Lamborghini. One distinctive, Italian surname, loaded with imagery of style and speed and fast, rich playboys and girls. When I think Lamborghini I see a sunshine-yellow sports car sweeping up to park outside Monte Carlo’s Hermitage Hotel, the driver dripping in Brioni threads. It’s the sort of car with a dynasty behind it, founded in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini, whose son, Tonino Lamborghini has more recently created a name for himself away from the automotive arena: Tonino has moved into luxury accessories, including hyper-luxe smartphones, humidors, leather goods and (wait for it) VODKA.
And so it was that a few weeks ago I was invited to the Westbury Hotel, here in London, to try the exclusive vodka by Tonino Lamborghini, heir to the automotive dynasty. I say I was invited to the Westbury, as I was expecting a cocktail demo somewhere like the Polo Bar, but quite unexpectedly we ended up underground, at the club for IT people called Number 41.
Apart from our two hosts and an award-winning barman, there were just two of us scribes on the plush red seats at a private table that usually commands quite a sum in whole-bottle orders to reserve. It was mid-week, mid-afternoon and there we were, sipping on cocktails in an empty nightclub, talking about Signor Lamborghini Junior’s foray into distillery. Random, yes, but how fun.
A few facts about Tonino Lamborghini vodka for you:
- it has a high-quality base of Eastern European cereals, sourced primarily in the Balkans and Slovakia
- the harvest is subject to rigorous quality control to eliminate impurities
- the distilling process raises the quality of the starch content, creating an extremely clear alcohol
- Franciacorta spring water, known for its low mineral content, is added to lower the alcohol content to the commercial degree of 40% (Franciacorta is in the Italian region of Brescia)
Angular, tall and slightly tapered, I found the Tonino Lamborghini vodka bottle before us to be very masculine in form, almost like a glass representation of a male torso. Add the Raging Bull insignia and it’s hardly a bottle you’d offer your usual dame, but as a gift for a man-about-town it makes perfect sense. Not that many people have this in their liquor cabinet, simply because you won’t find it at just any old offy. Primarily marketed to exclusive nightspots, (the likes of No. 41, Beauchamp Bar, Dstrkt and Funky Buddha in London), there are currently only a couple of places to purchase Tonino Lamborghini as a regular consumer – and they’re online.
Back to the tasting and a shot of the stuff straight-up preceded cocktails. Tonino Lamborghini has a pleasantly full palate for a vodka – but at close to £60.00 a bottle retail, it’d be odd if it didn’t taste superior. What I found special about Tonino Lamborghini was the smooth, crystal finish, as voddy aficionados would call it. It’s utterly refreshing, like letting your mouth take a dip in that pure, Franciacorta spring water after a sweaty hike around Mount Orfano.
One can’t possibly go clubbing in the day-time without a cocktail or two. Cue the resident mixologist, who shook us all up with Tonino-based cocktails.
The Passion Fruit Martini smacked of the Garden of Eden on a Pacific island, a glassful of the tropics, although the overriding taste of fruit made it hard to sense the quality of the product being promoted to us. A Dirty Martini allowed the vodka to take centre-stage. Beneath the spotlight it performed very well, indeed. Yes, it must be said that in spite of its recent appearance on the luxury drinks circuit, Tonino Lamborghini vodka has a self-assuredness to it that belies its youth.
After a couple of martinis and a shot, I now felt quite the Jane Bond, ready to take on the Piccadilly Line in rush hour and any villain it might throw at me. If that’s what clubbing in the daytime does to a girl, then I must try to do it more often.
For further information on Tonino Lamborghini vodka, please contact Jessica or Leah at JPR Media Group:
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‘Twas the night before holiday
and in our mad house
the Crev was a-slumbering,
no sign of our mouse.
The packing was finished,
a taxi arranged,
all was quite organised,
but that would soon change.
The quiet was shattered
by panic above:
‘The Crev’s being sick!’
cried Papa, ‘the poor love.’
