Sake and Spice, Not Your Everyday Food and Wine Match

Jul 01, 14 Sake and Spice, Not Your Everyday Food and Wine Match

Posted by in All, Food and Wine

I was recently invited to a Sake and Spice dinner at Moti Mahal in Covent Garden. I was intrigued by the whole concept of sake with Indian cuisine because when I think of curry, sake does not immediately spring to mind. However, the dinner was a real eye opener. Below is the menu:                                                                                                                                                                                              Karraree Bhyein aur Salad  Crisp fried lotus Stem and sprouted lentil salad Fukukomachi Junmai Daiginjo – Kimura Brewery — Sagar Rattan Seared scallops with sesame seeds, coriander and tamarind, served on top of crushed lime and cumin peas Atago no Sakura, Junmai Daiginjo – Niizawa Brewery Tandoor roasted lamb chops with kashmiri chillies, Black lentil stew, — Barra Peshwari Mint ‘n’ cumin paratha Fukukomachi Daiginjo – Kimura Brewery (2012 IWC Grand Prix Champion Sake) — Murgh Biriyani Fennel scented chicken cooked with aromatic basmati rice in a sealed pot, Okra ‘salan’ curry, Pomegranate raita Kimoto Classic Junmai – Daishichi Brewery (served warm) — Aam Shrikhand Mango yoghurt Panna Cotta, peanut ‘Gajak’ crush Kimoto Umeshu – Daishichi Brewery The dinner was hosted by Sake expert Natsuki Kikuya and Barry McCaughley, Beverage Consultant for Moti Mahal. Barry gave me his thoughts on Sake and why he thinks its time has come to move beyond its traditional sushi menu home. What makes Sake suitable to pairing with food? Primarily it is the 20 different amino acids in Sake (greater than any other alcoholic beverage, 7 times more than red wine)...

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English Wine Week with Hush Heath Estates

May 28, 14 English Wine Week with Hush Heath Estates

Posted by in All, England, Food and Wine

English Wine Week has begun and last night I was invited to the new pub, The Bull at the Hyde in the City to a dinner hosted by the Richard Balfour-Lynn, the owner of English vineyard, Hush Heath Estates. This was the first dinner for  the pub’s new tasting club, The Cunning Plan Wine & Spirits Club. Richard first planted vines in 2002 because he had always wanted a vineyard but in Spain or France or Italy. When the opportunity to buy the derelict land near his estate in Kent came up, his wife suggested that instead of going to the Continent, why not plant vines literally in his own backyard. The rest as they say is history. I’ve always liked the Hush Heath rosé and last night was no exception. I really enjoyed the food matches that Chef Kalifa Diakhaby created for the evening. The Balfour Brut rosé 2010 was paired with perfectly roasted scallops with pureed cauliflower. The scallops were delicious, not mushy or rubbery as can happen so often. The rosé is full of fruit but having refreshing acidity and long length. With the main of rabbit terrine, we had the Balfour Blanc de blanc 2010. The rabbit was another delicious dish, perfumed with truffle oil and garnished with sauteed mushrooms. The blanc de blanc that was paired with it comes from a small parcel of chardonnay from the Oast House Meadow and only 100 cases have been made. 2010 was a very good year and the grapes were allowed to hang until late October, which gave grapes with high sugar content and intense flavours. The blanc de blanc was well balanced with definite fruity notes on the palate but a dry, lime finish. The big surprise of the evening was the Jake’s Orchard Sparkling Cider with Strawberries and Blackcurrants. It’s a bottle fermented cider that has a dosage of strawberries and blackcurrants added. Richard commented that this is a “cider made for wine drinkers by wine makers…” It was the...

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Dinner with Barone Francesco Ricasoli and his Brolio wines

May 26, 14 Dinner with Barone Francesco Ricasoli and his Brolio wines

Posted by in All, Food and Wine, Italy

“We are all consumers. Wine should be a pleasure and enjoyable…” That in a nutshell is the philosophy of Barone  Francesco Ricasoli  who was hosting a Brolio wine dinner recently at the Corinthia Hotel here in London. Francesco is the owner of Barone Ricasoli vineyards, set in the hills of Tuscany, and the 32nd Baron Ricasoli. The family have been linked to wine since the 12th century and Francesco is doing his best to continue the family tradition. His ancestor, Baron Bettino Ricasoli was instrumental in promoting and researching the wines of Chianti. Due to Baron Bettino’s work, Brolio wines were first awarded gold medals at the Paris Exposition in 1867. Francesco took over the family estates in 1993 and since then he has continued research and experimentation to bring out the best in his vineyards. The wines get their name from the Brolio castle that overlooks the vineyards. Fittingly, as it was World Chardonnay Day, we started dinner with the 2012 Torricella Chardonnay. The wine has a small amount of sauvignon blanc in the blend but was dominated by the chardonnay. The wine had a subtle nose of citrus fruit and a bit of toasty-ness to it. On the palate, though, it was very agreeable, having loads of tropical fruits, a creamy mouthfeel and a mineral finish. A delicious white wine to start the evening. The Chiantis were what we were there for and the Brolio wines did not disappoint. Barone Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico 2010 was full of leather and spice, having a black cherry fruit profile with a smooth dark chocolate finish. Francesco said that he wants to deliver quality with these wines. I’d say you could definitely taste the quality. The wine was paired with Spring Lamb in croute which was  a fine match, the lamb tender and juicy, the wine working harmoniously with it. The Barone Ricasoli Colledila 2007 is one of their single vineyard wines and 2007 was the first vintage. 100% sangiovese, the aim of this wine...

