The Stable Bristol

 

The Stable is exactly the kind of place I wish I had as my local. Sadly I don’t but had the great pleasure of eating & drinking at their Bristol encampment on a glorious weekend this past July. Bristol is a great party town, and with all that warm sunshine Harbourside was rammed. We managed to grab an outside table which meant we had front row seats to the circus. The Canon’s Road wooden promenade was coursing with people from all walks life in search of a good time, and I pretty felt smug because I had found it at the Stable. Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.56.05

Pizza-Pies-Cider is their simple motto and man do they deliver. I shared The Lamb Roast & Fresh Hawaiian with a pal and Hey Zeus they both were delicious! Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.42.40So well made is the thin wispy crispy crust and so well conceived are the selection of toppings that every bite was a symphony.

It’s no wonder, as they focus on sourcing the best fresh local ingredients like smoked ham, marinated lamb and goats cheese. I was too full to try any of the pies but can imagine they are just as good.

It being the West Country the spotlight on cider is no mystery, and it’s an impressive line up with more than 20 on the go at any one time. I opted for a mix stick(5 x 1/3) but honestly don’t recall what they all were, though some I enjoyed more than others. Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.42.26The tab was quite reasonable as you would expect with most pizzas around £10-12 and a pint of cider less than £4. The Stable Bristol is one of 4 Stables currently operating with other locations in Bridport, Weymouth & Bath tragically though we don’t have anScreen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.54.57y as yet in London.Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.54.30

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.42.54

Eating Brixton

The transformation of Brixton over the past 5 years into a foodie drinky haven has been one of the most dramatic in London and luckily I live about ten minutes away. The downside to having such a culinary cornucopia on ones doorstep is that there is now so much choice, that deciding where to wet my whistle or calm those hunger pains has become a real challenge!

I fell in love with that sourdough pizza perfection that is Franco Manca some years ago as it was one of the first to see the potential in Brixton’s Market Row. Still probably the best pizza I have ever had.Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.05.19

Just a few doors down is the Bukowski Grill. As the name suggests it’s pure Americana.  A laid back dark moody space with boozy milkshakes, good beers and American BBQ. Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.04.25Crispy Cajun popcorn shrimp were the perfect amuse bouche. Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.11.08I found the rub a bit dry on the intensely flavoured smoky ribs, but this steak sandwich impressed despite my sourdough being a tad burnt. My favourite were these tobacco onions, sliced fine and battered in a KFC type batter. Heaven… The bill was very reasonable and with Charlie’s Beat poems adorning the walls of the toilets it was a “trip” worth taking.

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.04.40Next door is Wishbone more US import style food but turning our attention to the humble chicken. I went on cold Sunday night and without heating or doors, we froze our wings off. Speaking of which we sampled a two styles of deep fried flappers. Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.16.11If I’m honest the food didn’t really hit all the right notes. Batter lacked crunch & sauces tasted a bit pre fab. The very en vogue deep fried mac n cheese was a bit soggy stodgy as opposed to crunchy gooey. The spare decor of the place & lack of warmth made it feel like we were eating in a meat locker, which certainly didn’t the food any favours. So in fairness should go back and give em another shot…

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.17.40Over in Brixton Village I ate some of the best Thai food I have had in recent memory. Kaosarn is on the outside corner off Coldharbour Lane. A simple cafe type set up, wooden tables, paper napkins & plain white plates. But the food! I had this astonishing Gang Kua Sapparod Goong aka Red Prawn Curry with tomatoes, kaffir lime, coconut milk & pineapple. The flavours so distinct and nuanced. The rice fluffy, the prawns succulent. Kaosarn is great value and a must visit.Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 10.18.03

Inside Brixton Village is Senzala Creperie which is great for lunch or brunch. They do super buckwheat pancakes or as the French call them galettes with all manner of fillings served with proper side salads. With the likes of Honest Burger(which I have still yet to visit due the massive lines outside every time I go), the Craft Beer Company & the Crown and Anchor(who do very good food as well) plus stacks more Brixton is sure to only increase it’s notoriety as the place to eat & drink in south London.

