My love of the medium, photography and blogging, I trust shows; well it must do as I have been nominated for the Wine Blog Awards. Not just once either, but twice! There it is, Spittoon.biz, listed in the voting line up for 'Best Graphics, Photography, Presentation' and 'Best Wine Reviews'. I am well chuffed.
Over the last few years the readership of Spittoon has grown substantially. Where once I was astounded that 1,000, then 5,000 and then 8,000 subscribers read my scribbles though RSS (let alone the number visiting the site direct or subscribing to updates by email) the number now stands a little shy of 28,000 according to Feedburner. Unbelievable. Thank you one and all.
If just one percent of you could just pop over to the Wine Blog Awards voting page and show your appreciation for those years of slog and spitting that I've pummelled into this little drink blog I would be really, really grateful. ;-)
After six years of blogging a little award would mean a lot. I realise I don't stand an earthly when compared with the fine blogs Spittoon is competing against but even one vote would mean plenty to me. Huge thanks if you take the time...
Vote here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7CLMSMG
The wines were made by Gerardo Vernazzaro, an Italian from Naples. The wines mostly made from Falanghina, a white variety that I thought delicious and as charming as Gerardo himself. And how do I know he is charming? I've met him!
As myself, CookSister and The Wine Sleuth, scurried around the London International Wine Fair, I spied the distinctively packaged wines on a stand... and there he was Gerardo Vernazzaro himself. He took us through his range, several listed by Naked Wines. A the conclusion Denise the Wine Sleuth took a little video, cooksister holding the camera. I hate to steel her thunder (she does after all still owe me a tenner) but while they were videoing, I too recorded the encounter on my new camera. The video is totally unedited (hey, I was amazed the video came out at all!) but should work.
The wine they are tasting is the Falaghina Strione 2007 listed by Naked Wines (the only UK stockist) for £11.99.
Surprisingly I even recognise the parallels present in the results from Bibendums World Cup of Wine. Having missed the initial play offs I was keen to attend the semi-finals. Each team had two reds and two wines compared against similar bottles from the opposing team. A strident showing from Australia was pitted against a strong South African line up and on the other table the French, fielding a couple of classic styles, was lined up against Italy and being Italy these were rather idiosyncratic wines.
The wines were duly sampled and compared. Quite some discussion resulted. Was this Aussie Chard just a little too oaky? Did the length of the South African Chenin really pull it ahead? The discussions and re-tastings took the place of post match discussions and video replays of near misses and crowd pleasing action. There was a similar amount of spitting too.
Perhaps surprisingly South Africa fought off the strong Australian line-up, particularly the Chenin Blanc (Graham Beck, The Game Reserve Chenin Blanc, 2009, Robertson) which simply knocked everyone's socks off (well in my group anyway). It was a close run thing between two Pinot Noir's though. Was the sweeter, Aussie-sun lashed fruit of the Marchand & Burch Mount Barrow Pinot Noir, 2008 preferable over the more Burgundian, fungi-tipped, Newton Johnson 2009 Pinot Noir from South Africas Walker Bay? A close run thing but price played a part too and pushed South Africa into the lead and winning the match.
A different story over at France v Italy. Were the French a little too complacent and relieing too much on tradition and terroir to see off the Italians stylish showing? The result was a complete trouncing of France and a mammoth victory for Italy. In play two Italian wines really shone and come with a 'must buy' ticket.
On the red bench the Nicolis Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2005 is a hard sell apparently (why when it is such a delicious wine?) Deep, rich, wonderfully rich, with power and concentration but at the same time offering pure drinakable pleasure. Stylish in that Italian manner with a nod to elegance and food matching potential. Superb. This was the wine I went back too for a post-match slurp.
On the white bench the choice of a Soave, those easily dismissed, lemony, watery wines made fom dull old Trebbiano, was a pleasant surprise. Until the time came to try it. A whiff of weed, citrus pith and a delicious floral edge. Great acidity, lovely weight. A worthy winning player.
June the 9th, I believe, is the date set for the Bibendum Wine Cup Finals. Should be a tense and fun game!
Rather nicely utilising more of the, overly expensive, rose water purchased for a fruit smoothie the flavours added such an exotic edge that it threw me for a while for which wine to serve with them. A red wine for lamb chops would be the obvious choice but the strident flavours rose water threw this out thinking a clash would result with anything too tannic (Bordeaux or Rhone red would be the first bottles I'd reach for normally) and felt anything new world would be too overpowering.
