Europe’s iconic wine families, Primum Familiae Vini comes to London

Feb 15, 12 Europe’s iconic wine families, Primum Familiae Vini comes to London

Posted by in Food and Wine

2012 sure is shaping up to be the year to be in London. So, we’ve got the Olympics, the Para-Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee etc.  But what made it even more special, for me, was this was the year that the Primum Familiae Vini came to town. The PFV picks an international capital city once a year to play host to them. Now this may not sound like a big deal but the PFV also bring their wines with them. And now it gets interesting. What is the PFV you may be asking? They are a group of the leading wine families in the world. By world, I mean Europe and by leading, I mean, the creme de la creme. Marchese Antinori, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Joseph Drouhin, Egon Muller Scharzhof, Hugel & Fils, Champagne Pol Roger, Perrin & Fils, the Symington Family Estates, Tenuta San Guido, Miguel Torres and Vega Sicilia. Their charter states that they can have a maximum of  12 members but currently there are only 11 members of the group. PFV was established in 1992 and is by invitation only. While PVF might seem to be a bunch of old houses clubbing together, the real goal of the group is “a passion for the pursuit of excellence”. Started by Robert Drouhin and Miguel Torres when they were chatting and walking around a vineyard, they realized they had many of the same goals both in traditional winemaking values and business concerns.  It has since grown into a collective where they can share their knowledge and expertise as well as help each other out in the marketplace. While they are here to show their wines to the press and public, they also hold several tastings as well as a gala dinner and auction to raise funds for various local charities. Another major goal of the partnership is to pass on their knowledge to the next generation and many had brought along their progeny to lunch. Etienne Hugel joked that they were hoping for a...

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Angel & Crown, good pub grub (and wine, too!)

Jan 23, 12 Angel & Crown, good pub grub (and wine, too!)

Posted by in Food and Wine, restaurants

The Angel &  Crown is a new gastropub just re-opened in St. Martin’s Lane. A stones throw from Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, ENO and numerous West End theatres, it’s in a great location and not only pulls a good pint, they have also redesigned the pub so that the upstairs is now a snappy dining room. The pub was taken over by The ETM Group and has been transformed from an old fashioned boozer into a cozy gastropub. The upstairs dining room is compact but not crowded and has a small bar to cater to diners. The menu is full of British seasonal foods and specialities. I was invited to dine by ETM and they had devised a menu to show off the cuisine. While we were waiting for everyone to show up we had pork crackling, black pudding Scotch egg and devilled whitebait to nibble on, all available as bar snacks and ranging in price form £3 – £6.50. I loved the Scotch egg, black pudding is one of my favourites and wrapped around the egg, was delicious. We had London Bellinis (pressed apple and elderflower topped with Prosecco) to sip on while waiting, a bit on the sweet side for me, I asked for extra Prosecco! One of the things they aim to do is to bring the wine list out of it’s ghettoized existence and actually have wines that you’d be happy to drink, not just watery pinot grigio or a fruit bomb of a cabernet. The first wine we had was surprisingly, a German riesling. Riesling gets a bad rap but the Dr. Burklin Wolf trocken 201o is as dry as they come. A delightful nose of orange blossom, beeswax and white flowers with a bit of passion fruit, on the palate it’s dry but fruity, candied lemon, passionfruit and lime leaf finishing it off. A fantastic match with the potted smoked mackerel and dill, the wine cut right through the mackerel and left me wanting more of both but...

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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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Great once you find it…dinner at the Fish Place in Battersea

Jul 20, 11 Great once you find it…dinner at the Fish Place in Battersea

Posted by in Food and Wine

I went to The Fish Place for dinner with a German (well, she grew up there) friend of mine, not long ago and since we were having some rather substantial fish dishes, I asked Artan, (the manager) who was serving us, to bring us an interesting wine.  He brought  a 2005 riesling from the Nahe, the Tesch Lohrer Berg Riesling spatlese trocken. A VDP wine, which means it’s a member of a select group of Germany’s top winemakes, the Weingut Tesch has been in existence since 1723. When the wine was poured, the first thing that hit me were notes of petrol and lots of it. Yes, just what a German riesling with a few years on it should have. “Ewww! Is it any good?” asked Funda, my dining companion. I was a bit surprised but apparently not all Germans find that petrol-like aroma agreeable (actually, a lot of people don’t find it very agreeable but The Winesleuth does). There goes another national stereotype down the tubes. The Tesch however, displayed plenty of those classic German riesling characteristics of toast, paraffin, wax, petrol, quince and passionfruit. Lovely  balanced wine with an oily mouthfeel (again not a hit with Funda) and still very lively, this was  a great wine (for me) for dinner. I took pity on Funda and ordered an albariño which she found much more agreeable. The Albariño is produced by the Eidosela winery in Rias Baixas and was 100% albariño. The 2009 was fresh and fruity, peach and apricot dominating with a good body, excellent acidity and despite the very ripe nose, pleasingly dry. I still preferred the riesling with our meal but the albariño was good match as well.The wine list is made up of wines that the restaurant thinks goes best with fish and is a selection of Old and New World white wines with plenty of light to medium bodied red wines to choose from as well. Who says you can’t have red wine with fish? So what did we eat? It was hard...

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What’s for dessert? Forrest Estate Botrytised Riesling 2006

What’s for dessert? No matter how many courses there may be for a meal, whether it be 2 or 8, I always look forward to the dessert or pudding (as they call it here in England) course. An amusing story regarding the word”pudding”. Years ago when I first came to London from California, fresh out of university, I got a job as a waitress in the West End. One night an English customer asked me if we had any puddings. I replied, unwittingly, I should add, “I’m sorry sir, but we don’t have any pudding. We do however have some very nice desserts.” Needless to say, he gave me a very strange look. At the time I didn’t realize that “pudding” was the English version of what we call “dessert” in the States. Pudding in America denotes something like a tapioca pudding, not as creamy as a mousse but similar. “Two countries divided by a common language,” indeed! After a rather delicious lunch of tapas at The Providores not long ago, Vintage Macaroon (pictured) and I were debating what to have for dessert. Rather then sharing a dessert we ended up with two desserts and two wines! Yes, we are greedy and insatiable. We’d had a bottle of riesling with lunch so we carried on with a racy New Zealand botrytised riesling from Forrest Estate and a Noble semillon from Pegasus Bay. I enjoyed the semillon but the real stand out for me was the riesling. Forrest Estate has an interesting story. It’s a winery that was founded by two Drs., John and Brigid Forrest, one a molecular biologist and the other a medical doctor, who chucked it all in to try their hand at winemaking. As they say on their site, they did it because they wanted “…a mixture of the wine ‘passion’ and a desire to achieve and be recognised and rewarded for ones efforts. In hindsight we struck upon a career which suits our personalities – a perfect blend of art...

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