Fresita sparkling, perfect for a sunny day

Summer is here! Whoop! We’d better enjoy it while we can here in Londontown. I got a bottle of Fresita the other day and decided to take it along to the first ever Club Sandwich Friday lunch hosted at my friend Sig’s (Scandilicious) house. What started as a simple rant on twitter as to why you can’t get a decent clubbie in London had evolved into a couple of us twitterers getting together to make a proper club. Sig and Linda brought the ingredients and I brought the vino. A club sandwich is nothing fancy so no need to bring an expensive claret or Condrieu, something fun and bubbly would do. Fresita was also the result of a twitter convo, someone challenging me to try it as I’d turned my nose up at all those fruit added wines. So crispy bacon? Check. Ripe avocado and beefsteak tomato? Check. Smoked Ham? Check. Home made bread and boiled guinea fowl eggs (so we got a wee bit fancy)? Check and check. Iceberg lettuce (gotta be iceberg) and condiments? Double Check. And we were off assembling our sandwiches. We cheated a bit and didn’t do double deckers but even so it was still hard to get that sandwich into my mouth. And the Fresita? It was so delicious. Sparkly and fruity but not cloyingly sweet. Some of the comments, “no chemical aftertaste” which I think you often find in those fruity drinks, “tastes like real strawberry cooler” and “lovely”.  The reason why? Because it’s made with 100% organic strawberry pulp from Chile, handpicked and no added sugar – just, real intense strawberry flavours and aromas, sweet but not sickly sweet, blended with the sparkling wine. The sparkling wine used is a blend of premium chardonnay and s. blanc. We all agreed that it would be a great alternative to rose because it wasn’t as alcoholic (only 8%) or acidic as some of those wines can be. A delicious alternative to Pimm’s  or plain sparkling wine. So grab a...

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Nye-TIIIIMMMMMBER!! or do Londoners ever venture to Kent to eat?

“Denise, might it transpire that you could accompany me to a dinner on Friday in the deepest, darkest hinterlands of Kent for a repast of succulent British cooking paired with the ever so delightful English Sparkling wine, Nyetimber. We will be dining at the Michelin starred restaurant, Chapter One, on the outskirts of Bromley.” Ok, that’s not exactly how my friend Douglas (Intoxicating Prose) worded it but you get the idea. He is so eloquent and he actually does speak like that! I deeply admire someone who can use words like transpire and succulent in everyday speech. He had me at ‘Michelin starred’, but Bromley?!? This I had to see to believe. Pulling out of London Bridge with a half bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse to sustain us on our train journey to Bromley or therebouts we were off to the wilds of Kent. Chapter One is actually between Bromley and Orpington in a place called Locksbottom Common, anyway you look at it, it’s not London, which is a bit of a shame because it is excellent. They are one of the few restaurants in England that currently hold a Michelin star and we were there to review a spring menu that Executive Head Chef Andrew McLeish had paired with each vintage of the award winning English sparkling wine, Nyetimber. Finding it was a bit of a chore. Once off the train and onto a local bus we were directed to get off the bus “when it passes the big Sainsbury’s,” which is a fine marker if the big Sainsbury’s was on the main road instead of tucked about 200 metres off the street behind an even bigger building. Luckily, the locals are very friendly to “foreigners” and helpfully shouted to us and the bus driver when we were supposed to disembark.  A short walk up the hill, negotiate a very busy 4 lane  road and we were there! I’m beginning to see why Londoners don’t venture out. Happily, we were greeted with big smiles and...

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Castello Banfi Brunello and a long Friday lunch

My infatuation with Italian wine continues. A is for Amarone. B is for Brunello di Montelcino, bodalicious, complex, tasty, lipsmackingly satisfying (ok,so I’m skipping around the alphabet and making up words) you get the point, I do love those Italians. Growing up with only the familiar wicker covered funnily shaped bottles of Chianti, that was my only exposure to Italian wine, that and the cheap dross I encountered when I first came to London as a student. The good old days. Why do they call them the good old days? I’d much rather be in the now and the fabulous wines I had the other day at lunch. A typical wet, dreary London afternoon found me on Savile Row on my way to the smart Italian restaurant, Sartoria, for lunch with Bibendum and Cristina Mariani-May (the next generation and co-CEO of the company) and Dante Cecchini (regional manager) of Castello Banfi . Bibendum is now importing the Castello Banfi range into the UK so this was our opportunity to sample their wares. Castello Banfi orginally started out importing Italian wines to America early in the 20th century and built up a very successful import business but in 1978 they decided to head back to their native land and founded the Castello Banfi Vineyard Estate. Once there they spent a considerable amount of time and money on research and are now one of the leaders of classifying sangiovese from Tuscany.  They’ve spent over 30 years on research and catalogued over 160 clones which they’ve narrowed that down to the 15 best clones for their wines. And Castello Banfi has generously shared their research with the world because they believe ..”all ships will rise when the tide comes in…” and their research can only benefit all of Montalcino. Castello Banfi were also one of the first to plant international varieties in Tuscany, creating the “super-Tuscans” and we got to sample one during lunch. Nothing more civilized then a 5 course meal with matching wines for lunch, now is there? The food was fantastic but the real stars of the...

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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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“Brut Nature” Cava from Montau de Sadurni

Here is another wine from Casa Leal that I got to try when I was sidetracked into the Restaurant Trade Show but rather then a Portuguese wine, it’s a cava from Penedes. The cava is produced by Montau de Sadurni.  The Sadurni family have been growing grapes near the village of Begues, 15 miles from Barcelona, since the 16th century and probably been making wine just as long but they have been marketing their wines and cavas under the Montau label since 1987. The Arrels Montau de Sadurni is an extra dry reserve cava, we jokingly referred to it as a “diet cava” as it is a brut nature because it has only 2 gr/litre of sugar – now that is what I call a skinny cava! The cava is produced in the champagne methode meaning it is fermented twice, in vat and then in bottle, aged for 2 years and then sent on it’s merry way. Cava is usually made from xarello, parellada and macabeu and this is no exception. I really liked this cava, lovely, aromatic notes of baked apples and dried figs it had a certain creaminess on the nose that carried onto the palate – nutty, briochy, no bitter notes which can be found in cava sometimes, with spritely bubbles that weren’t too aggressive. A clean finish to round it off.  11.5% alcohol. The family only produce 40,000 bottles a year and it’s going to be retailing here in the UK for £8 so snap some up if you see it. Available from Casa Leal Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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