Sherry at La Tasca

Dec 10, 12 Sherry at La Tasca

Posted by in restaurants, Spain

It’s that time of year when Gran brings out the sherry. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. I was invited to La Tasca recently in Covent Garden to taste their sherry matching menu. I’m a big fan of sherry and food matching already but I wanted to see what they had put together. Manuel, our waiter, hails from Jerez, the home of sherry, and he explained that he would be guiding us through the basics of sherry. I think it’s great that La Tasca has staff who have sherry knowledge and are able to communicate this to the average consumer. Briefly, sherry is a fortified wine made from palomino and aged in the solera system. Manuel brought out 5 different sherries for us to sample. Tio Pepe Fino Muy Seco, La Gitana Manzanilla, Pedro Ximenez Triana, Oloroso Faraon and Amontillado Napoleon.  Manuel explained the different styles of sherry from the dry Fino muy seco to the very sweet and unctuous Pedro Ximenez. After that brief introduction, the food started arriving. Manuel recommended the classic pairing of jamon and almonds to pair with the Fino, the dry sherry being very refreshing with a salty note to it. I love this pairing. Amontillado was next, paired with cheese, olives and prawns. This sherry was slightly sweeter but still dry with a slightly caramel note to it. Sherry has great acidity which makes it an excellent wine to have with food. The next sherry was the Oloroso and this one is probably my favourite, savoury and salty but with a sweet, caramel nose. Delicious with trad tapas and cheeses, a medium bodied wine, it’s a great all rounder. We finished off with Pedro Ximenez which is a very sweet sherry made from it’s eponymous grape which is dried in the  hot Spanish sun before being made into wine. Manuel recommended that we pour the sherry over vanilla ice cream which we did. PX is full of raisins, prunes and dates on the palate and incredibly...

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I know this great little place in Covent Garden…Dalla Terra

Aug 04, 12 I know this great little place in Covent Garden…Dalla Terra

Posted by in Food and Wine, Italy, wine bars

I know this great little place in Covent Garden, it’s called Dalla Terra. It’s easy to miss even though it is in the heart of Covent Garden, just off Long Acre as a matter of fact. Dodging my way past the throngs of shoppers and tourists, I turned off on to a sleek corridor of shops which ended in an open stone courtyard, surrounded on all sides by some very beautiful architecture. Dalla Terra’s glass fronted facade announces its presence in big white blocky letters. Stepping inside though, it’s very inviting, warmly lit with walls of wine lining both sides of the interior. One side of the room has individual tables  whilst the other side has a long communal table, ending with a table for two situated right next to the glass walled wine cellar. There’s also a long bar at the back of the bar if you just fancy a few bar snacks. It’s a wine bar that specializes in small Italian wine producers. They range from the big boys like Banfi and Gaja to small, natural wine producers. As many of you know, I am sceptical of natural wines but there are enough good ones to justify having them on a list and Dalla Terra has some winners. We were there for some wine and food matching. Dalla Terra has a full menu as well as cheese and charcuterie platters.  We tried  a fab dish of marinated hake before moving onto a “board” of meat as it’s termed at the restaurant. Dalla Terra sources as much of their food from Italy as possible and the charcuterie plate was a bonanza of salami! They offer a salami and cheese board paired with 5 different red and white wines and is available for only £20 – bargain and well worth it! The cheeses as well were all Italian. We picked a red wine to go with the cheeses, a Valpolicello, Kairos  from the producer, Zyme. A rich, textured wine, bursting with flavour, a succulent...

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Taittinger and Indian cuisine – can it handle the spice?

Apr 30, 12 Taittinger and Indian cuisine – can it handle the spice?

