Regulars will know that Last Drop Wines on the Kings Rd is one of my favourite wine shops in London so when Andrea, the owner, invited me to cook for a wine dinner she was hosting I jumped at the chance.
Wines were all from the prestigious Dr Loosen Estate in Mosel showcasing traditional Riesling as part of the 31 Days of German Riesling so the menu had to match.
We were very fortunate to be offered a lovely private courtyard garden just off the Kings Rd and although it was Wimbledon week the weather stayed dry.
Guests were served Dr Loosen Sekt as aperitif followed by
Asparagus, Radish, Buttermilk, Toasted Rye
Urziger Wurzgarten 2015
Hake, Pea, Smoked Eel Broth
Erdener Treppchen 2015 & 2005
Moroccan Chicken, Cauliflower Cous Cous, Kale
Red Slate 2015
Cheese Pear & Honey
Grilled Peach, Cherry, Elderflower
Wehlener Sonnenhur Auslese 2015
Matt Giedraitis, the export director, from the Dr Loosen Estate was on hand to talk us through the wines, informative and entertaining.
The evening was hosted by Andrea from Last Drop wines whose dressing up box covers most of the major wine growing areas of the world so the Rhine Valley wasn’t much of a challenge.
Wine buffs will know that Mosel was largely unaffected by the phylloxera outbreak that devastated most of the vineyards in Europe in the 1870’s so some of these vines are very old indeed. Star wine of the night was definitely the Erdener Treppchen. Best food/wine pairing Moroccan Chicken, Cauliflower Cous Cous & Kale with the Red Slate 2015.
Andrea hosts regular Tuesday evening tastings in the shop so contact Last Drop Wines for details of future tastings and the next wine dinner.
Having been spoilt last week with a visit to Robert Parkers Matter of Taste event in Covent Garden where I had the opportunity to taste many once in a lifetime wines way out of my budget I have been looking at everyday wines that we can all access for under £20. There are so many wine stores now, supermarkets, online, independent retailers, wine clubs etc….. too much choice. I have my own favourite wine shops in London but many of us buy wine as part of our weekly supermarket shop so to kick off I have selected one supermarket and 1 independent retailer but there are plenty more.
For me Waitrose probably has the best supermarket wine department and even the small stores carry some good bottles. Bigger stores offer a great selection and carry a fine wine section too.
Here are few recommendations under £20 currently available.
Good quality claret with some decent bottle age at an affordable price
This is just a taster, there are plenty more and most wine shops are very helpful these days with well trained staff on hand to offer advice and guidance. Some have online chat facilities on their website (Oddbins) to help you choose depending on style of wine, budget etc.
The Chef Foundation and Food for the Soul is about to launch a series of online podcasts, snapshots of food that are all around us. What to eat, new talent, trending street food, swanky dining, feeding the homeless, best (and worst) supermarket deals, Fairtrade, school meals, imports, nutrition and anything else that needs shouting about.
These will be live interviews, chat forums, music events, fly on the wall documentaries, workshops, soapboxing, etc. Available on internet radio, the website and social media. Topics already lined up are cooking for the homeless, creating a successful street food stall, financing a restaurant by Crowdfunding and living on bugs (as a source of protein).
Our first production is in the studio being cut to pieces right now.
Supermarkets have totally changed the way we buy alcohol. The booze section in my local Sainsbury takes up 3 aisles, is located near the entrance and the choice is MASSIVE. It is so easy to pick up a bottle of wine (Gin or beer) with your other shopping and there are always deals and bargains. BUT as a discerning drinker, without a huge budget, I rarely find anything I fancy. Waitrose probably have the most interesting supermarket wine shelf.
There are plenty of independent wine shops offering great products at sensible prices. They do not provide the convenience of supermarkets, unless you happen to live next door, but have more interesting wines (beers & spirits) knowledgeable staff and a more enjoyable shopping experience. Here are a few of my favourites in London.
