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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Everyday Roux and Bordeaux - Cheese and Ham Pie

This recipe was provided by Michel Roux Jr to accompany a red wine from the Good Food Would Choose Bordeaux range from The Wine Society - I tend to avoid red wine and cheese, so my match for this would be a full, waxy Bordeaux Semillon.

Cheese and Ham Pie

Choose a good quality puff pastry made with butter, this is a luxurious feast that is great served warm but equally great cold. Perfect for a hamper.

Serves 6-8
Prep time 45 mins
Cook time 45 mins

375g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
50g mature cheddar, grated
150g Gruyère or similar, grated
700g good quality cooked ham, sliced thin

Béchamel Sauce
25g butter
25g flour
150ml milk
50ml double cream
Salt, pepper and nutmeg

1. First, make the béchamel by melting the butter in a saucepan until it foams. Mix in the flour and gently cook over a low heat for 4-5mins, not allowing it to colour. With the pan still on the heat, slowly whisk in the milk and cream, then increase the heat and bring to the boil.

2. Keep mixing well to avoid lumps and burning – the sauce should be quite thick. Season lightly with salt but quite generously with pepper and nutmeg.

3. Pour into a container and cover with a buttered paper to avoid a crust forming. Set the béchamel aside to cool down completely.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pastry to a rough circle, about 24cm wide. Roll out another circle about 26cm wide. Cover this one and keep it cold.

5. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the first pastry circle on a baking tray, brush the edges with beaten egg and put a spoonful of béchamel in the centre of the circle. Spread this over the pastry with a pallet knife or the back of the spoon to within 3-4cm of the edges.

6. Sprinkle over a little cheese, followed by some ham. Repeat these layers until all the ham, cheese and béchamel have been used up.

7. Cover the filling with the other sheet of pastry and press down firmly around the edges to seal. Trim the edges neatly, brush with beaten egg and score the top with the point of a knife to decorate.

8. Make a little hole in the centre of the top of the pie to let out the steam.

9. Bake at 200C for 30mins, then turn the oven down to 180C and cook for another 15mins.

10. Leave the pie to cool for at least 30mins before cutting into slices.

My Bordeaux Wine Pick: Château Pey la Tour Reserve 2009 Bordeaux Superieur
An everyday wine for an everyday dish, the simplicity of this delicious family favourite can only be improved by the uncomplicated, crowd pleasing qualities of Bordeaux rouge. Easy drinking, full of fruit, yet perfectly balanced to complement rather than overpower food.

Image credit: http://www.lovefood.com/images/content/body/cheesepieroux.jpg

Monday, 27 January 2014

Everyday Roux and Bordeaux - Boiled Mutton with Anchovy and Parsley Sauce

This recipe was provided by Michel Roux Jr to accompany a Medoc from the Good Food Would Choose Bordeaux range from The Wine Society.

With a zesty, herby, creamy sauce, this dish is not red-wine food at all to me, and will match much better with a ripe, citrussy, aromatic Sauvignon-based Bordeaux blanc.

Boiled Leg of Mutton with Anchovy and Parsley Sauce

A long lost yet timeless classic, perfect alternative to a Sunday roast. If anchovies are not for you then it works just as well without but I find the little pungent saltiness works well with the robust flavour of the mutton.

Serves 4 - 6
Prep time 20 mins
Cook time 2 hrs

1 leg of mutton, about 2kg
2 sticks of celery
2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp allspice berries
A handful of parsley stalks

4 tbsp lamb fat
2 onions peeled and chopped
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
300ml lamb stock
250ml single cream
Ground white pepper
1 bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped
20 good-quality anchovies in oil, rinsed and coarsely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons

1. Cover the leg of mutton with water and bring to the boil.

2. Skim, then add the prepared vegetables, bay leaves, spice, parsley and seasoning.

3. Turn down to a very gentle simmer, and cook for about 2 hours or until tender. Leave to cool in the stock for 2 hours. It will still be just the right temperature for eating

4. Carve the lamb at the table and serve with the sauce.


1. Skim off and strain some of the fat on the top of the lamb cooking pot. Use 4 tablespoons of this tasty fat to sweat the onions until tender.

2. Add the flour and stir in well. Over a high heat, gradually pour in 300ml of the lamb stock from the mutton and mix well to avoid any lumps.

