Thursday, November 27, 2008

Valpolicella and Amarone Wine Tasting Dinner

Another enjoyable evening at Enoteca Turi in Putney. Guiseppi and Pam put on another of their regional wine dinners, this time from the Veneto.

My scrappy notes reveal that, for the Risotto course, I preferred the Ripasso to the Classico - no surprise there. However with the food my allegiances switched to the Classico. The Tedeschi amarone was so port like it was too powerful for the duck and would have made a better cheese accompaniment.

The prosecco was nicely Brut and the better for it than many other proseccos. I was surprised that they served a light red with the scallops - I think a white would have gone better; also it made the tasting a little heavy on the reds and a white there would have balanced it more.

As always Guiseppi gave a short talk on the region, its food and wines and a good time was had by all.

Venetian canapes
Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Doe Col Vetoraz

Cappesante alia veneziana con pasta, radicchio e fagioli
Seared scallop on fresh pasta, with bean sauce, radicchio and crispy pancetta
Bardolino DOC2006 Giovanna Tantini

Risotto al Valpolicella e salsiccia
Risotto with Valpolicella wine and luganega sausage
Valpolicella Ripasso Seccal DOC 2005 Nicolis
Valpolicella CIassico Superiore DOC 2001 Marion

Petto d'anatra con peverada e verza, gamba ripiena con peara e sedanorapa
Duck breast with peverada and Savoy cabbage, and stuffed leg with pear and celeriac
Amarone della Valpolicella DOC 2001 Allegrini
Amarone della Valpolicella "Monte Olmi" DOC2004 Tedeschi

Torta di cioccolato
Venetian chocolate cake
Recioto della Valpolicella Le Torade 2004 Ca' La Bionda


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Olive Harvest in Puglia

Not just any old olives but our own olives off our own trees. A quick Sunday afternoon harvest using equipment kindly lent to us by our neighbour Mino Maggi. In a couple of hours we managed to harvest about 35 kilo which should give us around 3 litres of extra virgin olive oil.

olive harvest 2008 - 1
The olives looking ripe

olive harvest 2008 - 2
Spreading the net

olive harvest 2008 - 3
Net, crate and rake

olive harvest 2008 - 4
Raking the olives off the branch

olive harvest 2008 - 5
The final haul
We dropped the crates round at Mino's and he will add them in to his crop for pressing. We'll collect our little contribution's output next visit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Helene Darroze at The Connaught

Friday we went for one of those meals of which the Alitalia in-flight magazine rightly said to the effect of "you go for the experience and you do not look at the price". So it was with Pete and Amanda when we went to sample the delights of Helene Darroze at The Connaught.

The lady herself has twice been awarded two Michelin stars although I am not sure of this restaurant's current rating. Suffice it to say it was indeed an experience. The food was excellent but what struck us was that you could not move for flunkies. As soon as you wandered into the foyer someone would glide up to direct to you the loo even before you had a chance to look puzzled.

We went for the taster menu at GBP 95 per head but the wines bumped the total bill up to an obscene amount of money. The Condrieu was *absolutely* stunning; I wish I could afford to drink like that every day!

Ruinart Brut NV
Condrieu, Mathilde & Yves Gangloff '06
Faugères "Le Sonje de l'Abbé", Abbaye Sylva Plana. 2004
Banyuls but which? My notes grow hazy


in a black jelly, Gillardeau oyster tartare, veloute of haricots mais from Beam poured over the top

LE FOIE GRAS DE CANARD DES LANDES.. cooked "au torchon" with mild spices, Sollies fig chutney

cooked with chorizo and confit tomatoes, black and creamy "2006 vintage" Camaroli Acquarello rice, Reggiano parmesan foam

roasted with cepes and parmesan crust, pumpkin mousseline, Piedmont hazelnut infused chicken stock

spit roasted and flambeed "au capucin", grilled duck foie gras, Brussels sprouts, "retnette" apples and "chasselas de Moissac" grapes simmered in a jus of yellow wine from Arbois

LA FIGUE DE SOLLlES.. compote with a 10 years old Maury caramel, Greek yoghurt sorbet, crispy fruit and nut bread

LE CHOCOLAT SA MARA DE REPUBLlQUE DOMINICAINE.. cream and sorbet, crystallised orange tulle with citrus fruit sorbet, "poached prune, Armagnac sauce