This has to be top of my list. there are 2 shops, South Ken & Islington, but the Kensington branch is by far the best. They operate a sampling system where you buy wine credits on a card and can then taste wines. There are usually about 80 to choose from and some of them are once in a lifetime opportunities. Today they have Chateau Margaux 1924 & 1959, Haut Brion 1989 and Penfolds Grange Bin 95 2002. These are not cheap as you can imagine and there are plenty of more affordable samples too but it is difficult not to try one when you are browsing other wines. Sampler’s strength is independent growers and there is lots on the shelf you will never have heard of. Staff are very knowledgeable, not pushy and let you browse at your own pace. The range of growers Champagne is exceptional.
I bought some 4 Kilos and Domaine of the Bee on my last visit. They also stock Zalto glasses (simply the best) and have a cafe/bar down stairs. The only problem with this shop is that I always end up spending more than I planned.
This stand alone, owner run, old style wine shop is the perfect antidote to supermarket shopping. Andrea knows her wines and her customers, picks all the wines personally and cares about every aspect of her business. The wines are very well displayed and easy to navigate. She always has some older vintages (claret especially) and a good choice of magnums and stickies.
Prices are very good.There are regular informal wine tastings and events, usually with some delicious canapés. I wish I lived nearer!
Another great owner run wine shop with more than one branch. Phil & Swig is where I buy most of my wine as it is quite close to home. They have a good choice from all over the world, South Africa is particularly strong with some great wines from Argentina and Italy too. Good selection of spirits, single malts, micro-beers etc. Last visit I bought some Pulenta Gran Corte,(delicious and very good value) and some old school Gewurztraminer from Rolly Gassman.
They have spent a lot of time and money on the website that is excellent, easy to navigate with good photos of the wines. Also stock Reidel & Zalto glasses with some great decanters and wine accessories.
The Chef Foundation and Food for the Soul now offer a private dining service bringing contemporary fine dining into your own home. Professional chefs, your choice of dishes in your kitchen at affordable prices. Read more….
Having just finished bleating on about how cookery books aint wot they used to be someone comes along with a bloody stonker!!
Venison, The Game Larder, by Jose Souto and Steve Lee is a massive body of work and a fascinating journey into one man’s obsession with wild food and countryside management captured and beautifully brought to life by another man’s photographs.
Jose is a well-respected chef and lecturer at Westminster Kingsway college in London. The flagship catering college in the country for as long as I can remember standing head and shoulders above the rest. I first met Jose at one of his game seminars at Westminster about 8 years ago . Attended by chefs, foodies, the press and other colleges this was and still is the best one-day game event for chefs anywhere. Jose always has the full range, and I mean THE FULL RANGE, of indigenous game on display, in depth knowledge on everything form the feeding habits of the Snipe to the Red Deer Rut in the Cairngorms.
The day includes an excellent lunch in the Vincent rooms cooked by the students and finishes with a comprehensive butchery master class breaking down an entire carcass of venison into dozens of different cuts. His obsession with game, ability with a gun and love of the countryside and falconry are reflected in his work as a chef and Steve has captured all this brilliantly for you to share.
Steve Lee is a professional food driven photographer creating stunning stylish contemporary images of food, drink and people, mainly in the studio I guess. Creeping about on all fours following Jose on a 4.00am winter stalk in the highlands must have been a bit of a shock but without him this book just wouldn’t work. Wild life shots that bring the countryside to life, articulate images of cuts of meat that really help understand the butchery involved.
Great portraits of the team in the field, and pub, and recipe shots that don’t make you feel you have failed miserably when you decide to make one of Jose’s dishes.
The recipes are both traditional and up to date, smoking and curing, venison pastrami, air-dried hams, black pudding, kebabs, pulled shank, hot pot. There is a good selection of recipes from other chefs Tom Kerridge, Phil Vickery Brett Graham, Jun Tanaka and a lovely section with contributions from ex Westminster students too.
Although Jose and Lee have spent 8 years, field and kitchen, creating this book it was well worth the wait and I take back everything I said about modern cookery books not being fit for purpose.