3. Add the cream and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Just before serving the lamb, season the sauce with a generous amount of white pepper and add the parsley, chopped anchovies and lemon juice.

To see Michel making this recipe, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOW_D1o5md0&feature=player_detailpage

Michel's Bordeaux Wines Pick: Château de Panigon 2009 Medoc "Mèdoc wines are synonymous with lamb, in particular the renowned Pauillac lamb. This is why I have chosen a full bodied, robust Mèdoc to accompany this dish. Predominately made with the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, this wine is bursting with rich dark fruits and spice."

Image credits: http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/454/103/454103225_640.jpg and http://www.lovefood.com/images/content/body/muttonroux.jpg

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Everyday Roux - Michel Roux Jr and Bordeaux

A review of three Bordeaux wines from The Wine Society

Bordeaux's current campaign is based around the idea of Good Food Would Choose Bordeaux - to tie in with the theme, Michel Roux Jr has also developed a series of recipes to match with the wines.

Château Bel Air Perponcher, Réserve 2012 rosé (Bordeaux) pale salmon-pink, ripe stone fruit, watermelon, aromatic spiciness; rounded acidity, watermelon, peach and nectarine fruit and a good depth of flavour, with a touch of thick-skinned toasty-yeastiness and a persistent, savoury and mineral finish.

Château de Panigon 2009 (Medoc) a cru Bourgeois with a silver from Bordeaux 2011; from a warm year, the fruit is slightly jammy, but the acidity holds it in check. Cherry and bramble fruit, dried green herbs and toasty oak; soft, plump texture. Elegant and engaging, will continue to improve for a few more years.

Château Pey la Tour Reserve 2009 (Bordeaux Superieur) aromas of leather, woodsiness and cedar on the nose; soft, juicy palate with a grippy pepperiness.

Michel's recommended food matches for these wines are:

Bordeaux / Bordeaux Supérieur - Cheese and Ham Pie
Medoc - Boiled Leg of Mutton with Anchovy and Parsley Sauce
Rosé  - Baked Apples with Fruit Mince

Wines provided for review.
Other related articles
Crus Bourgeois 2011‏
Two Bordeaux Wines from The Wine Society‏

The Wine Society - website, twitter
Good Food Would Choose Bordeaux - website
Crus Bourgeois - website, twitter

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Everyday Roux and Bordeaux - Baked Apples & Fruit Mince

This recipe was provided by Michel Roux Jr to accompany a rosé from the Good Food Would Choose Bordeaux range from The Wine Society - personally, I would tend go for a sweet Sauternes with this, but the recipe looks delicious anyway.

Baked Apples with Fruit Mince

Baked apple is the simplest of desserts, but the addition of spice and dry fruits make this a dessert for a special occasion. Serve with a generous spoon of clotted cream or a good quality bought-in ice-cream.

Serves 6
Prep time 25 mins
Cook time 25 mins

Fruit mince
100g suet
120g light brown muscovado sugar
3 cooking apples peeled, cored and grated
80g sultanas
60g seedless raisins
100g dried prunes, stoned and chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
100g walnuts, almond and pistachios chopped (total weight)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
2 tbps brandy or dark rum

Baked apples
6 sweet dessert apples
100g unsalted butter
Icing sugar, sifted
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons brandy or dark rum

1. Mix all the fruit mix ingredients together.
2. Add spices to taste, for example you may like more cinnamon or even a little ground ginger.
3. Store in jars or an airtight container in the fridge for at least a week. It can, however, be kept for months.
4. Peel and core the apples.
5. Fill with the fruit mince, packing it tightly: there will be plenty, so pile it up to cover the top of the apples, and press down firmly.
6. Place the apples in a roasting tray with a knob of butter on each.
7. Sprinkle liberally with icing sugar, and bake at 200C for 20 to 25 minutes, basting often with the cooking juices.
8. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Place the apples on warm plates.
9. Place the roasting tray on the stove-top over high heat. Add the lemon juice and brandy or rum and boil, whisking constantly, to make the caramel sauce strain through a sieve when syrupy.
10. Pour a little syrup around the apples.
11. Serve with muscovado ice cream.

Michel's Bordeaux Wine Pick: Château Bel Air Perponcher, Réserve 2012 (rosé) "I’ve selected a Bordeaux rosé for this dish as I feel the elegant, fruity complexity of the wine paired with the fruit and spice of this dessert will complement each other perfectly."

