Good grub at the Fox and Anchor (& the wines are pretty good, too)

How can you dislike a wine list that divides it’s wines into amusing descriptions like these? I came across that saucily titled winelist at the Fox and Anchor, a pub in Smithfields that wants to be more then a boozer but less then one of those chi-chi gastropubs that seem to have taken over the capitol. As Scott Malugh, general manager, explained to me, he wants to the Fox to go back to it’s roots as a place where you can go and relax with a pint. Where, cliched as it may be, “everyone knows your name” But Scott not only wants to make his pub friendly and personable, he also wants to offer patrons, both regulars and passersby, good British food and not charge an arm and a leg for the pleasure of dining on local produce. The pub is divided in two with the front half having a traditional bar on one side and tables lining the wall opposite. It’s only when you pass by all that into the second room that it you walk into a small dining room surrounded by cozy dining “snugs”. Semi private small rooms that seat from 2 – 4 people, perfect if you want to have your own little party while still being able to look out the doorway and see all the action. While I was waiting for my dining companion, Ms Fundamentals to arrive, Scott suggested I try one of their real ales. The Fox has an extensive list of real ales both on tap and in bottle, mostly from the UK but I did spy Sam Adams from the good ol’ US of A on there. I wanted something different so asked Scott to surprise me. Chalky’s Bark, bottled ale from Sharp’s was duly poured. An ale with real ginger added for a bit of a kick. Not exactly your traditional English ale but it was tasty and I could certainly get used to drinking it. Not too heavy either, I sometimes find...

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Sonomo Cutrer 2006 Chardonnay – brief tasting note

California chardonnay. Not usually one of my go-to wines but I had a chardonnay from Sonoma-Cutrer the other day that was really quite enjoyable. Sonoma-Cutrer is located in the Russian River Valley and have been producing quality chardonnay since the early 1980’s. I was a bit sceptical as my memory of California chardonnays are oaky butter bombs but the 2006 Sonoma-Cutrer is nothing of the sort. A straight up chardonnay, it was a clear bright wine with flecks of gold dancing around the glass. A fresh nose of tropical fruits, most notably creamy pineapple along with mango and ginger and a faint aroma of honeysuckle. There wasn’t a butter bomb in sight. The wine slipped down quite easily. Quite a rich chardonnay, with more of the pineapple notes and a zesty lime finish. The oak was present but not overpowering. I had it with my dinner of roast chicken and salad and it was quite tasty. I’m no longer afraid of California chardonnays, at least not Sonoma-Cutrer’s chardonnays. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Mint Leaf Lounge – winelist and a Conundrum

“I’ve seen it all, from Blue Nun to now.” So said my charming host, Gerrard McCann, GM of the Mint Leaf Lounge, situated smack in the heart of the City, referring to the changing wine tastes of British consumers. Gerrard had invited me to check out Mint Leaf’s wine list and do a bit of food and wine matching. Gerrard’s philosophy regarding wine lists is to try and list wines that you won’t find on any other wine lists. To that end, Mint Leaf only sources their wines from small boutique distributors and look for rare and unusual wines to offer on the wine list. The list is divided (mostly) not by region or country but by the type or characteristics of  the wine. Hence, they have headings such as “crisp, refreshing & fruity”, “full & creamy”, “fine wines & rarieties” (for the reds), “soft & fruity”, “round & spicy” and “curiosities & fine wines” (for the whites) as well as the more traditional Bordeaux and Burgundy, to help their guests choose the appropriate wine to enjoy with their meal. I found an eclectic mix of wines on the list: Duck Pond Chardonnay from Washington state, Petit Mansang sec from France to a Fiano Mandrossa and everything in between. There was a smattering of Sancerres and Pouilly Fumes as well as white Burgundies to round out the list. A fine balance between Old World and New World, not too many choices but not too few, there seemed to be something for everyone. The reds were the same, with some fabulous choices, Amalaya Malbec by Colome, one you don’t see often on lists but such a winner, Joseph Phelps ’06 Le Mistral and a not too extensive collection of Grand Cru and 1er Cru classe Bordeaux. I could go on and on but if you really want to know more, have a look at the list here. Since we were in the City, they also have an extensive selection of champagnes, from Jacquart to Krug...

