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  • Crumbs!

    Chilli Con Vegan, Saffron Rice, Avocado & Lime Salad

    Ingredients
    2 medium onions, finely diced
    4 garlic cloves, grated
    1 medium leek, finely sliced
    3 red chillis, finely sliced
    5 tbsp premium rapeseed oil
    3 heaped tbsp coriander seeds
    3 heaped tbsp cumin seeds
    3 tbsp smoked paprika
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    3 tbsp dried oregano
    6 lime leaves, chopped
    1 whole nutmeg, for grating
    3 tbsp tomato purée
    250g dried green lentils
    2 x 400g tins red kidney beans
    2 x 400g tins black beans
    3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
    bunch coriander, stalks and leaves seperated and chopped
    1.2 ltrs vegetable stock
    1kg easy cook rice
    good pinch of saffron
    5 limes (zest of all, juice of 3)
    1kg cherry tomatoes, halved
    4 avocados, peeled stoned and sliced
    mixed salad leaves
    sour cream, to serve

    Method
    1. For the chilli, place the onion, garlic, leek and chilli into your largest, heavy-based pan over a medium heat with 3 tbsp rapeseed oil. Fry for about 5 mins, or until softened.
    2. Meanwhile, toast the coriander and cumin seeds together on a medium heat, then grind in a pestle and mortar.
    3. Add the spices, dried herbs and a good grating of nutmeg to the large pan and fry for 2 more mins - if it's a little dry at this point, add a splash of water to help it out. Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a further 2 mins.
    4. Stir in the lentils. Drain, rinse and stir in the beans, followed by the tomatoes, chopped coriander stalks and the stock.
    5. Bring it all to the boil slowly, then reduce to a low heat and let it bubble away for atleast 1 hour, or until thickened and reduced, stirring every 15-20 mins. Season to taste.
    6. For the saffron rice, put the rice in a pan with twice the amount of cold water, add a few strands of saffron and season well. Bring to the boil gently, and simmer until the water is nearly gone and the rice is light and fluffy, with a little bite.
    7. When ready to serve, combine the lime zest and juice with the tomatoes, avocado, coriander leaves, and mixed salad leaves.
    8. Serve the chilli with the rice, and top with the salad and sour cream.

     

    A Grape Match...

    Trapiche Melodias Malbec 2016

    There's a whole stack of spicy flavours going on in this dish, so a soft, spicy red is the way to go. This is a fresher, lighter style of Malbec, full of bright, cherry and plum fruit, with hints of cocoa and vanilla; it's lively enough to cope with the heady combination of chilli, smoked paprika and cinnamon in the mix.

  • Crumbs!

    Moroccan-Inspired Pacific Bowl

    Ingredients
    glug of olive oil
    2tsp sweet paprika
    1tsp ground cumin
    1tsp ground coriander
    8 organic chicken thighs, boned and skinned (reserve the skin)
    4 tomatoes, cut in half
    2 tbsp harissa paste
    2 medium-sweet potatoes
    1tbsp ras-el-hanout
    1 x 400g tin chickpeas
    200g couscous
    bunch mint, chopped
    bunch coriander, chopped
    handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
    1 red onion
    juice of 1 lime
    1 pomegranate, seeds only
    250ml organic natural yoghurt
    handful of dill, chopped
    garlic clove, grated
    handful of baby spinach per bowl
    1 red chilli, finely chopped
    1/2 lemon, juice only

    Method
    1. Mix the olive oil with 1tsp of the sweet paprika, the ground cumin and ground coriander. Season the mixture, and cover the chicken in it. Leave to marinade, ideally overnight.
    2. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
    3. Roast the thighs for 25 mins or until cooked through.
    4. Season the skin and place on a tray between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper. Place another tray on top and roast for 20 mins or until crispy.
    5. Meanwhile, season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and mix with the harissa paste. Roast this in the oven too, for about 20 mins.
    6. once there's room in the oven, roast the sweet potatoes in the ras-el-hanout with olive oil, salt and pepper.
    7. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, before drying them and laying them on a baking tray. Roast in the oven; they can take anywhere from 40 mins to an hour to become crunchy and golden.
    8. Meanwhile, make the couscous. Put the grain in a bowl, sprinkle over 1tsp sweet paprika, add a little olive oil and cover with boiling water. Cover with cling film and leave for 15mins. When it's ready, fluff with a fork and mix in a handful each of mint, coriander and parsley.
    9. Thinly slice the red onion and add to a bowl. Squeeze over the lime juice and add a pinch of salt, and mix. The onions will soften and slightly pickle/cook in the acidity. Add the pomegranate seeds and leave to let the flavours infuse.
    10. Mix the the yoghurt with another handful each of chopped mint, coriander and ill, and the garlic. Stir to combine.
    11. To assemble, place the couscous in each bowland scatter over the chickpeas and sweet potatoes. Next, add a handful of spinach on one side, and the tomatoes the other. Slice the chicken thighs and place two in each bowl. Top with the yoghurt dressing and pomegranate and red onion salsa and crumble over the crispy chicken skin. Finish off with the sliced chilli and lemon juice.
    TIP. To make this vegetarian, use feta and avocado instead of chicken.

