Lunch at Duck & Waffle

If there’s one restaurant you don’t need me to review AGAIN is Duck & Waffle. After all, I have already written about it three times: my first visit for breakfast on my birthday, Sunday brunch with my parents and a special visit to taste their dosant last summer. But I cannot refrain myself from sharing photos of the lunch I had this week when I was invited to celebrate Duck & Waffle’s 2nd anniversary.

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Congratulations to Duck & Waffle for two successful years in the business and for consistently offering fantastic food, drinks and service.

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I had lunch there on Wednesday with my Twitter friends Tim @Clerkenwell_Boy, Chris @AllThingsMeaty and Nuvola @afoodfairy. We shared quite a few different dishes as you will see: old favourites and new menu additions.

We started with bbq-spiced crispy pig ears (served in a paper bag) and oysters, sea trout gribiche and scotch bhadji.

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The Anglo-indian dish (scotch egg meets onion bhadji) served with cauliflower, lime pickle and caramelised onion yogurt was delicious and representative of what Duck & Waffle offers: classic dishes revisited with original flavour combinations.

Duck & Waffle makes bread so well that they have a section of the menu dedicated to it. We loved the spicy ‘nduja and gruyère bread.

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We continued the lunch with the delicious bacon wrapped dates (as Chris said, you could just keep eating these all day), the baked beetroot with goat’s curd, roasted octopus with chorizo and foie gras crème brûlée.

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Are you still with me? Our lunch was not over yet, actually my favourite dishes were still yet to come.

The star of the lunch was obviously the restaurant’s signature dish duck and waffleduck leg and duck egg on a waffle with maple syrup. It’s spectacular!

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If that wasn’t enough to impress us, the puddings really stole the show: pistachio & dark chocolate macaroon sandwich; vanilla baked alaska with mulled pears (I had never eaten baked alaska it before but Nuvola said this was the best she ever had); torrejas with maple caramel apples and cinnamon ice cream. If you have never tasted this dessert, I urge you to go to Duck & Waffle asap and order one.

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The restaurant was also celebrating the release of the book “Duck & Waffle: Recipes and stories” by Head Chef Daniel Doherty. It’s a beautiful cookbook with stunning photos and recipes of Duck & Waffle’s famous dishes (and many more)! Signed copies are available to buy from the restaurant.

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I have said this before: if you live in London and haven’t been to Duck & Waffle yet, book a table now and just go. The ride up to the 40th floor is worth the trip alone, but you will get much more than that. You will thank me for it!

Duck & Waffle on Urbanspoon

“Be The Barista” with Selfridges London

Specialty coffee shops are taking over London and all over the world many cities are ridong the same wave. The UK media are catching up too, so what was a niche trend now is turning into a global phenomenon.

One thing is clear: being a coffee connoisseur is a trend, Britain is now a nation of coffee drinkers, customers are better educated about coffee and more people want to learn how to brew the perfect cup at home!

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

For years I have used the same supermarket coffee blend and a Bialetti stove pot. Nowadays I like to have multiple coffee choices: from freshly roasted specialty espresso blends to single origin coffees; from espressos to filters.

My husband is even more of a coffee geek than I am, so between the two of us we now have a range of brewing devices at home: a stove pot, an aeropress, the Hario v60 and a chemex (and the Hario Buono Drip Kettle).

The latest addition to our coffee makers’ collection is the ROK espresso maker.

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

The ROK is “a finely engineered gearing that lowers the piston to generate the pressure to extract the coffee oils to create the perfect espresso”. It’s a simple machine that works without electricity: just the power of your arms!

I received a ROK espresso maker from Selfridges London as part of their campaign Be The Barista and for the past week my husband has been experimenting with it. I just let him practice with the ROK, while I’m enjoy having my breakfast coffee served to me every morning! I hope this new routine lasts! ;)

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

 

“The Selfridges campaign celebrates the art of specialty coffee, and being able to create coffee shop quality at home. From artisanal coffee masterclasses and demonstrations of essential coffee-making equipment and accessories to amazing bean-to-cup coffee machines, discover a world dedicated to coffee.”

 

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

Making the perfect espresso with the ROK requires practice, so allow some time to master the machine. There are also many other variables to a good coffee: the quality of the beans, the freshness of the roast, the coffee grounds, the right water temperature and brewing time.

For the ROK machine you need coffee grounds suitable for espresso (not too coarse or the water will pass through too easily, not too fine or it will be very hard to push the arms down). I usually buy fresh roasted coffee online at Pact Coffee, a London-based roasters and monthly subscription service*.

