A festive break – 16th & 17th December 2014

We booked to attend our first Wine Society Christmas Dinner on 16th December, and decided to use the occasion for a mini-break. We booked two nights in Claridges so that we could attend the dinner on Tuesday, take afternoon tea on Wednesday, then follow it with a show (Miss Saigon), before taking a late dinner at the Ivy on Wednesday night.

WS_CD_Wine_smallThe highlight of the dinner was the Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1990, along with seven other wines, a sumptuous six course dinner, and a renowned guest speaker: the winemaker, Caroline Frey. In summary, this was a wonderful evening. You will find a more detailed account of our impression of the food and wine here.

CL_AF_AngAfternoon tea was a special treat for Angela. It was her first experience, and where better place to start than the Foyer and Reading Room at Claridges? We sipped champagne as we perused the extensive list of teas. Ian chose an Earl Grey; Angela chose a breakfast tea.

We were served two plates of sandwiches, followed by scones, Christmas pudding and pastries. The tea was excellent, plenty of flavour with just enough drying tannin to give a satisfying finish. It would seem pretentious to describe the food using the colourful phraseology that we might use for a Michelin star restaurant, but the impeccable service, the ambience, and the care and skill spent in producing these beautifully presented dishes all combined to make this a delightful and unforgettable experience.

Ivy_ang-_startWe thoroughly enjoyed Miss Saigon and arrived at The Ivy with a weary happiness that you might see in a dog dozing in front of a log fire. For starters, Angela chose the potted salmon with lemon remoulade. She felt the dish lacked salt – not unusual for Angela – and found the remoulade a little tart and lacking balance. But these were minor gripes as with a little added salt the dish was pleasant to eat.

ivy_ian_startIan chose the squid, chorizo and spicy peppers to start. The dish had plenty of body with a meaty consistency and the salad was well dressed with strong mediterranean flavours – quite delicious! To accompany the first course we chose a Touraine. It was always going to be a tough comparison following the hedonistic pleasures of the previous evening, but the wine was everything you would expect from a modestly priced Sauvignon Blanc.

ivy_ang_mainAngela had the pan fried calves liver with mash, melted onions and devilled sauce for the main course. Delicious! The liver was delicately cooked with wonderful sweet onions on top and a crispy smoked bacon, We ordered cauliflower cheese to accompany and it was very flavoursome with a lovely, breadcrumb crunch on top.

ivy_ian_mainIan chose the rib eye with fries. The steak was lean, and beautifully cooked with a subtle, charred outside and a pink juicy inside with a good beef taste. The Moulin de Gassac that we chose to accompany the main course was a typical South of France red – fruity and unrounded with little tannin. But good drinking nevertheless for a late night supper. After a wonderful couple of days we left for home very happy with the world in general.

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