A panic in the isles of Waitrose?!
Step round the corner to the rosé shelves, whispered that shoulder lounging devil.
The recipe is again taken from Miss Masala by Mallika Basu but involves little more than puréeing various spices (garlic, root ginger, cinnamon stick, a red chilli, nutmeg, coriander and pepper) and mixing with Greek yoghurt, slathering this over the lamb chops and leaving them for a couple of hours. (Thanks to the PR people for KitchenAid for sending me a blender the other day, the puréeing would have taken a while otherwise...)
And the wine choice? A bottle of Marques de Calatrava Tempranillo Rosado 2008, complete with 'man-styled' label and 12.5% alcohol. A hearty coloured rosé from La Mancha. Not expensive, and on offer until 9th June, at £4.99 but punches above this price point brilliantly.
Stock up on a few to accompany those summer barbeques...
Cooking Indian at home doesn't happen often either. The thought of all those ingredients is rather off putting and anything too spice-hot is just going to ruin any decent wine. With interest then thumbing through the recipes in Mallika Basu's new book, Miss Masala, discovering some accessible and wine-friendly (hopefully) dishes.
Page 80 details Murgh Masala - the ultimate simple chicken curry - the key it seems is cooking the chicken on the bone "to enjoy the full flavour of spiced stocked in the curry"; quite surprised too with the number of recipes that utilise yoghurt, Greek yoghurt at that. There is a fine level of spice in this basic recipe, just a teaspoon of chilli powder and half a teaspoon of turmeric, root ginger, garlic, garam masala, onion completes the flavour. Also interesting was the instruction to add a pinch of sugar to the hot oil. This caramelises and lends the dish a "lovely red glow later without the need for food colouring".
The other issue with an 'Indian' is that several different dishes are served at the same time, making it tricky to get a decent wine match. Here, with just this one chicken dish, and some simple rich to accompany the choice was easy - something weighty, full and rounded with a hint of mysticism. Step forward a decent Australian Viognier... leap-frogging over a new-world Chardonnay, which would have been an alternative.
The wine of choice then to accompany Murgh Masala is Yalumba Eden Valley Australian Viognier. The current vintage in Waitrose is 2008 and comes in at £9.99. The wines plumpness and exotic peach and apricot flavours melding very nicely with the dish.
The Cellar Masters bar utilises the 'Enomatic Wine Preservation and Serving System' were you can serve yourself tasting samples, half glasses and a full-on glassful of various wines.
If you haven't encountered the Enomatic system before it 'dispenses wine directly, in a multi-portion fashion, direct from the bottle using inert gas preservation. The flavours and characteristics of the wine remain intact and you can be assured that the wines dispensed are fresh and flavourful, as if the bottle was just opened'.
While you are free to taste and drink which ever wines you like they have linked several into 'destination wine tasting' groups [Cellarmasters Wine Menu pdf]. So you could go for a Drouhin Chablis, Chateau Les Tuileries from the Graves, a Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape and a Chateau Coufran from the Haut-Medoc under 'Tour de France' or a 'California Dreaming' selection that gives a Freemark Abbey Chardonnay from the Napa Valley, a Murphy Goode Fumé Blanc from the Alexander Valley, a Sequioa Grove Napa Cabernet and a Foley Vineyards Pinot Noir. The Exploring Down Under selection is good offering a Brancott Reserve Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, A Leasingham Riesling, a Norman Estates Shiraz and a Grove Mill Pinot Noir. Each of these flights are available at US$15 for a 2oz serving. A nice way to explore new wines before settling on a wine to drink a full glass of...
A couple of interesting (ie not tried before) wines were available during the two-nighter cruise; all twittered of course, although a couple exceeded the 140 character limit...
wine_scribbler: Wild Rock Sauvignon 07 marlborough a sandwich filling of lemon slices & grapefruit skins gently pressed to a smooth paste, pressed until the pips burst
wine_scribbler: Automoto 07 California Chardonnay smooth as a beach heading convertable but note that lemon scratch on the rear fender. Simple to repair.
wine_scribbler: Murphy Goode Cabernet 06 Alexander valley in celebrity eclipse cellar masters bar. Straining blackberries through a used tea strainer, bits of leaf, seldom catch a rouge mushroom ...
