Cafe Paradiso, eat your veggies (and drink your wine)

Do you know what my favourite thing about my press trip to Ireland was? It wasn’t the fantastic food, the amazing people (both my travelling companions and the Irish we met), the unbelievable sunny days and beautiful scenery or the fact I got to pick all the wines with most of our dinners (although those were all great!). It was the fact that we also had activities! From swimming to lounging around in a jacuzzi to kayaking down the River Lee in Cork, it was such a refreshing change from: get on the bus, get off the bus, eat, drink, repeat. I know, I may be sounding a bit churlish but anybody who’s ever been on a press trip will know what I’m talking about. We also had free time (!) and no 7am starts. A big thanks to Tourism Ireland and Eat Like A Girl for planning such a great trip.  Take note, trip planners. After all that kayaking, I was ready to  continue on with our discovery of Irish cuisine. I wanted to bite into something meaty and hearty. A vegetarian restaurant? My heart sank like a stone to the bottom of the well that was my despair as soon as I discovered we were going to a meatless restaurant. Vegetarian? Ugh, how depressing. I was plotting a room service hamburger upon our return to the hotel before we even arrived at Cafe Paradiso. A small, modern, clutter-free dining room greeted us and as we sat down to order, I got a bit of the cafe history. Cafe Paradiso wasn’t the first vegetarian restaurant in Cork, but it was the first to take vegetarian cooking out of the lentils and rice brigade and serve original and delicious vegetable based cuisine. The Cafe has won much acclaim for it’s modern approach to vegetarian cooking and they source all of their produce locally, mostly from the Gort-Na-Nain Farm, south of the city. They are so committed to using only locally sourced produce that they...

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Sunday lunch, discovering the origin

Oh England, what a haphazard summer this has been. Started out mostly warm and sunny (June/July) but now it seems that come August the weather is pitching a hissy fit. One day it’s hot, next it’s cold and rainy and everyone is twittering on about how “there’s something autumnal in the air.”  Whatever, according to my calendar, it’s still summer. In defiance of the capricious weather, my friend Claire invited a few of us round for Sunday lunch in her new garden. On the menu: beetroot gravalax, lamb shoulder, samphire and lentils, roast figs and peaches and a cheese plate to finish it  all off, with some cheeky chocs thrown in for good measure. I had a couple of bottles laying around the house, as you do, that were sent to me by the Discover the Origin campaign so I toted those along. According to the website… …Discover the Origin is a campaign promoted by the European Union, Italy, France and Portugal and achieved by the office representative of five key European products: Burgundy wines, Port and Douro Valley Wines, Parma Ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese. The aim of all of them is to enhance knowledge of the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) among consumers, distributors and food professionals and to educate on the benefits of the provenance indicator schemes, the relevant checks, controls and traceability systems that are put in place to ensure ongoing quality, and to differentiate the products and raise their profiles… To that end, I had a bottle of red Burgundy and some LBV port for lunch. What is it about red Burgundy that makes me love drinking it? Is it the silky smoothness of the wine, the floral, ethereal aromatic notes, bringing to mind fields of lavendar, the taste of cherries, raspberries and red currants, a certain earthiness that seems to permeate my tastebuds. I just can never get enough of it. This one was a Chorey-Les-Beaune 2005 and even though it was just a Grand Vin de Bourgogne and...

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Who doesn’t like a Chablis?

Chablis. The word just rolls off the tongue. Chablis/Rhymes with glee/makes me hap-py… Ok, so maybe I’m being a bit silly as I write this (and yes, I am sober although a bit hopped up on my third cup of coffee this morning) but I do honestly enjoy a good Chablis. I’ve written about Chablis before, how people are often confused by this wine, not realizing that it is made from 100% chardonnay from the great land of Burgundy. Although Chablis is from Burgundy, unlike it’s cousins to the south, it is a pure expression of the minerality of the soil. Oak is not used as extensively as in southern Burgundy in order to preserve the fresh, lean qualities of  the wine. If oak is used, it’s usually big oak barrels and not the smaller barriques as is common elsewhere. The soil is an old sea bed that has been pushed up over time by the earth’s movements to form the Kimmeridgian ridge. Composed of the shells of tiny sea creatures, most notably the small oysters called Exogyra Virgula, this gives it its distinctive mineral overtones that is the hallmark of Chablis. Chablis is made up of 4 appellations – petit chablis, chablis, chablie premier cru and chablis grand cru. Each having their own specific production areas and conditions. I popped down to Central London for a short tasting of the nominees for the 24th annual Chablis Wine contest that the Burgundy Wine Board run every year. The wines were all from the Chablis appellation. Chablis is the biggest of the 4 appellations, producing wines that are best suited to age due to their structure, persistent flavour and volume on the palate. I had the pleasure to taste through a series of 13 2008 Chablis from the Chablis appellation and pick one that I thought was the best representation of the Chablis on tasting. I knew that the top Chablis was in there, as the winners had already been announced, but didn’t know which...

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Meet the Parent’s Burgundy – 2007 Pommard Les Epenots

    There is an association of female wine producers in Burgundy. Why female only? What sort of feminist conspiracy is going on on the golden hills of the the Cote d’Or or the chalky soils of Chablis? It’s not really a plot to overthrow the male winemakers of Burgundy. Just a reflection of the fact that men don’t like to talk about their problems, vinous or otherwise. That was the reason given to me for the formation of the Association of Burgundy Female Winemakers, that and the fact that the female winemakers wanted to improve the image of Burgundy by focusing on wines, educating the young and preserving the culture of wine appreciation in France and beyond. There are currently 35 members, all friends who enjoy getting together for a good chin wag a couple of times a year to discuss their viticultural problems.   I sat down with Anne Parent of Domaine Parent in the Cote d’Or (and also the Vice President of BIVB) to have a chat about the association and also try her wines. The Parent’s produce both white and red Burgundy from Corton and Pommard respectively. Anne and her sister Catherine took over in 1998 when their brother decided to branch out of the family vineyard and start up his own. Anne, though says that she’s wanted to be a winemaker ever since she was a little girl. As a child, she  used to follow her father around the vineyard soaking up all she could about wine making and the vineyards. We had our own little chin wag about her 2007 Premier Cru Les Epenots. Here are Anne’s thoughts on her Pommard….   Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Burgundy en primeur

I have discovered that there is an art to tasting Burgundy en primeur. And, as with all art, it’s something that takes time to master. I went along to Berry Bros & Rudd burgundy en primeur tasting a couple of weeks ago and it was an eye opening experience. Wandering around with various Masters of Wine in attendance, it was a bit intimidating. Most of the producers also seemed to have only  a passing acquaintance with the English language which left me feeling quite inadequate. What is it about the French language that leaves me tongue tied? I really am going to make an effort to at least learn the basics in 2010. Back to the tasting. It was hard to make any real judgements but I did find that most of the 2008 white Burgundies were drinking well already. Some of the whites were really aromatic. At one point, Sarah, who was tasting with me, commented that my perfume was overpowering a wine and I had to remind her that I wasn’t wearing any perfume! She was smelling the aromas of the wine. That was a Meursault and a good example of the character of the whites we tried. As for the reds, really green and astringent but maybe that’s just my inexperience with red Burgundy en primeur. There were a few standouts but they were Grand Crus or better still, Vosne Romanee! It was an interesting experience because I know in a  year or two some of these wines will be starting to show quite well but for now, I’ll just have to wait. Or maybe I should consider sharpening my en primeur skills for next year’s vintage…. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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