So that’s how our Easter break started
this year –
with projectile vomit
glued to our hair.
True enough, that’s exactly how our Easter holiday began: with our toddling daughter being sick through the night. After many pyjama changes, dunks in the bath and emergency loads of washing being done in the wee hours, we managed a few hours sleep. On waking, the Crev was promptly sick, yet again. We cancelled the cab. We spoke with NHS Direct (waste of time). We sat on the phone trying to enquire about cancelling or postponing our flight. After a good twenty minutes we still hadn’t reached a human operator and the Crev seemed to rally, so we gritted our teeth and set off for the airport.
It’s a four-hour flight to Gran Canaria from London. For much of the first two hours, our brave little girl was either sitting with uncharacteristic calm or retching up the few sips of water that she managed from time to time. Eventually, and much to our relief, she slept, taking us to our destination with little trouble. Once there, she seemed fine, interested in her new surroundings, if still a bit too quiet to be true. The following morning, when she started vomiting water again, we took her to an emergency clinic near our hotel in Las Palmas.
This is where the EHIC card gets all my praise. Because we travel so much in Europe, I registered the Crev for her very own EHIC card as soon as she was born. (It’s the card that provides reciprocal state health care for member states of the EU.) At the emergency clinic we were processed quickly and seen within about twenty minutes. Not bad. The doctor did a thorough check, taking at least another twenty minutes – much longer than your usual GP visit in the UK – pronouncing a stomach virus. He prescribed medicine before placing us under hotel arrest for the next six hours. ‘If she still can’t keep anything down after that, take her to the children’s ward at the hospital and we’ll care for her for 24 hours to prevent dehydration.’ Like the embarrassingly emotional mother that I can sometimes be, I cried, but not because the bill was eye-watering; there wasn’t one. The EHIC card covered everything.
Back at the hotel we spent a worrying afternoon monitoring liquid intake and counting doses of meds. Fortunately, the Hotel Santa Catalina was one of those historical establishments with big, old-fashioned rooms, so we had plenty of space for our period of incarceration. We parents, having developed quite an appetite through the stress of the morning, salvaged our sanity with ROOM SERVICE.
For a late lunch we splurged on a triple-deck club sandwich each, with fries. Not bad for €9.00 a head. Room service elsewhere can do a lot more damage than that for a simple club. At first glance I thought I’d never finish mine, but I underestimated my hunger. Every last bit disappeared. It was also very, very tasty.
That kept us going until well into the evening, when, after a siesta and more unappetising feeding attempts, subsequent purges and clean-ups we decided to dial for dinner. Wow. What a treat.
Corn-fed Iberian ham,
with Pan tomaca,
a generous Caesar salad for Monsieur, and an excellent mixed salad for me, deconstructed enough so I could mix it myself,
and for The French Carnivore, grilled veal tenderloin.
A half-bottle of decent vino rosado and some water completed our feast. Here’s what our mini-banquet looked like:
Meanwhile, the medication had started to work on our wee one, although it would be a good few days yet before she was back to her normal, active, babbling self. Through the decent hotel room service we were able to not just get nourishment, but do so knowing that we could jump up from the table as many times as were necessary to tend to her. For the record: we were up and down A LOT.
My thanks must go to the Hotel Santa Catalina staff, who, unasked, but noticing that the babe was unwell, fetched camomile tea and honey to soothe the Crev’s aggravated throat, and who were nothing but attentive and kind in helping us to cope with our ailing toddler.
The DFDS Seaways folk have made my week. They’ve nominated me in the Best Food and Travel Blogger category of their awards for the best bloggers of 2014. Woo hoo! The voting page is a work of art, worth visiting for the colourful, wanderlust-inspiring images alone. There I am, in the little green circle above. I’m up against some serious competition and am currently coming last in the votes tally, yet I’m still absolutely chuffed to bits.