Incidentally the stateroom entertainment system includes a graphical location map - we went way passed the Channel Islands I believe - and full room service ordering. I did try and order a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal 2002 (US$750 if I recall correctly) but the system crashed with an error...
New to the Celebrity Eclipse is the QSine restaurant. It aims to be 'different'. No three set courses, no limit to the dishes you can order, no set method of plating either. As the ipad was whisked away - I had managed to view a red wine with a perfunctory tasting note and a full scan of the label, in addition to the dish description as shown in the photo - a series of sample dishes were thrown our way. Far too quickly really to appreciate their individuality or to take photos of them all.
I'm a little confused as to the roll of the IPad, do you order a dish or a wine directly from it? I'm unsure. There was a full illuminated 'menu', again in a non-standard format (pdf download), that lists all the dishes. I forget all we tried: a meatball trilogy made from Kobe beef was slightly disappointing in texture and flavour (each had a different stuffing), a superbly presented tapas or mezi selection (think different dishes, pots, wraps etc on a giant thimble collection stand), make your own burgers (sliders in American with a brioche bun, miniature Kobe burger, American cheese, onions, tomatoes, three sauces), an illuminated prawn cocktail, Sushi Lollipops (as pictured), delicious spring rolls served in giant springs, decorate your own cupcake, the fun element is exciting, you really have no idea what to expect next...
I think they are missing a trick though. Little attention is paid to the wine. By expanding the innovation and fun to bring in the wine or other drinks would have enhanced the while 'experience' greatly. A different wine sample or cocktail with each dish or even presented different drinks in an equally novel fashion as the food. Something more than a sparkler in cocktail obviously, but with all the attention lavished on the food it was disappointing that little was offered on the drink side of things.
The wine menu has echoes of the quirkiness (pdf download, prices in US$ per bottle), printed off-kilter, with plenty I'd like to try (those at this press presentation were a decent enough Chardonnay and an OK-ish Pinot Noir, exactly the same as served with our other meals in the other restaurants). Although the IPad had wine label scans and a few lines by way of a tasting note wine obviously takes a back seat...
One non-UK based blog is intentionally in the list due to their growing influence and rapport with the UK wine trade, their marvellous work in promoting social media in the wine field and organising the European Wine Bloggers conference.
Just following half of those listed will give an excellent overview of the UK wine scene - what's hot, what's chilling, what's good down the supermarket...
It would be great for a comment or email altering me to any I have missed, as I am certain to have done. The only criteria is that the blog must be predominantly about wine (sorry Douglas) and be based in the UK or write about the UK wine scene. Each authors twitter tag is also listed.
These are personal blogs only. I'll look into compiling a list of retailer blogs and winery blogs if there is enough interest and people send me their details.
The UK's Wine Bloggers:
"Here he goes again - banging on about how grape blends are soooo much more interesting than single varietals... he'll be raving over some South African wines next, I'll bet"
"Yeh, repeating himself again. You wait he'll pick on some wine-maker with 'character' and imply that being a maverick or whatever can only influence the wine in a good way!"
"Better than moaning about a perfume-doused floosy at a tasting out smelling the wines"
"or a cigar-chomping lard-arse hogging the spittoon"
Three quick recommendations sampled at a trade tasting (SITT 2010 held in Vinopolis last February). They are from the A A Badenhorst stable, a project by Adi Badenhorst one of "the Cape's more colourful characters". After a series of vintages at Rustenberg, Adi set up, with a cousin, this new estate building on vineyards and facilities last used in the 1930's. The old vines are unirrigated, farmed and made into wine with as little intervention as possible. Adi was at the tasting, perched on the end of the Swig table, looking hot and tired but mercifully near the open door for some cool air. A wild hair cut, a slight manic gleam to the eye and as you spied his wines he was round the front of the table pouring and enthusing...
Can't say the labelling does anything for me. Bottle pictures from the estates website (which is in need of an update!).
A A Badenhorst Secateurs White, 2009, Swartland, South Africa.
Swig £8.50 [Adegga / Snooth]
Complexity in droves. Chenin Blanc forming 14% of the blend. "coming together nicely, will age beautifully" said Adi.
