Sagar Ratna (Connaught Place, Delhi)


I had to take an unexpected side-trip from London to Delhi recently on account of a family emergency. Fortunately, everything went well and things seem to be returning to normal. I myself am now back in London (where we’ll be for another six weeks or so). I didn’t really have a whole lot of time in Delhi for things that didn’t rotate around hospital visits but did manage to find time to lunch with two old friends. The first was this meal, a quick lunch in Connaught Place. I was for some reason longing for idlis and vadas and the CP outpost of Sagar Ratna is where we went,  Continue reading

Inchgower 20, 1995 (Hepburn’s Choice for K&L)


I have been accused before of reviewing too many long-gone bottles that were never released in the US to begin with. Accordingly, here is a review of a bottle that was a US exclusive and which is no longer available. You’re welcome!

This Inchgower was selected by K&L in California and was released last year (I think). I don’t really put much stock by K&L’s reviews of their own bottles. Driscoll’s notes on Spirits Journal contain a lot of words that are often used to describe whisky but they very rarely seem to describe the specific whisky he is flogging. I’ve been burned once too often by what seemed like good values based on his gushing. These days, therefore, I wait till trustworthy sources report on bottles they’ve purchased. If this means I miss on the occasional quality bottle which sells out before I get a positive report I trust, so be it. Anyway, in this case the positive report I trust came from Michael K. at Diving for Pearls. Michael really liked it. I opened my bottle a few months ago for one of my local group’s tastings but have only just gotten around to reviewing it*.  Continue reading

Punjab (London)


Here’s my fourth review in a row of an Indian restaurant in London. After south Indian meals at Quilon and Malabar Junction and two rounds of the Cinnamon Club‘s take on contemporary pan-Indian cooking, here now is a meal featuring the north Indian food that most people outside India think of when they think of Indian restaurants. Yes, my friends, we’re at a classic curry house this week: Punjab. Located in the Seven Dials area, at the border of Bloomsbury and Covent Garden, Punjab is not, however, merely another curry house: established in 1946, and at the current location since 1951, it pre-dates iconic places like Tayyabs (opened in 1972) and Lahore Kebab House (a similar vintage); indeed, it claims to be the oldest north Indian restaurant in the UK. We walked by it after an outing at the British Museum a couple of weeks ago, and remembering a friend’s recommendation of it as a solid place, we decided to stop in. You’ll never believe what happened next!  Continue reading

London Whisky: Royal Mile Whiskies + The Vintage House


Allow me to continue with my series of deranged posts filled with images taken in London shops. A few weeks ago I posted a large number of pictures taken at the Whisky Exchange store in Covent Garden (this followed a post from last summer that featured a number of other prominent London whisky stores). And a week and a half ago I posted a large number of pictures of Paxton & Whitfield, a major London cheese shop. This week it’s back to whisky and this time I have a twofer: pictures of the London outpost of Royal Mile Whiskies in Bloomsbury and of the Vintage House in Soho. Continue reading

Aultmore 12


I reviewed a SMWS Aultmore 18 a month or so ago and quite liked it. Accordingly, I’d planned to purchase a bottle of the OB 12 yo on my return to the US. But I ended up picking up a bottle from Royal Mile Whiskies here in London instead. I needed a mild, bourbon cask whisky for my cheese/whisky pairing experiments and it seemed like a good idea to kill two birds with one stone. It turns out to be one of those malts that’s actually cheaper in parts of the US than in the UK—I paid £48 for it here in London. On the other hand, it’s actually available in London but not in Minnesota, so I don’t care too much. Well, you might remember that it turned out to be the most versatile of the malts I attempted to pair with various cheeses—but what is it like when not being paired with cheese? Here is my answer to that question. (By the way, if you know what the Foggie Moss bit on the label is about, please write in: as usual I’m too lazy to look it up.)  Continue reading

Cheese and Whisky


Last week, I wrote about my visits to Paxton & Whitfield, the renowned London cheese shop and posted a large number of photographs of the shop and their cheeses etc. However, I didn’t say anything about what I thought of the specific cheeses I’ve so far purchased from them. This is the post in which I do that. This is also the post in which I talk a bit about my experiments in pairing whisky with these cheeses.