When I started this blog in 2008 it was to create a place where I could celebrate the wonders of the world, its people and food. At the time I was newly engaged, yet with quite a lot of stress in other areas of my life. Epicurienne became a tonic for the less enjoyable times, where I could write about all the things I love – mainly food and travel, but also funny experiences and life-changers like getting married, losing my father and becoming a mum.
One of the best things about blogging must be the people I’ve met along the way. Some are fellow bloggers and writers, others work in PR, marketing and social media; I’ve encountered both renowned chefs and humble street hawkers, explored different ways of eating, visited the lesser-known parts of well-known places and found commonality wherever the blog has taken me.
For these reasons, and more, being recognised for doing something I thoroughly enjoy is truly uplifting.
Here’s to you DFDS Seaways! Thank you for the nomination.
If you’d like to check out all the categories and/ or vote, please click here.
Our kitchen calendar is usually filled with scenes of far-off places, inspiring our future travels or triggering memories of those we’ve visited in the past. This year, it’s a bit different. The Happy Egg Co crew kindly sent me a Nice Pecks cockerel calendar, so we have cocks in the kitchen for once.
This is the third in the cockerel calendar series, created (as they say) to offer visual stimuli to their egg-laying girls, who live out their lives without the company of cockerels because the eggs they lay, destined for shop and supermarket shelves all over the country, are unfertilised. The idea is that a bit of eye candy can’t possibly do their chooks any harm and may even stimulate a bit of extra output.
The 2015 calendar is a bit of a hoot, with its theme being touted as the EGG-streme edition. Each of the twelve featured cockerels is pictured practising one egg-streme sport or another. Pictured above we see Mister January, aka Eddie ‘the Rooster’ Edwards, a Light Brahma variety. Being a Kiwi I’m rather fond of Sir Egg-mund Hillary, pictured (natch) atop Everest as the appropriate pin-up for February – the month of New Zealand’s national holiday, Waitangi Day. There’s an Ayam Cemani breed known as David Peck-ham, pictured in his footie boots, and flick through to June to find none other than Sir Bradley Chick-ins proudly perching on the handlebars of a rather slick racing bike.
There’s a lot of humour in this calendar and along with handy egg-based recipes at the bottom of each month it’s already a hit in our household. Quite egg-cellent, to be sure.
If you’re a chicken-lover and would like to see some egg-stremely fine cockerels strutting their stuff on your kitchen wall, visit the Happy Egg Co Facebook page here or tweet the team @thehappyeggco
For further information on the Happy Egg Co, visit their site www.thehappyegg.co.uk
It’s the Northern Hemisphere winter and we’re fast approaching the year’s shortest day. It’s more often gloomy than bright, the sun sets early and leaves fill the gutters. Setting foot outside a warm home or office becomes a chore, coats and scarves weigh heavy on tired bodies, so when we finally do have some respite at home, simple, soothing food is definitely on the menu.
Carolyn Caldicott and photographer husband, Chris, have produced a timely antidote to chills and sniffles, in the form of a little book of winter-warming recipes called Comfort. Starting with Breakfasts to Get Up For, Carolyn teaches us how to perfect the classics like a boiled egg and soldiers, porridge and eggy bread and sensibly suggests a trio of eggs, potato rösti with a stiff Bloody Mary to blitz that Silly Season hangover. Hearty Meals for Friends and Family includes favourites such as pie and mash, shepherd’s pie and spicy warmer-uppers like spaghetti puttanesca or chicken and mango coconut curry. Every page of this cookbook oozes relief from inclement climes. Chris Caldicott’s photography takes us into farmhouses where fires crackle as they fuel ancient black stoves, enamelware trumps fancy serving dishes, and there, in the midst of all the recipes, a rainbow arcs across a steel-grey sky – a double-paged message of beauty and potential that exists in spite of all the rain and sleet and snow; a reminder that things won’t stay grey forever.
Carolyn offers up edible tonics for seasonal maladies, along with easy snacks, hot toddies and classic English puddings – each and every page designed to coddle the reader into rosy-cheeked contentedness.