Andrew BarrowScribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]
A A Badenhorst Family White, 2007, Swartland, South Africa
Swig £22 [Adegga / Snooth]
Another stunning mix. Rousanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Sauvignon, Chenin all melding into a delicious intensity. An underlying crispness keeps the rich palate in check. Alcohol 15%
Andrew BarrowScribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]
A A Badenhorst Secateurs Red, 2007, Swartland, South Africa
Swig £9.50 [Adegga / Snooth]
Nine varieties in this one. "Slightly left field". A delicious softness, quite firm and rounded.
Andrew BarrowScribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]
"there you see - a character! And a South African too"
"at least he restricted the listed wines to just three. I do find being presented with a long list of wine tasting notes so, so dull. 'Specially on this blog... "
My good friends Niamh and Denise launched another Guerrilla tasting onto London's streets - which Niamh reports "it went really well! We had 3 wines at the Green Onions Supper Club in Hackney. People loved them esp the Douro red" - and in deepest Thames-side Oxfordshire I made a stew, grilled some pork ribs and am about to throw some giant prawns on the barbie. Well, it would be a barbecue if I actually had a garden. And a barbecue. A griddle pan will have to suffice.
Failing to source all the wines involved in the tasting a make do and mend session, with two of the reds and the white, and matching them to the foods mentioned made for a fun weekend.
Of the wines the Vida Nova 2007 from the Algarve (that's a Cliff Richard wine), a blend of Syrah, Aragonez and Alicante Bouschet, and the Tinto da Ânfora 2007 (Aragonez, Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Alfrocheiro, Cabernet Sauvignon) were cracked open and sampled against a hearty beef stew and a pile of pork ribs that were marinated overnight in a chilli sauce. The one white in the six bottle line-up, a Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde, will be subject to a separate post, is about to be savoured with prawns, simply griddled and served with a little Lingham's Ginger, Garlic and Chilli Sauce mixed with a dollop of mayonnaise.
Price-wise there is little difference between the Vida Nova at £7.99 and the Tinto da Ânfora at £6.99 but the former was the deeper, richer, more classy, intense and more complex wine of the two. The Ânfora, obviously a different grape mix grown in a different region, is a touch more rustic and more hearty. The Vida Nova has a delicious top note of red berries while the Ânfora offers a fruity upfront sweetness before stroking the teeth with soft tannins and ending on a rustic lick of red fruits. Its combination of fruit, sun drenched earth and wafts of herbs and undergrowth is a winner.
Being hungry while the stew and rice bubbled atop the stove a chunk of Parmesan, being the only cheese in the fridge, was sampled with each. Not a great match with the Ânfora. The cheese stamped aggressively across the red berry flavours. The harder hitting Vida Nova had fewer issues. A rather nice combination.
And with the beef stew? Both were fine, its not a dish that many red wines would disagree with, but on balance I preferred the sweetness inherent in the Ânfora, the flavours melding beautifully with the richness of the sauce. The pork ribs - quite spicy from all that chilli sauce - did not disagree with either wine. A preference? The Anfora.
Vida Nova Syrah Aragonez, 2007, Algarve, Portugal [Adegga / Snooth]
Mixed berry throwing contest, who can hit the red tiles at the top of the farm wall? Using those sour cherries is cheating.
Best Lamb Cutlets with Special Basil Sauce matched with Dusty Dog Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 This Australian red is big, deep and juicy. Not the most complex of wines but decent enough. Matched well with the lamb - such a wine friendly meat - and even leapt over the brown dollop of sauce (pummelled pine nuts and basil, loosened with olive oil, with zing added by lots of balsamic vinegar, hence the unappealing colour) with ease. Despite the slight derogatory stance of the description the sauce is delicious. (Recipe from Jamie's Dinners)
Char-grilled Pork Leg with Asparagus linked with Bain's Way Merlot 2008. (Recipe from Jamie's Kitchen).