Dinner with Mark De Vere MW

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 17.39.18

A Blurry Mark de Vere MW 

To say that I am a bit late in writing this blog would be a huge understatement. I went along to the JW Steakhouse in Park Lane in May 2012 a guest of Mark de Vere MW and Robert Mondavi Wines. But better late then never I like to say. I lie. I don’t like that saying it and have very rarely used in my life. But I digress… back to dinner.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.39.43

Mark is a fascinating character. A peculiar, vibrant, highly intelligent and passionate wine communicator. Now despite working for that vinous colossus and preaching the wine gospel according to Bob Mondavi for the past 15 years, Mark is very much his own man. Of course he was there to talk up their wines but his focus was really on expanding our minds in terms of how we viewed the relationship between food and wine matching. “The Liberated Enjoyment of Wine and Food” he called it.

Most consumers feel comfortable with red wine with red meat & white wine with fish rule. But why does it work? There must be some chemical reasoning. But there was more to it as we were about to find out.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.39.57

The experiment began with the arrival of plates of cooked plain unseasoned chicken, sea bass and steak. There were also plates with sliced lemon and salt on them. Mark asked us to taste the wines(which included Robert Mondavi’s Napa Valley Fume Blanc aka Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Cabernet Sauvignon, all 2008 and around £15 each. There was also a tasty Inniskillin Ice Riesling 2006 from my native Canada) without the food and note what we tasted. Then we sampled the wines with the food and the results were startling. The classic matches were in disarray. The white wines stung the mouth, acidity completely out of control. The reds are all mouth puckering tannin, no fruit and metallic dryness.

“Mark you villain!!” we cried “What sorcery is this?! You have ruined our taste buds!!”. But he simply gestured to the small plates in the centre of the table. After adding a few sprinkles of salt andScreen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.40.07 squeezes of lemon the process was repeated and as if by magic the food and wines behaved as you would expect. With the seasoning even the Ice Wine worked with the steak(not that I have tried it since). Miraculous! Not really Mark explained. It was simple science. So instead of delicious food and wine pairings being something inherent in their molecules, it revealed that when the balance is out in favour of sweetness or savoury umami without the grounding sour or salty, our palate focuses on specific characteristics rather than seeing the whole picture. Which makes it taste “wrong’. Really fascinating stuff!

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.40.41We moved onto their Napa Valley Reserve Fume Blanc(pricey at £30) & Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve(a whopping £80 a bottle) with dinner and though the wines themselves are perfectly ok, in all honestly I’m not wild about Robert Mondavi wines. Why? Because for the same money(and a lot cheaper than the reserve wines) I can find wines produced in much smaller quantities with so much more character and originality. Sorry Mark.

Food wasn’t anything to get excited about except for the pan bread. Nearly 18 months have passed but I can still taste it’s rich rosemary salty crunch and squishy soft buttery middle. Mmmmm…Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 16.40.30

Dropwines Dinner

Last month I went along on a rainy sticky Monday night for a press dinner with new ish online wine company Dropwines at the Pembroke in Earls Court.

I was feeling pretty optimistic as I had been invited by the lovely Sophie McLean who’s been an industry pal for a few years now. Sophie (recently returned to the UK  after doing a vintage in industrial Riverina New South Wales) joined Dropwines this year to do comms, buying and a spot of video reviewing.Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.21.28

The latter being another reason for positivity, for along with Head Buyer Richard Varney(Ex Head of Buyer for Oddbins) they were producing some of the best video wine reviews I have yet seen. Which is quite a compliment coming from me. They’re fun, intelligent, engaged, unselfconscious & short! Most of them 2 minutes and a few coppers, which is exactly what they should be in my opinion.

The food was perfectly decent but really we were there to taste the 5 wines (1 fizz, 2 whites and 2 reds) they had chosen to showcase.Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.18.53

A sure fire way to impress hardened wine writers is to present something unusual, which is exactly what they did as we kicked off with Cote Mas Piquepoul Frisant NV. The fizz is made from Picpoul de Pinet, that superb white grape of the Languedoc(South France) that seems to be creeping onto every gastro pub list in London these days. Made in the Charmat(tank) method like Prosecco but instead of pear & flowers it’s fresh sea salty with tingling lime zest. A good start…

Next was award winning Bioca Godello Seleccion 2012 from a tiny region called Valdeorras in Galicia, northern Spain. An area better known for it’s Albarino (another white grape that is very popular at the moment), this Godello with it’s mojito nose, slight spritz & pine nut richness was a class act but seems to be out of stock at the time of writing.