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Brasserie Joel celebrates Eurostar’s 20th anniv. this May

May 06, 14 Brasserie Joel celebrates Eurostar’s 20th anniv. this May

Posted by in All, Food and Wine, London, restaurants

I love taking the Eurostar to Paris, I haven’t taken a plane to Paris since I don’t know when –  I always take the train. It’s just so much easier to go  via Eurostar and seems a more civilized way to travel, to me anyway. Eurostar is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary this year, hard to believe that it’s only been around for 20 years, it seems to fit in seamlessly at St. Pancras/Kings Cross as if it’s been there forever. Brasserie Joel in the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel has launched a special menu to celebrate the 20 years of Eurostar service between London and Paris. Chef Walter Ishizuka has created a menu that encompasses favourite dishes from both cities. Chef Walter has an interesting background – a French chef of Japanese descent, he came to London after working under Chef Paul Bocuse in France. His Japanese heritage has influenced his cooking in creating French cuisine with a lighter flavours. The special menu starts off with Feuillete d’Escargot and Pork Pie. I love escargot and these were garlicky and not too chewy served on a wonderfully light puff pastry. I usually try and avoid breads and pastries but these were just too good to pass up. The pork pie served alongside the escargot was also very good, very morish. I had to stop eating them because I would have had no room for the  mains. Each dish was paired with a wine, the escargot with a Beaujolais-Villages and the pork pie with a Macon-Villages. Both wines were uncomplicated but fit the bill, complementing the food well. For the mains we had a choice of Boeuf Bourguignon served with a Cotes du Rhone and traditional Fish and Chips paired with a Touraine Sauvignon Blanc. The Boeuf was very tender as it should be and full of flavour, served with gnocchi a la parisienne, I could have eaten the whole plate but saved room for the crispy fish and chips. Everyone around the table commented on...

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Moti Mahal Dinner Series featuring the Grand Trunk Road

Mar 28, 14 Moti Mahal Dinner Series featuring the Grand Trunk Road

Posted by in Food and Wine, London, restaurants

I attended a dinner recently at Moti Mahal in Covent Garden featuring the culinary and cultural heritage of the Grand Trunk Road. For those of you unfamiliar with the GTR (as it’s commonly called) is an ancient trade and military route that linked the East and West of India for centuries. The road was crucial in the process of migration to Britain and has close links to Britain today. The GTR is dear to the heart of Moti Mahal chef, Anirudh Arora whose cuisine starts its journey in West Bengal continues through to Benares on the banks of the Ganges to Delhi, up to Amristar, through the hunting country of the Punjab, across the rugged mountains of Peshwar’s Khyber Pass and into the heart of Kabul. I have dined at Moti Mahal a few times and each time the food has been excellent. The dahl has to be the best I’ve had in along time and the kulfi ice cream is not too sweet or too heavy. The evening I attended was the first in the series and featured a talk and the photographs of Tim Smith. Tim (former writer for The Observer) works on long term photographic project and his main interest is Indian and Asian culture. Throughout the dinner, we were treated to a beautiful slide show of Tim’s photos with a running commentary on the who, what and where of each photo. Moti Mahal is featuring a series of dinners over the next few months, including a Beer and BBQ evening, in collaboration with a number of London’s upcoming microbreweries, a talk from an acclaimed filmmaker and an Asian wine pairing with New Zealand wine-maker, Matt Thompson. For more information, visit the Moti Mahal website. *All photos courtesy of Moti Mahal   Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Chateau Cantenac Brown Margaux dinner at Clos Maggiore, London

Mar 26, 14 Chateau Cantenac Brown Margaux dinner at Clos Maggiore, London

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, restaurants

“The first job of Bordeaux is to be red.” That is a common saying in the region and one that  was repeated to me by Troisièmes Crus Classified Château Cantenac Brown Margaux winemaker Jose Sanfins at dinner the other night. So, why was he making a white wine in Bordeaux? Well, in a nutshell, Jose likes the whites of Sancerre very much and as he was looking around his vineyards, he noticed that the soil was very similar in that it was mostly clay and mineral laden. He decided that he could make a white wine just as well. The result is the Alto de Cantenac Brown, a 90% sauvignon blanc/10% semillon blend. We were at a winemaker’s dinner at Covent Garden restaurant Clos Maggiore and were just about to start on the first course. The Alto was the first wine being highlighted that evening and we were in for a treat as it was the first time the 2012 Alto had been tasted outside the winery. Most Bordeaux blanc is a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon. The chateau only has 1 hectare planted for the Alto and only produce 8000 bottles a year. It is comprised mostly of sauvignon blanc and aged in used oak barrels which gives it a slightly smokey note. Fresh and balanced with loads of lemon and grapefruit on the nose and palate. It was delicious with the starter of Scottish scallop and salmon tartare. What piqued my interest the most was the double magnum of 1999 Château Cantenac Brown. Who doesn’t like seeing those big bottles on a table. The ’99 was tasting very well with structured tannins,  freshness and a hint of fruit still around with wood/cedar notes. I like savoury wines so this was right up my alley! It was paired with a oven roasted breast of Wood Pigeon from the Royal Windsor Estate (shot on the west side of the estate in case you’re wondering) and this is a wine that really does shine with a well placed...

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