     

    A Grape Match...

    Planeta Rosé 2016

    Dry rosés are perfect with this style of Middle Eastern food. This one's strawberry and pink grapefruit flavours pick up the delicate and varied character of the fresh herbs, crunchy pomegranate and sweet ras-al-hanout spice. Vibrant and refreshing, this is the very taste of summer.

  • Crumbs!

    Harvest Burgers

    Ingredients
    thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
    1/2 garlic clove
    250ml toasted sesame oil
    100ml cider vinegar
    100ml tamari
    1 block of smoked or plain tofu
    2 large portabello mushrooms
    1 avocado
    2 bread rolls of your choice
    1 pack of Violife vegan smoked gouda
    2 handfuls of rocket

    Method
    1. First, knock together the marinade by grating in the ginger and the garlic and combining with the sesame oil, vinegar and tamari in a bowl.
    2. Cut the tofu block lengthways and put that and the mushrooms into the marinade. Cover and leave overnight.
    3. Whack the tofu and mushroom on the barbeque.
    4. Mash 1/2 the avocado onto each roll.
    5. Turn the tofu, making sure its gone a little bit crispy. You don't want jelly-like tofu, or to overcook it either. There's a fine line!
    6. Once the tofu is cooked, put two slices of the smoked gouda on top and let it melt for 20 seconds.
    7. Stack up the tofu, a handful of rocket leaves, and the mushroom inside the bun.
    8. Enjoy!

    A Grape Match...


    Columbia Valley Estate Riesling 2015

    The Asian-style marinade here calls for a chilled, aromatic white. This elegant, fruity version from Washington State brims with green apple, lime zest and nectarine, so it has the fruitiness to cope with the sweet and sour flavours.

  • Crumbs!

    Crispy Skinned Pork Belly With Apple And Onion Veloute

     

    Ingredients
    5 garlic cloves
    100ml pomice oil
    handful rosemary, chopped
    handful thyme, chopped
    pork belly (2kg), ribs off
    1/2 pint cider
    knob of butter
    4 shallots chopped
    3 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
    200ml double cream
    12 baby potatoes
    12 baby leeks

    Method
    1. Preheat the oven to 210C/415F/gas mark6
    2. Chop or crush the garlic and mix it with the oil before adding the chopped rosemary and thyme.
    3. Brush the pork belly all over with the mixture (apart from the skin) and season it with salt and pepper.
    4. Put it in the oven, skin side up, for 10 mins. Then pour the cider on the pork belly, put baking paper on the top of the skin, and cover the tray with foil. Turn down the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and let it cook for 90 mins.
    5. Once the pork is ready (the skin should be golden brown) remove from the oven and leave it to cool. Then, press the pork - use an oven tray with something heavy on top - and refridgerate for a minimum of 12 hours. The next day the pork belly is ready to get portioned.
    6. For the veloute, heat the butter in a pan and add shallots and the apples to sweet down until soft. This should take about 10 mins. When they are soft, add the cream. Take the pan off the heat and, using a food processor or a hand blender, puree the mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    7. Chop the new potatoes in half and boil until they are soft. Heat some butter in a pan and fry the baby leeks. Just before they are ready, add the new potatoes and season.
    8. Once the veloute and vegetables are almost ready, heat some oil in a pan and preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Salt the skin side of each portion of pork belly and place in the pan, skin side down. Fry for 5 mins before putting in the oven for 10 mins to warm the meat through.
    9. To serve, spread 1 tbsp of veloute across the plate, put the new potatoes and baby leeks on top and, when the pork belly is nice and crispy, put it on the top of the vegetables as the hero of the dish.