If you’ve memorized last week’s post—as I expect you have—you don’t need to be reminded that I have been exclusively purchasing British cheese. And I am pairing them exclusively with Scotch whisky. No, this is not a statement of my position on English cultural nationalism or Scottish independence.  Continue reading

The Cinnamon Club (London)


In the past decade and a half or so, London has seen a big upsurge of more ambitious (and more expensive) Indian restaurants, taking the cuisine and the aesthetic—both of the food and of the rooms it is served in—far beyond that of the curry house. Many of these restaurants have gained (and some have gone on to lose) Michelin stars. One that has not yet been so favoured, and which receives far less praise than others of its ilk in the London food press, is the Cinnamon Club in Westminster. For this reason it wasn’t originally on my list of fancy Indian places to eat at in London. However, it is more or less around the corner from where we are putting up in Westminster and when, a week after arrival, we wanted to eat a nice meal without going too far or spending too much we decided to take a chance on their set lunch menu. And we liked it a lot. In fact, we thought the quality of the cooking (and ingredients) was up there with Quilon (which does have a Michelin star and a strong reputation) and that the dining room was much nicer. We liked it so much that we went back a second time the following week to try the next iteration of their set lunch menu (it changes every month)—and we liked that meal even more. Here follows a report on both.  Continue reading

Glenfarclas 15


I’ve recently reviewed the Glenfarclas 8, the Glenfarclas 10 and the Glenfarclas 12; here now is my review of the Glenfarclas 15. Like the 8 yo, it is not available in the US. Its status, however, is not as murky as that of the 8 yo: it is a staple of Glenfarclas’ lineup in the UK and Europe. It differs from the other releases in Glenfarclas’ regular age-stated lineup in that it is bottled at 46% abv rather than 40% or 43%. This is apparently because that’s the strength at which George Grant’s grandfather always preferred it. The 15 yo is very popular among whisky geeks, partly because it’s more sherried than its younger siblings, partly because it’s at 46%, and also because it’s dependably good and reasonably priced. Back in the US I tend to hoard my bottles a little jealously as they’re not easy to replace: as the cost of international shipping makes it less of a value, I tend to get my Glenfarclas 15 via friends visiting the UK. Here in London though it’s readily at hand and I’ve been going through this bottle at a rapid rate. So even though I’ve almost drunk the bottle down I’ve not recorded separate notes for different points in its life—as it’s been open just over two weeks. Anyway, let’s get to it. Continue reading

British Cheese: Paxton & Whitfield


I like eating good cheese but I’m not the most knowledgable cheese person. If you are not a knowledgable cheese person either and you live in the US—where French and Italian cheese get all the press—you might be forgiven for not knowing just how much good cheese is made in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Well, since I have a number of cheese-positive English friends I did know this—and courtesy Monty Python I know the names of a number of British cheeses—but I hadn’t actually eaten very much British cheese, or had the opportunity to do so. Until now, that is. One of my gastronomic goals during my long’ish sojourn in London is to acquaint myself with a good range of British cheese. Luckily, London has a number of excellent cheese shops and contra Monty Python, they are not uncontaminated by cheese. And they’re not shy about pushing British cheese either. Here now is the first of what will likely be several reports on my exploration of British cheese. First up, a couple of forays into the venerable Paxton & Whitfield on Jermyn Street (almost exactly between the Piccadilly Circus and Green Park tube stations). Continue reading

Malabar Junction (London)


