highly talented amateur chef learning new techniques as she goes. She remembers in particular the challenge of making gorgeously fresh duck egg ravioli, ensuring the pasta was cooked whilst the egg yolk inside remained runny. Upcoming menus are often researched at the bottom of her garden with a picnic basket of cold prosecco and crisp salad, and she has been to every corner of London in her quest for the best ingredients. While her cooking remains essentially local and European, she’s a dedicated foodie traveller, and starts reminiscing about dishes of currywurst in Berlin and chicken heart kebabs in Thailand during our conversation. In her opinion, “Food is such a fantastic way to begin understanding a different country and their different culture. When language might be a barrier, it is the easiest - and most delicious - way to connect to people.”

This is a sentiment shared by Alissa Timoshkina, and put into mouthwatering practice with her supper club Kino Vino. She brings her genius curation skills to pair chefs with a particular film of her choice. Travelling thematically from nation to nation with each individual supper club, last month was all about India. Handed glasses of prosecco at the door, we started with a screening of 'The Lunchbox', the charming Indian film in which a pair of strangers fall in love over a misdelivered packed lunch. India, perhaps more than any other country, really comes to life on the screen: the streets of Mumbai rammed with dabbawalas on their bicycles, office workers inhaling spices from the lifted lid of a tiffin tin as ceiling fans whirl overhead, smoking on one's balcony at sunset. And the food: rich pulpy aubergines in baingan bharta, perfectly simple dal, and stuffed bitter gourd, with fresh chapatis to mop everything up. The heroine of ‘The Lunchbox’ licks her fingers at her stove, and the unlikely hero’s days are transformed as he falls in love with firstly her cooking, and then her (despite some outrageously ungrateful complaints about one lunch being too salty).

While we were watching, we snacked on our first course from Bengal-born guest chef Romy Gill - deep-fried potato balls with flavours of ginger, chilli and mint zinging alive in our mouths. Then, dinner, on the scrubbed wooden tables next door, surrounded by palms, candles and flower garlands. It was the kind of fresh, inspired Indian menu which is a world away from the average British high street curry house - stand-out dishes were the deliciously tangy octopus tentacles with a cool apple, fennel and dill salad, and the hugely comforting goat curry that followed. There were also plates of pork and cabbage momos to be rolled luxuriantly around in a soy and spring onion dipping sauce and stuffed, whole, into our mouths. As the guests opposite me told tales of trips to India, we finished up with perfectly creamy shrikhand flavoured delicately with saffron and cardamom, as live sitar played in the background. Oh, and there were mouthfuls of ruby jewelled pomegranate seeds - on everything!

As Alissa prepares for her next dinner, a Polish feast from chef Zuza Zak, I ask about her particular connection with food, film and travel. “It is the concept of a journey - sensual, emotional, intellectual - that has always attracted me to viewing a film,” she told me. “You start with a blank screen and by the end of the film, your life is no longer the same. This is not too dissimilar to a journey one takes during a good meal – an empty plate is your passport to a unique world of flavours that lifts you out of your seat. The idea of people gathering around a beautifully set table, and embarking on a journey through a film-inspired meal was the foundation for my supper club.”

The Literary Hour: www.theliteraryhour.com

Instagram: @theliteraryhour

Kino Vino: www.kinovino.org

Instagram: @borsch_and_no_tears

The Weekend - Cornwall

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Here at Lodestars Anthology we love a beautiful travel journal as much as the next person (a lot more so, probably).  So imagine how happy we were when we chanced across Cornwall by Weekend Journals, a definitive guide to exploring the fairest English county which features unique and special venues, from verdant gardens to visionary galleries, independent shops and exceptional restaurants. The book is written by Milly Kenny-Ryder and produced by Simon Lovell, who both have strong links to Cornwall, and have been visiting with their families since they were young.  Using these connections they have gone off the beaten track to discover the venues that the locals love, while also showcasing some of Cornwall's most iconic sites and stories.  For a hint of what this edition of The Weekend is all about, read on, and be inspired by all that Cornwall has to offer (or click here to order a copy).