Pan-Roasted Salmon with Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Anchovy-Rosemary Sauce with Gosling Creek Verdelho 2008 (Recipe from Cook with Jamie)
Pasta Peperonata with Castillo de Tafalla Rosado 2009. (Recipe from Jamie's Dinners)
Incredible Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Smashed Veg and Greens with Parrot Valley Red Blend 2009 (recipe from Jamie at Home)
Cheese and Onion Salad with Creamy Herb Dressing with Mistral Chardonnay 2008. Billed as a starter but a 'double' portion served as a late evening meal when served with a few slices of toasted French bread. The photo is a stylised shot of the salad; although in this form it could be served as hors d'oeuvres. Now, if you don't over-do the crumbled Roquefort, for it is strongly flavoured and would over power most wines, this un-wooded Chardonnay from Chile made for a rather satisfying combination. (Recipe from Jamie at Home)
Crispy Prawn Tempura with Ribbon Salad matched with Kimbao Sauvignon Blanc 2009. Good ol' SB; versatile in food matching. While the tempura is on the 'to try' list the first bottle was opened to accompany little filo pastry parcels stuffed with leek, caramelised onions and cheese; details on Spittoon Extra. A jolly decent match indeed.
Rhubarb and Custard Kinda Soufflé with Las Moras Late Harvest Viognier 2006 Not convinced this is sweet enough for a dessert, high acidity halts any cloying sensation; nice apricot flavours. Wouldn't automatically think of viognier though. Alcohol 12%. Sampled with a sorta trifle - layers of stewed rhubarb, crumbled ginger biscuits, custard, whipped double cream topping - the match was just 'OK'. Maybe the soufflé proper would work better. Thinking a pâté would be more suitable... or indeed the Roquefort left over from the salad! (Recipe from Jamie at Home)
The mixed case of 12 wines - some (the more expensive I imagine) are just single bottles, the others are doubled up - comes in at £70..
As a dog is not just for Christmas, champagne should not be kept for just special occasions. A particularly gruelling week ended with a Chinese takeaway and a bottle of Cordon Rouge; now that is 'special'! A starter of tempura coriander prawns - brilliant, sweet and sour chicken balls with special fried rice - enlivened, and not forgetting a huge bag of prawn crackers - perfectly decadent.
The bottle of Cordon Rouge [Adegga / Snooth] came complete with "George", a specially designed ice-bucket by Patrick Jouin. I'm not really up on designers but Patrick (subject of an exhibition in Paris "la substance du design" until May 24th) has designed interiors (the Gilt restaurant and bar in New York, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower), theatre sets, urban furniture (automatic public toilets and the bicycle rental stands and terminals in Paris) and some stunning cutlery too (Zermatt flatware collection, a teak and plastic spoon for nutella).
Always a sucker for a bit of designer stuff the bucket is actually rather good. Taking the distinctive red sash of Cordon Rouge the bucket has a red lick that lifts at the back to act as a handle. There's a lip in the base to cradle the bottle too. A little designer piece of plastic to lift any moment to somethin special. Now if only they can do something similar to make parsnips palatable.
The map location I thought important for Sonoma has differing regions - rolling hills here, sea influence here, heavy fog influence due to the San Pablo Bay here or higher temperatures up towards the north. Flowers ranch for example is just a stones throw from the Pacific coast - a dramatic wild location surrounded by virgin forest while Pedroncelli is right up in the wild north where the Dry Creek Valley has temperatures suitable for Zinfandel.
Present were Jim Pedroncelli, Proprietor and Director of Sales and Marketing at Pedroncelli (Adegga / Snooth) with 2007 Mother Clone Zinfandel, Rod Berglund President and Wine Maker at Joseph Swan Vineyards (Adegga / Snooth) with a 2005 Zinfandel and a 2007 Pinot Noir, followed by Jeff Stewart Vice President Winemaker at Buena Vista with a 2007 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot Noir and finally Tom Hinde, President and CEO of Flowers Winery with their 2008 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot Noir.
It is so easy to club all Californian, indeed all American, wines into one. But these examples demonstrated individual aspects modified by the location. Most had a story to tell. The Pedroncelli Zinfandel for example uses vines cloned from the original "mother" vines of which one quarter of acre exist to day and fruit from these 100-year-old vines are included in the blend. It is also a tradition to blend in the fruit from another old plot, the Buchignani vineyard, where vines are 40-50 years old.
I adored the two Flowers offerings. Both exhibited a real 'European' textural quality, but still with a ripe new-worldliness. Shame they have a retail price of £50-£60 a piece.
Due to the time constraint I had to email each of them with a couple of questions after the event; surprisingly two even found the time to reply!
From Tom Hind of Flowers Winery [Adegga / Snooth]:
a) In FIVE words what makes your wines stand out from the crowd?
High natural acidity and balance
b) In FIVE words why us Brits should buy your wines?