I think I’ve mentioned before that when I was a kid and teenager in India (1970s and 1980s) south Indian food—outside of south India—really meant the idli-dosa-vada complex. Served in small towns all over north India in restaurants with names like Madras Cafe or Kerala Cafe (just as almost every Chinese restaurant was named either Nanking, Golden Dragon or Kowloon) this subset of south Indian cuisines was one of the three national cuisines of India—Mughlai and Chinese being the others. It wasn’t until much later that I became aware that there was a lot more to south Indian food beyond the vegetarian cliches and that in fact south India is more non-vegetarian than vegetarian. For many of us in Delhi in the early 1990s a restaurant in Hauz Khas named Malabar was our introduction to much of this food—it specialized in the food of Kerala and the southwestern coast. Later, restaurants like Coconut Grove and Swagath expanded Delhi’ites horizons further. Continue reading

Glenfarclas 12


Back to Glenfarclas. I’ve previously recently reviewed the 8 yo and the 10 yo—I found the first to be passable (78 points) and the second a bit better (80 points). Will the 12 yo, with its bump up to 43% abv, continue the incremental improvement/rise in my ratings? Let’s see. This one, like the 10 yo, can be found easily all over the US.

Glenfarclas 12 (43%; from a bottle split)

Nose: As with the 8 yo and the 10 yo, there’s obvious citrus here (orange again) but this is maltier from the get-go and there’s a milk chocolate/cocoa powder note. Less citrus and more malt at first with a few drops of water but then the fruit comes back strong.

Continue reading

Quilon (London)


My American friends are sick and tired of hearing me moan about the state of Indian food in the US. Thankfully, there’s far less cause for moaning on this score in London. On my visit last summer I ate at a few of London’s better reviewed Indian/South Asian restaurants and liked them all a lot: from the Michelin starred Trishna to the ever-popular Dishoom to the far more informal Hoppers. It is our plan during our current, much longer stay in London to explore the Indian/South Asian food scene far more thoroughly across different parts of the price spectrum. I know from past experience that even curry houses in London are a world apart from most of their counterparts in the US. Our first outing, however, was not to a curry house but to Quilon, the posh restaurant at the Taj hotel on Buckingham Gate in Westminster.  Continue reading

London Whisky: The Whisky Exchange


Last summer I visited a few prominent whisky stores in London (and wrote them up). Thanks to stupidity I did not make it to the Whisky Exchange. For some reason—probably the fault of Florin, Prince of Persia—I came to believe their store was closed on Sundays when it is not, and so I didn’t stop in even though I was right in Covent Garden for lunch on a Sunday. That omission is now being set right with a dedicated photo collage of their Covent Garden store. Located right off the Strand on Bedford St., this store is dangerously within walking distance of our flat and I’ve already contrived to walk by it twice and stop in. On both occasions I have purchased a bottle (Glenfarclas 15 on the first occasion and a bottle of their own Elements of Islay Lg6 on the second) and on both occasions I have confused the staffers by taking many pictures of the store: they either think I’m mad or casing the joint or both. Thus do I sacrifice my dignity for you, my ungrateful readers.  Continue reading

Glenrothes 27, 1989 (Cadenhead’s)


Let’s take a break from the Glenfarclas reviews but let’s stay on the Speyside. Here is a somewhat unusual Glenrothes bottled by Cadenhead’s earlier this year. I don’t believe I’ve ever come across rum cask Glenrothes before and for that matter there’s not that much bourbon cask Glenrothes around. This is from Cadenhead’s “Small Batch” series and is apparently a vatting of a single bourbon barrel and a rum cask of some sort. Wild to think that there was a 27 yo rum cask just laying around. Also intriguing that they wouldn’t just have released it as such—has anyone come across a single rum cask malt of that age? Of course, this might imply that the contents of the cask might not have been that great on their own but it might have been worth it for novelty alone. It’s also possible, of course, that the rum barrel was a finish/double maturation of a cask put away in 1989—though again you have to wonder why that wouldn’t have been worth releasing by itself. Anyway, I haven’t reviewed much Glenrothes on the blog so I’m hoping this will represent the distillery well. And I suppose if I like it there’s a decent chance that it might still be available from the Cadenhead’s shop in London. Let’s see.  Continue reading