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

Fill the ROK cylinder with hot water, lift the handles and then push them downwards in a firm, smooth motion. Hold them down until all the water has been extracted (this should take between 20 and 30 seconds). Your double espresso is ready!

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London

Making good coffee at home is a priority for us and the day cannot start without it!

Whether it’s an espresso or a milk-based coffee drink, we can use the ROK to make a good coffee. As I said, it requires a bit of practice and it’s not as straight-forward as using a stove pot, but I’m confident we will master it soon and learn how to create a good espresso crema!

"Be The Barista" with Selfridges London
As part of the Be The Barista campaign, Selfridges have partnered with Origin Coffee Roasters to hold weekly coffee masterclasses in their store, in the “Cookshop” area on the lower ground. You can buy tickets online or in store.

Disclaimer: I received from Selfridges a complimentary ROK machine. All opinions are my own.

*If you live in the UK and want to try Pact Coffee, you can buy your first bag for only £1 using the code GIULIA-3DB5SG. Full disclosure: I paid for the coffee and this is not a sponsored post for Pact, but if three friends use this discount code I will get a limited edition t-shirt. You can get it too, if you introduce three friends to Pact Coffee.

A Cocktail Masterclass at Kettner’s

This post is about a cocktail masterclass my husband and I were invited to attend at Kettner's last month. And also about how we won a prize for creating the best cocktail of the evening! Let me explain…

My triumphant husband Sandy with all the competition cocktails

My triumphant husband Sandy with all the competition cocktails

The event was organized by Surgery PR to promote Kettner's, an all day brasserie and cocktail bar located in a Grade II listed building in Soho.

Originally a series of four Georgian town houses, Kettner’s was first opened as a restaurant by Auguste Kettner, (chef to Napoleon III) in 1867. Popular with deliciously colourful characters of the time including Oscar Wilde, Edward VII, Lillie Langtry, Agatha Christie and Bing Crosby, Kettner’s was renowned for hosting incredibly risqué parties.

Official Website

The masterclass was conducted by Kettner's bar manager Jason Palmer, a charismatic and skillful mixologist. During the class we learnt how to create four classic cocktails: Old Fashioned, Mojito, Martini and Porn Star Martini.

Jason gave us a demonstration of how to prepare the different cocktails, but he also explaining the history of each one of them, with fun anecdotes that kept our attention up.

The Old Fashioned was the most complicated cocktail, as it required 9-10 minutes to make. This time is necessary to let the brown sugar completely dissolve in the drink. You can cheat by soaking the sugar cube in angostura and orange bitters, hence cutting a few minutes off the preparation time.

Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.

Garnish: orange peel twist & cherry. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.

The Mojito is one of the world's most popular cocktail, but to get it right you need to balance its flavours correctly: the strong liquor and the sweet, sour, bitter and herbaceous notes. That's why it's the best cocktail to judge how good a barman is: the art of mixology is about balance!

Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.
Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.
Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.
Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.

Garnish: mint sprig behind straws. Glass: highball. Ice: crushed.

There are a number of techniques for making Martini (shaken, stirred, thrown) and variations on the traditional recipe. When you order one at a bar, you should be asked to choose the spirit, the vermouth and the garnish.

Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.
Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.
Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.
Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.
Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.

Garnish: citrus twist, olives. Glass: martini. Ice: none.

The Porn Star Martini is a relatively recent creation, a decadent mix of passion fruit and vodka served in a chilled glass with a shot of champagne on the side. It's a Soho cocktail classic, invented around the corner from Kettner's in honour of Paul Raymond, "The King of Soho".

Garnish: passion fruit boat. Glass: coupette / martini & shot. Ice: none.
Garnish: passion fruit boat. Glass: coupette / martini & shot. Ice: none.
Garnish: passion fruit boat. Glass: coupette / martini & shot. Ice: none.

Garnish: passion fruit boat. Glass: coupette / martini & shot. Ice: none.

At the end of the masterclass, each guests was asked to create its very own cocktail which was then rated out of 10 by a judges' panel. And as you already know, we won the first prize: a gin distillery kit!

I take the merit for the cocktail presentation, but the recipe was created and executed entirely by my husband Sandy. He used our favourite cocktail ingredient, elderflower cordial, and built the drink around it. We named it the Sunflower!

It was delicious and I can't wait for Sandy to prepare one for me again!

Garnish: orange twist. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange twist. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.
Garnish: orange twist. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.

Garnish: orange twist. Glass: old fashioned. Ice: cubed.

If you are curious, here's the recipe:

  • 50ml Elderflower Cordial
  • 5ml Orange bitter
  • 75ml Vodka
  • 3 to 5 Lemon/Lime drops
  • 1/2 Passion fruit
  • 10ml Vanilla Syrup
  • a splash of lime juice

Thanks a lot to James and his assistant for the lesson and the invaluable tips we learnt during the masterclass!

