Saturday, 23 July 2011

Sketches from a cigar smoker’s album: The Villiger Appendix

Whilst listening to Joe Walsh's fantastic album 'life's been good' I was struck by how rare such a glorious day is in England and how spoilt we have been over the last week by the fantastic weather. True I have spent the majority of it stuck behind a desk in the office, but that makes these moments, out in the sun with a pint and a villiger maduro all the more special. 

As such, let me turn to the cigar, a lesser known format of the ever reliable Villiger stable, the maduro. To be honest there is little difference between this and the grosseformat pressed variety (readily available from any good newsagent or supermarket) but the maduro is satisfyingly heavier and can certainly match richer drinks for a great, short, affordable smoke. 

It has a slighty bitter aftertaste which betrays they lesser quality tobacco that has been used in the blend compared to a fine cuban or high end cigar from another producing nationn but for the price it is hard to complain. 

Their longevity is also a prime reason for choosing these, unlike their cheaper behind the counter comparisons. Rather than burning up in a matter of minutes they maintain a steady ember and if you don't drag it down like the marlboro man after a smokeless month in the desert you can spin one out to 20 minutes. This is far more agreeable at social gatherings than puffing away on a corona in the garden for up to and hour if not more.

The price ranges comfortably between the £8.00-£10.00 mark depending on where you shop. I will say that these cigars give you real bang for your buck and are worth checking our if you want to have a noncommittal smoke but don't want to settle for the cheap and shorter lived alternatives.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Cordon du Chap: Sapori Cafe

Sapori Cafe
60 Horseferry Road
London SW1P 2AF

Cordon du Chap (out of a possible five): ❁❁❁❁❁

I would describe the Horseferry Road  and the area that surrounds it as a bit of a no man's land. Sandwiched between Westminster, Victoria and Pimlico it acts as meeting point where awkwardly placed political workers look for something to satisfy their appetites at lunchtime. 

Working but a stones throw away on Albert Embankment I often find myself on this stretch of concrete and tarmac pondering that daily conundrum of what to satiate my appetite with. Truth be told, having worked in this area for the last three years for different organisations I know the road and the surrounding area like the back of my hand, and I often curse the fact that I have sampled everything that this thoroughfare has to offer from the greasy spoon served at the iconic Regency Cafe, The Har Gau dumplings at firecracker chinese and the steak and kidney pie at the Tory Party favourite Shepherd's. You name it, I have been there!

However there is one establishment that I feel deserves a special mention as it is somewhere that I consistently return to. Sapori looks like another Italian cafe, of which there are a number in this part of town and judging by the first counter you would be right. Insalata Tricolore and salami sandwiched between Ciabatta is what would greet the untrained eye. However, beyond this sits a majestic array of hot roasted meats, potatoes and vegetables all looking moist and succulent as they entice the potential customer. Whilst the pork is always good, the beef rare and the turkey well….turkey, the best thing you can get  - and they have it seldom - is the roasted lamb. Sandwiched between a soft bap with salad, mayo and mustard it is one of those sandwiches I would walk a mile for. The juices of the hot lamb ooze into the bread making the most delicious savoury blend of meat juices, mayonnaise and butter!

But this is not all, if you like you can have the meat with a side of potatoes and vegetables and even sit down to eat in the cafe which thankfully is also fully licensed. As such it is a great place to meat with friends, former work colleagues and business acquaintances for lunch. In addition to the fine roasted meats there are two different pasta dishes (with an emphasis on orecchiette  and trofie) always on show, lasagne and something else (which can range from an adequate paella to the most delicious meatballs and rice I have ever had). 

I often go their for a takeaway lunch, sometimes to sit down (if you go for the latter they do a number of made to order pasta dishes) and every time there is something new to try. The portions are substantial and what makes it even better they throw in an extra piece of fruit to sweeten the deal! 

I don't know how many of my readers work in the Horseferry Road vicinity but I would thoroughly recommend Sapori to anyone who wants something wholesome and hearty to line their stomach before the rigours of the afternoon's work.