Lunching at Roast with Chapel Down sparklers and others

I went to Roast the other day for lunch. I was invited to partake in a social media experiment where we bloggers were invited to help out with making up a menu for our readers. So I found myself overlooking  Borough Market last week in the bar of Roast. Along with me were my fellow bloggers, eatlikeagirl, spittoon, intoxicating prose, gourmet chick,  and gastronomy domine  as we all sat down to lunch with Frazer Thompson (Chief Exec), Guy Tresnan, (Sales and Marketing Director) and Owen Elias, (the winemaker )of Chapel Down. Roast’s philosophy is all about sourcing and using seasonal British produce so it’s only fitting that they partner up with Chapel Down wines of Tenterden, Kent. I’ve visited Chapel Down and enjoy their English sparkling wines so I knew that we’d be in for a treat! We started off with the Chapel Down Brut Rosé ’06, a sparkly rosé made up of 100% pinot noir, a bit on the sweet side, strawberries and cream came to mind while we were sipping it.   Once everyone arrived, we sat down to business. Chef Lawrence Keogh went through a brief presentation of what we’d be eating and then he turned the show over to Owen. I felt a bit sympathetic for Owen when he explained he had to wing it on the first matching as he was unable to do a proper food and wine match beforehand but I think his choice of the Chapel Down English Rose  was a fine one. Although the smoked Etive trout  with Dorset crab cakes had quite an intense flavour, the  rosé  had enough acidity and red fruit flavours to stand up to it. One minor quibble, the scallions sprinkled around the plate did seem to overpower the wine, I followed Spittoon’s lead and set mine aside. When we sat down I had a brief glance at the menu and saw haggis as the second course! Having never eaten haggis but having heard numerous, shall we say ungenerous remarks, my hopes were not high but Chef’s Keogh’s Ramsey of Carluck haggis with celeriac and oxtail sauce was delicious. I seem to remember...

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Chapel Down and the Blaggers Banquet

Just a quick post today to remind all of you of the Blagger’s Banquet taking place this Sunday, Nov 15th at the Hawksmoor in Liverpool St. It’s for a great cause, Action Against Hunger and everything in the auction and for the dinner has been blagged by all of us food and wine bloggers. Niamh from Eatlikeagirl has been the driving force into getting this event off the ground but she had time to have lunch at Roast with the Chapel Down people who have generously donated beer, English sparkling wine and are auctioning off a year’s vine lease at their Tenterden property. After lunch, Niamh and I had a chance to talk to Frazer Thompson, Chief Exec of Chapel Down to tell us a bit about what their wines and what they’re donating to the event. [viddler id=f1d37fca&w=437&h=392] Hope to see you all on Sunday. Contact me or  click here for tickets. Next post coming up… our lunch at Roast with all those fabulous Chapel Down wines. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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The Wine Gang challenge

How do you buy smarter and drink better wines? That’s the question that was posed to us winebloggers by The Wine Gang and Robert McIntosh from Wine Conversation. It’s all  part of an effort to showcase winebloggers to wine lovers at the upcoming Wine Gang Christmas Fair  at Vinopolis on Nov.7th. 5 lucky bloggers are being invited to join The Wine Gang that day. Here’s my 2 cents on how to buy smarter and drink better…. When I was 20 I came to London for the first time. I was here for the summer, had a student visa to work before my last year of university and I lived in a 2 bedroom flat in Maida Vale with 7 other people. It was a bit of a tight squeeze but it was fun! Most of my memories consist of drunken nights in the pub followed by late nite bull sessions kicking back Mateus and £2.99 Bardelino, Chianti and Valpolicello from the local Indian shop. That was my introduction to wine and for years afterwards, I looked back fondly on that summer and didn’t give much thought to the wine other then that I liked it. Fast forward to Washington, D.C. 2002, made redundant by 9/11, looking for something to keep me going til I could get back on my feet. Ended up working in fine dining and that is when I was re-introduced to wine but not only re-introduced, I was educated. Up until that time, I had only vague notions of food and wine matching. I knew people did it for a living but I had never actually experienced it. Part of my training as a server was a weekly food and wine matching session with the restaurant sommelier. Wow! All of a sudden the fog surrounding the mysteries of wine was lifted. It all started to make sense to me. How a creamy chardonnay would complement that lobster or alternatively how the acidity of a dessert wine could cleanse my palate, readying me for the next bite....

