il Lamparo, Vilamoura

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Never having been to Portugal before, I was happy when we were able to choose Vilamoura as the location of a major work conference.  Going places that you’ve not been to before makes business travel a pleasure rather than a chore…  And when you have twilight harbour views like this one…

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This particular trip was a busy one where work things occupied most of the waking hours, however given Vilamoura is a tourist location, it’s jammed with decent restaurants particularly around the harbour area.  I certainly plan to come back here on holiday some time soon given the amount of things to do and eat…

Tonight, I was initially unsure whether to break the golden rule and not order the brûlée when on the menu.  On reflection, I felt this could have been the beginning of the end, so followed the ‘rules’ and placed my order.  Thankfully, initial impressions were good.   Shallow dish, freshly cut strawberries and an intricate sugar lattice finishing touch.  I almost burned my figures on dish edge when moving it to photograph, so was concerned the custard would be overly hot rather than room temperature…  Not so!  The caramelisation was firm but not too thick for a , but looked to have bubbled under the heat of melting and caramelised a little.  In the end, nicely crisp without excessive thickness but a little sweet. Custard was vanilla pod flecked and smooth, although again, a little sweet. In the end, could be considered to be slightly heavy overall but that have had something to so with the big plate of Linguigne alla Rosso that went before. Not the best ever, but many high points, especially the presentation touches.  7/10.

On The Rocks, Yarmouth

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Twelve months ago, myself, Mark, Steve and Matt decided to take a Friday off and cycle to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight for dinner and enjoy a couple of beers.  We reviewed Tripadvisor, selected the Harveys B&B as our bed for the night, set Steve on the route planning and looked forward to pedaling for a solid 90+ miles, including the infamous ‘Military Road‘ on the western coast of the IOW.  This year, we decided another trip out to Yarmouth was ‘required training’ for our cycling summer season, hence planned to return to the picturesque port town with a particular focus on having dinner at On The Rocks, Yarmouth’s Black Rock Grill restaurant which we had failed to eat in last year.

The ride from our start point in West Meon went well, including a short ferry ride from Portsmouth to Ryde, before completing our circumnavigation of the Isle.  78 miles later, we arrived in Yarmouth.

Now, you need to understand that On The Rocks is a ‘cook your own dinner on a hot lava stone’ restaurant…  Part of me has issues with paying to eat in restaurant where you, rather than a well-trained chef, cooks your meal.  However, the meat choices are wide and the quality high, so surf and turf and some restorative bottles of wine to help repair the damage of a day in the saddle were ordered.  Of course, conversation drifted to my quest, and I was rewarded by the presence of a brûlée to order.

Initial impressions were that the ramekin was too deep and the custard would be overly heavy as a result.   In fact, it was the exact opposite being light, smooth and at the appropriate room temperature.  The sugaring was also very light and perfectly caramelised, with a lovely side of freshly whipped cream with a simple strawberry and raspberry garnish.  This could be considered to be one of the best ever brûlées…!  A big claim, however it was simply conceived and expertly prepared.  The ‘Rocks’ delivered.  9/10.

Footnote:  I’m always wary of restaurants offering post dinner aperitifs, yet The Rocks insisted on offering some apple schnapps to cleanse our palettes…  I’m not quite sure how we got to this point…

On The Rocks - Yarmouth 2014

DoubleTree RDU Airport, Raleigh, North Carolina

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I’m a bit of fan of Hilton Hotels.  It’s something to do with their attempt to be a home from home when travelling on business.  I’ve stayed in this particular hotel more than any other anywhere else in the world, and I like it.  It’s not the most modern; it’s not in the best location for socialising in downtown Raleigh; the pool is a bit small BUT the staff are genuinely friendly and they try really hard to fix the little things.  I’ll give you example.  Coffee should always be drunk with brown sugar but this is often quite tricky in the USA for reasons I don’t fully understand.  So I mention this point in passing to restaurant manager on one stay.  Four months later I return for a another stay and when picking up my morning Starbucks, he rushes over to tell me he’s put brown sugar on the mandated order list for hotel without prompting…!  Hotels really are defined by their staff – fantastic!