The dining area at the St. Tudy Inn

St. Tudy Inn

Emily Scott is an ambitious and optimistic chef who took over the St. Tudy Inn, determined to offer locals and visitors great food in a delightful setting. This charming Cornish pub is situated in St. Tudy, a quaint village in North Cornwall. After extensive redecoration the pub feels cosy and welcoming, with Nicole Heidaripour prints on the walls and vintage furniture.

All Emily’s cheffing experience has been put to good use in the kitchen, where seasonality and local produce reign. The menu is full of comforting classics with a twist, such as the fish and chips, upgraded to the irresistibly tasty Monkfish tails in rosemary focaccia crumb with fries and citrus mayo. The St. Tudy Inn also runs regular events, including Pig and Cider nights with a hog roast and regional ales, so there's many an enticing reason to visit.

St. Tudy Inn, St. Tudy, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 3NN

01208 850 656

sttudyinn.com

A spin on the classic fish and chips - monkfish tails in rosemary crumb

Beautifully Cornish floral arrangement at the St. Tudy Inn

Surfside

Surfside is an exciting venture from London-based mixologist Tristan Stephenson, author of The Curious Bartender and part of the drinks company Fluid Movement who founded Purl and The Whistling Shop bars in London. Surfside has become a local hit, serving fresh food and cocktails at the water’s edge in Polzeath. Located on a corner of the beach, the restaurant is only accessible via the sand which adds to the experience.

Lobster crackers at Surfside Restaurant

Although the venue appears casual from the exterior, inside the offerings are for serious foodies with surf and turf platters and inventive cocktails. Thanks to the isolated location Surfside feels intimate and exclusive, with panoramic sea views adding something special to the meal.

Surfside Restaurant, On the Beach, Polzeath, Cornwall, PL27 6TB

01208 862 931

surfsidepolzeath.com

The choice is yours: drinks at Surfside Restaurant

Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard

Situated on the slopes of the Issey brook near Padstow, Trevibban Mill is one of the newer Cornish wineries but is already producing award-winning wines. Liz and Engin began planting in 2008 with an ambition to produce top quality Cornish wines and ciders. Native sheep graze on the land and their wool is for sale in the vineyard shop. Tours and tastings can be arranged to sample a range of the different wine and cider varieties.

Trevibban Mill and Appleton's at the Vineyard

Also on site is Appleton’s at the Vineyard, where ex-Fifteen head chef Andy Appleton is managing the kitchen, feeding hungry visitors with fine Italian dishes showcasing the local produce. Choose from a beautiful piece of sustainable fish, or a bowl of comforting pasta. The dishes provide the ideal accompaniment to a glass of Trevibban Mill wine.

Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard, Dark Lane, near Padstow, PL27 7SE

01841 541 413

trevibbanmill.com

Pasta and Wine at Trevibban Mill & Appleton's at the Vineyard

Trevibban Mill's Wine and Yarn

Hidden Kitchen

Hidden Kitchen is a supper club and culinary concierge serving unique food to its St Ives clientele. Located on the corner of St. Andrews Street, in the centre of the historic town, it is easy to miss this understated dining room. Chef James Watson and his wife Georgina worked together in the catering business before opening their first venue. The intimate dining experience in the boutique restaurant makes it feel like a dinner party at a friend’s house.

Hidden Kitchen

Reading material at the Hidden Kitchen

James regularly plays host to visiting chefs who provide diners with constantly changing, exciting international cuisines. Guest chefs have included Gordon Ramsay student Lee Skeet and Japanese cook Naoko Kashiwagi. After the meal leave a message to show your appreciation on the blackboard tables.