     

    A Grape Match...

    Ken Forrester's Reserve Chenin Blanc 2016

    Chenin blanc is always a great match for pork with apple, so opt for this multi award winner, which combines a creamy richness of flavour with bold apricot and baked apple character, balancing perfectly with the intensity of the veloute, and the fresh acidity of the apple and herbs.

  • SOUTHERN ITALY

    Tristan explores the ancient indigenous sun-kissed vines of Southern Italy

    Whether you’re heading there on holiday, or just looking for some great alternative summer wines to add to your shopping list, this month’s column explores a few of southern Italy’s ancient indigenous grape varieties.

    Fiano has been cultivated in southern Italy for two thousand years. Volcanic slopes surrounding Naples in Italy’s Campania region are the grapes traditional home, producing one of Italy’s great white wines, Fiano di Avellino, but Fiano does well in other regions, too. Mandra Rossa Fiano 2016 from Menfi in south-west Sicily is one of my top tips for a reasonably priced summer white wine.

    At the risk of sounding like a wine toff, this really does taste like Sicilian sunshine in a glass. A refreshing well-balanced medium-bodied white, where ripe exotic tropical fruit flavours are tempered by a refreshing lick of basil-like herbs and an edge of citrus to make your mouth water. Deliciously drinkable and good with all manner of simple summery fish, vegetable, pasta or chicken dishes.

    Indigenous to eastern Sicily, Carricante has been grown the slopes of Mount Etna, for over a thousand years. Etna is Italy's largest and most active volcano, and the Planeta 'Eruzione 1614' Carricante 2015 is named after her longest eruption in 1614 which lasted over 10 years. Made from vines planted at 800m on Etna (Carricante performs best at altitude) by Planeta, one of Sicily's most respected and pioneering winemaking families, this is a remarkably fine, stylish, fresh and elegant wine.

    Pretty floral aromas pull you in for a mouth-watering sip where the intense sensation of minerals marries with crisp green apple and lightly honeyed citrus flavours, carrying the wine to a satisfyingly long, fresh and dry finish. Utterly delicious. I could happily enjoy a glass of this on its own in the heat of summer, but it'd also be great with grilled white fish, seafood risotto, crab linguine or pan fried scallops.

    You’ll be hard pushed to find a better value Italian red than Biferno Rosso Riserva DOC Palladino 2012. The wine comes from Southern Italy’s second smallest region, Molise, on the other side of the ‘leg’ from Naples, nestled between neighbouring Abruzzo and Puglia and flanked by the Apennine Mountains and Adriatic Sea. Molise is rustic, agricultural, and relatively ‘undiscovered’ in terms of both tourism and wine - meaning there’s great value to be found here.

    Made from Montepulciano, one of southern Italy’s superstar grapes, blended with the ancient dark Aglianico grape for extra depth and richness, the wine ages for three years in big old Slavonian oak barrels to soften it and add complexity. Full of slightly dusty rustic charm, with mouth-watering sour cherry flavours, a hint of spice and refreshing savoury herbs. Smooth, quenching and interesting enough to enjoy on its own, but with enough boldness to pair with grilled meats, pizza, and hearty meat or aubergine based pasta. A fantastic staple wine to stock up on, and well worth the money.

    Discover more at Tristan’s Southern Italy & Islands tasting on 12th July at Great Western Wine. Tickets are £15. Click here to book now >

  • SUMMER SIPPING

    Inspired by the Bath Boules, Angela Mount recommends celebratory wines which are best enjoyed outdoors in the sunshine

     

    There’s something special about June in Bath, as we kick into Summer, with a more laid-back, languid vibe, “alfresco” being the mot du jour. There’s also lots going on, not least the legendary Bath Boules weekend (9th-11th June), held in the historic Queen Square, with a fiercely contested competition between over 60 teams – if you want to see accountants, solicitors, wine merchants et al at their most competitive, get down there!  But it’s also a great big party, with street food, pop ups, music – all in all, a fabulous family day out.

    If you fancy a more sedate afternoon, head for one of Bath’s numerous Alfresco slots (weather permitting) to enjoy the sunshine and an indulgent afternoon tea; and, of course, a glass of wine. But what vinous delights work for daytime sipping?

