Billecart-Salmon at Massimo’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar

May 28, 12 Billecart-Salmon at Massimo’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar

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

Walking into Massimo’s Restaurant is quite an impressive experience. I was not expecting the high ceilings, supported by striped white and black columns or the polished mahogany wood and leather banquettes, or the cool marble floors gleaming under the art deco inspired sleek chandeliers. In a way, it seemed like the restaurant should have been located in one of the grand train stations built in the US during the 1930’s, New York’s Grand Central Station or perhaps L.A.’s Union Station, both springing to mind. Massimo’s has a raw bar and it was there that I was directed to take part in a champagne and seafood matching event. Massimo prides itself on their signature dish, crudo, literally meaning “raw fish” in Italian, they are very passionate about using traditional Mediterranean methods and ingredients in all their dishes. And which champagne to pair with the crudo? One of the best, of course. That evening we were being treated to a selection of Billecart-Salmon’s champagnes. I’ve always enjoyed Billecart-Salmon’s champagnes and find that they are great food wines. They’ve been making champagne since 1818 and today the seventh generation are now running the house. We were seated at the serpentine marble topped bar and watched the raw bar chef quickly chuck the oysters in front of us, while we sipped on the Billecart-Salmon Blanc de blanc Grand Cru vintage. Paired with 3 native oysters, the Roch Loch Lyne, Colchester and Irish Rock, the champagne took on a different character with each oyster. The monsterously big Roch Loch Lyne was a big and meaty and the delicate Grand Cru was almost lost amongst the saline character of the oyster. The Colchester fared better, there being more of a balance and a crisp iodine note coming from the champagne. Lastly, the Irish Rock seemed to pair best with the champagne, a perfect balance of soil and sea, good minerality showing off from both and excellent balance. Neither seemed to outshine the other and complemented each other nicely: “Those are...

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A Rose night in Soho…

Apr 23, 12 A Rose night in Soho…

Posted by in Food and Wine, France

There’s something about a glass of rosé from Provence that is so pleasing to the eye, a seductive quality in it’s shimmering hues that makes me just want to dive right in. I remember when I was first introduced to Provençal rosé, I was immediately smitten.  Professionally, we are trained to judge a wine by its colour but way before I got into the wine trade, I knew that there was something evocative and special about the rosés of Provence. Many British holiday-makers associate those pink tinged wines with long, lazy, hot summer days on the beaches of Southern France. Having grown up in California, I don’t, but they still have a siren call for me. Before you ask, no, I wasn’t hitting the rosé bottle before I sat down to write this post. I did, however, attend a dinner recently at Bistro du Vin Soho sponsored by Provence Wines, the generic body that promotes all wines Provençal. Wine has been made in Provence since 600 BC when the Greeks brought it over after colonizing the coast and founding Marseille. The Greeks were making wine long before the Romans had ever set foot in France, although, it was the Romans who spread the cultivation of vines to the Rhone and beyond. The first wines made by the Greeks were in fact a pale pink colour because at the time maceration was unknown and so the wines produced had little contact with the skins – just enough to give it a rosy shade. Wine making has progressed and we now have wines that come in various shades but the vignerons of Provence still carry on making their beautiful rosés. Provence is made up of 3 appellations, Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence. The region itself produces 88% of all rosé produced in France with Côtes de Provence producing primarily rosé wine. There are more then a dozen varieties allowed in the production of rosé but the majority use a combination of grenache,...

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Scary fish and Churchill’s port & wines