So what about the brûlée?  Well, after suffering through a burned tomato sauce wrapped around some penne pasta and BBQ chicken, to try and recover, the hotel restaurant offered up their interpretation of the classic.  It was presented in a small four inch bowl with a nice depth of custard, perhaps half a teaspoon, and was dressed with a single strawberry a dash of cream.  Despite this being a very tasty recovery from the main course, the sugar coating was granulated, the custard was overly sweet, was slightly curdled rather than being smooth, the cream turned out to be aerosol and the strawberry was very slightly old.   5/10.

Monkey’s East Bar, Düsseldorf

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This week has been a busy one.  Not only have I been stood up for 8+ hours every day for five days working a trade show, but I’ve also enjoyed the pleasure of yet more outstanding German engineering by taking a short trip to Cologne on the S-Bahn (Germany’s super-fast rail service) to visit Music Store, Europe’s largest musical instrument shop.  Five floors of instrument heaven ranging from the simplest recorder to the most complex drum synthesiser.  And a thousand guitars.  Need I say more…

Back to Monkey’s East.  This is a superb Asian restaurant with an easy cool style and staff that ooze that ‘we know we have a cool restaurant so be cool, OK…’.  On offer was crisp, fresh sashimi, sushi and various side dishes including a stupendous Thai Green Curry.  Now, bearing in mind this was a corporate hospitality evening, I was all set for some kind of ice cream based sweet to cater to the mass tastebud, so imagine my surprise when these little teardrops presented themselves…  The photo itself makes me smile.  Just look at how elegant they are.  Simple and beautiful.  The brûlée itself was presented with a light caramelisation, with a subtle hint of coconut adding some colour to a somewhat light custard, which lacked in any significant flavour other than the coconut.  A mediocre effort given the surroundings but the overall presentation helped lift this one up the rankings.  6/10.

Foot note:  Any trip to Düsseldorf is not complete without a visit to the Killepitsch Bar in the Altstädt, so I add this as encouragement…

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Van der Valk Hotel, Düsseldorf

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OK, so I wholesale nfl jerseys have to admit that I like Düsseldorf.  A lot.  In fact, I like Germany a lot too.  As a country, it’s beautiful.  It’s people are cheap nfl jerseys lovely.  You can drive at ridiculous speeds on the Autobahn.  And most importantly, it has doors that close.  Properly.  None of this, ‘well we tried really hard to hang it well mate, but just couldn’t quite get it 100%’.  German doors, especially in hotels, close perfectly.  No noise, no Oyster gaps, just a perfect fit.  You may wonder why I am labouring this point, but being British means de we often accept workmanship which is not quite 100%.  Not so cheap mlb jerseys our German friends.  German doors close nicely, first time and without any fuss.  Anyone who’s Work? stayed in a German hotel, or owned a German car will know what I’m on about.

Anyway, I am not here Bistro, to highlight skilled craftsmanship of the woodworking variety, but of the culinary variety!  Now, strictly speaking the offering you can see above was not ‘on the menu’, so I have to Lacroix ask myself if it should make it on to the blog…?  Well, it was on the buffet counter, Program so ?n I guess it qualifies… and just look at it!!  Marshmallows in custard then caramelised?!!  Genius.  You should also note that the dish was 50cm wide, so this Zielona thing was a monster and deserved the photograph alone.  Just fantastic creativity by the hotel chef…!

Now for the admission.  I didn’t try it.  I should probably be shot and have the blog shut down for that admission.  In my defence, there was a chocolate fountain running and the idea of dipping various wholesale jerseys things in molten chocolate was simply a better idea that evening…  Sorry.  It won’t happen again…  0/10.

