a horse in a vineyard
a horse in a vineyard
Cristal is the champagne of champagnes, and the new vintage is both brilliant and biodynamic. Give yourself a home-made health cure by buying and sampling, says Darius Sanai

Beetroot Kombucha. Acai beaker with a shot of charcoal. Turmeric, aloe vera and spinach booster shot. To these health drinks, we can add another: Cristal 2013.

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Cristal, as you all know, is the creme de la creme of Louis Roederer champagnes, made in a clear crystalline bottle, as famously favoured by Tsar Nicholas II before he graciously made way for 70 years of communism and prudishness. The bottle comes with its own UV-protective wrap (UV light is the enemy not only of your face on that yacht in Mustique, but of champagne) and in a presentation box; and probably unlike all the ingredients in those health juices, it is 100% biodynamic and organic.

bottle of champagne

Cristal 2013. Image by Emmanuel Allaire

Short of joining Elon Musk on Mars, there is no better way of looking after the soil than farming biodynamically. Not only are all pesticides banned as they are in organic farms; biodiversity is positively encouraged in Roederer’s biodynamic vineyards. Bugs and minibeasts roam free. Vineyards are ploughed by horse and fertilised by, ah, natural horse fertiliser. “It brings us close to the soil,” says winemaker Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon. Can the same be said of the spinach farms producing your green juice?

We were sent a bottle of this new release to taste. Rich and feather-light at the same time, it grows and grows as you taste it and is probably best sampled with a lightly sauced, line-caught sea bream at, say, Oswald’s. Cristal at best is a wine that improves for decades; and 2013 is Cristal at best, according to Lecaillion: “The Cristal of Cristals. It will age beautifully.” As long as you avoid being overthrown by some cultural revolutionaries in the interim.

Find out more: louis-roederer.com

Reading time: 1 min
artisan bakery in Stockholm

Stockholm is undergoing a quiet gastronomic revolution in an understated Swedish style. Francesca Peak selects the coolest places to taste crisp-bread, cinnamon buns, sushi, salad and reindeer.


Sturehof fine dining in Stockholm

Sturehof was rated by Monocle as one of the 50 best restaurants in the world.

This fashionable hangout just off the main shopping street is the result of an affair between classic Swedish plates and homestyle French cooking. Red and white gingham tablecloths, a bustling, but intimate vibe and a lengthy menu all hint to the comforting meal ahead. Cocktails are top-notch and there’s a generous wine list to keep you busy after you’ve perused the fish-heavy menu (to choose meat here is a sin). Choose a typical Swedish starter of herring and cheese, or indulge in the fresh seafood platter, before moving on to the poached turbot or salted cod. The liquorice crisp-bread is dangerously addictive.


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Café Saturnus

When you arrive at a small cafe off a fairly nondescript street and see a queue at 8.30am on a Saturday, you know you’ve picked a good spot. Tear your eyes from the mesmerising mosaic floor to the kitchen and you’ll see huge breakfast burritos and bowls of steaming porridge being rushed onto tables, along with the heady smell of fresh, rich coffee. However, it’s the buns that are the real star of the show: enormous cardamon and cinnamon buns are stacked at the front of the counter, tempting you as you place your order for a chia bowl and skinny latte. Give in to temptation: they’re packed with flavour and will keep you full until you’re craving another mid-afternoon.



Dining in Stockholm

Restaurant Hantverket overlooks Stockholm’s beautiful park, Humlegården

A short 10-minute walk from the bustling Stureplan is Hantverket, the city’s newest self-aware cool place – thankfully without a snotty attitude – to enjoy a bite while spotting the latest trends on young Stockholmers. Although the entrance leads you straight into the restaurant, veer left to the bar and enjoy a perfectly crafted martini while perusing the rather succinct dinner menu. What they lack in length they make up for with innovation: try the duck with blueberries and rose petals for a more fragrant take on the typically heavy bird, and be sure to try a locally-sourced slab of reindeer.


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artisan bakery in Stockholm

Selection of buns and pastries at Vete Katten

Stockholm institutions don’t get much sweeter than this. Founded in 1928 by the determined Ester Nordhammar, the patisserie serves freshly baked treats and bread, and the most indulgent hot chocolate the city has to offer. Pop in to grab a baguette and coffee or venture behind the glass counter and into the traditional house with its tables tucked away into secret corners and adorable design details. Like stepping into a grandmother’s cottage, the smell of baking draws you in, and before you know it, you’re sitting at a table with a blueberry bun and pot of tea. Some places just have that effect, and this is certainly one of them.



best japanese restaurant in stockholm

East’s cool, sleek interiors are inspired by contemporary Japanese culture

When you’re in a country famed for its minimalist designs, it seems only natural to look to a cuisine loved for its simplicity and neatness. Sweden, meet Japan. The sushi-heavy menu here is dotted with Asian favourites, from curries to noodles and dumplings, with the odd ceviche thrown in for good measure. Every dish packs a punch, whether in its subtle flavours or the spiciness of its chilli flakes, and all are brought to your table sharing-style with scary efficiency. Go for a sushi platter at lunch and while away the afternoon with a carafe of warm sake.


