Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Fine Wine Tutored Tasting

I started out on burgundy...

Last Thursday it was a walk-around tasting of burgundy in The Winery at Liberty. Can't be bothered to type up the full list of 14 wines, just my two favourites:

White: Monthélie Blanc 2002, Dubuet - grapefruit and tropical notes on the nose. (GBP 21.99)
Red: Gevrey-Chambertin "Aux Corvées" 2002, Richard - hints of chocolate on the nose and yummy palette heading towards the strawberry end of the soft fruit spectrum. (GBP 25.99)

Available from http://www.thewineryuk.com/

... but soon hit the harder stuff. *

Last night it was a Châteauneuf-du-Pape Fine Wine Tutored Tasting at BBR tutored by Simon Field MW, Rhone Buyer. Mary decided to drop out and have a quiet evening in. Instead I co-opted colleague and old friend Bron as last minute stand-in.

Wine 1: 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Ch la Nerthe
Wine 2: 2001 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Domaine des Saumades
Wine 3: 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine des Sénéchaux
Wine 4: 2001 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Mourre des Perdix, Domaine de la Charbonnière
Wine 5: 2001 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvée Réserve, Domaine de Pegau
Wine 6: 2001 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvée de Mon Aïeul, Pierre Usseglio
Wine 7: 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Cuvée Prestige, Domaine Roger Sabon
Wine 8: 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Clos des Papes (en magnum)
Wine 9: 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Barbe Rac, Chapoutier (en magnum)
Wine 10: 1999 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine Vieux Télégraphe
Wine 11: 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Ch de Rayas
Wine 12: 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Ch de Beaucastel

Bron says: "The whites were idiosyncratic, strong flavoured and not for wimps. The reds were uniformly good and showed the variety within the region. The '98s and '00s are for drinking now and over the next few years. The '99s and '03s definitely need cellaring a few more years."

Afterwards we dined at the Criterion which apparently had a brief, unsuccessful period as a "Frankies" but is now back to its Marco Pierre White style brasserie. We went straight into the main course and split a half bottle - after all we didn't really need much more to drink! My Lamb cutlets were absolutely delicious as were the veg, especially the little roast potatoes. Service was fine. I can recommend and it is easy to find - on Piccadilly Circus right opposite the statue of Eros.

* Tom Thumb Blues by Bob Dylan

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Innocent Drinks Label

It would be unfair to mention Tom Bihn's Care Label without giving a mention to our very own Innocent Drinks fruit smoothie labels which keep Mary and I amused on a regular basis.

The ingredients often include spurious items with matching footnote, such as Rubber duck (* Pass the soap) or Double-decker bus (* Hold very tight please, ting, ting!). Here is a typical label (click on it for larger version):

innocent smoothie label

They also make An Innocent Promise such as "We promise that anything innocent will always taste good and do you good. We promise that we'll never use concentrates, preservatives, stabilisers, or any weird stuff in our drinks. And we promise we'll never cheat at cards."

Or "... And we promise always to wipe our feet" or "... And if we do you can tell our mums" and so on.

More at "The Label Museum"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pictures from Restaurant Gordon Ramsey

When we went to Restaurant Gordon Ramsey I thought it would have been nice to show you what we had to eat. But I did not have a camera and did to think it the "done thing". But someone over at Muffin Top did just that. See this for a feast for the eyes and stomach: F*cking good! (Restaurant Gordon Ramsay)

Tom Bihn Care Label

Tom Bihn Care LabelThanks to Paris Parfait for this one, nice to see companies with a sense of humour. Tom Bihn make travel bags. They have produced a novel care label:

The inside label carries instructions on washing and caring for the bags. Because the bags are sold in Canada, the instructions are also printed in French. The French version, however, contains an additional phrase: "NOUS SOMMES DESOLES QUE NOTRE PRESIDENT SOIT UN IDIOT. NOUS N'AVONS PAS VOTE POUR LUI." Translated to English, the phrase reads, "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We did not vote for him."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cleo's Ashes

Saturday morning I collected Cleo's ashes from the Vets. They are now nourishing the roots of a rosebush and not just any old rosebush.

When we lost Oliver, our Persian ginger tom, to an RTA a few years back we buried him near the bottom of the garden. You can do that when you have half an acre. Our neighbour, cat feeder and house-minder Mike bought us a rose called appropriately "Whiskey Mac" which we planted next to Oliver. When we lost Oscar ["Saddest news about Oscar"] we buried him next to his chum Oliver.

When we sold the cottage the rose was the one plant we had to bring with us; by that time we already knew Cleo's biopsy results. A small London garden is not really suitable for an inhumation so we had an individual cremation for Cleo. Her ashes went in first then a little soil to cover, then some fish and bone meal then the rose.