Apr 11, 12 Scary fish and Churchill’s port & wines

Posted by in Food and Wine, Portugal, Travel

EEEEKKKKKK! That is one scary looking fish. I bet you’re wondering what exactly it has to do with wine. Well, that is what greeted me after my tour of the cellars of Churchill’s Port’s new visitor centre and lodge in Gaia, Portugal. It’s not some mutant fished out of a polluted river in South East Asia, it was actually our dinner. And a very tasty dinner it was. The salmon (yes, that’s what it is) had been smoked for hours in a old port wine barrel before being plated up and left to scare me upon emerging from the cellars. Despite it’s appearance, it was delicious, having an intensely salmon flavour without the oiliness that so often accompanies smoked salmon. The flesh was flaky and dry but not dried out – served with a mustard dill sauce, it was divine and paired with Churchill’s table rosè wine, a perfect way to end a Friday. Churchill’s Port was my last stop on a 4 day trip to the Douro Valley and Porto, Portugal with Discover the Origin. DTO’s mission is to introduce us to the lesser known but still amazing food and wine regions of Europe, the Douro Valley and port wine being one of the areas on their list. The very charming Johnny Graham, founder of Churchill’s, was our host and happily led us through a tasting of not only Churchill’s port wines but also the line of table wines that they are now producing. Churchill’s is a young port house, founded only 30 years ago after Graham’s was bought out by a big conglomeration. Johnny found that he couldn’t use his surname but he could use his wife’s to found his own port wine house. The new visitor centre and tasting room we were visiting is situated overlooking the Douro River in Gaia and is where Churchill’s currently ages their ports. Speaking to Johnny though, he told us that they are currently in the process of building a new winery in the Douro...

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Latest podcast- Japanese koshu, Rioja and the wines of Navarra

Mar 26, 12 Latest podcast- Japanese koshu, Rioja and the wines of Navarra

Posted by in Asia, Podcast, Spain

This episode features one of Japan’s few female winemakers, Ayana Misawa, 5th generation winemaker for Grace winery (“Chuo Budoshu” in Japanese). I met Ayana at the annual Koshu of Japan tasting, held in London in late February 2012 and she sat down to tell me a bit more about the history of the koshu grape in Japan. In the UK market, Rioja is one of the most reliable and dependable wines around. However, the Spanish have woken up to the fact that they need to innovate and I met up with the winemaker for one of the centenary wineries of Rioja, Bodagas Bilbainas. Rioja has a number of wineries that are over one hundred years old but that hasn’t stopped them from looking at innovative or different ways of making their wine. Diego Pinella Navarro, head wine maker, is part of the new generation taking Rioja wines into the future. Lastly, I move up a bit further north to the wines of Navarra. Navarra is situated just north of Rioja but other then the rosés of the region, most people don’t know much about the wines. I chatted with the Consul General of the D.O.  Jordi Vidal when he was in London last week to find out more about what’s going on there, both with the traditional varieties they have always used as well as some newer ones. And, the regions wine making connections with France…. Any questions or comments, just leave me a note in the comment section. Find the podcast on iTunes: or Podomatic if you don’t have iTunes: Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Wine(sleuth) and (London) Food(ie) matching supper club

So the London Foodie and I put on a supper club not long ago. How did that happen? And more importantly, how did it go? Luiz and I were sitting around one evening, shooting the breeze and imbibing a delicious red Rhone. “We should do a dinner with food and wine matching!” One of us always says that whenever we start drinking the vino but we never get around to actually picking a date. This time was different. “Let’s pick a date and do it,” I said. Goading Luiz on, he jumped on the laptop and put up a post right then and there announcing our supper club date. Next morning – “uh-oh.” Luiz came up with a menu in two seconds but me, well…better get thinking about what to match with Japanese (!) cuisine. Japanese food is notoriously difficult to pair with wine and for some reason we decided to call the evening ” French wine and Japanese food” in our wine haze. I love champagne and honestly, it does work so very well with  Japanese cuisine so a quick email to Perrier Jouet and they offered up the Mumm NV rosé for one of our courses. I paired it with the starter of tuna tataki with yuzu dressing. Rosé champagne is great with food, sometimes even better then non-rosé champagne. Everyone was surprised and delighted to be served bubbles in the middle of a meal. The rest of the menu featured still table wines from my friends over at DVine Wine. Greg and co. are big on sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines and I was impressed by their range when I worked with them on a recent market stall. I chose a 2010 sauvignon blanc from Guy Allion in the Loire. A elderflower and gooseberry flavoured wine, a great aperitif and paired with the canapes of Yakitori Chicken, Peppers and Baby Leek in Teriyaki Sauce and sushi, everyone commented on what a delight the wine was both by itself and with the...

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