    Champagne is ‘le best’. Jacquart Champagne, have been proud sponsors of Bath Boules, alongside Great Western Wine for a number of years, so pop along and try a chilled glass of their Jacquart Brut Mosaique NV (£32.50), with its creamy, delicate, fresh flavours.  But if you’re indulging in afternoon tea, I’d suggest you opt for Jacquart Demi-Sec NV (£35). Don’t be put off because it’s off dry – this is actually a far better match with the sweet richness of scones, jam and cake, than a traditional brut Champagne – trust me! It’s all about the balance. With its moreish, creamy richness and ripe peach and apricot flavours, it’s also the perfect fizz for light Summer desserts, as well as scones, cream and strawberries..

    If you’re looking for fizz for an afternoon party, but don’t want to break the bank, look no further than Domaine de Brize Saumur Rose Brut NV (£14.50), an award-winning fizz from the Loire valley, and the epitome of Summer with its dry but exuberant strawberry and raspberry flavours. Fabulous value. Red Summer fizz? Why not? I like to surprise my guests with a glass of the highly moreish Birbet Brachetto 2015 (£11.95), serve it chilled, with a bowl of strawberries – it’s truly summer pudding in a glass, gently sweet, but light, with delicious freshness; even better, it’s only 5% alcohol, so the perfect, if eclectic, afternoon wine. A glass of this, with a bowl of scented local strawberries gets my vote.

    Back to Les Boules, and since the event celebrates le most traditional of French sports, it would be impertinent not to suggest a few summery delights from La belle France.  In sleepy southern village squares, dappled with golden sunlight, the locals can be seen with glasses of Pastis, but I’d suggest a glass of something lighter, especially for the competitors intent on victory, to keep their focus sharp.

    Just as we change wardrobes and adapt to le fashion du moment, our drinking styles change for the Summer also. What I look for in a glass of wine at this time of year is freshness, liveliness and clean, crisp fruit, be it white or red – and yes, I often chill my red wines, it’s brings out the fruit and stops them tasting heavy.  Rosè is a Summer classic, but more of that next month.

    For a vibrant, zingy white, which just begs for a plate of seafood, look no further than Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de Belle Mare 2016 (£9.95) - Picpoul is on trend right now and provides a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous Sauvignon blanc or Pinot Grigio.  From vineyards close to the Languedoc coast, it’s crisp and zingy, with a lovely lemony freshness, but also a hint of wild herbs; you can almost smell the sea.

    Want to impress your friends, and look knowledgeable with a little known and great value Summer red?  Look no further than Braucol Vigne Lourac, Cotes de Tarn 2014 (£8.95), my go to picnic and bbq red. Braucol is the grape (not many people know that), and is hails from the south-west of France. Juicy, fruity, and on the lighter spectrum of reds, it’s a bouncy delight, crammed to the brim with sweet raspberry and cherry fruit, with a brush of wild herbs.  I love to serve it chilled, it brings out the fruit and the brightness; perfect with charcuterie for alfresco lunches, and also spot on with baby lamb chops and spicy sausages.

    Zut alors. Time to go. Take the family  to Les Boules and support this event fantastique for local charities. It’s a great day out.  I’ll be back next month with my top tips for best Summer Rosè wines. Bonne chance to all the teams.

    By Angela Mount - Bath Life

  • ENGLISH WINE WEEK

    Celebrating Local With Lyme Bay Winery

    By Angela Mount

    There’s nothing like celebrating local, or even national success in the world of wine, and what better time to do this, than in English Wine Week.  There may still be a few wine lovers out there who aren’t entirely convinced of the credentials of English sparkling wine, but please do read on. English Sparkling wines are world class. Fact.

    The growth in reputation and sales of English wines, and English Sparkling wines in particular, over the last 5 years has been nothing short of phenomenal, with demand soaring off the rictus scale.  From Her Majesty showcasing English fizz at state dinners, to Wills and Kate’s wedding celebrations, English wines have come of age, and rightly so.

    Zoom back in time 15 years, and English wines, in their humble, artisanal, and experimental format, wilted apologetically in the wake of their far more famous European counterparts. Today English wines stand proud, and, particularly for sparkling wines, are right up there, on the world stage, winning international awards, and now producing over 5 million bottles per year.

