Featured Post: How to match wine with food: seven tips for successful pairing

Jul 24, 13 Featured Post: How to match wine with food: seven tips for successful pairing

Posted by in All, Featured Post

Have you always wanted to experiment with pairing wine with food but find the whole idea confusing?  Not sure which type of wine will enhance your meal and give it that rich tasting flavour to die for? Gone are the days when paring wine with your meals was as easy as ABC, when the rules of coupling white wine with white meat only and red wine with red meat still applied. Our palates have expanded with different cultures bringing their food and recipes to the UK, and there are different ways to go about finding the perfect beverage to enjoy with your meal. When food and wine are properly combined, each enhances the other, and when it comes to taste and experience, knowing a few basic rules is essential if you are to move from amateur drinker to professional wine pairing expert. There are a few of these, like remembering that it’s always best to pair wine that’s high in acidity with acidic food as it will help to bring out the citrus notes of your food. This is why many people opt for acidic wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chianti when serving dishes such as pasta with tomato sauce or ingredients with high level of acid such as lemon or vinegar. Another is to remember that tannins, the astringent components in red wine, is great for pairing with fatty food because the fat will soften the tannins and bring a smoother feel. This is why a lot of people thinking of having steak or pork, have it with a glass of cold Cabernet. Those are just a couple of things to consider, but as any foodie knows, there’s a lot more to wine pairing than just the basics. There’s definitely too much to cover in one article but we thought we’d bring together a few tips just to get you started… 1. When having dessert always opt for wines that are sweeter than the actual dish. It will completely transform the taste of both elements by bringing out the sweet flavours. 2. Wines that are dry and sparkling such...

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Tozi, cicchetti in London

Jul 09, 13 Tozi, cicchetti in London

Posted by in Food and Wine, Italy

Prosecco may be very popular but as my Italian friend, Giordi, always tells me –  it’s too sweet here in England. So when we sat down at the new Italian restaurant Tozi and were presented with 2 glasses of prosecco, I wondered what she would say. After taking a sip,she pronounced it as it should be, dry and refreshing. I later found out that it was also served from a tap, as they do in Italy. It was the first of many pleasant surprises. Tozi features small dishes (cicchetti) which are meant to be shared amongst the table. The menu is divided into Wood Oven, Fritti, Counter & Salad, Pasta & Soup, Grill, Baked, Sides and Desserts. We tried as many as we could but the menu is extensive. The wine list is as expected, Italian but reasonably priced with some interesting choices. From the Wood Oven we had a spianata, aubergine, smoked pancetta and ricotta topped bread. It was very tasty and the bread was perfectly cooked and full of flavour. The wine list is all Italian and I asked the manager to pick a wine for us. He chose a Sardinian vermentino, Villa Solais Santadi 2011 which was full bodied with medium acidity and full of ripe peach and stone fruit notes. The fritto misto was not oily but crisp and juicy at the same time, eaten with a splash of fresh lemon juice – perfect. The aubergine parmigiana had just the right amount of passata and cheese to complement the aubergine. Giordi commented that often this dish gets drowned in tomato sauce but Tozi’s was perfectly balanced. We had another Sardinian wine, this time a red, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, Sella & Mosca 2006. Cannonau is the Italian version of grenache and was a good match to the aubergine dish with just the right amount of fruit and acidity but excellent tannin structure. The pastas were delicate and flavourful, the buffalo ricotta ravioli with black truffle was light and very tasty despite...