Image credit: http://www.stylenest.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Baked-Apples-Post.jpg

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Four Après-ski Wines From Supertravel

A review of four wines from luxury ski travel operator, Supertravel

Bauduc Sauvignon 2012 aromatic, substantial, textbook Bordeaux blanc from Gavin Quinney; expressive and precise with a classical European sensibility. Very enjoyable.

Croix de Montceau St Veran 2011 ripe Maconnais chardie, a little underwhelming on firsty opening, it opens out with aeration. Ripe orchard fruits and fresh acidity - pleasant enough, but not compelling; a little roughness around the edges.

Finca Manzanos Rioja Crianza 2009 bramble and black-cherry fruit, vanilla spice, toasty-smokiness and fresh acidity; with a supple texture, it is dense, concentrated and intense - very enjoyable textbook Rioja with plenty of stuffing that feels like it can age further. Good. Also available from M&S.

Chateau Lacombe-Noaillac Medoc 2009 classic aged Medoc aromas of bell pepper and gamey-truffley aged leather; ripe blackcurrant fruit and coffee grounds, fresh acidity, savouriness and perfectly-ripe tannins. Another textbook example, if not as substantial as the Rioja; drinking nicely now and probably at its peak. It has a Brussels Silver and Jancis gives it 15.5.

All wines provided for review.
Other related articles
Château Reynon Bordeaux Blanc, 2010
St Veran from Sangouard-Guyot
Beronia Dos Maderas Crianza 2008‏
Rousseau de Sipian, 2005, Medoc
Supertravel - website homepage, more about the wine selection

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Four More Wines From Lidl

A review of four wines from Lidl's Wine Cellar range

The wines for Lid's Wine Cellar range are selected by four MWs, including Richard Bampfield, so quality, typicity and value for money should be a given.

The first two wines from Lidl that I reviewed - a Mosel Riesling and a Bordeaux - scored well on all fronts, but topped out at less than a tenner. I was keen to see what they could achieve with a slightly more generous budget in some trickier areas.

The Two Italian Reds - Italian reds are hardly known for being good value; add in that one of these has some aging and the other is made from partially-dried grapes and finding good examples at a sensible price becomes a real challenge.

The Two Whites - given that many people might baulk at paying £15-£20 for a wine from a specialist merchant, let alone a budget supermarket, I added in a couple of more everyday whites.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano Macinatico 2012 (£6.99) classic Italian white; aromas of melonskin and a touch of beeswax. Ripe tropical citrus acidity and savoury almonds on the finish. Clean as a whistle, balanced and moreish - very enjoyable and good value. A good aperitif; match with light starters or creamy mushroom pasta; does not improve with extensive aeration, so drink it all up once you've opened the bottle.

Pouilly-Fumé AOP, 2012 (£7.99) very pale sandy yellow, citrus and melon skin nose; lemon-and-lime fruit, zestiness with  good, fresh  linear acidity and some salinity / minerality. Opens up and becomes more rounded with some aeration. Good length and persistent finish. Good.

Match with meaty white fish - sea bass or sea bream - prawn risotto or goat's cheese with rocket.

Brunello di Montalcino Medici Riccardo 2008 (£19.99) translucent ruby in the glass, from the off this smells more complex and interesting. Ripe red cherry and redcurrant fruit belies a focused, lean, muscular structure that has some mellowness from aging - it's almost Iggy Pop in a glass. There's also some truffley aromas, oaky spice and a long finish.

At £20, this is hardly cheap, but it is good value for a classic Italian red of this quality and age. Very Good. Match with beef or venison. Improves with aeration and, whilst drinking very nicely now, could be cellared for good few more years.

Amarone della Valpolicella, 2010 (£15.99) made from partially dried grapes, this Amarone is a full-on sort of wine; cherry and damson fruit, some spicy balsamic and a port-like herbal character. Ripe, mouthfilling and spicy with lush dark berries, cigar box and dried fruit, it is balanced with fresh acidity and a long, complex, savoury finish.

Personally, I'd prefer a little bit more rasping sour cherry fruit for contrast, but in any case this is an accomplished wine. Good. Match with game in a fruit sauce, such as duck breast with cherries.

Overall conclusions
These wines are all faultless - both in the sense of being technically correct and also very enjoyable. They are also fairly priced for the styles they represent; it really is a case of you pays your money and you takes your pick.