I’ve always been seduced by any sort of baked cheese, so as my recipe test I chose Whole Camembert Baked with Garlic and Rosemary. So quick, so wicked, so ideal for sharing with some chunks of oven-warmed sourdough bread and a bowlful of crudités. Here’s the recipe for all you fromage fans out there:
1 whole room temperature Camembert (250g/ 9oz size in a wooden box)
1 plump clove of garlic, sliced,
1 sprig of rosemary
Warm baguette or ciabatta
Mixed crudités – carrot, celery, raw mushrooms, fennel, apple…
Slices of your favourite saucisson and ham
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5
Tip the Camembert out of its wooden box, remove the wrapping and carefully squeeze the cheese back into the box. Using a small knife make a few slits in the top of the cheese and insert the garlic slices and rosemary leaves.
Place the Camembert on a baking tray and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or so, until the garlic is golden, the cheese has a slightly swollen appearance and feels soft and molten to the touch.
When I reached into the fridge today I saw immediately that a hungry mouse had nibbled at my perfectly-ripe Camembert de Normandie au lait cru from the dairy at St-Hilaire de Briouze (in London you can buy this at the Hamish Johnston fromagerie on Northcote Road, SW11), but there was still plenty left for me to play with. In the store cupboard I had a couple of bulbs of black garlic from The Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight, so I substituted that for regular garlic. Black garlic has the consistency of treacle once the clove is exposed, so if you use this, poke holes into the Camembert with the end of a chopstick or similar, and use it again to push the gooey garlic into the cheese.
I absolutely hate cleaning the oven, so I try to protect its innards as much as possible and therefore set the wooden Camembert box on a small enamel dish before placing it in the oven. Thank goodness I did – the cheese was flowing out of the box like lava after 15 minutes in the heat.
This recipe couldn’t be easier to follow. I served the molten cheese with sourdough bread, heirloom radishes and batons of cucumber, whilst watching Kind Hearts and Coronets – a film to warm the cockles, as we say in London Town.
One final suggestion in the lead-up to Christmas: if you know someone who’d benefit from a bit of TLC, why not package this up with a copy of a heart-warming DVD or book and a pair of super-long socks with padded soles?
To order Comfort at the discounted price of £7.99 including p&p if within the UK (or +£2.50 for orders from outside of the UK) please call +44 1903 828 503 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote the offer code APG258.
Comfort – Recipes to warm the heart and feed the soul, by Carolyn Caldicott, photographs by Chris Caldicott
Published by Frances Lincoln
I received a copy of this book for review and all the opinions expressed in this post are my own.
Niall Harbison struts his stuff
Niall Harbison is an Irish entrepreneur with the sort of history that someone will probably find to be good film fodder. In spite of being self-admittedly difficult to teach he worked as a chef for a Michelin-starred restaurant before touring the world as private chef to the super-rich, the likes of whom chopper in to Cannes to spend a few days chilling out on their ginormous gin palaces. Harbison went on to develop a media consultancy, Simply Zesty, which he later sold for several million Euros before setting up a simple blog called Lovin’ Dublin to promote all that’s good about the Dublin food scene. It’s now massive, boasts permanent staff and is able to sponsor awards for some of the best eateries in town. They’ve even set up an annual award for a food start-up. As if Harbo, as he’s known online, isn’t busy enough with all of the above, he’s also found the time to pen a bestseller about his success called Get Sh*t Done, not to mention creating an online image store for journalists, called Picstash. If you Google him, you’ll start to realise that what I’ve described of his life and achievements here is merely the abridged version.
Last week Harbison took Lovin’ Dublin to the people, 1200 of them or thereabouts, at the swish new Bord Gáis Energy Theatre by Dublin’s Grand Canal – a regenerated area of the city now populated by tech companies like You Tube and Google.
And so, at Lovin’ Dublin’s kind invitation, I found myself jetting across the Irish Sea to join a group of bloggers and writers from the UK at the event. Not only would we enjoy an evening of inspirational speaking at the Bord Gáis, but we’d also be introduced to some of the site’s favourite food spots.
