About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Hakkasan - London

Hakkasan is a high-class Oriental fusion restaurant in the West End of London. The entrance to the restaurant is at the end of the alleyway on Hanway Place just off the end of Oxford Street - almost a secret location, as it was an underground car-park in a previous life. Going down the stairs into the dark interior makes for a very mysterious first impression.
As you enter you are greeted by large bunches of orchids and the rich colours of purple, orange and red - the interior was designed by the French designer Christian Liaigre - who has fused distinctly modern aesthetic with traditional Chinese motifs. The restaurant was created by Alan Yau in 2001, who is behind the Wagamama Japanese restaurant also in London. The restaurant gained a Michelin star rating in 2003 - one of the few Chinese restaurants in the world to do so. Hakkasan is regularly ranked as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the world, and also rated in the top five London restaurants.


The restaurant is oozing with the kind of sex appeal that ‘makes you feel alive’. Yes, the kitchen has a Michelin star, but diners flock here for more than exquisite, modern and authentic Cantonese cuisine. As much about fashion as gastronomy, the sophisticated subterranean restaurant and bar is flooded with a nightclub vibe that is enhanced by the moody azure lighting that is best suited to night-time, or as we were enjoying a lunch - it keep us energised as we enjoyed our dishes.
We dined on dim sum (steamed king crab noodle wrap, crispy smoked duck) - plus there are equally thrilling dishes from the carte. Jasmine tea-smoked pork ribs have a sweet, subtle smokiness, while delicately roasted fish in a syrupy of Champagne & Chinese honey sauce is a sensual and visual delight. Even the desserts are exquisite - also I suggest that you enjoy a lychee martini at the impressive long - very, very long bar (did I mention it was long).
We were hosted by the head sommelier and the restaurant wine buyer Christine Parkinson - who has created an innovative, food-focused gem of a wine-list. Christine as we found puts wines through a rigorous tasting process and if listed - they will appear under quirky headings such as ‘Harmony’ or ‘Curious Vines’ - which could easily be confusing but all becomes clear with the very knowledgeable staff, who can carefully assist you in matching with each dish.
Even though I had to leave my hosts early to catch a flight - I would rate my first Hakkasan visit as a near perfect experience. The restaurant seems to have a flawlessly table booking system - which is needed to manage the high demand from local and international dinners - I recommend you book 4-6 weeks in advance if you are visiting London. The restaurant has pre-stated dining time slots, though we were allowed to roll-over ours. A must do dining experience in the world.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Providores - London

The Providores Restaurant & Tapas Bar is located in the heart of the 'Marylebone Village' - London. It opened its doors on 20th August 2001, to rave reviews - that have continued to this day. The first floor restaurant provides an innovative and inspired dining experience in a comfortable and relaxed environment - or choice a casual breakfast, brunch or lunch in the Bohemian ground-floor Tapas Room with a good choice of international wines to match - (no bookings required for the Tapas bar).
The Providores is run on a day to day basis by co-owners Peter Gordon and Michael McGrath - (Jeremy Leeming and Anna Hansen founding partners have moved on to other projects). Peter and Michael have combined their individual skills to create a unique dining experience. The union of an award winning, fine dining restaurant, and an all-day wine bar / cafe, offering one of the best breakfasts in London, and serving some of the UK’s best coffee. The ever changing menus are driven by creativity, innovation and the use of prime local UK produce and from abroad.


The constantly evolving wine list, offers Britain’s largest selection of premium New Zealand wines (Brookfields Wines included) - which was a good reason for Peter Robertson owner/winemaker of Brookfields, plus our trusted wine companion Haggie and the UK distributor of Brookfields - Jamie Morrison and myself to dine at Providores. The service on this occasion was some of the friendliest and most informed in London - with a relaxed and professional manor at all times.
Peter and Michael work full time in the restaurant supported by a wonderful team, who alongside Peter maintain the restaurant’s high culinary standards as well as developing tasty new dishes. All the well trained and passionate staff, work closely with Michael to ensure everyone enjoys the very best dining experience.
The Providores is a bench mark for creative and quality fusion cuisine. A gastronomic dictionary might help make sense of some of the obscure ingredients employed to such pleasing results, though please don’t feel overwhelmed - virtually everything Kiwi chef Peter Gordon creates is a triumph of taste & texture. Everything that we ordered didn’t disappoint - a combination of curiosity and skilful guidance from our wonderful waiters. The choice and selection of New Zealand wines suits the food perfectly, & though such innovation can stretch even the finest examples of wines - Peter and Michael understand both sides of the flavour equation perfectly.
The four of us had a wonderful dining experience – and all felt proud and confident that Brookfields (and all the NZ wines on the wine-list) would match the creative cuisine and the high expectations of diners from London and abroad. Providores is one of London’s and the world’s best restaurants.

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Cinnamon Club - London

Hosted by Jamie Morrison (one of the founding partners) - I had the pleasure to share in a unique dining experience that challenges all known thinking of flavours with European cuisine infused with techniques from the East - or India to be precise.
The Cinnamon Club (Restaurant & Bars) in the heart of Westminster offers a rare experience for all of your senses. Set in the historic Grade II listed former Westminster Library, and refurbished to a high standard, the restaurant presents frequently evolving menus and a carefully matched wine list - all designed to reflect the philosophy of innovation and creativity of the cuisine.
Brookfields wines from Hawke’s Bay can be found on the wine list - as we had the official UK distribution launch of Brookfields Vineyards here with; Peter Robertson, special guests and wine writers.


Just a short walk from some of London's most famous and well-known landmarks including; Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, the Old Westminster Library (first opened in 1893) was carefully converted into The Cinnamon Club in 2001.
The Cinnamon Club goes beyond authenticity - challenging the belief that creative Indian cuisine can only be created using age old recipes and traditions. Vivek Singh (executive chef) believes that Indian food should constantly evolve and adapt. Vivek creates dishes combining Indian ingredients with local produce and Indian cooking techniques with European guidelines which produce a distinctive layering of flavours & dishes strong on texture and a visual delight. The kitchen provides inspiring dishes from breakfast right through to a six-course tasting menu.
Our lunch was not exactly off the menu on this occasion - but a selection of past favourites, current menu dishes and even a few experimental ideas - my expectations of cuisine have now been raised to a new level.
This award-winning restaurant at The Cinnamon Club has become an institution amongst the locals of Westminster, Londoners and international dinners alike. If in London - I encourage you to do all that you can to book a table - plus enjoy a truly original cocktail made with some of the finest ingredients or try and match a wine with your chosen dishes, from their extensive international wine-list.