Friday 14th November 2008 Dinner

Monday, November 17, 2008

Company Christmas Party '08

The taxman allows a company to spend up to GBP 150 per annum on work do's for the staff. Since Mary and I are the workforce we decided that the office Christmas party would be a "Right Bank Stars Dinner" organised by The Wine Society Dining Club. A fine evening with some fine wines:

The Wine Society Dining Club

Wednesday 12th November 2008 at 7.00pm

Guest Speaker Mr David Peppercorn

In the Chair Patrick Karney

The Painters' and Stainers' Hall, 9 Little Trinity Lane, London EC4V 2AD


Smoked Chicken & Woodland Mushroom Terrine
Red Onion & Mustard Seed Relish
Kalamati Olive Biscottini & Fresh Chervil Pluches

Selection of Warm Organic Rolls

Loin of Lamb with Pinenut Rosemary & Parmesan Crust
Fondant Potatoes
Primo Cabbage & Chatenay Carrots Cumberland Sauce

Selection of Cheeses

Individual Spiced Apple Charlottes
Florentine Biscuit with Butterscotch Ice Cream

Tea and Coffee
Selection of Indian Teas and Herbal Infusions
Richly Roasted Arabica Coffee
Chocloate Mints and Truffles


Boizel Champagne

Chablis Les Clos 1996 Drouhin

Chateau Canon 1985

La Fleur-Petrus 1995

Cheval Blanc 1993

Warre 1983

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fifteenth Wedding Anniversary

Last weekend we went away to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary (the actual day was Thu 30-Oct-08).

The first ten years we decided rather than buy each other presents we took it in turns to arrange mystery weekends away. For our tenth we went back to Egypt, our honeymoon destination. Since then we have made it a final trip to Italy to close down Trullo Azzurro.

Since fifteen years is more of a milestone Mary decided to reintroduce the mystery element. I was told to pack a bag, my passport and present myself at T2. It was only then that I knew our destination - standing at the Air Maroc check-in desk stating "Casablanca".

We *had* to have lunch in Rick's Cafe. The film may have been shot on a sound stage in Hollywood and this cafe was only opened recently but I don't care. I think is pretty cool to be able to say "I've dined in Rick's cafe in Casablanca". It is actually an old residence that has been tastefully renovated and converted into a restaurant.

casablanca: rick's cafe outside
Rick's Cafe outside

casablanca: rick's cafe inside
Rick's Cafe inside

Friday was mostly spent wandering around the city especially the souk and shopping areas.

casablanca: market pomegranates
Market pomegranates

casablanca: market olives
Market olives

Saturday was mostly spent wandering around the streets admiring the art deco architecture of which there is plenty, a legacy of the country's time as a French protectorate which brought with it European influences.

casablanca: art deco volubis hotel
Art deco Volubis Hotel

casablanca: art deco guynemer hotel
Art deco Guynemer Hotel

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Weekend of Culture

Last weekend was a weekend of culture.

Friday night we went to See "Love's Labours Lost" at The Rose Theatre in Kingston. An excellent production directed by Peter Hall. The costumes and set were particularly a visual delight. What the papers said:

"An absolute feast for the ear...Peter Bowles's Don Armado is a delight...a Shakespeare production of the highest calibre." The Guardian

"A production full of the ripe pleasures of a classic comedy" The London Paper

"William Chubb is both hilariously pompous and unexpectedly touching as the pedantic schoolmaster Holofernes, and Greg Haiste's Costard is a genuinely funny clown...this comedy may be demanding but it pays rich rewards." Telegraph

"An elegantly staged piece, and as with most Hall productions, beautifully spoken." What's On Stage

"Shakespeare as Shakespeare intended it." The Guardian

Saturday we went to a Festival New Orleans at The O2, mainly to see John Mooney. We saw his set and then went to eat at Los Iguanas. We sat outside and were able to watch Buckwheat Zydeco followed by Dr John from the comfort of our table. Excellent :-)

john mooney at the o2

We are really looking forward to next year's jazz fest. We are going over to New Orleans for The French Quarter Festival and the first weekend of the Jazz and Heritage Fesitval.

john mooney at the o2

Laissez les bon temps roulez!