Taking on a pork willy


Pork tenderloin is the sort of thing I look at in the supermarket not quite knowing what to do with it. For that reason alone (and also perhaps the fact that I find these enormous pork willies mildly alarming to look at) I’ve never actually cooked one. The other day I picked one up and spent the next couple of days trying to decide how to approach it. Having scoured the internet and found a plethora of options I settled on the one below and it is definitely something I’ll be coming back to. The other great thing was that it forced me into the Chinese supermarket which is somewhere I just don’t spend enough time. That said there’s nothing here you wouldn’t be able to find easily elsewhere.

Flat rice noodles with sticky Vietnamese grilled pork

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • a small bunch coriander
  • 500g pork tenderloin
  • 200ml rice wine vinegar
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsp roasted salted peanuts, crushed
  • 250g flat rice noodles

Mix together the fish sauce, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, 20g sugar, sesame oil and 1/2 the coriander. Cut the tenderloin in half and mix with the marinade and leave for 30mins or overnight if you can.

Pork marinade

Heat the vinegar and remaining sugar in a small saucepan. Boil until thickened for 5-10 mins, then cool. Beware that it is impossible to tell if it has thickened until it has cooled a bit – I boiled mine for much longer and then had to add more vinegar back into it as it had thickened far too much. Also be careful when tasting as this stuff turns MOLTEN hot.

Pour boiling water over the noodles and leave until cooked al dente. Drain, rinse with cool water and drain again. Dry in a tea towel and drizzle with a little extra oil to keep from sticking.

Cook the pork under a hot grill (or bbq) for 10-15mins until browned and starting to blacken on the outside and just pink on the inside. Try and baste with the marinading liquid as the pork cooks to make the most of all the delicious flavours.

Pork cooked

Once cooked remove from the grill and leave to rest for a few minutes. Meanwhile reheat the noodles in a hot wok – this will only take 30 secs or so. To serve slice the pork into thin slices , place over a bed of noodles with the sticky chilli and peanut sauce on top. Finish off with some extra coriander.

The sauce gives a distinct element of sweetness to this dish and for that reason and all the aromatic flavours that have gone into it I would match it with an off dry Riesling or Pinot Gris.


Recipe adapted from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com


Lunching at The Shed


It is quite a spectacle going out to lunch with my family. There are so many of us (I have 2 brothers, 2 sisters and between us we now have 3 plus ones in tow) and inevitably end up slightly taking over every restaurant we ever go to leaving me feeling faintly sorry through the haze of alcohol for the other folk there who were probably looking forward to a nice quiet luncheon and who through no fault of their own and some horrible twist of fate ended up next to us.

On this occasion (my sister’s birthday) we took our noisiness (and discerning palates) to The Shed in Notting Hill. For me, as a concept, The Shed rather symbolises ‘living the dream’. The two guys who run it hale from Sussex not far from where I grew up and they source the majority of their produce either from their younger brother’s farm or other local farmers. The menu changes daily depending on what’s available and it makes you feel like jumping up and down on one of their kettle drum tables singing ‘The Circle of Life’. And it’s all very farmyard themed – the top of their bar is made out of what looks like the bonnet of a John Deer tractor and there’s tractor wallpaper in the loo. The other chap in the restaurant celebrating his birthday (who had obviously had the forethought to tell them in advance) had his birthday cake ‘rung’ in to the room with a cow bell!

All this would be incidental if the food wasn’t good. But it was SO GOOD! The kind of good that means we all sort of couldn’t cope with how good it was. We were at first slightly confused by the menu but had it gently explained to us by our extremely patient waiter – it’s all about small plates here, like tapas but English. This is bad news if you’re not good at sharing but really good news if you’re looking at a menu (like we all were) thinking there is no heavenly way in the world you would ever be able to pick two dishes out of all this deliciousness. As it was we ordered 13 out of the possible 16 dishes (they are split into two categories of ‘Slow Cooking’ and ‘Fast Cooking’) and many of these we doubled up on.

