Tag Archives: The Ledbury

London and Barcelona calling

With the opening of our office in London I managed to find some time to visit the U.K. and my daughter Yolanda, who is working on some exciting new projects. Flying to London on Virgin Australia was exceptional with a short stopover in Hong Kong, I highly recommend their Premium Economy, it felt like first class.

La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

A trip highlight – visiting La Boqueria Market, Barcelona with Yolanda

Yolanda and I did not waste any time when I arrived the first day walking to Nottinghill to have brunch at Bill Grangers latest venture in the UK, Granger & Co. The restaurant was packed with very smartly dressed locals and tourists, couldn’t help but notice the collection of Bentleys, Aston Martins and Rolls’ parked out the front, but unfortunately, Hugh Grant was nowhere to be seen.

The next day we were invited to The Ledbury, also in Nottinghill, where Aussie chef Brett Graham generously took some time to show us around. It’s great to hear that this very talented Aussie chef is running one of the most popular restaurants in London, with the restaurant booked out months in advance.

The Ledbury

Maureen at The Ledbury

The Christmas spirit was in full swing everywhere in London, particularly at Harrods where we spent a full day just going from floor to floor, marvelling at the beautiful Christmas decorations. Harrods is one of the most recognized tourist attractions in London with the ground floor offering a range of exceptional dining options, we decided on the sushi bar – certainly not your average sushi prices, but worth every cent.

The perfect end to a day Christmas shopping in Harrods

The perfect end to a day Christmas shopping in Harrods

Equally atmospheric and full of amazing Christmas decorations was Fortnum and Mason.  Founded in 1707, Fortnum Mason is a unique department store renowned across the world as a purveyor of fine foods, hampers, teas with an amazing ice cream parlour, wine and restaurants. It was well worth the wait to line up for afternoon tea, which is served in fine bone china with cucumber sandwiches and scones. Clichéd, I know… but I was a tourist so why not make the most of it?

The highlight of my visit to the UK however, was a surprise weekend trip to Barcelona which Yolanda had organized. Once we arrived, there was an even bigger surprise – Yolanda had bought tickets to the Diana Krall concert. I have been an avid fan of Diana Krall for many years and she certainly didn’t disappoint, belting out many of her favourites to a full house of Spanish admirers. Barcelona is one of the most exciting cities in Europe, with an amazing bar scene, and one of the most colourful food markets in Europe. We capped off the last day in Barcelona at a waterfront restaurant on the pier enjoying a gaint paella and glasses of sangria. What a treat and what a surprise – this was one of the best weekends of 2012.

The idyllic setting at La Manoir

The idyllic setting at Le Manoir in Oxfordshire

To top off my visit to London, Yolanda and I decided to catch the train to Oxford to have lunch at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons at Le Manoir – Raymond Blanc’s 2 Michelin star restaurant. Lunch was followed by drinks around the fire and a tour of the mansion and their famous cooking school. Created by celebrated chef Raymond Blanc, Le Manoir is renowned for delivering one of Britain’s finest gastronomic experiences. Set among lawns and orchards decorated with sculptures, the luxury hotel boasts an idyllic, typically English setting with vegetable and herb gardens that are used by both the kitchen and its acclaimed Cookery School, where we were invited after lunch. This was one experience I will never forget and will definitely be on my itinerary when I go back to the UK.

Enjoying La Manoir

Enjoying La Manoir

Another restaurant that should definitely be on anyone’s visit to London is Roux at Landau, where Michelin-star chefs Albert and Michel Roux bring the legendary Roux gastronomic excellence to The Langham Hotel.  The menu is a brilliant combination of classically-constructed French dishes, as well as traditional British favourites. A highlight of the meal was a beautiful dish of citrus cured organic salmon with crème fraiche, beetroot and caviar.

A couple of bike rides around Kensington Gardens, food shopping at Portebello Markets  and a couple of musicals just added to the  enjoyment of the trip.

Loved London but after a few weeks of grey skies and temperatures, I was pleased to return to warm weather and blue skies, but what a wonderful holiday or could I call it a business trip? Maybe not… I think I had too much fun.

Maureen

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Filed under International, London, London and Barcelona trip, Uncategorized

de Groots Media goes international… first stop, London

What a great decision it was to take some time off from de Groots headquarters in Sydney and fly to London to see Yolanda, who has been living here for the past year, setting up the company’s UK venture. Sydney was picture perfect when I flew out, all summer sunshine and blue skies. London has turned out to be its dreary self – grey clouds hang low and dense like a bunker, the sun disappears by 4.00 in the afternoon and a constant veil of rain obscures our vision. But I don’t regret the city swap for a moment.

A dreary yet beautiful welcome to London

Yolanda has set up an office in Lancaster Gate – not a bad address for the new office – across from Hyde Park and within walking distance to Mayfair. We have had a number of business meetings to discuss our exciting new venture, in between riding bikes in Hyde Park, spending an afternoon at the Christmas Markets at Embankment, window shopping in Mayfair and Bond Street and sitting in London pubs enjoying a glass of wine. We also shopped till we dropped at Portobello Markets and Covent Garden before a well-deserved brunch at Bill Granger’s restaurant in Notting Hill, Granger & Co.

Yolanda’s London life – at Roux at The Laudau – Langham Hotel

The highlight of my stay would certainly be today’s lunch at The Ledbury in Notting Hill, one of London’s leading restaurants. It was opened in 2005 by one of Australia’s best exports, the young Brett Graham. The boy who started his career in a simple fish shop in Newcastle has built such a reputation for his restaurant that it now bears two Michelin Stars to its name. Brett blazed a trail to London via a stint working under Liam Tomlin at Sydney’s highly acclaimed Banc restaurant, where he won the Josphine Pignolet Award. This recognition is one of many he has amassed, but possibly the most influential, as it granted Brett a trip to the UK, where he secured a job at The Square under Chef Phillip Howard.

Chef Brett Graham is one of Australia’s hottest exports

Needless to say, The Ledbury is busy every day and evening, so Yolanda and I were very lucky to get a table when we visited and delighted when the restaurant manager invited us down to the kitchen to meet Brett.

Yolanda and Maureen, the dynamic mother-and-daughter duo behind de Groots Media.

I have been looking forward to next week, when we will get down to business and discuss our UK plans, but Yolanda had another surprise in store for me before we get too engrossed in official business. She has booked a weekend in Barcelona so we are off to Spain tomorrow. I guess we will have to make time over tapas and wine or whilst walking through the Gaudi to discuss business – or maybe I’ll just have to extend my stay here, it seems the office is running perfectly fine without me.

Maureen de Groot

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