Posted by in Champagne, Food and Wine, France, restaurants

My regular readers know of my fondness for champagne, some might say obsession, but can I be blamed when champagne is such a versatile wine? Just when I think I have found the best food matches for champagne, along comes a new combination that makes me add another feather to champagne’s cap. I was invited to dinner at Moti Mahal to see what Taittinger could do when paired with Indian cuisine as well as meet Clovis Taittinger, the next in line at Taittinger. Clovis was in town last week to show off what his family champagne can do when paired with Indian cuisine.Clovis is known as a bit of a wild man and upon meeting him, I could see why – rushing down the stairs, slightly disheveled hair with impish smile and friendly air. He’s like a French, slimmer, darker version of our Mayor, Boris Johnson – and just as amusing. He had us all chuckling within 1 minute of opening his mouth,  something about the Kama Sutra and champagne, I think. Anyway, Clovis went on to tell us a bit about what he thinks makes Taittinger special – the quality and consistency of their wines is their calling card. Their wines are made with a high percentage of chardonnay which they believe gives them the finesse, elegance and delicacy that one expects from Taittinger. When queried about the best years, he replied he doesn’t remember the years, just the moments. A good way out of giving a straight answer he later admitted! While nibbling on an assortment of canapes we sipped the Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc Brut 2000. Made from 100% grand cru chardonnay it’s a charming wine, Clovis defining it as a “dancing champagne” and if any champagne would do that, it would be the Comtes, great as an aperitif. Roasted beetroot and peanut salad with a lentil dumpling and yoghurt Chaat was served with the Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé NV. The sweetness of the beetroot was enhanced by...

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Lunching at The 10 Cases, Covent Garden

Dec 21, 11 Lunching at The 10 Cases, Covent Garden

Posted by in Food and Wine, restaurants

At a dinner the other evening, one of the other diners mentioned this great little wine bar in Covent Garden, called appropriately enough, The 10 Cases,  which only ever  has 10 cases of 10 red and 10 white wines on hand. As an added incentive to visit, once the 10 cases are gone, they pick a different wine to take it’s place. The tantalizing prospect of a wine list with only 20 wines was something I couldn’t pass up. I was curious to see what they would offer, with some wine lists comprising hundreds of bins, a pared down list would make it easy to choose. Or would it? The wine list is not the only thing they’ve simplified, The chef, (ex-Coq d’Argent) Juette Shallow has only 3 starters, mains and desserts on his menu, changed daily. My friend Liz who was with me at lunch, commented that the concept is a bit like a “Bistrot Moderne,”common in France – daily menu with quality selection of food and wine, although they call themselves a “bistrot a vin.” They also have a small menu of bar snacks written above the counter. The food was hearty bistro fare. Stilton & spinach tart, duck salad, egg and foie gras to start, onglet, braised veal belly and trout for the mains. Uncomplicated but appetizing and appealing to the eye, we tucked into our meal with gusto. There was a small complaint about the foie gras toast being slightly burnt but in general, we pretty much ate in silence. And the wines? The list is well chosen and the prices are not over the top. Surprisingly, it was a a bit difficult to choose but I started with a reasonably priced 2008 Bouchard Gevry-Chambertin (£8 a glass). Full of ripe, red fruits, intense but subtle at the same time, I could have this with or without food.  Looking at the list, it was a primarily French with a few Italians in the mix – Barbera d’Asti, Cotes du Rhone,...

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At Covent Garden, naturally (wine and otherwise), Spanish red this week

Eatlikeagirl and I have been doing the Covent Garden  Real Food Market now for over a month and having a blast! This week we’ve branched out from Bisol Prosecco, as much as we love it, and gone on to biodynamic wines. Stands to reason since I do run a natural wine bar! Niamh made slow roast shoulder of pork with spiced apple relish served in a homemade blaa  (no, not blah, it’s anything but!) served with rocket  – yummy!! FYI – blaa is a traditional Irish bread from Waterford. My task was to match a wine with the pork, what to match,what to match? I went with the Macatela 2006, a spanish red from Tierra de Castilla. We stock this wine in the bar as one of our house reds and it is a great value at £2.90 a glass. We both managed to grab a sandwich and enjoy this juicy red. The Macatela is a blend of tempranillo, garnacha and a bit of cab sauv. for structure, aged 3 months in American oak to soften it up a bit. Totally organic but not, alas biodynamic, it’s still made with minimal intervention and no chemicals, harvested to the strictest procedures. A lovely deep ruby in colour, fruity nose with hints of red berries and spice. Lovely bit of earthiness and spice on the palate, fresh cherries, a juicy wine with a toasty finish. It went quite well with the pork, a happy combo, a lively wine, racing around my palate, the cherries jumping out of the glass and around my tongue. Too bad I was working the stall but on the otherhand maybe it was a good thing because I could have just spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying this one!   Available at Artisan and Vine Retail: £8 in the A&V shop Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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