    It’s even better when the wines come from your own neck of the woods, in this case, the West Country. The Axe Valley in Devon, to be specific; the Lyme Bay Winery.  Lyme Bay was originally set up in 1992, as a cider and mead producer.  Today, whilst still producing these traditional drinks, Lyme Bay is creating waves on the wine scene, with its range of still and sparkling wines.  The team have recently been rewarded with a flurry of awards both at the International Wine Challenge, the world’s most meticulously judged wine competition and at the Sommelier wine awards, where its Classic Cuvee won one of only 5 prestigious gold medals handed out to English sparkling wines.  But the downside with English fizz is the limited production, for all sorts of reasons – scale, and of course our intemperent weather, which this year has caused considerable damage to the vines due to late frosts. So when you see these award-winning wines, snap them up quick, quantity is limited.

    I recently tasted through the Lyme Bay range, and the awards they have won are well justified.  The Lyme Bay Classic Cuvee (was £26.50 now £25.00) is a blend of classic Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with an enticing, creamy richness of flavours, yet balanced by a delicate citrus, green apple and greengage freshness.  It’s absolutely spot on with seafood; if you’re Bath-based or relatively local, head over to the Terrace at the Abbey Hotel, where they are featuring this sparkling delight with a seafood extravaganza every Friday evening on their terrace between 6 and 9pm throughout the Summer.  I sauntered down for the launch last week (fizz and seafood? What girl could resist?), and tucked in to a swooningly delicious selection of seafood bites, all served, on  beautifully elegant 3 tiered afternoon tea stands.  Luscious mouthfuls of tender lobster and sweet mango; creamy crab salad on crunchy, baked pitta bread; tangy crayfish in a bloody mary sauce served in crisp baby gem lettuce leaves; an audacious placing of the freshest of sardines balanced on a triple cooked fat chip with chilli and garlic; a palate-tingling tempter of scallop, lime and coriander ceviche; and finally for oyster addicts, such as me, the saline, mouthwatering freshness of oysters with rhubarb and shallot vinaigrette.  It’s my new Friday evening go to. Seafood and fizz heaven.

    Back to the wines.  My favourite from the Lyme Bay range is the Lyme Bay Blanc de Noirs 2014 (was £26.50 now £25.00), winner of a coveted International Wine Challenge Silver medal. This is serious stuff, super-elegant, lively and poised with an incredible freshness about it, full of bright red berry fruit and citrus, with a green apple tang and true purity of flavour.

    The third sparkling wine is the range is Lyme Bay Sparkling Rose 2014 (was £26.50 now £25.00), a delicately pale, purely Pinot Noir blend, which wafts aromas of rosehips, tangerine peel and cranberries. Taste it, and enjoy its delicacy and brightness; it’s fruity, refreshing, and brimming with summer berry flavours – entrancing in its elegance.

    The other unique thing about Lyme Bay is what great value they provide – I’m used to tasting award-winning English sparkling wines that are in the mid £30s price range; I was amazed to find out that these are on average £10 cheaper, but really deliver on flavour and style.

    But English wine isn’t just about fizz; vineyards in southern England have been producing still wines for years, which are now starting to gain recognition, generally using Germanic grapes, which suit our volatile climate.  Bacchus, Seyval Blanc and Reichensteiner may not be grape names that trip off the tongue easily, but are increasingly gaining recognition for producing great wines in the UK. Lyme Bay are keen to pioneer English still wines, alongside the international success of sparkling wine, and start to build a similar reputation.  If the Lyme Bay Shoreline 2015 (was £14.95 now £13.95) is anything to go by, they’re on the right tracks. Another award-winner, it’s a vibrant and mouth-wateringly fresh dry white, with floral and citrus character, with a zesty tang that just cries out for seafood, picnics, or just a chill out afternoon in the sun.

    For a business that only moved into wine in 2008, and produced its first wine in 2014, the achievements are nothing short of spectacular. If you’ve never tried English wine before, this is the time to do it.

  • Lyme Bay Launch at The Allium

    Celebrate English Wine Week by supporting the launch of the Allium's drinks terrace, where a selection of fabulous Lyme Bay fizzes are being served alongside an array of delicious seafood prepared by their new chef. We look forward to seeing you there!


  • Wine and Cheese

    A match made in heaven?

    Everyone loves wine and cheese don’t they? Does anyone really care about which wine with which cheese?  Think again – how many of you have had a glass of good red spoilt by the impact of drinking it with a smelly, well matured soft, or blue cheese?  I reckon a few of you. Cheese and wine can be a heavenly match, but only if you follow a few simple guidelines.

