Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Wines for gifts

A bottle of wine can make an excellent gift, but choosing something for the connoisseur can be difficult. So here are some unusual ones that you may like to put on your shopping list as well as a favourite that anybody who knows about champagne will find hard to resist.  

Pol Roger Réserve, Brut, £39.95 per bottle or £191.76 for a case of 6 (£31.96 per bottle) Berry Bros. & Rudd (
Reputed to have been Winston Churchill’s favourite fizz, this stylish, well-balanced champagne, still produced by descendants of the house’s founder, is worth every penny. Pale gold in colour, with a steam of delicate bubbles, this classic Grande Marque tantalises the taste buds with gorgeous fruity tangs. A real treat that exudes class.

Rara Neagră, 2011, Purcari, Purcari Estate, Moldova, £11.95,
This is a superb velvety, dry red loaded with red fruits given a twist of spice. Made with indigenous Rara Neagră grapes, it slips down so easily that it is sure to please.

Grüner Veltliner, 2012, Hohenberg, Josef Ehmoser, Wagram, Austria, £16.50
Made from Austria’s signature white grape, this zingy, yet refined medium-bodied dry white is fresh and bursting with flavours of  juicy citrus and a slight hint of pepper. Those that like crisp white wines without oak will enjoy this number.

Moscato d'Asti, Canelli, Cerutti, Cassinasco, Piedmont, Italy £12.95,
Ideal for those who only like a little alcohol (it only contains 5 per cent), this delicious, frothy and sweet Italian number is the perfect way to end a meal.

By Daralyn Danns

Monday, 15 December 2014

Spotlight on L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner

Having tested so many hair products over the years, I am always sceptical about new products that claim to give you “the hair of your dreams”. 

However even though that shampoos and conditioners won’t change the texture of my hair, I am always excited to try something new just in case that it really can improve the look and feel of my tresses making them shiny and sleek, without too much styling, when I wash them.

So having to cope with particularly frizzy hair due to the recent humid conditions, I have to admit being lured to try the recently launched L’Oréal Paris Elvive Extraordinary Oil Nourishing Shampoo for very dry dull rebellious hair (£2.89, Boots) and conditioner for dry to very dry hair (£3.99, Boots).

I liked the scent which always helps. A cocktail of six mirco flower oils, this shampoo nourishes while cleaning, leaving me with super soft hair. 

According to L’Oréal Paris, most shampoos contain surfactants which cleanse the hair, but as they are negatively charged can also strip the hair of its natural oils.

Both of the new shampoos (there is also one for dry and fine hair), the company says, contain positively charged polymers that cling to the driest parts of the hair which are negatively charged. In short, it helps smooth down the rough scales. 

Fascinating stuff, but does it make a difference? Well, my mane wasn’t weighed down and it did feel lovely and smooth. I did add a few drops of hair oil to the conditioner which I applied to the mid-lengths and ends.

If you have dry over-processed hair that is difficult to keep smooth, give this range a whirl.

By Daralyn Danns 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Cocktails at St James Bar, The Sofitel London St James

Wearing a little black number – Coco Chanel was said to have revered black – and accessorised with squirt of Chanel N°5, I felt elegant. Absolutely fitting for sipping my cocktail named after the great lady herself at what must be one of London’s most sophisticated venues, the St James Bar at the five-star hotel Sofitel London St James.

Modelled on Coco Chanel’s 1920s Paris apartment, this warm and intimate bar permeates the essence of French chic. A melange of Shagreen and Kinon topped tables and French antique furniture is given a contemporary twist with the addition of modern prints. 

Decked out so tastefully, this sliver of France in London makes you feel as if you have gone somewhere incredibly special. It is totally relaxing whether you are on a romantic date or simply there with a friend or even on your own. The service is exceptional and our waiter was extremely knowledgeable.  

St James Bar 

The innovative cocktail menu will have you salivating. Based mainly on icons from the 20th century including one of our greats Sir Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway the cocktails conjure up the spirit  and represent  elements of the lives of these legendary characters with their name, aromas and flavours and, of course, presentation. Elizabeth ll is also honoured with Sa Majesté which, if like our Queen, you share her love of gin and Dubonnet, and you will be seduced.

Cognac and Pernod, reputed to be the tipples of France’s treasured chanteuse Edith Piaf, form the basis of La Môme. This black-coloured cocktail, which depicts the simple black she wore in her shows, is decorated with a rose petal, a nod to the legendary song La Vie en Rose. This is extremely drinkable and slips down perhaps a bit too easily according to my companion.

A devotee of fizz, the complex character of Marilyn Monroe is epitomised with a champagne-based concoction that even has apple velouté to mimic the exact green shade of her favourite Emilio Pucci frock. Adding the finishing touch is trio of red rose petals, a nod to the roses that Joe DiMaggio, her former husband, brought to her grave for 20 years after her death. The Blonde Bombshell certainly lives up to its name.

Madame Bonheur

From Frank Sinatra who was honoured by in the form of the Sultan of Swing to Sir Winston Churchill’s aptly named drink, the British Bulldog, it really was a quandary what to choose from the eight specialities, although I tend to stay away from those with whisky and gin and opt for drinks such as the Miss Mistinguett.

Paying homage to the French actress and singer Mistinguett, (née Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois), a regular on the stage of the Moulin Rouge in the 1920s,  this delightful mix of Leblon Cachaca, St Germain, Cointreau with a dash of lemon juice and gomme syrup topped with a lemon froth conjures up the spirit of this lady.

Being a fan of Coco Chanel’s style, I had to plump for the Madame Bonheur. Champagne is spiced up with St Germain Elderberry liqueur, Kummel along with a special cordial created by the bar team to replica the main ingredients of Chanel N°5. Served in smart black flutes, I’m sure, like me, the great lady would have been duly impressed with this unusual and pleasing concoction being served in such a wonderful ambience.

By Daralyn Danns

For more information about the St James Bar at the Sofitel London St James visit