The unusual theme continued with a Vinal Chardonnay 2012 from Levech, Northern Bulgaria. I found this wine quite intriguing with it’s subtle aromas of honeycomb & lavender, as if they were down a well. Then white melon, thistle, green cooking apple & sunflower palate. Not a wow wine but different and worth a punt as it was less than £7 a bottle.Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.19.50

Our first red was The Liberator, The Francophile Syrah 2012 from Stellenbosch, SA. It’s what you would expect, peppery rocket, cassis & white pepper spice. A generous leathery, coal dusted, dark berry beast. It had some fresh acidity as well. It was nice enough but came off a distant 2nd to our final wine…

My tasting notes on Cotes du Rhone Villages, Mas de Boislauzon 2011 say it all; “Deep dirty sensual nose. Velvet, spicy, plum & brandy snap, cigar, sparkling blackberries, unctuous mouth romancing stuff”. I loved it. Is exactly the kind of wine that makes me stand up and take notice. At very reasonable £12.99 a bottle no wonder it’s currently sold out.Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 14.20.26

Dropwines have a slick looking website (though the search facility could use some tweaking), some interesting well priced wines(on their homepage select wines are offered for time sensitive deals. Perfect for the hardened Ebay “must get a deal” generation) and fun educational tasting videos that appeal to the modern day consumer. They also have a VIP Club which offers you a discounted price on all their wines as well as free delivery for £10 a month, which could work out a good deal if you buy wine regularly.

But the online wine trade is a brutal one and you have to be savvy with likes of those behemoths Majestic & Laithwaites out there. But there is room for smart, adaptable boutique web based retailers that have done their homework & understand what wines people actually want to drink.

So will they be around in a few years time?

I hope so.

 

La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise, Prague

Last September I was in Prague for a stag party. Though I use the term “party” in the loosest sense as it consisted of the groom to be, the best man and myself. Being a trio of mature (ish) men we thought that we would buck the trend and have a Michelin starred meal… before we got terribly drunk and shot automatic weapons with a stinking hangover.

I knew nothing about Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise, a smart 40 seat spare corner building in Prague’s Old Town.  They only do tasting menus, 6 or 11 courses with the option of a wine to pair. Of course we went the full 11 with wine.

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 10.39.50

Honestly, I was a bit tipsy when we started but believe things went a bit like this…

We started off with an amuse-bouche: I loved the fatty/creamy/texture combo of the Fried Chicken Skin, Chicken Liver Pate with Lokus Sweet Wine Jelly. Never having tasted anything like Black Bean & Black Truffle Croquette before I was suitably wowed by their rich earthiness which complemented each other wonderfully. The Grilled Onion, Sheep Yoghurt with Thyme & Onion Chips was a perfect palate cleanser and delicious foil to the others.

IMG_1091

The courses that followed were…

1. Trebon Carp & Sour Milk. A fascinating, delicious & beautifully textured dish of shaved frozen local carp, poppy seeds & sour milk semi freddo. It was served with an excellent Matthias Czech Sekt (Love saying that!) by Proqin Ltd. It was a pairing made in heaven as the crunchy textures played off the spitz of the fizz. A real winner!Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 15.56.27

IMG_1094

2. Russian Sturgeon Caviar & Prague Ham. A bit foggy on this one. Do recall the sweet smoky ham set against the sharp saline intensity of the caviar. The yellow stuff was a mayo… I think. Loved the texture of the spoon as well. Was paired with a very good Riesling In der Wand by Pichler-Krutzler. The combo I don’t think wowed me.

IMG_1097

3. Farm Chicken, Sweet Corn & Radish. This was one of the most memorable pieces of poultry that I have ever eaten. Crispy skin, the meat pink shiny & pale was so moist that I needed a towel. The foil of pillow soft sweet corn puree set against the sharp crunch of the radish & cauliflower was supremely judged, a dish of real skill. The wine was local Ryzlink Vlašsky (Welschriesling) 2010 by Mikrosvin Mikulov which did the job just fine.Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 15.57.44

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 15.50.55

4. This Langoustine, Oyster & Amaranth certainly looked impressive served atop it’s warm cobble stone. But for me it lacked execution and the langoustine itself came off 2nd best. We were served a homemade lemonade to break up things up booze wise which was a nice change.