A Cocktail Masterclass at Kettner's

Disclaimer: we were guests of Surgery PR and Kettner's. All opinions are my own.

Kettner's on Urbanspoon

WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common

When I heard that the team behind my favourite local coffee shop, Brickwood Coffee & Bread, was going to open a wine bar in Clapham Common I was obviously very curious. And that was before I knew that the bar was located in a 100 year old former public convenience underneath Clapham Common tube station!

WC Wine & Charcuterie opened a few weeks ago and it has already changed the look of the Clapham Common crossroad, thanks to the outdoor seating space behind the station's exit. It's a welcome addition to the area!

WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common

I went down to WC last week with fellow Claphamite Jacintha, editor of the lifestyle and photography blog Urban Pixxels.

We ordered a glass of Italian white wine from the ever-changing wine list and a cheese & charcuterie board to share. The waiter presented the food to us in great detail, with information about the provenance of the different cheeses and cured meats (mostly sourced from British suppliers). We wiped the board clean, except for the Roquefort which sadly we both left, not being fans of blue cheese…

We had a lovely time and I really enjoyed sitting outdoors having an aperitivo, it all felt so Italian! Prices unfortunately are not very Italian at all: I would have liked to try the Aperol Spritz, but at £9 a glass I thought it felt a bit over-priced.

Anyway, this is London and WC is in a prime location, so I was happy to pay the price for a nice evening out.

WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common

The amazing part obviously is the bar downstairs, which the owners worked on for two years to clean, restore and bring back to life as a charming wine bar. Everything that could be saved from the previous incarnation of public toilet has been kept there, from the wall tiles to the sky windows located at street level. Thanks to these sources of natural light WC is not as cavernous and dark as you might expect. It's also not too small either, in fact it apparently can sit up to 40 people.

The bar is nicely decorated with quirky beer tabs and cured meats hanging from the top railings. I was pretty impressed by it and I can certainly imagine myself spending many winter evenings down there with a glass of wine in my hand! I'm looking forward to it actually!

WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common
WC Wine & Charcuterie in Clapham Common

WC, The Pavement, Clapham Common, Clapham, SW4 7AA. Open seven days a week from 6pm til late Mon-Fri and from 12pm til late on Sat-Sun.

Wc - Wine & Charcuterie on Urbanspoon

Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station

Riverside Feast is the latest street food event launched by Street Feast for summer 2014. It's a bit smaller than its big brother #DalstonYard, but #RiversideFeast can pride itself of the most stunning location: on the bank of the river Thames with views of Chelsea and Albert bridges and the backdrop of the Battersea Power Station.

Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station

The rotating line-up of food traders includes some of the best in London, like Dip & Flip, Hotbox BBQ, Dogtown, The Orange Buffalo, Hanoi Kitchen and Le Bun.

The only drawback is that there weren't as many vegetarian options as meat ones on the night we went. I'd love to see Dip & Flip selling their rosti burger for example, as they do a great one at their restaurant in Battersea. Even though I eat all kinds of meat, I often prefer veggie burgers to the beef ones!

Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station

Riverside Feast is a beautiful place to spend a summer evening and watch the sun go down. It's the last chance you have to visit the Battersea Park before the site closes down after the summer, so don't miss it!

Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station
Riverside Feast at Battersea Power Station

Riverside Feast is open four days Thu-Sun, but the park is open every day of the week as part of #ThePowerOfSummer. Check out the Street Feast website for opening times and prices.

The Café at Hotel Café Royal

The Hotel Café Royal is a luxury hotel located in a Grade I listed building on Regent Street, in the heart of central London. Originally a restaurant and meeting place, Café Royal closed down in 2008 but later re-opened in 2012 as a 5-star hotel.

The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal

Paying homage to the history of the building, grand historic areas have been sensitively restored and a selection of restaurants, bars and events spaces are a tribute to the rich heritage of excellent hospitality and dining.

Official Website

From Regent Street you can step directly into The Café, a glamorous space with floor and walls made from golden Sienna marble. On the right side you will find the coffee bar, but your attention will be stolen by the cake counter in front of you. Beautiful cakes, pastries and colourful macarons are created fresh everyday by Hotel Café Royal's executive pastry chef, Andrew Blas.

The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal

The café celebrates the European tradition of historic coffee houses with its opulent decorations, and it's the perfect spot to escape the hustle of central London and fuel up with a coffee and slice of cake.