I’ll post about the travel and food aspects of our trip later, but first to the event.
When we arrived at the theatre, the lobby was heaving with ticket-holders buying drinks and queuing up for tasty tidbits offered by the Lovin’ Dublin sponsors, alongside competitors hoping to walk away with one of the eatery awards. Heinz Ireland was a sponsor – and made sure we knew they were there by installing a huge tomato sauce bottle smack-bang next to the entrance. Apparently it took quite a lot of man-power to squeeze it through the door, which is ironic ‘cos it was a model of one of those upside-down squeezy bottles, just a heck of a lot bigger. Ah, the unexpected things that make me smile.
Upstairs a few of us made our way into the VIP bar area – blessedly under-populated, compared with the thronging ground floor we’d just left behind. There we sipped on ice-cold Jameson’s cocktails, made with ginger ale, before taking our seats in the Circle.
An Irish comedian called Al Porter compered much of the evening in his signature camp style, with a good amount of blue humour thrown in to hold our attention. Once he’d warmed us up we got underway with the inspirational speakers. They were:
- Paddy Cosgrave, mastermind behind the Dublin Web Summit and now Web Summit – Europe’s largest technology conference;
- Mark Little, Founder and CEO of Storyful, telling the tale of his move from broadcaster and news anchor to founder of the Storyful site, a social media news agency, where news can be contributed by anyone;
- Caroline Keeling, CEO of Keeling’s Fruit, who recounted her family’s success story and how they’re now selling tech they developed for their fruit business to Chinese firms;
- Jamie Heaslip, Irish rugby player, Entrepreneur and Angel Investor, giving a delightful account on where he goes in Dublin on his days off the field;
- Niall Breslin, known affectionately as ‘Bressie’, Musician and Campaigner, who spoke movingly about his battle with depression – an incredibly brave individual;
- Marco Pierre White, the chef and restaurateur, who gave a disarmingly frank synopsis of his life in food, starting with a knock at a Harrogate restaurant’s back door at the age of fifteen, asking to see the chef about a job. He hasn’t looked back and claims that out of all the cities he’s visited world-over, Dublin has shown him the most kindness;
- Niall Harbison, naturally, both explaining the story of Lovin’ Dublin and helping to interview the guests;
- but above all, I take my hat off to Mark Pollock, the blind paraplegic who is working on a cure for paralysis. This man is the embodiment of courage. Once upon a time Pollock had both sight and the use of his legs, but a double dose of misfortune has taken both from him. Does he complain? No. He’s determined that we will soon see a cure for paralysis, developed by medics and chemists and tech experts and creatives working together. As he puts it, recently he was able to walk every day for a month, with the aid of a technological brace and certain drugs. But because this so-called experiment hasn’t been observed by the right people, the breakthrough is not yet acknowledged. With Pollock’s brand of will-power and a team coming together at Trinity College to work with him on this project, I am absolutely certain he will succeed. His story has recently been released in documentary form in Ireland, aptly entitled Unbreakable. The film is next off to tour festivals like Sundance and hopefully it’ll be on general release before too long.
Marco Pierre White sharing with Harbo
MPW Mark Pollock now and back when he was a medal-winning rower
At the end of the evening, the winners of the various Dublin eatery categories were announced and the best start-up prize, totalling €25,000.00, was awarded to Nobo, a non-dairy ice cream with avocado base. (The Mystic Meg in me sees Hollywood celebs in Nobo’s future.)
So there ended the inaugural Lovin’ Dublin Live event. It’s set to be an annual fixture. I just wonder who’ll pop up on the 2015 programme?
As for our group, the day in Dublin was not yet over. We were piled into a green double-decker party bus and driven to the after-party at trendy Sam’s Bar, for yet more Jameson’s and ginger ale.
I was invited to Dublin by Lovin’ Dublin, with help from www.visitdublin.com
and the Lovin’ Dublin Live sponsors: obrienswine.ie, Heinz Ireland and SuperValu supermarkets.