Madeira Wine Is For More Than Just Cooking

Aug 22, 14 Madeira Wine Is For More Than Just Cooking

Posted by in Food and Wine, Portugal

Recently I had lunch with Humberto Jardim, the managing director of Henriques & Henriques, one of the oldest producers of Madeira, the house being founded in 1850. Madeira has a long and distinguished history but nowadays consumers only consider it when they are cooking which is a shame as there is so much more to Madeira. Over lunch at Maze, Humberto told me a bit about the history of Madeira and where he thinks it should be heading in the future. Madeira can be found in writings from around 1425 and is even mentioned in Shakespear’s plays Falstaff and Richard III. It was used to toast the signing of the American Declaration of Independence and is still used today to toast any who are given the Freedom of the City of London. Although Madeira has been around for centuries and is delicious, it is a complicated wine to navigate. Humberto freely acknowledges this and believes that Madeira has to do a better job of educating the consumer. ┬áThere are so many styles, variations and ages of the wine that it can be difficult to choose just the right one. DOC Madeira is by definition always going to be sweet due to the DOC regulations. Even ‘dry’ Madeira can have up to 115 grams of sugar per litre. The key to Madeira is the balance between the sugar, acidity and alcohol. I should mention that Madeira is a fortified and ‘cooked’ wine, by that I mean it is left to age in heated rooms, often in barrel but also in tank. They are aged this way to duplicate the long sea voyages through tropical climes in cask that first gave us Madeira. One thing you can say about Madeira is that it is virtually indestructible. Even if a bottle has been open for months or years, it will still taste as fresh as the day it was opened. Humberto opines that they should market Madeira according to styles of production. He thinks that Malvasia which...

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Bespoke Cheese & Wine tasting at the Andaz Liverpool St

Oct 31, 11 Bespoke Cheese & Wine tasting at the Andaz Liverpool St

Posted by in Food and Wine, Hotels and Spas

Hidden amongst the hustle and bustle of Liverpool St is the Andaz Hotel. I love the fact that the hotel is situated on the original site of the Bethlehem or “Bedlam”, as it became known in the local vernacular, mental institution. The hospital is long gone but it does make me wonder what sort of crazy goings-on could be playing out behind the stone facade even today. The Andaz was opened in 2007 and the hotel’s mission is to deliver a unique experience incorporating the local personality into the hotel. As the Andaz is located very near the tragically hip and trendy Shoreditch, the place has some rather interesting art work and decor. Having said all that though, I do love walking into the desk-less lobby. The hotel has 5 restaurants and bars from which to choose from and I was invited to try out the Bespoke wine and cheese tastings that they do in the 1901 restaurant. The restaurant also offers cheese and canape or cheese and small plates matchings with wine. First off the space is dominated by a long bar that runs down the centre of the room. It ends with tasting table at the end, surrounded by the wine racks and cheese cupboards. There are over 700 wines to choose from and the best of British cheeses for your bespoke experience. I asked the sommelier, Joris Beijn, to pick out the of wines to go with my British cheeses and a few small plates that we also ordered. Joris chose some fantastic wines to pair, an arneis from Piedmont, by Michele Chiarlo was a surprising start but I do enjoy those savoury Italian whites and this cracker of a wine ticked all the boxes, green apple, grapefruit, hints of lemon pie on an elegant body of wine. Great match with the harder cheeses. There was also a 2000 1er Cru St Aubin on offer as well as the 2006 Rubicon from Meerlust which was great with the very juicy and...

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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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