“I love Scotch. Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch.” – Ron Burgundy circa 2004

As written by Christine Berenger for Bordeaux Index.

For the longest time, I never cheated. It’s true. I was exclusively a wine woman. But one day, our friends Steve and Ira gave us a beautiful bottle of Lagavulin. Dr. Evil descended upon us that very night, my friend.

With our new found enthusiasm for the single malt, we visited Angel’s Share, one of our favorite date-night cocktail places in New York. This super chic speakeasy is tucked away within unmarked and hidden doors of a random Japanese restaurant. Their cocktails are sublime and, if applicable, served with the most perfect ice cube (the search for the perfect ice cube, ahh… another obsessive and never ending quest of ours, but I digress). At the urging of one of their bartenders, we discovered one of our absolute favorite whiskies to this day – Yoichi. Yes, it is Japanese and yes, it is amazing.

Maybe we are weirdoes or maybe we have a problem, but like wine, our whisky thing seems to follow us wherever we go. Our honeymoon in Venice – check. Late nights in Miami and Vegas – um, check. Many, many nights with friends in London and New York – check. That fabulous single malt is always there.

Over the years, there’s been lots of muttering within my family about whisky. So, we decided a formal tasting was long past due. Fresh off their trans-Atlantic flights to London, we hit The Whisky Tasting Room in Marylebone for a sampling of single cask Scotches. If you are in the London area and have a special place in your heart for whisky, I highly recommend a visit. Their selection is impeccable, as is their enthusiasm for the single malt.

As with wine, whisky preferences are very personal. My friend Kristen’s mom (Carol) packs a Scotch “traveler” with her whenever she goes to someone’s home for dinner to ensure she has exactly what she wants. (I get it Carol).

Over the years, we’ve tasted lots of beautiful whiskies, and so, without further ado, here are some of our go tos:

From Japan:

Yoichi 15 yr. old – gentle delivery of elegant and complex flavors; ginger, spice, sweetness, nuttiness; bliss

From Scotland:

Isle of Skye

– Talisker – retrained and easy peatiness, with some fruit and honey; smoke on the finish


– Macallan 17 yr. old – butterscotch and graham crackers, nuttiness


– Dalwhinne 18 yr. old – spicy, prickly with sweetness on the end
– Oban 15 yr. old – honey, caramel, nuts


– Lagavulin 1994 – peaty, smoky, with brininess and candy on the finish


– Springbank 12 yr. old – complex, smoky, salty butterscotch


– Auchentoshan 1999, 11 yr. old – light, rounded, smooth and sweet with sandalwood and honey; perfect for summer

Spreading the Wealth from your Cellar

As written by Christine Berenger for Bordeaux Index.

Watching any Woody Allen movie about New York will confirm that true New Yorkers are known for their OCD and a never ending quest for the “best”. Hey, I can make fun of myself and my people. All of our friends back in New York are either perfectionists when it comes to cooking (one even went to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America), heavily involved in the restaurant industry or are neurotic disciples of websites like http://www.eater.com/. Tough crowd, right? But, it’s our shtick and we love it. So here we are, across the pond in our new London digs. What to do?

Only week two into our London adventure and still sleeping on our air mattress, we received an email from our friend Seb asking us if we’d like to participate in a dinner club for oenophiles that his friend Guillaume organizes. Serendipitous, right?

“Problem”: There’s some nice vino in your cellar which you are itching to crack open. You have friends in the same camp. Oh… and you all love good food.

Solution: Create a dinner club and do it right. Be organized. Based on the menu, decide and distribute the wine pairings in advance. The venue can be a restaurant (on one of their less busy nights if you are bringing your own wine) or rotated at one another’s home.

Result: There I was in a sea of Frenchies enjoying a fabulous food and wine pairing at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. It goes without saying, from start to finish, my food experiences here are always rock star. And, those mashed potatoes… I don’t even like mashed potatoes and I find myself licking the spoon every time I’m there. Truth be told, I’ve given serious thought to licking the plate as well, but my southern Louisiana upbringing reminds me that this is a no-no.

Foie gras, port reduction and parmesan foam
Ruinart Rosé NV, Champagne
Red currant and strawberry flavors, pleasant acidity… yin to the yang of the foie gras

Crabmeat with fennel mousseline and tomato jelly
Domaine Vincent Dauvissat, Chablis Grand Cru, Les Clos 2004
Elegant green fruit with a bit of white flowers… fabulous with that tomato leaf essence

Mackerel on thin tart with parmesan shavings and olives
Domaine Trimbach, Riesling, Cuvée Frédéric Emile 2004, Alsace
Steely, but mineral driven… balanced the brininess of this dish; loved this

Pan fried fillet of red mullet, pissaladière and sauce vierge
Beaux Frères, Ribbon Ridge Pinot Noir 2006, Willamette Valley
Robert Parker’s joint venture in Oregon and the new world contribution; dark berry, some bacon flavors… great with the anchovies from the pissaladière, but drank a little too early; will improve in time

Free range quail with foie gras and truffle mashed potatoes
Château La Conseillante 2002, Pomerol, Bordeaux
Château La Conseillante 1996, Pomerol, Bordeaux
Verticals are always an experience; the 1996 was a little bit past its prime; I preferred the dark berries and earthiness of the 2002

Fresh and candied strawberry tart served with lime cream cheesecake and rose ice-cream
Yves Cuilleron, Les Ayguets 2007, Condrieu, Northern Rhône
I’m such a fan of Yves Cuilleron… just an über cool and talented winemaker; tropical and nectar flavors… delish; will continue to improve with age

Photos are courtesy of Guillaume Raffy.

