Thursday, 21 February 2008

Cava Institute Tasting ...

Yesterday we had a legs of lamb field trip to the Hospital on Endell Street in Covent Garden. The Cava Institutes PR company kindly invited me to a sit down formal cava tasting with a master of wine which I dragged sanchia and Pippa along to. We went through the pro's and con's of new and old styles of Cava, questioning the British attitude towards it as a brand and how to change that attitude. They have a long way to go before they see a marked improvements in sales and until restaurants and independent wine shops start stocking better quality styles (instead of the cheap brands that get sold or given away in the supermarkets) they will be fighting a losing battle. Interesting though it was I was surprised not to see more restaurateurs from places such as Moro barrafina and other tapas places that have opened in the borough market area and the west end lately. Either the PR isn't being done properly or restaurateurs don't have the time or interest to sit through 50 different styles of Cava in an afternoon!

In the evening Sanchia had to work her other job at Konstam at the Prince Albert so I took Hobby for supper there ... we were also joined at the last minute by another couple Marv & Vicky. We had a wonderful meal and some great british wines. My lambs heart starter was particularly good and the rapeseed dressing with carraway and fennel was inspired on Vicky's squid. The mains were all good I had duck with marmalade and fried potatoes but the sloegin and sherry trifle was an alcoholics heaven ... basically a bramble with cream on top! The tarte tatin was also excellent with a lovely lavender cream. Sandhurst winery served us well with an good Pinot Noir but its dessert wine was incredible an apple, pear and elderflower delight!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Pot on the fire

Today Alex and I grudgingly conceded that we are both, although not entirely incompetent, only painfully average at making pancakes. We were immediately deeply grateful that this was not a skill required of us on a daily rather than an annual basis. We are, however, fabulous in other culinary and personal ways so we're not feeling too shabby about it.

Moving on from Shrove commitments, and having re-established a love for January and February's produce (after a severe post Christmas backlash involving ennui with the chestnut) I happily surveyed the day's delivery. Roots aplenty had materialised from our new vegetable supplier, including their gift of an intriguing muddy box of Salsify. After some discussion, the roots were fried in butter and served with skate. They go by a common name of 'oyster plant' - funnily enough, Camille and I (who have been known to put away an oyster or 12) couldn't for the life of us distinguish why it all tasted so damned familiar...

The remaining vegetables, in the company of some free range chickens and various beef, suggested a day long project: Pot-au-Feu, the results of which will be apparent on tomorrow's menu. I'm hoping that few to no French purists will find grounds to criticise my broth, as it was a labour of love and is somewhat delicious.