Though our waiter did slip us a rather special Gavi MonteRotondo Villa Sparina. Bad waiter…

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 09.55.01

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 09.47.53

 

 

 

 

 

5. Local Třeboň Catfish, Moravian Sparkling Wine Sauce & Cabbage was sublime. Texture as well as flavour played off each other wonderfully. The gentle crunch of cabbage, meaty tenderness of the catfish & all held together with the acidity of the Sparkiling wine sauce. Wine was an accomplished Veltlinske Zelené aka Grüner Veltliner by Kořínek.

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 10.12.49

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 10.12.36

 

 

 

 

 

6. Foie Gras & Grape juice Jelly.  Chef returned to his frozen grating method that worked so well with the opening dish of carp and translated beautifully with the foie gras melting in your mouth supported by the sweet acidity of the grape jelly. Never experienced foie gras like this before. A highly intelligent dish. Wine, an excellent Barriques Oubliées, Muscat de Frontignan 1995 which matched perfectly.

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 10.32.39Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 10.32.18

 

We had just past the mid point of the 11 courses and I was really starting to feel all that wine not to mentioned several beers before dinner. But backing out now was not an option…

7. Beef Tenderloin & Dill Sauce was so less than a revelation. Another combination that absolutely sent my palate into rapture. Even a year on I can still taste that sous vide tender beef (cuddled to death I’m sure) and robed in rich slightly aniseed dill sauce. We stayed local with a decent oaked Sauvignon Blanc by František Mádl.

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 11.39.21Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 11.38.51

 

 

 

 

 

8. Mnetěš Pigeon, Lokus Wine, Pumpkin was perfectly nice dish. I don’t recall it changing my life in anyway and having to follow that beef was always going to be tough. I probably have served the pigeon before the beef. But hey it ain’t my restaurant. The wine was an superb Barolo Sori Ginestra 2005 which paired well.Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 17.05.14Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 17.04.36

 

 

 

 

9. Beef Tongue, Yellow Pea Puree, Mustard was another tasty dish but it didn’t stay with me. To be fair I haven’t eaten much beef tongue. Recall the sauce being rather special, rich and textured. The wine was another Czech offering from Stapleton & Springer Cuvee Rouci which honestly I don’t think I was wild about. But I may have hit the wall.

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 17.27.48

We were nearly the end, my energy was waning but just two more dishes to go.

10. Wagyu Kobe Style Beef, Eggplant, Ponzu Sauce would normally have caused much more of a stir around around the table were it not right at the end of a long boozy meal and and even longer boozier day. The execution was faultless, a balanced and delicious dish. Wine was a Hess Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 that didn’t wow nor offend. Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 17.37.41Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 17.37.14

 

 

 

 

Nearly there…

11. For dessert we had a couple choices and I opted for the unpronounceable Olomoucké Tvarůžky. Tvaruzky is a mature cheese made of skim milk which has been produced in the region for hundreds of years. Soft & sticky in texture it had a salty, spicy flavour. The biggest reason that I ordered it though was because it came with a wheat beer from cult Czech brewer Matuška. It did not disappoint and was a great match for the cheese. My pals went for the Chocolate Sorbet, Raspberries & Mint which looked melted to me. But perhaps that was the look they were after…Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 18.06.03

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 18.00.51

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 18.00.12

 

 

 

All things considered in terms of the amount to drink and the marathon nature of the meal I was quite impressed. There were some divine dishes, flavours that have stuck with me over a year on without a single note.

So if you are going to Prague and want to treat yourself then do book a table at Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise. If you are on a budget though I can heartily recommend Lokal next door. It’s a beautiful beer hall serving all manner of traditional Czech food and is owned by the same group Ambiente.

Going Pop Up: #WineWednesdays

Now Pop Ups are all the rage these days and despite being the sort of guy that you might expect to have his finger on their popping pulse, embarrassingly I have been to very few. Thankfully my Fiancée and I walked right past the aptly named WineWednesdays at the rooftop venue Skyroom near Tower Bridge. With this stunning weather our decision was made for us and after receiving our wristbands (the meaning of which will be come apparent) we dashed up the elevator to the 5th floor. WineWednesdays are the lovechild of Kiki & Laura who run A Grape Night In, a Pop Up wine business that’s not just a one hit wonder, whose aim is to enliven and demystify the sometimes murky world of wine.

