Seafood and wine workshops at the Andaz Hotel

Oct 10, 11 Seafood and wine workshops at the Andaz Hotel

Posted by in Food and Wine, Hotels and Spas

7am on a Saturday morning is not the usual start time for events I attend, 7pm is more like it, but since Billingsgate market is only open early mornings, I had no choice but to be up at the crack of dawn to get down to the market for the new series the “Andaz Liverpool Street Seafood Workshops” in conjunction with Head Chef Martin Scholz of Catch Restaurant (part of the Andaz Hotel) is launching during the London Restaurant Festival. Catch’s Head Chef, Martin Scholz met us at the Billingsgate market and gave us a tour round, meeting suppliers, showing us the different species of fish the market sells and showing us how to select seafood as well as shop sustainably. The market was winding down but the time we got there (8am) but Saturday the market is open to regular punters and there was still plenty of people around and fish to buy. I’d never been to such a big fish market and it was eye-opening to see fish as something other than fillets. Frankly, they are not the cuddliest animals around. After our tour we headed back to the Andaz Hotel for our seafood cookery class in the Andaz Studio, a private dining room/workspace where we would be helping out Chef Martin and his assistant chef, Gavin. The space is great as it has an open plan kitchen at one end where guests can either watch the chefs at work or roll up their sleeves and pitch in. We got to slicing and dicing the ingredients for our lunch. Chef Martin was great, funny and friendly but a consummate professional at the same time. Cooking with the chef was not only fun but also educational as Martin had lots of little hints and tips. It took a few hours to get lunch ready but it was well worth the wait. A light and delectable bouillabaise to start, arctic cod with chorizo risotto and olive tapenade stuffed squid for the main followed by...

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Palo Alto rose in the park

I like my rosés dry. I know some people like them on the sweet side but for me nothing beats a crisp, dry rosé. Full of bright redcurrant and ripe strawberry, the 2008 Palo Alto shiraz rosé is a great summer quaffer. I’m sitting in the park on a lovely summers eve, just watching the ducks stroll by, sipping on my rosé. It ticks all the boxes and it’s good by itself or with a nice little picnic lunch. Palo Alto is named after the tall lone trees that dot the hillsides of the Maule Valley in Central Chile. According to the website, the trees thrive in dry, rocky, infertile soils so if you see the Palo Alto, it’s a safe bet you’ll find vines growing nearby. the Palo Alto winery only does 3 wines, a red reserve which is a blend of cabernet, carmenere and syrah, a sauvignon blanc and a shiraz rosé. I was sent all three to try out and the rosé was by far my favourite. The Reserve ’08 was pleasant with plenty of blackcurrant and blackberry, nice and soft, a very easy going wine, again probably would be fine on a picnic.  The ’08 sauvignon blanc was another quaffer but I wish it had a bit more substantiality to it. It started off promisingly enough with heady gooseberry and grapefruit on the nose but disappeared fairly quickly off the palate. As I said earlier, the rosé was my favourite and one I would buy if I saw it in the shops. All the wines retail for £7.99 and are available in most of the big supermarkets. And just to make you feel good about buying the wine, Palo Alto has an independent charity linked to the wine to tackle global warming. It’s called Trees for Cities and is a project aimed at supporting tree-planting projects in the UK and around the world. A worthy cause, we can always use more trees. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Carmenere, made for curry?

Carmenere made for Curry. Does it work? Will it work? That was the question as I headed to Benares in Mayfair for the Wines of Chile curry and carmenere matching exercise. Indian food is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. And try to pair it with red wine and you’re just asking for trouble. Most people fall back on beer or if they are going to order wine, opt for something off-dry or aromatic, like Alsatian or German rieslings, a pinot gris perhaps. The Wines of Chile approached Benares with a set of wines and Constanzo Scala, the sommelier, matched them with dishes off Benares a la carte menu. He was looking for wines that don’t have too much personality and that wouldn’t overpower the dishes or have to much alcohol which would exacerbate the fiery nature of the Indian spices. Due to the fact that carmenere can be oaked as well as unoaked, he had plenty of styles to work with. He matched the tandoori and chicken tikka with the fuller oaked wines as the smokiness of the tandoor can handle the smoky characteristics of oaked carmenere. With lighter dishes such as dahl, he recommended unoaked caremeneres which have let the fruit shine through on the palate. Constanzo emphasised that balance is key, the wines shouldn’t be too acidic or minerally and even if they had high alcohol contents, as long as they were balanced, they would work with the wines. I was let loose on the 30 plus wines on tasting with a plate of tandoori chicken, lamb sheek kebab, chicken tikka, dahl and the most fluffy steamed rice to test against these carmeneres. There were some big hitters available including the 2006 Montes Purple Angel and the 2006 Casa Silva Microterroir. The Casa Silva, although oaked seemed to fit best with the spicy dishes, very smooth, with some dark chocolate notes. That however, was one of the few oaked wines that I thought worked with the food. In general, I thought...

