Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ravioli Role Reversal

It's rare that a ravioli takes me by such surprise. It's even more rare when it takes place at a British gastropub. This was the case of the Tomato Basil Ravioli served at the Village Pub in Barnsely -- a picturesque village in the Cotswolds.

The homemade ravioli are unassuming in appearance: delicate pouches glisten with a thin coating of parmesean cream sauce, monochrome and rather "vanilla" in presentation. But upon first bite, the pouch explodes with an intense tomato basil flavor. It's the inverse of what you'd expect, with a small but potent amount of "sauce" in the filling. I found it outstanding.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hildon: Water of Choice

They ship it in by the palette at the French Laundry in Yountville, CA. It's the staple "fizzy or flat" at Barnsley House and Village Pub in the Cotswolds. Lately, I've been seeing Hildon's regal blue label pop up in all the right places.

One could say that Hildon English Mineral Water tops the fine dining and hospitality industry, as far as bottled waters go.

I have yet to see it on the shelves in the states, but my Brit pals found my fascination with the high-class water positively dull. "I dunno, it's been around for years," one friend told me. To me, even the incidentals are interesting.

At first the allure is definitely in the design of the glass bottle and the label. Clean lines, elegant type and a golden crest smack of royal officialdom or some kind of sanctioned purity. Then the quality comes through in the taste and feel of the water. You can actually detect a difference. Needless to say, I bought Hildon hook, line and sinker.