    Taste, smells and flavours are all about balance; it’s no different with wine. Over or under-season a dish, and it’s a pale reflection of the triumph that it could have been.  Sip a glass of delicious, crisp white wine, then have a bite of chocolate and go back to the wine – I can guarantee that it will now taste sour and acid; go on, try it to prove my point!

    With cheese, just like wine, there is a plethora of styles, but all with radically different flavours, from salty, tangy goats cheese, through nutty, creamy cheddar, to sweet yet salty blue.  On the basis of all of the above, it’s logical that you need different wines to suit different cheeses, without becoming too obsessive about the whole process.  I’ve always hated red wine with soft cheeses such as brie, as they give the wine a metallic taste – far better with a soft, creamy Chardonnay. But tradition has always put red wine with cheese. Throw tradition out of the window.

    I put this theory to the test in a recent wine and cheese pairing exercise. Bath wine merchant Great Western Wine have teamed up with local cheese supplier Pong Cheese to bring together this classic partnership, to the extent that, from next week, there will be a bespoke cheese fridge in their shop with a range of 8 cheeses supplied exclusively for them - weekend wine and cheese shopping sorted.

    My job was to match the cheese to the wine –tough job, I know. Here are my favourite matches, following a few simple rules:

    Goats Cheese

    Bosworth Leaf Goats cheese – the textbook match for goats cheese is Sauvignon blanc, both of which originated in the Loire valley and are natural partners. New Zealand Sauvignon blanc can be too aggressive, so I picked a vibrant, zesty, wild herb-dusted one from the south of Chile, Las Cenizas Laberinto Sauvignon blanc 2015 (£15.50), which picks up the tangy, salty, mouthwatering flavours in the cheese.

    Creamy brie-style – Perl Wen, an unctuous, gooey delight from Wales, worked magically well with Mas Sardana Cava Brut Nature NV (£13.50), bringing out the creamy, nutty character in both. Fizz and cheese? Why not. Another option would be classic Chablis.

    Washed rind cheeses - Lincolnshire Poacher – this is a nutty, fragrant, relatively mild cheese, not dissimilar to Comte – I loved this with the fresh, vibrant style of Souson Ailala 2015 (£13.95), a deliciously fresh, juicy red from Galicia in north west Spain, with no oak, just a riot of red fruit flavours – spot on.

    Cheddar

    Westcombe cheddar – avoid big, tannic reds with hard cheeses, and let softer, spicier reds coax out the very best of the flavours in both, in this case Domaine de la Janasse Cotes du Rhone 2015 (£12.50), a rich, silky red, full of blackberry fruit and oozing charm.

    Matching Pong Pecorino Toscana was a delectable discovery – for traditionalists, go with a classic, but lighter style, Tuscan red, such as Morellino di Scansano 2014 (£14.95); but, with the cheese’s granular texture, and powerful, salty, sweet character, we had a eureka moment and tried it with the dry, but delicately aromatic Patricius, Tokaji Dry Furmint 2015 (£12.75) — a flawless alliance.

    Blue Cheese

    Port is always a safe bet, but my tip would be to go for a honeyed dessert wine – sweet, complimentary, but lighter in style.  Sauternes is great, but it was the seductive Italian sweet range which took top billing.

    First up Perl Las Blue, a mild, creamy welsh blue which snuggled up cosily to the honeyed, dried apricot-stashed, Anselmi I Capitelli 2015 (37.5cl £18.50) from northern Italy, whilst the powerful, yet meltingly tender, sweet, creamy Mountain Gorgonzola, formed a blissful marriage with its Italian compatriot Fattoria dei Barbi Vin Santo 2009 (37.5cl £17.95), the most classic of all Italian dessert wines.

    And finally, onto Cropwell Bishop stilton - melt-in-the-mouth, and remarkably delicate with a tangy bite – another blue cheese charmed by the irresistible attraction of a luscious Italian, this time a sweet red, Bertani Recioto Valpolicella 2012 (50cl £23), a mellifluous nectar, of dried raisins, cherries, dark chocolate, candied lemons and spice, at a temperate 13% alcohol, which coaxed out every inch of character from this Nottinghamshire delight whilst parading its own glories simultaneously.

    Wine and cheese matching – join the adventure.