Lidl's Wine Cellar range also gets reviews from Kevin Ecock (here) and Simon Woods (here).

Other related articles
Two Wines From Lidl's Wine Cellar Range

Lidl - website homepage, Wine Cellar

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Two Aged Riojas From CVNE

A review of two aged Riojas from CVNE

There are various signs of becoming a wine geek - or well-educated enthusiast; a fondness for Riesling and sherry is one, as is a bite from the infamous Pinot-bug.

The one that seems to get mentioned least, however, but which really sorts the uber-geeks from the mere wannabees, is a love of aged wines.

As wine ages, it gains something - a rounded mellowness, complexity and decaying, hedonistic aromas - that nothing else quite has. Rather like Mick Jagger performing Jumpin' Jack Flash on stage in his 60s, it will still have the fire and energy of its young-turk youth, but also possess a mellower self assurance and sophistication.

Bordeaux is perhaps the most well-known wine for aging, but Rioja can be a better-value alternative to the upper levels of the crus classes - Victor Urrutia, CEO of CVNE says of aging Rioja "I think Rioja reaches full maturity much quicker than Bordeaux, but has the virtue of staying on its plateau for a very long time."

These two wines are both approachable now, yet have the stuffing to keep improving for a few more years at least.

Contino Reserva 2007 (£22.99 from The Wine Society, BBR, Waitrose, Tesco, Harrods, Planet of The Grapes)
85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 2.5% Mazuelo, 2.5% Grenache - aged for two years in French and American oak; pleasing ripe red fruits, sweet vanilla and a savoury finish. Fresh acidity, well-integrated fine tannins - very harmonious, well-balanced and drinking nicely now. Easy to enjoy yet also serious.

Good. Match with roast red meats or casseroles.

Imperial Gran Reserva 2005 (£26.99 Tanners, Waitrose, Majestic, BBR, The Wine Society, D Byrne)
85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo - from 20yo low-yielding bush vines; ripe red fruits, liquorice and some aged gaminess; plum, tobacco and sweet vanilla spice on the palate. Substantial, yet well-integrated and harmonious with fine, perfectly ripe tannins and well-balanced acidity. Drinking nicely now, it will continue to improve and develop with age.

Very Good. Match the gaminess with venison steak.

Both wines provided for review; the 2004 Imperial (my review here) was named Wine Spectator's wine of 2013.

Other related articles
Two aged Riojas - the CWB Rioja-off
Viña Real Gran Reserva 2005‏

CVNE - website, twitter

Friday, 3 January 2014

Six Languedoc Wines

A review of six wines from AOC Languedoc

Languedoc is, for me, one of France's most vibrant and exciting wine regions - average quality is high, prices are relatively low and the wines, approachable in their youth, are also increasingly age-worthy; what's not to like?

Languedoc wines have the sense of fun of a Prince Harry, but also have a cetain breeding that speaks of Eton, Oxford and Sandhurst - as well as Boujis and Mahiki.

Ch Bas d'Aumelas L'Egerie 2010 Gres de Montpellier 90% Syrah with 10% Grenache, dark purple, complex nose of ripe dark fruit, pencil shavings and spice; more ripe fruit, sweet vanilla, cool mint and fresh acidity. Dense and concentrated with ripe tannins. Very Good. Match with roast red meats.

Chateau Ollieux Romanis, Corbieres Rouge 'Cuvee Classique' 2011 Carignan and Grenache Noir, dark purple; dark fruit, woodsy, slightly sulphurous; ripe black cherry fruit, sweet vanilla and spice. Lively acidity, gentle tannins and a persistent finish. Good. Match with game such as duck or pheasant.

Cabezac Belveze 2008 GSM blend purple with some brick-red hints, aromas of dark fruit, vanilla spice and aged complexity; ripe black cherry fruit, sweet vanilla and herbaceous - with aeration, aromas of gamey old leather and a touch of rosehip develop; custardy texture with soft, very fine tannins. Hint of pleasing grip on the finish. Very Good. Match the age of this wine with gamey red meat, such as venison steak.

Beatrice & Sebastian Fillon, Les Maros 2011 Terrasses du Larzac Grenache with some Cinsault and Carignan; baked dark berry fruit, truffley undergrowth and vanilla spice; firm and grippy finish, slightly alcoholic. Big, warming and slightly jammy - but Colin Smith was much keener on it. Match with a hearty, spicy stew.