Biltmore Estate Bistro, Asheville, North Carolina

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The story behind the wholesale jerseys history of the Biltmore Estate in Economy Asheville, North Carolina, is truly VERTRIEB fascinating.  Currently promoted as the USA’s largest privately owned family home, it one… is a wonder of design, stonemasonry and the vast wealth certain families held in history to behold.  In 1889, the wholesale nba jerseys construction of the 250-room French Rennaisance style Biltmore House was started by George Vanderbilt. Women  6 years later it’s finished.  After acting as the family home for 35 years, in 1930 the Vanderbilt family open the house to the public in the hope that it will increase tourism to the area during the Great Depression.  Today, Biltmore is a slick tourist attraction with wholesale mlb jerseys house, vineyard, gardens and hugely extensive grounds to explore.  I’ve visited twice, and & have only scratched the surface of what it has to offer…

But the reason why we are all here is to cheap nfl jerseys find cheap mlb jerseys out just how good bai the Brûlée offering from the Biltmore Bistro menu was.  Having the chance to visit Biltmore close to the Thanksgiving Holiday and Christmas meant the whole ?LE place was decked with tinsel, holly and spicy stuff, so I was pleased to see that the Spiced Cranberry Brûlée was 100% in tune with everything else going on.  It offered a superb christmassy feel with the spiced cranberry topping, but on this occasion, the sugar topping was too thick, with the custard a little heavy and lacking the all important vanilla notes.  That said, there was a satisfying crack from the caramelised sugar topping but the experience just a little out of keeping with the grand environment in which it was served. 5/10.

Hix Oyster & Fish House, Lyme Regis

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Anyone who has explored the South West of the UK, will most likely have been drawn to Lyme Regis, the small fishing port cum home to the well-heeled in need of a place to ‘get away to’ with a great beach, harbour and crazy golf cheap NFL jerseys course.  This kind of gentrification is highlighted by the quality of restaurants you’ll find there and I’m glad that Mark Hix chose this as one of his ‘out of town’ locations.

You may ask what took me to Hix, so I will tell you.  My mum’s 70th birthday.  Simples.  I will admit that A I had test Chateau driven this location earlier whilst partaking of my brother Adrian’s Stag Party a year or so before hence knowing the delights of the Baked views to be had from Hix’s from just above the town across the harbour towards the wholesale NBA jerseys Cobb.  Highly recommended, even if it’s raining.

So, cheap NBA jerseys let’s get to the custard based offering.  On this occasion, a simple thin and gentle sugaring was adorned above a simple room temperature custard.  As you can see from the photo, fuss was kept to a minimum with III attention focussed on delivering a wholesale Arizona Cardinals jerseys simple sweet simply.  The excellent views from Hix only added to the simple presentation of the dessert.  Again, a light, thin sugaring on a room temperature delivered the expected results.  This may have been helped by the fact that we were celebrating an important birthday with wives, brothers, children and mothers, all of whom were being well behaved.  8/10.

The first one… Château de Sanse, France

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So, this is where is all started.   This is the first brûlée wholesale mlb jerseys I photographed with the cheap jerseys idea de that I might jot down a from few notes about it in order cheap nfl jerseys to remember it a little better, perhaps with a photo…

Firstly I must tell you about the setting.  Chateau de Sanse is a beautiful location for lunch with the restaurant terrace looking wholesale mlb jerseys out over gently rolling vine-covered hillsides.  It’s a truly idyllic countryside setting, yet only a short drive from the busy regional town of Port Sainte Positioning Foy in the Dordogne region of South West wholesale mlb jerseys France.  I have enjoyed lunch and the setting here on a few occasions, and without doubt, it’s delight every time…

So this was a real treat as a dessert, in part the reason why I fell in love with it as a first.  A beautifully dressed plate served with a scoop of blackcurrant sorbet (which was a fantastic palate cleanser).  The brûlée itself was light affair with the ‘surprise’ of nectarine slices hidden in the custard. The sugaring was light, with the caramelisation gentle to crack with spoon.  7/10.


The quest to find the greatest ever Crème Brûlée. There's only one rule: If it's on the menu, you have to order it…