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Redwood Creek Wines

I neglected ‘Sleuth a bit during the month of July because I was so busy working summer festivals. Despite the fact that I’ve lived in this country for 4 years, I’d never been to a proper British music festival. I still haven’t been to a proper British music festival but I worked/attended Art in Oxford and the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall. The Port Eliot Festival is a literary festival situated on the manor grounds of Lord and Lady St. Germans and every year plays host to a variety of authors as well as various musical groups. I loved the location, the festival was spread among the rolling green hills of the estate, as well as in the woods and along the river that runs through the estate. You’re probably wondering, “What the hell does this have to do with wine?” I’m getting to it. I was sent some wine by the California winemaker Redwood Creek and thought it would be great to take along these wines to a nature setting. Redwood Creek like to think of themselves as a wine of the Great Outdoors and what better place to try their wines then in the wilds of Cornwall. My friends and I stopped by the river to taste the Redwood Creek 2008 Merlot. A straightforward merlot, plums and black cherry, a bit of spice and mocha,  lovely round tannins but not jammy or overcooked. It was fresh and relaxed. I was really expecting a gigantic fruit bomb but this wine was nicely balanced. It’s a nice little wine, perfect for picnics or festivals when you really just want a good time wine. We joked that this wine was the good time girl of wines, lots of fun but you wouldn’t exactly take her home to meet your mom. We also tried the 2008 Redwood Creek Cabernet but felt it wasn’t as well balanced as the merlot nor was it anywhere near as satisfying as it. If you’re faced with both in the aisle,...

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Steaky steak steak…Chapters in Blackheath

Some time ago I went along to Chapter One in the wilds of Kent to have a Nyetimber paired dinner. That went down so well that when Chapters of Blackheath contacted me to try out their josper grilled steaks, how could I resist. Chapters is one of only 9 restaurants in the capital to use the famed Josper grill, a combination of grill and bbq. It is manufactured using an insulating material that allows the temperatures to reach up to a 1000 degrees C, phew! This sears the meat and seals in the juices. I wouldn’t want to be that piece of meat. Chapters uses only the best beef: prime USDA, Australian 40 day dry aged Hereford. Black Angus and English hangar steak. Our meal was paired with a variety of wines but my favourite was the Cedre Heritage 2007 Cahors. All too often people think that malbec comes from Argentina, but au contraire mon ami, it’s original home is the southwestern part of France below and to the right of Bordeaux. In France, malbec is also known as cot and has been produced there since the Middle Ages. As a matter of fact, Cahors was making their ‘black wine’ long before the Bordelais and used to export their product through the region of Bordeaux. The 2007 Cedre Heritage was a classic malbec, inky black in colour, there’s no way you could mistake this wine for anything but a malbec. On the nose there was plenty of meaty spicy notes, these wines are brawny and savoury, there is no mistaking this for a fru-fru South American malbec – fruit? Bah! Cahors says to that. While having quite good structure, the wine did display black fruits on the palate but these were mixed in with spicebox and licorice flavours. I found the wine went perfectly with the seared meat, working with the juicy steaks to produce a match made in heaven. I found that with the Josper grilled steaks, I needed a wine that would ...

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Secret Supper Club – FernandeznLeluu

The idea of inviting 30 or so strangers to your house for dinner might seem a bit strange but it’s a phenomena that has been occurring here in London recently. Supper clubs. Or more precisely secret supper clubs have proliferated in the past few years but I had yet to visit one. That was until I got a DM (direct message) on Twitter the other day inviting me to a supper hosted by Fernandez and Leluu. Supper club. Whenever I hear those words, my minds eye instantly conjures up those original Lounge Lizards-Dino, Sammy, & Frankie, red velvet and martinis. There was no red velvet in sight but this was still more than just a regular supper club event, it was an event hosted by none other then Jim Haynes, the original supper club guy. Jim has been hosting weekly Sunday nite dinners at his flat in Paris for over the last 30 years. What started out as a friend wanting to cook has blossomed into a regular event attracting 60 – 100 people per week. You might have even seen the After 8 chocolate mint commercial featuring Jim and his weekly gatherings, click here to view. I was invited to partake of Fernandez n Leluu ‘s supper club. By day, Simon Fernandez is a software designer  and Uyen Luu owns a boutique in Soho but both are avid foodies and once you get them into the kitchen, there’s no stopping them. They’ve been running their supper club for over a year now and have a long waiting list. After swearing I wouldn’t tell anyone where the exact location was, I was given the address, only to become hopelessly lost somewhere in East London. Thank god for the local minicab who gave me a quick lift or I would have never found it. When they mean secret, they’re not kidding! Greeted by one of the Qype chicks, they were sponsoring the event along with After 8, I quickly found my way to the bar....

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