Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Wines to drink with Christmas Pudding

or Plum Pudding as I believe the Americans call it.

OK it is a bit late for this year but make a note for next year. I was asked about this very topic a couple of weeks ago by a colleague but never dropped him an email with my suggestions so this is for Nigel to file away.

As luck would have it Bob presented a choice of five desert wines with Christmas Pudding on Boxing day all of which were on my list (and I will add my other suggestions at the end):

• Muscat de Beaume de Venise, Domain de Durban 2004
• Brown Brother Orange Flora and Muscat 2004
• Miranda Raisined Muscat 2002
• Commandaria, SODAP
• Matusalem, Gonzalez Byass, Oloroso Dulce Muy Viejo

To which I would add
• Asti, Italian sparkling
• Liqueur Muscat (e.g. Rutherglen)

The Miranda (from Majestic) was a great match and probably the best with the little known Cypriot Commandaria coming a close second but IMHO it was a photo finish.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Merry Christmas to all our readers

I hope you all had as pleasant and relaxing a Christmas as we did. Ours followed a well trod path: The usual Farnham Potlatch the Sunday before Christmas to exchange gifts with my family. Then we took the Friday off so we could get down to the cottage on Thursday night thus avoiding the pre-holiday traffic jams. Christmas day we hosted Bob&Lynn plus Lynne's parents, Pam&John, to a five course lunch with goose as the bird and some fine wines. Then Boxing Day B&L reciprocated.

Our meal finished with a 1955 Taylor's Port and an excellent selection of cheesy comestibles from Neal's Yard Dairy in Covent Garden. That is another thing I love about living in London, Mary can phone me up, I can pop out at lunchtime and in five minutes I am in one of the finest cheese shops in the country. In and out in 10 minutes with three kilos of the tastiest of cheeses.

A colleague of Mary's left it too close to Christmas and had to queue out the shop and down the street. The gentleman in front of her announced that he had come to collect a cheddar - a whole truckle and they are big! When offered the use of a trolley to convey it to his car he said "No thanks my chauffeur will carry it". He completed his shopping and left with over 550 pounds worth (USD 950) of cheese, now that is what I call a cheese board.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Gullible's Travels by Ring Lardner

The answer is "Lardner" not "Peters" assuming some crossword compiler has reused the clue from New York Times crossword puzzle on 09 November 2005. See earlier post Gullible's Travels by Cash Peters

Read the Lardner version here: Gullible's Travels by Ring Lardner.

Or buy the Cash Peters version at Gullible's Travels : The Adventures of a Bad Taste Tourist

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Daffodil at Le Gavroche

Saturday was the Daffodil Dining Club's Christmas meal at Le Gavroche. We had the Scottish contingent down for the weekend: mother-in-law May, sister-in-law Sandra, husband George and their two children, nine-year-old Ross and five-year-old Sarah.

As it was Sandra's birthday on Saturday and George's on Monday we treated them to the meal as a double birthday present. Micheal Roux himself came round and signed their menus with birthday wishes which made for an excellent souvenir. We were also joined by usual suspects Pete&Amanda. Seven courses this time with the high-light being foie gras and the duck "pastilla".


The House of Albert Roux "Lenoble" Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Ragout D'Huitres et Coquilles St. Jacques aux Truffes et Poireaux

Pernand Vergelesses 2001 Domaine Chanson

Escalope de Foie Gras Chaud et Pastilla a la Cannelle

Pinot Gris "Selection de Grains Nobles" 2000 Trimbach

Filet de Rouget au Vin Rouge et Crouton a la Moelle, Ragout de Pleurotes et Persil

Nuit Saints Georges "Vielles Vignes" 2001 Domaine Chevillon

Noisette de Chevreuil a la Souce Poivrade et Airelles

Chataux La Croix St. Georges 1997 Pomerol

Le Plateau de Fromages Affines

Chateau Cabezac "Belvize" 2002 Minervois

Christmas Pudding

Vin de Constance 2000 Klein Constantia

Cafe, Petits Fours & Mince Pies

Unlike the previous Daffodil the sommeliers hung back on the white wines so we were in a fit state to appreciate the reds *and* did not need a siesta when we got back home.

May had drawn the baby-sitting short straw and we returned to find the Christmas tree decorated by the wee'uns under her supervision: chilli lights from New Orleans - very festive :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Office Christmas Party

Last night was the client's Christmas party, held at the London Trocadero. I did not go as even the offer of free food and wine is not enough of an incentive, I need good company as well and as most of my team colleagues were not going I decided not to either. As it turns out the straw poll round the floor just happened to hit the refuseniks and in fact I would have had company there. Oh well. I await reports as to how the evening went.

On the other hand last Thursday was the far more exclusive M&M Enterprises Christmas do. It was late night shopping in Oxford Street so Mary and I met up after work to go in search of designer handbags for me to give to Mary for Christmas. An abortive tour of [Debenhams' correction] Selfridge's leather goods section revealed many outrageously priced reticules but none that met madam's exacting requirements so we adjourned to Sketch Lecture Room and Library for supper which we declared to be our company Christmas party and therefore tax-deductable.

It was superb, as you would expect from a Michelin one-star, and I await Mary's write-up, meanwhile you can Google "sketch library restaurant reviews". We went for the six course taster menu at GBP 90 per head and went middle of the carte du vin. The consensus view is that the food is superb and the price outrageous so don't go unless you are prepared for that and want the gastronomic experience. Like shop windows without prices: "If you have to ask the price, you can't afford to shop there".

Friday, December 09, 2005

Oh, mister porter, what shall I do?

I wanted to go to Birmingham, but they've carried me on to Crewe. *

Saturday night saw a personal first... I fell asleep on the train and missed my stop. Having spent the evening with J&A in St Albans I caught the 10:04 train back to King's Cross Thameslink. Unfortunately, despite the modest libations, my eyelids grew heavy and the train whisked me through KX, across London, over the Thames and was heading out the other side.

I awoke with a start to find I was at *lovely* Elephant and Castle. As luck would have it the train was not headed for Brighton and Hove or Hastings but, far more modestly, Wimbledon. So I sat it out, did a backward zag-zig to Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Town and arrived home half an hour later than originally anticipated.

Note to self: Set timer on phone next trip.

* Marie Lloyd

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl

but she doesn't have a lot to say *

They say that HM must think the world smells of fresh paint. She must also feel a bit like Moses parting the Red Sea as traffic jams miraculously melt away at her approach.

Yesterday morning as I turned right off Horse Guards Road onto the Mall there was a flurry of Police motor bikes. Heading towards me from Buck House were two sleek and well fed cars.

The front car was, I think, a Bentley discreetly crested and probably contained "Brenda" and "Phil the Greek" but it was hard to tell as she didn't wave to me :-(

The second car was a jet black Daimler with a matrix sign on the back parcel shelf that flashed "Police" ... "Keep" ... "Back". Somehow it did not seem like a request more an order. So I did, not wanting to invoke a sense of humour failure.

Instead of doing their normal leapfrog routine and stopping the side road traffic they took the simple expedient of driving straight through the wrong side of Admiralty arch and *poof* just like that, they were gone.

* Her Majesty by the Beatles