The venue itself is cosy and has the feel of a upscale beachside bar. Much of the covered cushioned area was reserved so we took a small table out in the open.Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 13.19.23

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 13.17.30

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 09.44.02

The Girls (as they seem to be called in much of their literature) decided on the theme of Summer Playlist for the month, drawing inspiration from the many famed festivals that take place on this hallowed Isle in the month of July. Kiki explained with much warmth and energy their concept behind their inventive short list of appropriately themed musical genre wines & accompanying optional nibbles.

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 10.57.13

 

Growing up on Simon & Garfunkel and Gordon Lightfoot during my early childhood Track 1-Folk seemed the best way to start. Folk’s vinous equivalent being an floral aromatic 2012 Gewurztraminer “Adobe” from the organic & ethical Emiliana in Chile. Lively & clean, subtle mango moving into flinty stone and without the candied feel you sometimes get with Gewurz. It went beautifully with the delicious dukkah crusted hand rolled falafel nuts & thickest minty garlicky tzatziki this side of the Ionian Sea.

 

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 11.07.38

My lady had Track 3-Classical which was a 2011 Circumstance “Cape Coral” Mourvedre Rose by Waterkloof in Stellenbosch. Biodynamic and made much in the restrained style of Provence Rose (your nod to classical right there) but with a glint of smokiness so typical of South African Red Varieties. It was paired with that most Provencal dishes of Pissalidiere, mini pastries of onion jam, black olives & anchovies. The rose &  savoury pastries wove a harmony worthy of great applause for the conductor indeed.

My companion decided to move onto Track 2-Reggae which was a crowd pleasing easy drinking 2012 Suikkerboisse Chenin Blanc/Viognier also from Stellenbosch. Rather unsurprisingly it came “Jungle” chicken fingers, homemade plantain chips & mango chutney. The chutney stood out, but the chicken which for me though perfectly cooked & crispy lacked seasoning and perhaps a little Marley Magic.

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 11.34.46

Decided to go Track 4-Rock in an homage to my teen years from those bad boys of McClaren Vale, the very aptly named Some Young Punks. I found the  2011 “Passion has Red Lips” Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz  more Phil Collins than The Pixies. Now both could be called rock and I like some Phil Collins (not embarrassed to say so) with and without Genesis he crafted some solid 80’s “Soft” Rock songs. I am however a huge Pixies fan (which arguably are more Alt Rock if we are going to split hairs) so when I saw “Rock” I was thinking more Kim Deal than Mike Rutherford. But I digress… The wine was ripe concentrated and supple. Dark cassis blackberry fruit with relaxed tannins. I liked it, but it certainly wasn’t like getting stomped on in a mosh pit. It was paired with spicy meatballs of beef, chorizo & roast pepper stew that honestly did kick a bit of ass and wouldn’t have been out of place at a an early 90’s Lollapalooza concert.

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.49.46

 

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 12.54.53

A total of 10 tracks (6 wines by the glass and a further B side of 4 by the bottle) there should be enough to keep you entertained by the New World leaning lineup. For those not into wine they had an offering from the mighty Kernel Brewery down the road as well as cider (I think). Lovely setting, warm knowledgeable staff, tasty food and very reasonable prices Laura & Kiki are onto a good thing. Hopefully the weather holds and despite going onto a new theme for next month #WineWednesdays is well worth a visit.

 

Screen Shot 2013-07-25 at 13.14.36

Storm Beer Bali & Mee Goreng

Last September I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s wedding on the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. Before that though I was hanging out in Seminyak and came across Storm Beer. I was very impressed with their Golden Ale and it went a treat with the Mee Goreng.
I shot this on my iPhone and the quality wasn’t too bad at all.

Voyager Estate Winemaker Dinner

Despite not knowing Voyager Estate wines very well when I got the invite last fall, the omens were promising as it was being held at Vinoteca, one of my favorite wine bar/shops in London.

The Vinoteca empire has expanded of late but this Masterclass dinner with Steve James was in the fabulous cellar dining room at the original venue in Farringdon.