Veal Medallions, Bone Marrow Pesto
Veal Medallions, Bone Marrow Pesto

Highlights were the Lamb Chips – slow cooked lamb pulled apart and put back together into a ‘chip’ shape, rolled in bread crumbs and crisped up in the deep fat frier. The Scotched Mozzarella and Veal made us all literally all bend forward in unison and go ‘Ooooooh’ before having to up our order to 3 portions. The Veal Medallions with Bone Marrow Pesto almost made my father fall off his chair with excitement and for me the Hake with Fennel Ground Pork, White Beans and Wild Garlic was one of the best dishes I have had in a long long time and had me reaching for my notebook to try and remember to recreate it (in my dreams) at home. Even the desserts (yes we had room, just) were phenomenal – all twists on old favourites – Rhubarb Jelly with Crumble Ice Cream, Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding and Magnum Vienetta Parfait. I am still not genuinely sure what a parfait actually is (it always makes me think of Donkey from Shrek – you know the scene) but all I know is I would eat that for dessert every time I went out for the rest of my life and die a happy (yet rather portly) woman.

Hake, Fennel Ground Pork, White Beans, Wild Garlic
Hake, Fennel Ground Pork, White Beans, Wild Garlic

I never actually saw a wine list but the house red and white (a Merlot and a Languedoc blend respectively) kept us happy throughout the meal. I believe they serve ‘Nutty Nutbourne’ as their house fizz which is certainly worth a try if you have any interest in English Sparkling Wines and if you don’t, shame on you, you should and it’s time to get on board.

Please bear this place in mind the next time you go out. It really was one of the most fun lunches we had all had in a long long time. It is informal, relaxed but attentive service. The food is brilliant and exciting and delicious but without being fussy or poncy. I can’t wait to go back and I only hope that living the dream is as good for them on the inside looking out as it seemed to me from the outside looking in.

Pigeon, Butter Leaf Salad, Bacon, Hazelnut, Port... with a little bit missing
Pigeon, Butter Leaf Salad, Bacon, Hazelnut, Port… with a little bit missing

Website – www.theshed-restaurant.com

Nutbourne Vineyards – www.nutbournevineyards.com

Yealands Estate and the Awatere Valley

For the longest time I have struggled with Sauvignon Blanc. It used to be my go-to grape for everything (a bit more interesting than Pinot Grigio but that was about where my wine knowledge ended) which I think was partly the problem – overkill! Suddenly the sometimes aggressive herbaceousness and high acidity became all too much for me and I had to resign myself to the inevitable conclusion that I had ‘gone off’ Sauvignon.

TamraUntil a few weeks ago I was invited to a fantastic wine tasting with Yealands Estate hosted by their chief winemaker Tamra Washington. I can categorically say that the evening has reignited my love for Sauvignon Blanc. The home of Yealands Estate is the Awatere Valley in Marlborough New Zealand. They are a relatively new producer having only produced their first vintage in 2008 and are now at the forefront of sustainable winemaking in New Zealand. I have to just linger on this point for a second to tell you about their sheep! They have these tiny little sheep, aptly named Babydoll sheep, that they introduced to the vineyard for weed and grass management which are too small to reach the grapes; this completely appeals to the farmer’s daughter in me.

Awatere Valley

I have never properly considered the concept of terroir in the New World before. Terroir is something I would associate much more strongly with the Old World and especially the older vineyard sites in Burgundy. The fact that a Premier Cru and Grand Cru site can be mere metres apart yet the wines still display the nuances in soil type and aspect completely blows my mind. Tamra talked about the importance of microclimates in the Awatere Valley – these microclimates are created my the undulating terroir throughout. Their Seaview Vineyard boasts the most significant planting of vines in the Awatere Valley; the vineyards are closer to the sea than anywhere else in Marlborough which results in it being cooler, dryer and windier. This results in a longer growing season for the grapes which produces wines with distinctive mineral characteristics.