Hidden Kitchen, The Masonic Lodge, St. Andrews Street, St Ives, TR26 1AH

07792 639 755

hiddenkitchenstives.co.uk

Hidden Kitchen - a feast for the senses

Drinks at the Hidden Kitchen

Espressini

There are more and more promising independent coffee shops in Cornwall; Espressini on Killigrew Street in Falmouth is one of the best. This characterful venue serves a bespoke blend of beans sourced and roasted by Yallah Coffee, selected specially for them from growers around the world. Inside, the café is cosy and familiar with mismatched antique furniture, and the chatter accompanied by a thoughtful playlist. The coffee is bold in flavour and served to your preference. Brunch is particularly popular with a menu of tempting and indulgent dishes displaying a wide range of influences from world cuisines.

Coffee at Espressini

Nearby, on Falmouth harbour, is Dulce, the smaller sibling of Espressini which, as well as offering freshly brewed coffee, sells equipment to help you make the perfect cup at home.

39 Killigrew St, Falmouth, TR11 3PW

espressini.co.uk

Sweet treats at Espressini

Fabulous interior design at Espressini

New World Flavour

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For our Canada magazine, writer Shaun Pett and photographer Leila Ashtari explored the wines of Ontario. Due to the nature of print we couldn't publish all of their wonderful finds and images. So, for those seeking some new world flavour, below are some of the gems that deserve plenty of attention ...
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To purchase our Canada magazine, click here.
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Though Canadian wine is still a young tradition in the land of beer - with the first European vinifera grapes planted in the 1950s and serious wineries started only in the 70s - pioneering winemakers are experimenting with unique but challenging environments and building a new tradition of wine. Two of Canada’s major wine regions lie along the shores of Lake Ontario and are within a short drive of Toronto, making them the perfect destinations for a weekend escape. The Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County, a patchwork of vineyards and farm land and colonial towns, are now home to 150 wineries and counting, along with the attendant restaurants, artisans and boutique hotels.
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New World Flavour
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SUCKING ON STONES
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Geology marked the Niagara Peninsula for grapes. The glacial Lake Iroquois, a precursor to Lake Ontario, deposited the fertile soil and red clay, while an ancient sea laid down the limestone sediment for the Niagara Escarpment, which traps the warm air currents from the lake. At the cliff-side lookout of Beamer Memorial Conservation Area you can see the skyline squiggle of Toronto across the lake and to the east runs the Escarpment’s spine.
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Growing up in Niagara I never drank wine. Only after living two years in France did I come to appreciate it. This is a common pattern for Canadians: we look past what is near to what is far. Francois Morissette was born in Quebec and worked ten years in Burgundy before arriving in Niagara with the single purpose of letting the land dictate the grapes and the grapes dictate the wine. The first time I visited Pearl Morissette there was no sign at the entrance (and probably never will be). This is on purpose. Morissette is unlike most winemakers in Niagara. He takes an uncompromising approach toward non-interventionist, natural winemaking. Airborne indigenous yeasts start fermentations, and out of the nearly 200 ingredients you are legally allowed to add to wine, he only uses sulphur, and only if he has to. For him winemaking is more art than recipe and no two wines are ever the same. The old wood foudres from Alsace, the concrete eggs and steel tanks, the earthenware qvevri from Georgia, these are simply the pots he uses to cook in.
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Svetlana Atcheva, the winery’s passionate ambassador, with her Eastern-European accent and Nabokovian way with description, described a wine’s structure as “ladders” climbing in the back of the mouth and called a 2014 Chardonnay that we tried from the tank “a snowflake under the microscope,” creamy and soft, but structured. Morissette’s wines and methods can seduce some and annoy others, but every wine region needs its provocateur, someone to push boundaries and undermine complacency. His wines—the Riesling, gamay and Cabernet Franc I still remember—set a benchmark for Niagara’s potential.
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New World Flavour
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New World Flavour
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TRACING ANCIENT FOOTSTEPS
