Spanish roses for an Indian summer

Indian summer. Why do they call it Indian summer? Summers in India are hot as hell, not to mention wet, it being monsoon season and all. I did a bit of research (ok, looked on Wikipedia) and among the various meanings, this one seemed just as good as any of the others: …the term originated from raids on European colonies by Indian war parties; these raids usually ended in autumn, hence the extension to summer-like weather in the fall as an Indian summer…. That seems to be just as believable as any of the other definitions. So Indian summer not only means it’s still nice and sunny but that means that it’s still rosé weather! It’s no longer hot (not that it ever really got hot this summer) nor have the icy fingers of winter crept down my collar so what better wine to drink then a fresh and fruit driven yet dry rosé. I like rosés because they are so versatile as I’ve said many times and the rosés of Rioja tick all the boxes for a truly delightful drinking experience. Rioja is a big producer of  rosés and they are made up primarily of grenache and tempranillo, both varietals which produce dark red wines so it’s no surprise that Riojan rosés are usually quite dark in colour. I had 4 sent to me to try and they all had the roughly the same characteristics. Dry yet with a fabulous red fruit character, they are perfect food wines, matching with everything from tapas to BBQ. The Campo Viejo Tempranillo rosé is made from 100% tempranillo and is a fresh and funky rosé with plenty of bright red fruits on the nose and palate but no residual sugar. It’s closed with a screwcap so it’s a handle bottle to take along to the park and perfect with snacks. Marques de Vitoria rosé is another 100% tempranill and is a dry and fresh wine, light body but plenty of strawberry and red currant rolling around...

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Lunching at Malmaison

It is now midnight as I write this and I am still full. There used to be this commercial that ran on American TV for Alka-Seltzer, the tagline was, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”. Despite the fact we didn’t “eat the whole thing”  as a matter of fact, we both took doggy bags home, we did stuff ourselves silly. We had 4 courses, which is not unreasonable, but there were some generous portions at the Brasserie of Malmaison. Malmaison is a boutique luxury hotel smack dab in the middle of Clerkenwell and their brasserie serves up tasty local produce all presented quite beautifully. The main draw for me and the reason I was there, were the bespoke wine flights that the restaurant sommelier, Stuart Fife matches with your dining choices. Stuart is new to Malmaison but he comes from Hotel du Vin in Glasgow and his matches were very well done indeed. While I was waiting for my lunching partner, Vintage Macaroon to arrive, I had a browse round the wine cellar and found some familiar labels, Spy Valley, Springfield Estate, Dinastia Vivanco, d’Arenberg Stump Jump, and Chapel Down, to name a few.  As I suspected, Bibendum Wines is the main supplier for Malmaison and they had some of their best on the list. We left ourselves in Stuart’s capable hands and didn’t regret it one bit. I had a very elderflowery, light and refreshing 2007 Bacchus from Chapel Down. I often find English wines to be a bit thin but Chapel Down make an excellent bacchus and it had enough body and elderflower/citrus flavours to match the trio of smoked blinis (haddock, salmon and mackerel pate) I had to start. The smoked fish was very tasty but I thought the blinis were a bit too soft for me, maybe blinis made of buckwheat would be better? I like the slight chewiness of them. I almost forgot to mention the pre-entree amuse bouche of intensely flavoured crab bisque, which would have...

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Everything’s coming up roses for Project Awesome