Domaine Terres Georges, Racine 2011 VdP Aude old-vine Carignan, ruby purple; raspberries, cherry fruit and a touch of earthiness; more ripe fruit, garrigue herbs, sweet vanilla and peppery spice, fresh, juicy acidity and a savory mid-palate. Lovely soft texture, concentrated, long and persistent. Very Good. Match with roast chicken or guinea fowl.

Chateau La Condamine Corbieres, 2011 dark purple, ripe dark fruit, sweet vanilla, liquorice and peppery spice; more perfumed ripe black cherry and blueberry fruit, garrigue herbs, toasty oak, fresh acidity and soft, perfectly-ripe tannins. Good length, persistence and savouriness. Drinking well now, will improve with a few more years' ageing - or an hour in the decanter. Good. Match with roast lamb with garlic and rosemary.

All the wines here were well made and - the slightly overcooked Maros aside - could easily become staples for drinking in the darker months of the year.

However, the Belveze was especially notable for its aged complexity whilst the Egerie also had a certain class and sophistication that placed it above the others.

All wines provided for review

The Ollieux Romanis range is available from Joseph Barnes Wines who specialise in wines from Languedoc. Also from The Wine Society.

Other related articles
AOC Languedoc Dinner at Ampersand Hotel
Chateau d'Angles - La Clape, Languedoc
Character Sketches, Languedoc Wines and Minor Royalty

Pays d'Oc
Languedoc wines - website, twitter, facebook

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Winding the Trinity College Clock

Winding the Trinity College clock on New Year's Eve

Cambridge is not like any other city I know - it is, in reality, a world-class, centuries old university with a small, nondescript fenland market town attached to the side.

It is the place where DNA was discovered and that it has been a temporary home to royalty, future celebrities and distinguished professors is due entirely to the "gown" rather than the "town".

Trinity College was founded by Henry VIII in 1546 and its current clock dates from 1910 - built in Derby at the peak of mechanical clock-making, it is highly accurate due to its double three-legged gravity escapement system; the first clock (still in operation in the nearby village of Orwell) was removed at the behest of one of the college's masters in 1726 to be replaced by the second clock, a Bentley, which did not fare well and was eventually replaced by the current clock.

Meeting in the college's main courtyard below the clock at 5:45pm, we climbed the five flights of stairs with the Keeper of the Clock in time to see and hear it strike 6pm.

There are four sets of weights to be wound up - just one for the clock mechanism itself, then one for the quarter-hour chimes plus one each for the two sets of hour chimes.The Keeper of the Clock - with an academic's sense of humour - always gives the second set of hour's chimes an extra ding when winding; something to listen out for every seven days and six hours (being how often the clock is wound).

The children had a good go at winding the lighter weights but needed a bit of help with the heaviest (something over 200kg), whilst advances in modern technology allowed us to see just how accurate the clock is; it was running 2.8 seconds fast when we arrived, but the disturbance of our entrance into the clock area caused it to correct slightly.

The factors affecting the swing of the clock's pendulum are too complex to be analysed so we cannot attribute the change to any particular factor - the changes in air temperature, density and pressure we brought, the ambient temperature and the physical vibration of us moving around all played a part.

After the winding of the clock and a talk, we headed back downstairs to the Keeper's room to look at various engineering toys reflecting his interests ("Dynamics Vibration Boomerangs Clocks ClimateChange Geoengineering Ch4 documentaries Dambusters, Escape from Colditz, Zeppelins - apparently).

A model of the clock revealed how it works, the children counted faces on and assembled various tesselating 3d shapes (tetrahedron, dodecahedron and icosagon), a liquid that boils at hand temperature is used to keep model birds rocking infinitely - it was like having our very own personal Reith Lecture and we felt like we could have stayed there all evening looking at and discussing quirky objects.

Cambridge is a small place - it can be pretty much seen in a weekend - so it is easy to become blasé about its charms. Yet every now and then, we like remind ourselves that what it has is truly world-class; it may be punting on the river or a trip to see the fan vaulting at King's College Chapel. Or it may be winding up a 100 year-old clock at a college founded by Henry VIII whilst chatting to a Professor of Engineering.

Other related articles
Cambridge's Museums
Punting, Fitzbillies and a Perfect Day Out