Sunday, March 09, 2014

Majestic wine deals - South African week 33% discount

Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot product photoGet along to Majestic this week as they are doing wine tasting on a range of South African wines - some of which are excellent. We got this Vergelegen bordeaux blend for £7.33 which Platters guide (the SA wine bible) reviews as a 4* red - it has 25% cabernet franc in it which I think makes all the difference..............and talking of which they are also doing a Santa Rita Chilean Cabernet Franc for just over £5  if you buy 2 and that is a dark purple glass of cherry pie and cassis with overtones of violets - delicious with a sunday BBQ which coincidentally is what we are doing now!
A top champagne deal is that Majestic are discounting the vintage 2004 Veuve Cliquot  at a lower price than the non-vintage - if you want that special bottle then it is a bargain!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Camembert fondue - the perfect starter

I will be honest...... I never saw the point in Camembert as a cheese until I had it in Normandie.  It really comes into its own when it is served hot, fluid and fragrant.  The flavours explode when it has been baked and served in a pot.
Great for a starter at a dinner party (1 cheese for 4 people) or for an informal lunch.  Just put a cheese into a pot for the oven (as it needs containing as it melts) and bake it at 180 degrees celcius for 20 mins. You can insert some garlic cloves to taste before putting in the oven!
Serve it with chopped up carrots, pieces of crusty bread and anything else you like to dip into melted cheese.
As to a matching wine well frankly we have never found anything better than a bottle of chilled Normandie cider (Brut is best) - but just get the most refined appley cider you can your hands on and serve it in wine glasses.  It will surprise you as to  how well it matches the cheese!
Here are a couple of companies that import it -,

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Italian wine bargains!!

This is just a quick note for anyone who has wanted to try some expensive italian wines for a bargain price. Piemonte wines ( are doing a ridiculous sale  this month - any wine for £12.  Now normally you might think £12 is a lot of money for a bottle but in this instance it includes all their Barolo wine!
Barolo is probably the noblest and most famous of italian reds, made from the nebbiolo grape.  It is aged for at least three years, dating from January 1, after its harvest. Two of those years must be spent in large 25hl slavonian oak barrels. So as a result it is highly priced and has a reputation for unapproachability in it`s youth ie they are designed to mature and improve after 10-20 years in the bottle.  
Noel and Tricia Desnos have designed a wonderfully informative website with videos from the producers and tasting notes for every wine.  One of their Barolos was for sale last year at £45 a bottle so £12  is an absolute steal, tho` these are for laying down for a few years.
Recent vintages have been good, especially the 2005, of which the Cagliero Ravera 2005 from the Barolo region south of Alba where the soil is very different, will be drinkable fairly soon.  The wines from further east in Serralunga d'Alba have a different terroir and are more muscular and tannic and need much longer in the bottle.

Waterloo - Perfect Beef Wellington and 3 different red wines

Anne has rightly been famous for her Beef Wellington or as the french say with a bit of post Waterloo bitterness "Boeuf en croute", which has become a signature dish in the family, BUT  to our consternation she has improved  on perfection after having read the Guardian article on the perfect Beef Wellington.
Firstly the beef has to be wonderful and we got fillet from Fawcetts in Ingleby Greenhow ( as his meat is the best we have had anywhere in the world! As you can see Anne cooked it to the point of rarity so it required some decent red wine and given our guests this meant some different wines to cater for taste.  I chose a 2006 Ribera Reserva  from Spain - an oaked Tempranillo it has a lighter blackberry fruitiness with spicy undertones that I got from Laithwaites a couple of years ago on sale.  Then from France a 2005 Gros Caillou from Chateau Le Chabrier south of Bergerac (  which is a fairly classic St-Emilion blend of Merlot, Cab Sav and Cab Franc (but at half the price).  This wine is made by a lovely guy called Pierre Carles whose family also owns property in St-Emilion.  Both wines required decanting as they had thrown some sediment and I washed the bottles out with plain water and poured the wine back in to breathe slowly for a couple of hours.  The Bergerac is like a cru bourgeois  claret in style with perfumed aromatic oak on the nose but deep tangy black fruit lingering forever in the mouth. Both wines were a bit challenging without food but were released with the meat.
The final wine was a sweet fruity Amarone which I just bought from Lidl this week as it was on special offer at £9.99 reduced from an earlier price last year of £20. Much more approachable but quite alcoholic at 16% however lacking the subtleties and complexity of the other two.  Which wine went best with the Duke of Wellington`s beef? Of course by a mile it was the frenchie!!  Waterloo all over again!!
ps you can get the Gros Caillou and other Le Chabrier wines from the French Wine Project (

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We are back

So after a lengthy absence I have decided that despite the fact that this is likely to be read by almost no-one that I may scribe a few thoughts.....mostly around food and wine as they are the passions of our lives.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

James 9th birthday

Well the famous cakemaker struck again - last year it was a Tiger tank this year a Mathilda tank! Which for the less well informed was the main battle tank for the 8th army in the desert campaign against Rommel.
James had a very happy time with 5 of his friends playing games in the garden making their own pizzas and watching the stardust dvd in the hut with popcorn and jelly snakes.
Altogether one of our easiest parties as for 90 mins of it we watched the French open tennis ladies final

Monday, April 21, 2008

purple haze

Angus and i had a little free time over the weekend due to unforeseen sickness in expected visitors. So we tackled the needs of our hut, it was dried out and unprotected, requiring a new coat of anti-fungal preservative/weather protector. We had decided a lovely Scandinavian pale blue, as seen in Sweden would be a lovely alternative to boring green and brown. The perfect stain was ordered from the Internet and arrived ready for applying with sprayer or paintbrush.
Here is the result after a serious attack of bad language, both of us covered in purple splatters, we gave up after doing 2 of the 4 walls.We stood back and said "Oh."

We think now we could make a really positive thing out of it and borrow some wheelie bins from Liverpool which happen to be a great colour match. Maybe even go for a bright yellow deck stain. What do you think???

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April Fish in Normandy

So we went to Normandy for Easter - Anne got ill on the way down and coughed incessantly for the whole holiday and slept hardly at all. The weather was pants from the first week (tho it was worse in England) and the oil fired boiler decided to die on us and was condemned by a host of french plumbers who congregated in our cellar looking at it and muttering "c`est grave" then with a doleful expression "c`est morte"! It being the female boiler "la chaudiere".
After the installation of a new boiler, I noticed that there was a huge pool of oil under the flaming box that is an oil fired boiler - so we had to get the plombier in again to sort that out - after that all was well except it was dribbling water at the back - all that was needed was a tightening of a pipe at the back - I nearly said to the plumber that there was a problem and that I wanted him to "serrer la pipe" - I felt that maybe there was another meaning to the word "pipe" - if you look up the word at you will see how close I came to entente cordiale!

On top of all this the TV broke down and everything is closed until April 1st "Poisson d`Avril".

However we had a calvados tasting from the casks (70% alcohol), cider tasting (up to 7 years old), Poire tasting and we went to Camembert village and disovered la fosse d`Arthur, which
is a beauty spot