“London Calling”

“You’ve come a long way baby,” Virginia Slims campaign slogan.

My criterion for a good food city is one that has amazing food at every price point. Here are some examples that quickly come to mind: New Orleans – you can get a po-boy at a gas station and it’s actually really good (no lie); New York – how easy is it to get a great slice (pizza)? Full disclosure, I consider both of these places to be home.

I visited London recently and benefited from the culinary explosion which has been going down there over the past few years. True, London has been home to food institutions such as River Café for many years. [A little background on River Café: It is the brain child of Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey (who unfortunately passed away this year) and it later provided us with extraordinarily talented chefs such as April Bloomfield (Executive Chef of one of my absolute faves of all times and a truly special place for me for many reasons- The Spotted Pig) and Jamie Oliver.] However, when I first started dating my husband, and we were doing the NY-Heathrow route back and forth, I felt London did pricey well, but found a dearth of quality mid-point restaurants.

This is by no means my “end all, be all” London list and it definitely includes some “fancy” places, but I truly hope to experience more of what London has to offer soon. Enjoy.



Charlotte Street/W1
33 Charlotte Street
Fino offers great tapas and Spanish hams. Maybe it’s because I’m ‘Merican and really great Spanish ham is more difficult to come by in the States (thanks FDA), but the the lomo was one of my favorites. The garlic gambas and grilled squid – um, we got seconds on both. Fino is a perfectly simple, not too flashy setting with great food.

The Providores & Tapa Room

109 Marylebone High Street
Think “Kiwi” dishes with a dash of Asia. The portions are smaller sized, making this gem of a restaurant a wonderful experience to sample a variety of dishes without feeling too full. It also proudly showcases what New Zealand can do in the wine world, especially in the Pinot Noir genre. Contrary to what I read from other reviews prior to going, I found the service to be lovely.


La Fromagerie

2-6 Moon Street
Cheese, glorious cheese… New Yorkers, think a subdued version of Murray’s Cheese. There is a sit down area for amazing for lite bites such as cheeses, charcuterie, salads and tarts OR visit the cheese room to take treats home.

The Beehive

126 Crawford Street
Don’t bother with a menu. Just get the Côte de Boeuf and thank me for it later. (Thank Seb and Laurence too). The Beehive also has a decent beer selection.

L’Autre Pied

5-7 Blandford Street
This is one of the most reasonably priced tasting menus I’ve had in a while. The chef is an absolute perfectionist and I can’t wait to go back. The presentation was gorgeous and elegant. It has one Michelin star and was voted the best new restaurant by Time Out in 2008.

Club Gascon

57 West Smithfield
This is possibly our favorite restaurant in London. On our layover to Nairobi, we took a car one hour + into the city to have lunch here just because. Does that make me a freak? They have a foie gras menu. Who does that? Add this as a course to your meal. If they have the sort of crystallized grapes with the grilled foie gras, be certain to have it. It’s heavenly and you will fantasize about it long after you’ve left. If there are morels in any dish on the menu, wave that in as well. This is a special occasion kind of place. Everyone who has dined here upon our suggestion told us it was his or her favorite dining experience in London.



287 Upper Street
Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli Jew, Sami Tamimi, an Arab from East Jerusalem and Noam Bar, who spent time in a Buddhist Monastery… how can you possibly go wrong with this combination? Maybe they can team up and teach the rest of the world how something beautiful can be created by differences? A healthful, elegant and unadulterated approach to Mediterranean cooking, Ottolenghi boasts wonderful and flavorful salads, breads and pastries for consumption on premises (only at their Islington location) or take away. I perused their cookbook Ottolenghi: The Cookbook… absolutely fantastic.


If there’s one thing the Brits have done well – it’s their importation of fabulous curries. Yes, my British readers, importation. But, we understand the desire to stake your claim. It’s good stuff and if you didn’t claim the curries as your own (wink wink), you’d be stuck with mushy peas, roasts — but you do fish and chips, some cheeses and beer really well. To my other readers, if you didn’t hit at least one Indian restaurant while in London – even if you’re not that much of an Indian food fan – you might get castigated as an Anglophobe. The Brits take “their Indian” very seriously.

Bombay Brasserie

South Kensington/SW7
Courtfield Road
If you’re seeking a scene, this is not the place. However, if you want the real deal in terms of Indian cuisine, this place is just solid and offers an experience from all regions of India.


15-17 Blandford Street
This is more upscale or “fancy” Indian, but the lamb curry… HELLO – I can’t wait to go back.



15 Berkeley Street
I have no idea how Nobu has done it all these years with multiple locations globally, but they have consistently achieved grande dame status of chain restaurants. If it is a scene you seek, this is the place. Drinks, dinner, scene… you really can’t go wrong. You might even see a few starlets having sakitinis.


37 Charlotte Street
The skewered meat and seafood were tender to the touch and very flavorful. The sushi and sashimi were fabulously fresh. Roka is a decent scene just for drinks as well. My only criticism would be that they sometimes try to turn tables too quickly by bringing out everything at once. Beat them to the punch by stating in advance that you want them to bring your food out in courses.

Special thanks to Laurence, Seb and Domenico for their suggestions. We can’t wait to try the others on your short lists.