A good weekend. I made one of my favourite winter dishes – lentils with smoky bacon, onions and sausages. The sausages came from the pigs I kept earlier this year – 4 very greedy Gloucester Old Spots, the sausages from which are SO tasty, I try not to be snobbish about it, but I just can’t find any other sausages that taste as good.
With it, I’d usually go for a wine that’s Rhône-ey for this dish, but this time I veered off track because I’m not convinced my lunch guest is a huge fan of Rhône reds. I did stick with the Syrah grape though, but this time one from the Peloponnese (yes, it’s Greek!).
It was an elegant and ripe juicy blend of Agiorgitiko (which my guest kept asking me how to pronounce even though he damn well knew I couldn’t – any suggestions?) and Syrah from a producer called Gaia (not a relation to the famous Italian Gaja BTW). Smooth, silky and juicy with enough smokiness to match the earthy rusticity of the lentils, I think my guest was happy. I certainly was and the leftovers lasted me all weekend – shame the wine didn’t last quite as long…
The countdown to my party is really hotting up now. It’s less than a week away and the two blonde guys behind The London Cocktail Club in Goodge Street – JJ and James (this years’ winners of The Restaurant reality TV show with Raymond Blanc) – have just confirmed that my party is to effectively be their launch night! Well, in the sense that it’s the first time they open the doors to the public. Very honoured (and slightly scared!). The guest list keeps growing, the wines and DJ are on standby so it’s all pretty much sorted. Can’t wait. No doubt pictures will follow, all vetted by me first, naturally
Why a party? Well, I’m off to Australia for 3 months at the beginning of 2011. I’m off to work at RedHeads, a winery which belongs to Direct Wines, and for which I’ll be working the harvest and doing a bit of writing on the side next year. I also hope to get around other wineries too while I’m there and pull together enough material for all sorts of projects for when I come back to the UK.
Before I head to Oz though, I’m stopping off in Lyttelton (just outside Christchurch, NZ) to spend Christmas with family. I find Christmas in the southern hemisphere (which I’ve done once before) is a bit like being in a dream. Barbecues, shorts, flip flops and garden games are standard but snowy Christmas displays dominate every corner shop. It’s loads of fun though, but I’ve got to admit that I felt a bit homesick last time, aching for the open fire and glass of mulled wine. I’ll have to try much harder not to be so bloody British this year!
What else? Well, The Wine Gang’s December report is now out and to me looks like the most packed it’s ever been. Well I would say that wouldn’t I??? Anyway, we’ve also announced the date of next year’s Christmas Fair – 5th November. Organised, aren’t we??
Who needs a time machine? I took a step back in time without one today – right back to the birth of the gastropub, whenever that was. The Anchor & Hope in Southwark is nothing like we generally think of gastropubs today, which have been conditioned into something relaxing but a bit formulaic.
No such formula at the Anchor & Hope. This place, which I’d been dying to go to for ages, reminded me of a comedy club the-morning-after -the-night-before with its stacked up chairs, burgundy walls and ropey curtains. But the food & drink were still gorgeous (pork terrine alongside Manzanilla and a shared steak pie with a good juicy Douro red).
Dodging icy London pavements outside, I returned to the office to find a sample of Kevin Judd’s new wine on my desk. Kevin was the winemaker of Cloudy Bay fame so this new Marlborough Sauv, Greywacke (pronounced wacky or wack do we think?), is much anticipated. Watch this space.
Tonight I indulgently cracked open half a bottle of Champagne all to myself, something I hardly ever do (honestly!). It was Legras’ Blanc de Blancs NV. Legras comes from a village in Champagne just outside Epernay called Chouilly, a place with which I’m most familiar thanks to the Champagnes of Hostomme, a grower who has supplied (perhaps still supplies) F&M’s and Harrods’ own-label Champagnes. This Legras wine was fresh as a daisy (100% Chardonnay) but it also had a delicious toasty texture and weight. And a perfect bottle size too – I finished it much more quickly than I should have done, feeling very satisfied but not greedy one little bit!