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Doctor Salad

Stockholm salad bar: doctor salad

Doctor Salad uses 100% organic ingredients. Above: two boxes of “a vegan délice” with glasses of fresh mint water

The very thought of going out for a salad may strike fear into the hearts of some, but there’s no chance you’ll leave Doctor Salad with a rumbling tummy. Served in huge boxes with optional protein on the side, vegetables are spiralised, dressed and chopped to delicious perfection, and each box is a mesmerising kaleidoscope of health. Pair your box with a soup and pile of homemade flaxseed crisp-bread and have a seat in their kitsch but tiny cafe, watching the world go by.


Reading time: 3 min


A green sanctuary at the edge of Thailand’s oldest rainforest offers the eco-conscious a place to feel good about feeling good

With the opening of Thanyamundra Organic Resort, Thailand’s interior just got a little greener. Sitting at the edge of the Khao Sok National Park in the rolling hills of southern Thailand’s, Thanyamundra is a luxurious retreat that not only pampers its guests but the environment as well.

The nine-suite resort is housed in two golden, teak villas each decorated with a collection of Asian antiques. Inside there is a restaurant serving Thai cuisine and a spa offering traditional Thai herbal and aroma oil massages. Outside there is an infinity pool from which the land falls away to the terraces of the organic farm and beyond to a thick green wall of vegetation that announces the beginning of what appears to be an impenetrable forest.

It is the farm that makes Thanyamundra so unique. It is the heart and soul of the resort. On this lush, 25-acre lot, Thanyamundra organically grows 51 different types of fruits, vegetables and spices including everything from mangoes and pak choy to lemongrass, onions, pumpkins, three types of beans and four different types of rice.

When harvested this means that up to 70 percent of the ingredients used in the meals served at Thanyamundra come from the farm. Anything that is not used in the kitchen is sold online through Pura Organic. Furthermore, before any food spoils it is dried or dehydrated and fruits like bananas and mangoes are used for jam or ice cream and sorbets. Any discarded cuttings or waste is added to the compost to produce the natural fertilizers used on the farm. Even the dining menus are written up on large leaves from the garden as a way of saving paper. How’s that for eco-conscious?

The greening of Thanyamundra doesn’t end in the kitchen. The resort has taken numerous steps to reduce its carbon footprint to a bare minimum. Look around your suite and you won’t find any plastics other than the water bottles and even those are recycled once used and all amenities, cleaning products and even the mosquito spray are environmentally friendly.

On the grounds, guests move about in rechargeable electric buggies and the 50-metre lap pool uses an ozonater filtration system that naturally keeps the pool clean and reduces the amount of chlorine used.

Thanyamundra’s eco-efforts have now moved beyond the borders of its property. The resort has just teamed up with naturalist Thom Henley, author of the definitive tome on Khao Sok, Waterfalls and Gibbon Calls to blaze new trails into the heart of the park. Thailand’s biggest national park with forests dating back 160 million years, older than even the Amazon, Khao Sok is home to an incredible range of animals including wild elephants, tigers, leopards, Malayan sun bears, Asiatic black bears, barking deer, long tailed macaques, 46 species of snakes and almost 200 species of birds.


Helping guests take it all in, a series of walks has just been developed by Henley, who, when in residence, will actually conduct guided walking tours himself. According to Thanyamundra General Manager Shaun Dunhofen it is an opportunity to learn about and truly understand a part of Thailand few ever get a chance to visit. “Mr Henley is a walking encyclopaedia on Khao Sok and his passion is infectious,” says Dunhofen. “The trail walks he has developed offer a truly unique experience. I’ve done some of the walks myself and I can say that I’ve never been in a forest that teemed with such a profusion of wildlife.”

When he is not at Thanyamundra, tours will be conducted by park rangers trained by Henley. “As upscale tourism grows, there will be more jobs available for locals, either as guides or related jobs,” says Henley. “I’m very proud of our lead guide and his son, Mr Nit and You Chanyoo. Nit is a key part of the story, for his life encapsulates everything we are trying to do.”

It’s an inspiring story. Before teaming up with Thanyamundra, Nit supported his family by poaching. Like many of the other local farm boys,he poached to supplement his income – even though his mother was always against it. One day while out on a poaching run, he came across a wild elephant mother and baby and something happened. For a reason Nit himself can’t explain, his mother’s words came to him and he just couldn’t pull the trigger. Now he is not only one of the park’s most respected guides but he visits local schools teaching children about conservation. It is the combination of all these efforts that will help ensure the survival of this very special place for another 160 million years.


Reading time: 4 min