I cannot be doing with this macho "boys don't cry" b*ll*cks. I had a good old sob but in the summer I can look at the roses and smile.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Street Life (Non Verbal Communication)

I love how much can be conveyed with just the raise of an eyebrow or the lift of a finger.

On the North side of Waterloo Bridge there is a cycle path that crosses the pavement much to the startlement of many an unsuspecting pedestrian. As a cyclist I know it's there and cast a quick glance over my right shoulder. A cyclist is approaching so I pause mid-stride. We make eye contact, he give the slightest of nods ("thank you"), I echo back a nod ("you're welcome"), he whizzes by and on I go. Courtesies exchanged to complement the morning sunshine.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lunch at The Groucho Club

Tuesday Mum and Dad came up to London to see Jane&Pete's flat in Soho and brother Ian came to join us. It had been meant as a family gathering but at the last minute Pete's Aunt Freda and Jane's oldest friend JaneF were added to the roster.

The assembled company marvelled at the transformation of the flat then we went round the corner to The Groucho Club* for a family lunch. Another long lunch catching up on JaneF's French hovels and back to work to make up the hours.

* The name of the club was inspired by one of Groucho Marx's quips; "I don't want to join a club that will accept me as a member"

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Opening up the Hovel

We had a couple of enquiries about renting "Trullo Azzurro" which have not, unfortunately, turned into bookings. However it was enough to prompt us to squeeze in an extra trip to Puglia to see how the Hovel-in-the-Hills ™ had survived the winter.

Mary was going to the Madame Butterfly on Friday with her friend Andrea so we had to fly out on Saturday. We could not face Ryanair and anyway they are not so cheap as you get close to the departure date. Instead we flew Alitalia changing in Milan Malpensa (MXP). That meant we arrived in daylight with the shops still open so we could get breakfast stuff and have time to examine the property on arrival.

trulli spring 07

It had survived the winter very well: last year's plasterwork had obviously finished drying out and the bags and boxes we used for storage had done the trick. The hot water and heating seemed to be working fine but the control box was being a little erratic. We got the underfloor heating working and the place slowly warmed up.

Sunday was a little overcast but Monday was bright and sunny so we could open all the doors and get the bedding aired on the line. We called in Daniele, the architect, and Ignazio, the heating engineer, to look at the boiler controls and discuss a few minor repair items about the place. Then lunch and back to Bari airport for the trip home.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lunchtime in Soho

Yesterday I met up with sister Jane to see how their pied-a-terre is coming along. She told me it was one year and one week to the day since they first went to see the flat. And now it is all but finished and they have done a good job on it. Just a few minor tweaks remaining.

It used to be basically one large room with a separate kitchen at one end and a bathroom. The whole place has been gutted and redone completely, new everything. The bathroom is great, all beige and tiled, it looks like a five star hotel bathroom.

The kitchen wall has been taken out and they have gone open plan. The bed area is now where the kitchen was and there is a small kitchen "corner" next to it which partially screens off the bed area. Then a TV and chairs in the actual corner and a desk / home office and storage in an alcove.

Having inspected the premises, we tested out the local Tapas restaurant to see if it would be OK for Mum and Dad's visit next week. Something of a leisurely lunch, I'll make up the hours later.

Previous visits:
 • Walking in the Wild West End
 • I'm up on the Eleventh Floor

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Eating the Elephant

We are slowing digesting the contents of Avon Cottage. I took Friday and Monday off which helped. More stuff went to the dump; loads of stuff went to charity - Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Oxfam, RSPCA, British Heart Foundation; a load of boxes and archive went up into the loft; the TV, DVD and video went on eBay - but not, unfortunately, the Vinosafe.

The back bedroom is finally clear ready for our guest on Friday. We were able to eat in the dining room on Sunday for the first time since the move.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Street Life (Blackfriars bridge)

When I worked in the Drury Lane office my walk to Waterloo Station would take me over Waterloo Bridge with its fine views (see below). Now I mostly work in an office by City Thameslink some twenty minutes walk eastwards and a have a new walk and a new bridge to cross: Blackfriars.

The view isn't so pretty: I lose the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben and half the London Eye but I do get a better view of the Oxo Tower and St Pauls. On the other hand I do get a stroll down memory lane.

If I choose the Stamford Street route it takes me past the old Sainsburys' Head Office where I worked in '78/79. New to the big city with a 33% pay rise (from 3k to 4k) and the bright lights to dazzle my eyes. Meeting the "Birmingham Crowd" and all those social nights out. Ah, the memories!

If I choose the Thameside Path I go past Doggetts Coat and Badge (public house) and Sea Container House once home to BIS Applied Systems a later employer '81/86. You will not be surprised, given their proximity that DC&B was our local when we were in the office.

Previous Waterloo Bridge Posts:
London So Good They Named It Once
Leaning Tower Of London
Street Life (Salty Dog)
Street Life (Pedestrian Chicken)
Metre Out Of Order