Rosé! Olé! That was my mission as part of Project Awesome. Some of you may not be familiar with Project Awesome but in a nutshell, The Wineyard & Deli in Morecombe contacted 6 of us bloggers to match their wines with our recipes. While some bloggers got a bit carried away with the whole clandestine operation and posted frequently, I, on the other hand, chose to take the dark horse route (read: didn’t have time to get around to blogging about it til now) but I finally cooked up something for this project. I was sent a bottle of 2008 Raimat Abadia rosé. Rosés are some of my favourite wines and I am on a tireless campaign to remind people that not all rosés are sickly sweet concoctions from California. The Spanish Raimat is an offshoot of the well known cava producer Codorniu. The Raimat vineyards produce still table wines and are also dedicated to producing wines sustainably. While they are not officially certified organic or biodynamic, they try to use minimal agrochemicals, reduce waste and optimize all available local resources. The Raimat rosé is a  blend of cabernet and tempranillo. A lively rosé, it was fresh, crisp and dry with plenty of red cherry and strawberry notes. Not surprisingly, it was bright cherry red, this was certainly no delicate rosé but rather a robust Spanish wine to stand up to the heat that comes from the plains of Spain.  Now, I just want to remind everyone that I am a wine blogger but I seem to be doing more and more with food so, what to pair with this rosé? I had a load of chicken wings and a friend suggested a honey soy marinade so…. that’s what we had for lunch. The recipe is so easy and the chicken wings came out fabulously. A simple spinach, tomato cucumber salad garnished with sunflower seeds and dressed with aged balsalmic vinegar and virgin olive oil and voila! Lunch was served. What I like about...

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Sherry, baby….

“Sheeeeerrrrrrrryyyyyyy,baby. Sherry baby, Sherrrrry, can you come out tonite….” That old song by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons always pops into my head whenever I hear the word sherry. Most people unfortunately, usually associate sherry with grandmothers, rocking away the afternoon with a knit shawl on their lap and a small glass of sherry close by. Tio Pepe is trying to shed that image of fustiness and have come up with the Sherry and Tapas trail. A trip round some of the best tapas bars London has to offer. Between 12th – 18th July 2010 you can enjoy a free glass of Tio Pepe when you order a tapa (worth £4.50 or more) at any of the 9 restaurants on the tapas trail route. Participating restaurants are: Barrafina, Pinchitos, Fino and Barrica on the Central leg of the trail and on the Northern leg: Camino, Bar Pepito, Moro and Pinchitos (Old St.). I joined Eatlikeagirl for part of the Central leg. We visited Fino on Charlotte St. and Pinchitos on Bayley St. Our drink of choice was the Tio Pepe en rama Fino dry sherry. A special edition, unfiltered, dry sherry. If you think sherry is sticky and sweet, drink again! The en rama was dry and crisp, minerally and full bodied with a slight salty, nutty tang to it. The sherry has been taken from the middle of the cask where all the flor (the yeast that grows on the surface of the wine and gives it it’s distinct yeasty overtones) congregates. We tried it with a variety of tapas at Fino, starting off with the most tomatoey pan con tomate I’ve ever had, an explosion of tomato flavours thinly covering the bread, working our way through the morcilla with quail egg, braised pig cheeks and chorizo and potato chips, which were little chorizo sausages wrapped in thin slices of potato. Only the finest ingredients and mouthwateringly good. We had to stop ourselves ordering more as we were heading out to Pinchitos...

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“Brut Nature” Cava from Montau de Sadurni

Here is another wine from Casa Leal that I got to try when I was sidetracked into the Restaurant Trade Show but rather then a Portuguese wine, it’s a cava from Penedes. The cava is produced by Montau de Sadurni.  The Sadurni family have been growing grapes near the village of Begues, 15 miles from Barcelona, since the 16th century and probably been making wine just as long but they have been marketing their wines and cavas under the Montau label since 1987. The Arrels Montau de Sadurni is an extra dry reserve cava, we jokingly referred to it as a “diet cava” as it is a brut nature because it has only 2 gr/litre of sugar – now that is what I call a skinny cava! The cava is produced in the champagne methode meaning it is fermented twice, in vat and then in bottle, aged for 2 years and then sent on it’s merry way. Cava is usually made from xarello, parellada and macabeu and this is no exception. I really liked this cava, lovely, aromatic notes of baked apples and dried figs it had a certain creaminess on the nose that carried onto the palate – nutty, briochy, no bitter notes which can be found in cava sometimes, with spritely bubbles that weren’t too aggressive. A clean finish to round it off.  11.5% alcohol. The family only produce 40,000 bottles a year and it’s going to be retailing here in the UK for £8 so snap some up if you see it. Available from Casa Leal Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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