Grüner Veltliner and a lovely big Sea Bass

I encountered two problems tasting wine this evening. Firstly Mr F has bought this hand soap which literally smells like something you might use in a Thai prison; secondly my flat is filled with the smell of cheese straws (I am being very good and using up the left over puff pastry from the beef wellington) and it is difficult to pick out any flavour characteristics in a wine when all you can smell is cheese and prison-soap!!

Tonight I am drinking Grüner Veltliner… Grüner who…?? Grüner Veltliner. More specifically the Domaene Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner 2011 (and yes I did spell Domaene right). Next to the Von Trapp family (I MUST re-watch the Sound of Music) Grüner Veltliner is the best thing to come out of Austria. This particular example is a stunner – with a clean minerally nose the palate has a surprising spritz; steely acidity and the most fantastic flavours of apples, citrus fruits, pear, and yet more of that minerality. It is ever so slightly off-dry and absolutely delicious with an epic length. Be warned – do not drink this wine too cold; you need to be able to taste it.

This is exactly what I’d hoped for to go with my sea bass which I bought from the fish man at the farmer’s market on Sunday. Said fish man has kindly lopped off the head and tail, which for some reason I requested to keep (can’t think why now). I do not cook fish often (something I am trying to rectify) and as such need to summon the wisdom of an old Italian cookbook I own for inspiration as to what to do with it…  Continue reading…

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Beef Wellington

I am writing this while listening to my little sister’s new radio show (such a rock star!) so may be a little distracted.

Yesterday we had the in-laws for lunch. On request from Mr F we had beef wellington – actually this has been the standard response to the “what shall we have for dinner?” question for the last 5 years and I have managed to avoid it until now. Irritatingly I was overcome by some irrational need to prove that I AM a good wife and I CAN work with pastry (I’m not, and I can’t) – no pressure then.

As well as not working well with pastry the second problem is my oven. I really think the only acceptable thing to have alongside beef wellington is dauphinoise potatoes but when you have an oven the size of mine it is tricky juggling the the two. After I lot of discussion I figured out how to work round the problem (cooked the potatoes first and then kept warm with foil over the top while the beef cooked), and thank God as nothing else would have done quite such a good job…  Continue reading…

The French, The Spanish and the Not-So-Great Pig

Having just gone public with my blog (when I say public I mean having actually coughed up my blog address to people that actually know me) I’m feeling a modicum of pressure today. Not least because I have no doubt that any factual or grammatical errors will be repeated back to me within minutes. This is also going to be my first entirely wine-based post – yes it really has taken me 5 posts to finally get to the point…

Albariño really is a fantastic wine and we are slowly starting to see more of it available in the UK. It comes from the Rias Baixas region in Galicia and is immensely popular both locally and in the rest of Spain. As with so many other wines this goes brilliantly with the local cuisine which is seafood and shellfish. The one I’ve tried today is Sainsbury’s Albariño from their Taste the Difference range – although I bought it in Sainsbury’s Local for £8.49 it is available from bigger Sainsbury’s at £7.99 (more fool me). Pale lemon in colour this wine has an unbelievably fresh nose of lemon-sherbert, peach and stone fruits. It is medium bodied, retains the stone fruit flavour on the palate but with a much more apply character. It is given structure by it’s stoney minerality, fresh acidity and an ever so slight spritz. It is often said that Albariño is a great alternative to Chardonnay but I know that will put a lot of people off. It has more body than you’d expect for a wine with otherwise delicate flavours and is definitely one worth trying if you haven’t before.  Continue reading…

Gingernuts – my faves!

On a milk-run to the corner shop this afternoon I was overcome by an overwhelming craving for gingernut biscuits. This happens. They are, in my opinion, the most underrated biscuits and by far my favourites. But the corner shop didn’t have any – what kind of self respecting corner shop doesn’t sell gingernut biscuits!! Rather than unleash my almost uncontrollable rage (sugar low) on the very nice man behind the counter I decided to be proactive about it. And Delia came to my rescue. Me and Delia are not always the best of pals (last year’s mince-pie-gate leaps to mind) but today we are BFFs.

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Herne Hill Farmers Market, two plump partridges and some delicious Pinot Noir!

I was in trouble yesterday morning. Apparently I’d got a little ‘carried away’ on Saturday night and Mr F was not happy. As punishment I was turfed out the house to buy breakfast (I HATE having to leave the house to buy breakfast) only to find that Mr F had broken my bicycle the week before and had slyly been trying to fix it before I’d noticed. The fact that he’d been caught out went quite a long way to putting me back in the good books but it did mean having to walk to the shops. So off I went grumble grumble…

The up side to this long-winded tale is that I’d forgotten Sundays are Farmers Market days in Herne Hill as of a few months ago. And it’s brilliant! They have all sorts of things from a fishmonger (selling some truly incredible looking sea bass), cakes, antiques and various butchers. The particular butcher I was seduced by probably had something to do with the fact that he had a pile (see pile below) of partridges sitting on the side of his stall. So that’s my dinner sorted. When someone’s selling partridge for £2.99 each in London that’s me sold, and for an absolute steal I thought.

“But what to drink with these delicious partridges?” you cry! Well one of the best things about game birds is you can choose what your’e in the mood for as they comfortably go with either red or white wine. If I had been in the mood for white wine I would have gone for Chardonnay. “Anything but Chardonnay” you cry!! Well we’ll deal with that another day. But something delicious from Burgundy would have done brilliantly; something buttery with a hint of oak.  Continue reading…