Every year I travel up to Scotland for Christmas. Before you ask, no, I’m not the Queen. However, I am a woman who loves a wee dram. In fact, I love everything about Whisky. The bottles full of golden glow, the packaging which, in recent years has seen a lot of the distilleries emerge into the 21st century in terms of style. I love the accoutrements which accompany this Scotch drinkers ritual. A good, “special” glass and decanter, a touch of candlelight and, for me, an antique drinks tray. What follows is the aroma. This sets the atmosphere for what's to come. That initial “schwhooooar” when the alcohol hits my mouth and emits it’s magical ether. The zing sting on the palate when I hold it in there for my taste buds to savour and then, that warm swallow that I swear I can track all the way to my belly. Maybe it’s because of my age but what follows is a nice little glow which is a comfort on a cold winter’s night. I love this time of year and the delights it brings.
Friday, 3 October 2014
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
The second part of our 25th wedding anniversary celebrations were a gifted weekend in London courtesy of Meg. So bags packed we headed off to the Park Grand Hotel in Queens Gardens, just off Bayswater Road, W2. I love this area of London. Not far from Notting Hill and my old home, Kensington. I revisited that home, Bullingham Mansions, and re-traced well trodden footsteps along Kensington High Street. We dined at one of our old favourites, The Aphrodite Taverna where, in my opinion, they serve the best Greek food and atmosphere in London. We drank champagne and celebrated each other's company. What a journey the last 25 years has been. I wonder what's to come, but not for too long as I like a surprise. If it's been anything like the last 25, I can't wait.
Monday, 15 September 2014
Saturday was our 25th wedding anniversary. For a celebratory lunch with Meg, a friend of ours recommended a new restaurant set amongst Cardiff's urban sprawl, The Smoke Haus, an authentic American barbecue diner. Very fitting considering 25 years ago we were celebrating our nuptials with a roast beef dinner in the USA.
John had been drooling in anticipation for days and was looking forward to getting the meat sweats! It didn't let him down. He chose the Smoke Haus Threesome. I wondered if that was a hint but I should count my blessings that he didn't choose The Homewrecker. The Threesome was a combo of pulled pork, slow cooked beef brisket and pastrami with sweet potato fries on the side. I had the pulled pork hoagie with a side of fries and Meg had the Philly Beef and Swiss. Boy oh boy, the meat was succulent and plentiful and the thing I particularly liked most was that it was not swimming in sauce, just simply meat with all it's flavours intact and enhanced by, presumably, The Smoke Haus secret method of preparation. One likes to think it's a secret anyhow and I didn't want to spoil that illusion by asking. I'm drooling again just writing about it!
There's nothing fancy about The Smoke Haus. It's a clean wide open expanse of warehouse style interior with an authentic American feel, even in terms of the welcome which is most definitely warm and inviting. It was early so we were the first diners but within an hour the place was full. The staff have the American ethos of service down to a tee, attentive, friendly but not invasive. The serving sizes are USA generous, so much so we ended up with a good sized doggy bag for Sookie.
With drinks and sides lunch came in at £45 for the three of us. I see this place hopping on weekend nights, they did say they were fully booked that evening. It's one of those places you hope make a success of it in amongst more than a handful of local dining establishments. It has a young vibe with a great menu. They even have an app you can download to select the music. I can't wait to go back. If there was to be a criticism, particularly for the American amongst us, it was that there was Soccer on TV, not American Football and with the NFL season having just started it would most definitely have been the icing on a great day's cake.
Meg surprised us with a weekend in London. We may as well move there as it will be our third visit in a month. Watch this space!