The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal

Last week I was invited to The Café at Hotel Café Royal to try their coffee and cake offering and of course I jumped at the chance to see this beautiful place.

I managed to squeeze in a quick visit during my lunch break and my brother and his girlfriend Mia also joined me there.

The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal

I loved the Red Velvet mini-cake, shaped like a bundt cake with sugar glaze (in lieu of the traditional buttercream frosting) and chocolate shavings.

The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal

Mia ordered the Black Forest Gateaux which was spectacular: a fresh cake for a hot summer day, it had a good balance of crunchy chocolate, cream and cherry flavours.

The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal
The Café at Hotel Café Royal

The cappuccino was also great, the milk had a good texture and was served at the right temperature (beware when the milk is so hot that it burns your tongue).

The Café at Hotel Café Royal

Overall I really enjoyed my visit to The Café at Hotel Café Royal and I am sure I will be back again, most likely with my parents: my mum would absolutely love the place and my dad would go crazy for the cakes! :)

This summer The Café at Hotel Café Royal are offering an amazing promotion for all coffee lovers: buy any takeaway cake worth £5 or more and receive a complimentary coffee. Available daily from 8am to 10pm until 30 September 2014.

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

This is the summer to celebrate all things Brazil and, even though England and Italy are out of the World Cup, there's no reason to stop me from joining the celebrations!

Last week I was invited by Tilda to a Brazilian Supperclub cooked by 2010 MasterChef winner Dhruv Baker with Hot and Chilli blogger Rosana McPhee. The dinner was hosted at the beautiful Islington home of Luiz Hara, aka The London Foodie.

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

It was a balmy summer evening, so before dinner I chatted with the other guests in the garden, drinking Brazil's signature cocktail Caipirinha and eating canapés: bolinho de arroz (rice fritters), coração de galinha,(chicken heart bbq sticks), empadinha (mini pies with palm heart filling) and pao de queijo (baked Brazilian cheese bread).

I was too squeamish to try the chicken hearts, but I loved all the other canapés, especially the cheese bread which was piping hot and so delicious!

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

The dinner tables were beautifully set with mix-matched vintage crockery and a Brazilian "Wish Bracelet" (Fitas do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia) of different colours on every plate. Rosana explained that the bracelet is given by a friend and it needs to be tied up around your wrist by another friend. So the gift was from Rosana, while Luiz walked around the table to tie the bracelets around our wrists.

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

As a starter we had Feijoada - mini bowls of black bean stew, Portuguese sausages calabresa and paio, sundried meat, smoked ribs and bacon. Dhruv prepared the dish using the Tilda Limited Edition Brazilian Samba Rice (cooked with shredded greens, orange and toasted with cassava flour) which is available in stores now and until November.

There is something very comforting about a bowl of rice and beans, it's a simple and hearty dish that that I would love to recreate at home.

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

After the starter we were served two main courses. The first one was Moqueca, a white fish stew from the region of Bahia cooked in coconut milk, tomato, onion, coriander, annatto and palm oil.

It was served with Pirao de Peixe, a traditional accompaniment to this type of stew, made with fish, onions, herbs and broth thickened with cassava flour.

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

Before dinner Dhruv was in the back garden barbecuing rump cap of beef on the grill. This is a cut of beef that is very popular in Brazil where it is called Picanha.

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

So the star of the night at the Brazilian Supperclub was Picanha with pimenta de bico, manteiga de garrafa which is beef roasted under a blanket of rock salt, served with Brazilian chilli pepper and drizzled with clarified butter and roasted garlic bulbs.

It's a great cut of meat and I liked how it was cooked medium rear and served with the chilli and garlic.

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

The side dishes complemented the grilled meat perfectly: juicy tomatoes with palm heart and red onions; sautée cassava and fried plantain. I had never eaten cassava before, but it's so good! I must try to cook it at home.

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

To finish this fantastic dinner, we were served a trio of Brazilian desserts: Caju sorbet (cashew fruit sorbet), Brigadeiro de copo (a Brazilian sweet made with chocolate and condensed milk) and my favourite Quindim (egg yolks and coconut tart). I have tried Quindim before and it's a great recipe to make when you have a lot of egg yolks left over from making meringue or macarons!

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

And after all the food and bubbly, I couldn't say no to a Brazilian espresso!

Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda
Brazilian Supperclub with Dhruv Baker and Tilda

Brazil was already at the top of my dream travel list, but now I'm itching even more to visit this country and taste all this amazing food again!

Thank you very much to Rosana, Dhruv, Luiz and the Tilda team for inviting me to such a nice dinner and introducing me to Brazilian cuisine!

Disclaimer: I was invited to dinner at the supperclub. All opinions are my own.