 

Now most folks would agree that to be a great winemaker you must make great wine. No argument there. But I would say in addition to that, they also must be a consumate communicator. Whether their audience be hardend wine writers, skeptical bloggers or their adoring fans the ability to express themselves with insight, knowledge & passion for me is of vital importance.

Steve James is one of such winemakers. He has an easy way of speaking, is warm, articulate and uses his hands a lot when he gets to talking about the terrior in beautiful Margaret River, Western Australia. Steve been heading up the team at Voyager Estate for 14 years now and they are crafting some cracking wines out there. What impressed me was how quietly confident he was with what they are producing and what better way to demonstrate that than standing them up against the best in class from 3 other labels.

We tasted their 2009 Chardonnay first from along with Kumeu River Mate Vineyards from New Zealand. The Voyager Estate won out for me with its flinty, smoky green melon nose & clean bright citrus, fresh fleshy oak & creamy cashew nut palate.

 

We also tasted two recent extreme vintages of Voyager Estate Chard. The hot difficult 2008 & 2006, their coolest on record, with very low yields. The ’06 definitely fared better showing green olive & cedar sauna aromas w/ fresh granny smith, peppery oak & good length on the palate. Sadly the ’08 was a bit of a jumble. Lumpy in places, flat & flabby in others. However not unpleasant.

Next was the turn of mighty 2010 Shiraz and this time it was matched up against Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier from Canberra in New South Wales. Again for me Voyager Estate won the day, there was simply more harmony and subtlety to it. Smelling very perfumed of black liquorice, blackberry juice, dried fig, dates, cocoa & on the palate it was sleek, firm, subtle damson plum, hints of leather & blueberry. Very good indeed. Their Shiraz really comes into its own after a few years in bottle as the 2009 & 2007 vintages showed. Complex, earthy, spicy, ripe, gamey and totally divine. Brought to my mind good Cote Rotie or Hermitage.

Finally we came to the darling blend of Margaret River, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot.  The 2008 vintage, this time squared off against Wynns Connawarra John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon from South Australia. Yet again I found myself preferring the Voyager Estate for its nuanced nose of green pepper, peppermint, smoky lead & truffle leading in the mouth to meaty, dense, wonderfully weighted, gravelly minerals, dark fruit & a clean finish.

The older vintages of Voyager Estate Cab Sav/Merlot this time were from 2005 & 2004 with the ’04 stealing the show. Roast rabbit & plummy spiced fruit nose plunging headlong into a curiously gamey yet fresh, full, sexy(easy boy!), peppery, deep mineral & mature plum brandy finale. Super stuff!

After all that tasting dinner I had worked up an appetite and right on cue was Dinner entering stage right.

 

For me the Smoked Mackerel with Apple, Celery, Frisee & Horseradish was the star with the 2009 VE Chardonnay a gorgeous match as well.

I was so excited about this Roast Partridge with Celeriac puree, Beetroot & Guanicale (unsmoked Italian bacon) but sadly the bird was a bit overdone. Thankfully the VE Shiraz was on hand and really did soften the blow.

For afters I went with this Chocolate pot with strawberries which was velvety and rich and just fine on it’s own.

 

 

 

The night drew to a very satisfying denouement as we said goodbye to Steve. He had been a fabulous host and the Voyager Estate wines not only shone in their own right but showed their individuality and class up against some very good competitors.

A very good night indeed…

Voyager Estate Wines are available in the UK through Justerinis & Brooks

Pic St Loup: Part Two

I wanted to get Part 2 & the final instalment to mark the year (plus a few months) anniversary of my very special trip to Pic St Loup in Coteaux de Languedoc.
After falling in love with the south of France on a trip to Roussillon a few years back this trip was another memorable adventure in gastronomy, culture and of course wine.
The passion & warmth of the people of this region will be with me for a long time and for that I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Brawn Restaurant Review

Well this is my 1st attempt at turning a meal into a video restaurant review. I shot the whole thing on my iPhone so quality insn’t amazing, but I think it turned out ok.

The venue in question is Brawn in Shoreditch, sister to one of my favorite London restaurant/wine bars Terroirs. Brawn is more laid back in it’s decor and feel but the
food and wines are still top notch. We worked our way through 3 different natural wines. A fizz, white and red all from the Loire Valley.
We were treated to many delicious plates of food from Beet Salad to Duck Hearts to Cauliflower Risoni.

Page 3 of 512345