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Hutong London opens

Jun 30, 13 Hutong London opens

Posted by in All, Food and Wine, London

Last week, I was invited to Hutong London up on the 33rd floor of the Shard for (a preview of the) spectacular view and dinner. I was a bit skeptical as the big draw seemed to be the view ( and usually, if the view is good, the food is not) but really, go for the food and  THEN the view – although the view is pretty damn spectacular… Dining at Hutong is definitely an experience starting with the gracious welcome that greets you as you come off the elevators. Service is unassuming, genuine and discreet, everything you want from a  restaurant. Once we picked up ours jaws off the floor from admiring the views, we headed to the bar which sits in a corner overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge with Canary Wharf in the distance. even though we weren’t at the top of the Shard, in a way the views are better because you can actually distinguish what you’re looking at rather then just a panorama at your feet. We started off with a visit to the bar where we had a corner table smack dab against that glass wall. There we had a few of their signature cocktails before heading to our table. If you are afraid of heights, I would suggest requesting an inner table, as the tables are literally against the glass wall.  The upside though is that due to the Shard’s angular design, it never really feels like your standing or sitting on the edge of a precipice. I loved all the glass walls and the amazing views at every turn. Hutong is the second offering from ex-banker turned restauranteur, Alan Yeo.  Hutong specializes in sophisticated Northern Chinese cuisine but doesn’t ignore the traditional favourites, such as Pekin Duck or a plate of scrumptious dumplings. Our server told us that they have a chef whose only job is to make the pastry for the dumplings and pancakes. They were some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had with Pekin duck, soft...

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Krug Kitchen at Aveqia

Jun 21, 13 Krug Kitchen at Aveqia

Posted by in Champagne, London

Last year I visited Aveqia in Farringdon and took part in a very fun evening, making dinner whilst being supervised by very friendly and helpful Aveqia chefs. So I was delighted to be invited back to preview The Krug Kitchen, a private cooking studio designed by Italian design studio Minotticucine and kitted out with Gaggenau’s state of the art appliances. I especially liked the wine fridge full to the brim with Krug Grande Cuvee. Of course the entire studio is overlooked by a golden K set on the background of  a burgundy coloured sign. I was there with a group of wine friends and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, cooking up a storm whilst sipping on Krug Grande Cuvee. The premise behind the Krug Kitchen is to match Krug’s champagnes with the 4 courses that we prepared. Aveqia prides itself on having a staff of Michelin starred chefs on hand and it’s certainly reflected in the quality and imagination put into each dish that we cooked up. We started with the Krug 1998 paired with Grapefruit cured salmon with a buckthorn dressing, salted pistacios and smoked mayonnaise. I really liked the ’98 with this dish as the grapefruit really stood out and the ’98 cut right thought the fatty salmon. A pleasure to eat and drink. The second course was one of my favourite dishes, foie gras – yum! Unfortunately, there was a very sweet verjus gelee, glazed pineapples and red grapes as garnish which in my opinion did nothing for the Krug 2000. I love the 2000, a rich and toasty wine, it was great with the foie gras by itself but was overpowered by the sweet accompaniments. The Krug rosé is one of my favourite rosés because it is so delicate yet full of intense flavours. I’m always happy to see it when it makes an appearance. It’s even better when you drink it with a meal and the roasted guinea fowl, vasterbotten cheese croquettes and morels were hearty but not too much for the rosé....

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London Launch of Dom Perignon 2004

Jun 09, 13 London Launch of Dom Perignon 2004

Posted by in Champagne

The Dom Perignon 2004 was an “effortless” wine to make, according to Chef de Cave, Richard Geoffroy. Richard was elucidating on the 2004 during a recent presentation here in London. 2004 was a very good year for grapes, unlike 2003 where just about everything conspired against the vines. For Richard, the challenge was to bring out the character of the grapes in 2004, that year was all about the blending. He compared recent vintages, 2002, 2003, and 2004  and for him, it’s all about the challenge of making a cool climate wine in hot years, something that is occurring with more and more frequency as climate change seems to be taking hold. Although Dom Perignon has a “style”, they are constantly striving for a “re-invention” of what is a Dom Perignon champagne. We then tasted the 2004 and it was although it was a very different champagne from the recent vintages, it still had that DP finesse and elegance. This one however, differed greatly from the 2003, being much more soft and understated. Extremely aromatic at first, with a fresh, mineral nose of spices, dried flowers and, as it developed in the glass, orange blossoms. A soft champagne with very fine bubbles, the 2004 whispers elegance. A fine minerality runs through it along with white peach and citrus notes. This is a champagne that is going to evolve and upon reflection, probably even more so then the 2003. Along with the 2004, we were served a variety of dishes as DP believe that their champagne while often served as an aperitif is best when served with food. The best pairing of the event was the wild sorrel and lemon sole dish – although there was no anise in the dish, that’s all I could taste. Amazingly, it all came from the champagne, a triumph of food and wine matching. I loved it. Of course, we also had caviar, as Richard said, “I cannot think of a Dom Perignon experience without caviar…” I couldn’t agree...

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