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Follow Regional Road 81, which winds it way through the peninsula, and you’ll be tracing the former Lake Iroquois shoreline and a past Native trail. Heading east along 81, you near the Niagara River and the American border. Here the Escarpment eases into flat fields and you can find tiny Five Rows Winery tucked away in St. David’s. Winemaker Wes Lowrey, the fifth-generation of his family to farm this land, focusses on making the wine in the vineyard, spending two months thinning the 150 rows of vines by hand, three per day. His very small batches are excellent wine. Neighbouring Ravine Winery is worth stopping at for a bite of field-to-table fare.
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New World Flavour
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ON ISLAND TIME
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Because of the Murray Canal, Prince Edward County is technically an island. Located almost halfway between Toronto and Montréal, it feels far apart from the urban grind, with the slow rhythms of country living and small town intimacies. The County is the newest wine appellation in Ontario with vines only planted at the turn of the millennium. The varying topography creates a mesoclimate at each vineyard, allowing you to visit 20 different wineries and taste 20 different Chardonnays. But making wine here requires one to be a little stubborn and a little mad. Since the winters get so cold, and temperatures of -25°C can kill vines, they must ‘hill up’ the vines in autumn, burying them under earth and hoping they’ve survived when dug up by hand in spring.
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At the new micro brewery, British chef Neil Dawson turns out fresh and simple dishes of the moment - he’s also known to roast a pig from time to time. We sat on the patio overlooking the vines with a pint of the saison. A salad of crisp snap peas, watermelon radishes, crumbled feta and poppy seeds was a snapshot of that early summer day.
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It’s easy to hop from one winery to the next, as most are clumped in the west of the island due to the moderating lake breeze. Down Closson Road don’t miss The Grange, Closson Chase, and The Old Third. At Norman Hardie’s, who is the gregarious face of the County and the gateway for many to the region, we ate what is still the best Neopolitan pizza around, enjoying it on the patio with a glass of stony Calcaire while others slurped oysters and the slow Sunday afternoon melted away.
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New World Flavour
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New World Flavour
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WRITING NEW LORE
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At Trail Estate the tasting room was still being built so Mackenzie Brisbois hosted us in the cluttered production shed. Her first year as head winemaker, she was excited to show off her skin contact experiments. Using this thousand-year-old technique of letting the juice sit with the skins for up to three weeks (like with red wine, but unconventional with white), she crafted four three single lot Rieslings and a Sauvignon Blanc that were complex and textured. The last one, of which she only made less than 100 bottles, had a surprisingly nutty nose - none of the grass one is used to - and a good funk that bloomed into melon flavours. Working in this hands-off manner, letting the wine become the wine it wants to be, requires patience. One day it’s good, another bad. “Doing nothing is the hardest thing.”
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New World Flavour
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PATHS LESSER TRAVELLED
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Leaving the tourist trail in the west, you’ll find a hidden spots, like the gravel beach at Little Bluff Conservation Area or Sandbanks Provincial Park, where the 8 kilometres of mesmerizing sand dunes is the largest system of its kind in the world. Fifth Town artisan cheese, housed in a LEED-certified, green building, hosts wine and cheese tastings.
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There’s something of the monk in Glenn Symons. He works mostly alone at Lighthall Vineyards, secluded on a nowhere road, perfecting his wine and cheese. A home vintner for 25 years, he bought the vineyard in 2008, attracted by the soil’s potential and its unwritten story. He has rigorous standards and won’t sell a wine that disappoints him. Cases of an unsatisfactory rosé have been in storage, waiting to be distilled to fortify a late harvest Vidal he produces. We chatted in his small production kitchen while he scooped fresh sheep milk curds into moulds. I asked him if there was a wine or cheese that he wanted to make that he hadn’t yet attempted. No, he said. He knows what he wants. Like others in the County, he has a self-confidence that comes from having found his place in the world. The job then, vintage after vintage, is listening to this place and singing it to others. That’s what wine can do.
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New World Flavour
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New World Flavour
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New World Flavour