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John Duval and Ventisquero wines

John Duval’s last vintage at Penfold’s was the Grange 2002 but like most winemakers, he couldn’t bring himself to retire and when Ventisquero heard he was leaving Penfold’s they snapped him up to be a consultant, as they were just beginning to launch their syrah making venture in Chile. John has produced two wines, we tried the ’05 vintages of the Pangea which is 100% syrah and the Vertice, which is a blend of syrah and carmenere. We had the pleasure of tasting his wines  along with Ventisquero’s Grey range matched with some very delicious food at Apsleysin the Lanesborough Hotel. John made the ’05 Pangea using grapes from the Apalta vineyards in the Colchagua Valley. Apalta being the heart of Ventisquero’s premium wine growing region, produces wines that are elegant yet fresh and lively due to the higher elevation of the vineyards. Made up of 100% syrah and aged in 50% new French oak (John likes his oak) aged 18 months and then let to rest for one year in bottle,  there were floral notes on the nose as well as full on berry fruits emanating from the glass. A full bodied red with a hit of pepper on it and of course very nicely integrated oak notes. Soft, round, supple – plush! would be a good way to describe this wine. The ’05 Vertice was a pleasing, lighter wine, a blend of syrah and carmenere also from the Apalta vineyards, this wine was lighter in character and had a smooth chocolaty character to it with some nice spice and red chili pepper coming out. Again having those nice round tannins which make this such a mouthfilling wine.  Having said that though, both wines are quite big and powerful, neither being a shrinking violet. Both wines were paired with roasted pigeon royal with a pearl onion and mustard seed sauce with a special surprise of a hunk of foie gras hidden beneath the breast. What a fantastic surprise! I love foie and with...

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Lunch (and supper) with Casillero del Diablo – Reserva Privada Cab/Syrah ’07

There are few things that are more enjoyable to me then spending a lazy lunch with good friends. Interesting conversation, fun people and good times. I consider myself most fortunate in that most of my friends are foodies/excellent cooks and found myself one afternoon at the house of my friend, Luiz (AKA The London Foodie). Luiz is a big foodie and he prepared an amazing lunch for me and his partner. Starting off with a cold garlic and almond soup, garnished with fresh green grapes left me holding out my bowl and asking, “More, please. Sir.” The only cold soup I know of is gazpacho so this was a revelation. The garlic was mild and not overpowering, garnished with whole green grapes lolling about the bottom of the bowl. Delicious! For the main had Oxtail Stew with pumpkin with Moroccan couscous, oven cooked aubergine in a yoghurt sauce garnished with pomegrantes and a medly of sugar snap peas and aspargus with hazelnuts. Luiz really spoiled us! I had brought along the Casillero del Diablo, Reserva Privada 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah which we paired with the oxtail stew. Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada wines are made from old vines and come from their Pirque and the Peumo vineyards, of the Maipo and Rapel Valleys. The cabernet is from the Pirque vineyard which is situated in the northern and one of the coolest parts of the valley. The soil is nutrient poor and provides excellent drainage all of which makes the grape work that much harder to produce very concentrated fruit. The syrah used in the blend comes from the Peumo Vineyards further to the south of the Pirque vines and benefits from its position on south facing hills of the Rapel Valley. Here the soil is more clay like in character but has excellent drainage so the grapes don’t become bloated beachballs. The grapes produced have terrific balance and contribute depth of character and colour to the blend. The Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvingon/Syrah 2007 spends 14...

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