    By Angela Mount

  • World Malbec Day

    Why is Malbec World Day celebrated on 17th April?

    The origin of Malbec can be found in the southwest of France. Here they’ve been cultivating the grape and making wines with the appellation of Cahors since the days of the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, this wine grew in popularity, and this has only increased in modern times.

    Malbec arrived in Argentina in 1853 in the hands of Michel Aimé Pouget, a French agronomist who was hired by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento to carry out the management of the Agricultural Quinta de Mendoza.

    Modelled on France, the initiative proposed adding new grape varieties as a means to enhancing the national wine industry. On 17th April, 1853, with the support of the governor of Mendoza, a project was presented to the Provincial Legislature, with a view to establishing a Quinta Normal and Agricultural School. This project was approved by the House of Representatives on 6th September that year.

    In the late nineteenth century, with the help of Italian and French immigrants, the wine industry grew exponentially and with it, Malbec, which quickly adapted to the various terroirs, and developed with even better results than in its region of origin. Over time, and with a lot of hard work, Malbec emerged as the flagship grape of Argentina.

    For Wines of Argentina, 17th April was not only a symbol of the transformation of Argentina's wine industry, but also the starting point for the development of this grape, an emblem the country worldwide.

    According to Wines of Argentine, “Malbec is not just a wine. It is a fruit that generates work, individuality, culture and development. Each bottle is a declaration of what sets Argentina apart. Each bottle speaks of the hands, the dexterity and the soul of our men. This varietal expresses a way of doing things, a way of life; it involves technique, originality and passion. The deepest wines are born of the deepest longings of their peoples, those who reside in the heart. Malbec is the heart of our industry and continues to be our global ambassador.”

    It’s common knowledge that a glass of Malbec is perfectly accompanied by a hearty steak, but did you know the versatilty of this soulful wine extends far beyond red meat. To celebrate Malbec World Day, we bring you two surprising recipes to pair with Malbec... 

    Veggies + Malbec

     

    Porcini Mushroom Pasta

    1 cup dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 1 ½ cups of hot water for 1 hour
    400 gr pappardelle or fettucini (the egg-based varieties are best)
    2 garlic clove
    1 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/2 cup red wine
    2 tbsp grated Parmesan
    3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
    salt and pepper to taste

    Bring some water to the boil and then pour it over your dried porcini mushrooms. This will make them nice and tender and bring out the full flavour of the mushrooms. Let them sit for at least an hour.

    Time cooking your pasta to be ready at the same time the sauce is – you’ll add it to the pan that you're making the sauce to saute together when it's ready. Put the water on to boil for the pasta, then get started on the sauce.

    Once the porcini mushrooms have soaked, drain them and save the water. In a deep sauce pan drizzle some olive oil and heat on medium. Crush the garlic and sauté with the butter and olive oil until fragrant. Add the red wine and let the liquid absorb. Then add the porcini mushroom water and simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Now you can add the pasta to boiling water.

    Once the pasta is in the water, stir the cream into the porcini mushroom sauce and add your salt and pepper. Let it simmer and thicken until the pasta is cooked. Drain the pasta and rinse delicately in cold water to stop the cooking process. Now add the pasta to the sauce and toss or fold the pasta into the porcini mushroom sauce.

    Sprinkle with the Italian parsley and freshly grated Parmesan to serve.

    Chocolate + Malbec

     

    Dark Chocolate and Malbec Ice Cream

    160g dark chocolate (90% cocoa solids)
    300ml double cream
    1/2 can condensed milk (approx~198ml)
    400ml of Malbec

    In a saucepan reduce the 400ml of Malbec on a medium heat until there's approximately 6-8 tbsps left, then set it aside to cool down.

    Break the dark chocolate up and melt it until it's runny and smooth. You can do this however you want, in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water or in the microwave.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the double cream and condensed milk until you reach stiff peaks. Then fold in the chocolate and the reduced Malbec until it's all mixed in.

    Pour the mixture into a 500ml freezable container, you can buy disposable pots online, use a tupperware box or just pour it into a cake tin a la moi. Make sure you cover the ice cream with a lid or tightly wrap it in clingfilm, then put it in the freezer for 6 hours.

    Before you serve the ice cream take it out of the freezer for about 15 minutes to loosen up.

    Receive up to 20% off all Malbec in celebration of Malbec World Day | ends midnight Monday 17th April >

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