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more English wine -Chapel Down visit and lunch

Driving along the road we passed an old WW II airfield complete with light aircraft swooping by overhead. “You know when you watch those old WW II movies with stock shots of an English field and airbase with the subtitle, ‘Somewhere in England?’ Well, this is where they got that footage, ” said Frazer Thompson, my rather informative and charming host from Chapel Down Winery. We were on our way to the vineyard just outside the town of Headcorn in deepest Kent when we passed the airfield. It’s always nice to get out of the city and appreciate nature in all it’s beauty and I couldn’t have picked a better place to spend an early summers day then the “garden of England” as Kent is so often referred to. And rightly so, the land is perfectly suited to grow everything from apples to strawberries and Kent is the centrepoint of hop production for real English ale. I’d read stories of East Enders descending on Kent in the summer to pick the hops (amongst other things – *wink*) during the first half of the 20th century but only had a hazy idea of where that was in relation to London. And now, here I was, smack dab in the middle of all those lovely hops, I swear I could smell them in the air. But I wasn’t there for ale, I was there for the wines of Chapel Down. Their Tenterden vineyard is sitting on some great wine producing land. The soils of the area are clay with sandy bottom layers which provide excellent drainage as well as the even better chalky limestone soils. Those two soil types make for excellent grapegrowing potential and Chapel Down amongst others is taking full advantage of nature’s gifts. Kent is located along the famed Kimmeridgian ridge which is a shallow sea that has now been lifted above sea level and provides the limestone soils that Champagne is famous for, which allow it to produce it’s distinctive sparkling wines...

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First English wine, now English vodka

Whilst wandering around the London International Wine Fair, I took the second day to cross the hall to Distil which is the little brother event to the LIWF. Distil is a showcase for spirits- tequila, rum, whiskey, vodka, liquors, they were all there. The only problem with Distil is you can’t really spend a lot of time there because you’d be blotto after a couple of tasters, esp. if you got dragooned by the tequila people. I was there with Penny to source some aged rum for an upcoming event at the Bluebird but got waylaid by Chase Vodka. Seems I’ve become a big fan of anything English recently. Well, I suppose if you’re in England you should buy English, you know all that think global, buy local guff and as much as California needs my support, it is a long way away. First we had English wine and all the incredulous looks that came with that phrase and now we’ve got English vodka. Gin yes, but vodka? Watch me down a shooter of Chase Vodka ( and speak to the Master Distiller, Jaime Baxter). Ever wonder what they do with the potatoes that don’t make it into the award-winning Tyrell’s crisps? Well, wonder no more because the folks at Chase Distillery use them to make vodka. As Jaime explained to me, there is nothing wrong with the potatoes, they’re just not the right size for crisps so into the hand-crafted copper batch pots and 3 weeks later, ta-dah! English potato vodka. There’s a lot more that goes into them then that but that’s the short version. To quote Chase: ” From home grown Herefordshire potatoes, to…custom-made copper still, to a hand finished bottle…” they are true artisans of vodka. And some tasty stuff it is! Retailing on-line for around £32.99 Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Brightwell Vineyards & English wine week – slideshow

English wine. English wine week. Do they make enough wine to support English wine week? Well, yeah, they do. There are over 250 vineyards in the British Isles and loads of them are winning awards and making fantastic wines. I’ve become a big fan lately, not only because I’m living here but also because I think that they’re producing some fantastic stuff. I have to say that the sparkling wines are the ones that are winning the awards but they’re getting better and better at making those whites and even, dare I say, reds! Last weekend, Andrew from Spittoon invited a bunch of us food and wine bloggers up to Wallingford, Oxfordshire to visit Brightwell Vineyards and have a taste or two of quality English wine. So one EARLY Saturday morning, I met up with eatlikeagirl, foodstories, pencilandspoon  (Mark, a beer blogger) and cooksister to brave the wilds of the English countryside. (A slideshow of my trip to the English countryside and vineyards) Our first stop was Brightwell Vineyards which has been around for about 20 years and they have a quite an extensive collection of varietals but most are experimental. They focus mainly on bacchus, ortega, reichensteiner, and dornfelder with pinot noir being planted next year. They are unusual in that they focus on still wines as opposed to sparkling which most English producers seem to gravitate to. Brightwell is not only situated next to the Thames but has a lovely duck pond with lots of wild birdies, horses, the friendliest dobermans I’ve ever met (the dogs would probably show you where the safe is), and pigs! Athough the wine pigs, as we nicknamed them, will be moving next year to make way for rows of pinot noir. The big hit of the tasting had to be the Oxford 2006 Regatta red, a complex spicy, woody, red wine. Pepper, graphite, ripe red fruits, raspberry, all those decriptors were being thrown about with abandon by the bloggers. I had to agree and it also had a lovely silky weight to it. Carol,...

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