The focus on the importance of microclimates at Yealands Estate has led them to harvest and mature different ‘blocks’ of Sauvignon Blanc completely separately. There are around 160 blocks in total; the coastal Sauvignons (from Seaview) produce a purer mineral and herbal character whereas the Sauvignons from further inland are less herbal with a more tropical character. This has inspired the concept of single block wines and Yealands now produce 4 different Sauvignon Blancs that are bottled as Single Block.

The main lesson we have learned today – Marlborough does not produce one single style of Sauvignon Blanc!

The Wines

Yealands PNWe tried a lot of wine. All different, all interesting for different reasons. It seems mean, and frankly far too difficult, to pick and choose between them so I’m just going to tell you about them all! Most of these are from 2012 vintage – this was a very cool, dry vintage where the grapes were harvested extremely late. This was the best and longest ripening season to date for Yealands Estate:

  • Yealands Estate Single Block S1 Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – Tropical nose with more citrus and grapefruit on the palate. There was more body than you’d expect with a mineral salty character coming from the 3 months this wine had spent on lees.
  • Yealands Estate Single Block M2 Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – Much more closed than the last wine with an almost (!) sweaty nose, more of a gooseberry flavour of minerality. This is from the Wairau area which has heavier soils, flat land and no wind exposure. You would usually expect a more tropical fruit character to this wine as Wairau is warmer but since 2012 was particularly cool it displayed more citrus than tropical fruit.
  • Yealands Estate Single Block L5 Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – This is a classic Seaview wine displaying lots of power on the palate with a distinct flavour of Romano peppers and thyme. The fruit is cool and clean with a brilliant finish.
  • Yealands Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – The best blocks go into this wine – it is a blend of 3 different blocks. Extremely well balanced with a fresh fruit character on the nose with great length and minerality.
  • Yealands Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – For me this had a really gentle, creamy, nutty flavour whilst still being very much a Sauvignon Blanc. It has seen a bit of oak but it’s very very subtle – 33% of the blend has gone from the press to old oak barrels where it has been left to ferment naturally. It is then blended back with the unoaked tank wine.
  • Yealands Estate Riesling 2012 – This wine was super dry with searing acidity. The lemon and lime characteristics were rounded off by a softer finish – this could do with a bit of time to open up.
  • Yealands Estate Gruner Veltliner 2012 – There are only 30ha of GV planted in New Zealand and I confess I’ve never tried one before. The palate was soft and spicy with a touch of floralness and a hint of white pepper. There are two picks for this wine (one early and one late) which results in a wine with a full body while retaining a distinctive mineral streak.
  • Yealands Estate Viognier 2012 – A classic Viognier nose and a tropical (almost banana?) palate. 40% of the blend has spent time in old oak. Excellent length.
  • Yealands Estate Single Block R6 Pinot Gris 2012 – This was brilliant – an apricoty nose and flavours of stone fruits, white peach, pear, spice but still with a savouriness. This wine has also spent time on lees meaning a mineral character is apparent under the fruit.
  • Yealands Estate Pinot Noir 2011 – A nose of green pepper, white pepper and extremely underripe cherry. The palate is spicy cherry fruit with good length – quite a restrained style.
  • Yealands Estate Reserve Central Otago Pinot Noir 2012 – A much riper nose than the previous wine; more plums, velvety, lush, spiced cherry and a distinctive smokiness with great length. I loved this wine.

The Sauvignons were stunning; the Pinot Gris and Otago Pinot Noir also really stood out for me. It was a tremendous evening and thrilling to have the focus on what was for me an unknown aspect of New Zealand wine. We were given an outstanding dinner by the Union Club of roast salmon and salsa verde starter, an enormous braised lamb shank followed by cheese and drank the wine out of beautiful and extremely decadent Baccarat glasses.

Watch out for these wines and if you come across them – BUY THEM!

LambshankYealands Estate – www.yealandsestate.co.nz

Union Club – www.unionclub.co.uk

Chateau Baccarat – www.baccarat.com

Other excellent posts

Yealands Estate Tasting and Dinner with Tamra Washington – Cambridge Wine Blogger

Yealands Estate, producing vibrant fruity wines with big character – Kandabites

Relight My Sauvignon Fire – SipSwooshSpit