The most pure example of California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (ummm, I count ten....)
c) Can you give me a quick titbit about your wines/a wine/the winery ie food matching, historical fact, something new etc etc
We are the western-most vineyard in all of California one mile from the Ocean. Our wines go with a wide range of foods due to their high natural acidity lower alcohols, balance and finesse.
From Jeff Stewart of Buena Vista Carneros [Adegga / Snooth]
a) In FIVE words what makes your wines stand out from the crowd?
Elegance, concentration, sense of place
b) In FIVE words why us Brits should buy your wines?
True expression of California quality
c) Can you give me a quick titbit about your wines/a wine/the winery ie food matching, historical fact, something new etc etc
Buena Vista Carneros is the first premium winery in California, founded in 1857. Today we produce special wines from a special place - our Ramal Vineyard Estate in Carneros, Sonoma County.
The tasting was at Goodman's Restaurant, where a meal after - complete with trademark steak - turned into a jolly, impromptu, wine and food matching event. The Zinfandel's tearing into the 8oz strip loin with gusto and the Chardonnay's matching beautifully with slices of Irish Smoked Salmon.
And this style - sorta cool-gay with a dash of irreverence and humour pervades the whole of The Public House. It's up in Islington, not as out-of-town as I assumed, but not a part of London I've ever stumbled though just a minute from Highbury &
Islington tube. Its not an overly styled 'too-cool-for-school' place. Not imposing. Not uncomfortable. The drinks menu ends with a list of the furniture and other fixtures and fittings: £1,500 for a couple of marble columns with candles? £650 for a deco stove? £450 for a free standing lamp? £800 for a 1950's French Butterfly Chandelier? You can buy them all. A quirky element that adds to the fun. I don't suppose they sell much, most was a bit too camp and boudoir for my taste (although I was rather taken with a couple of the chairs... and one of the other, more moveable, elements).
I rather wish we had arrived earlier to fully explore the drinks list for this too exhibits some of this quirkiness. They list a Bulgarian Muscat Ottonel by the glass (£4.50), a Patrucius Dry Furmint from Hungary (£30 a bottle) and a Viognier made by Zaca Mesa from the States (£36) for example. On the red side there is an Oregon Pinot Noir, Four Graces, (£45), great to see a Portuguese red Frontaria from the Douro (£19.50) and a Bogle Petite Syrah from California (£7.50 glass, £30 bottle). I would like to have indulged in a glass of the Chateau Du Donjons from the Minerviois (£4.50/£16.60) or maybe one of the four sparkling wines available by the glass (sadly no producers detailed but there is a Prosecco £6/£32 and a Saumur Brut Rosé £6/£32 for example or if you can only suffer champagne a Joseph Perrier at £7.50/£42)
A short list - but grief, I hate having a wine list so long it makes selecting a bottle a horrific chore.
My companion, the affable Mr Blyde, selected a Bouza Albarino from Uruguay (£27). I ask you, can you get more obscure and quirky?! It certainly wouldn't have been my choice but I did rather enjoyed it; a decent weight, a broad palate and a fine food matching style. It work rather well. Honeyed pears mixed with grapefruit; fresh, crisp acidity.
Our discussion of the food was rather intense, critical and 'dissectional'. Starters of Duck Terrine, Roasted Beetroot and Beetroot Leaf Pesto (£7.50) for me was generously sized and neigh-on perfect but the Scallops with Haggis and Champagne Rhubarb (£8.50) offered a little too much in the way of flavours. Beautifully presented and delicious scallops indeed, but either the haggis or the rhubarb have to go...
Mains. I can't think of a more perfectly cooked Pork Tenderloin that I've eaten. Absolutely perfect. Generous in size (although the 'wrapped in pancetta' bit seemed absent) served with a roast apple and a cauliflower puree. The puree was little more than a smear, the apples stuffing, liver I believe, was little more than a teaspoons-full in size. So I could have done without the cauliflower and wished for more of the liver stuffing. Greed perhaps, more than a critique. Pork Tenderloin wrapped in Pancetta, stuffed roast apple and cauliflower puree is on the menu at £12.95.
The mix of flavours in the Halibut with Venison Stew and Wild Mushrooms (£17.95) was as unbalanced as the haggis and rhubarb. An expensive and generous portion of superbly cooked fish, the venison dividing the attention. Unlike some of the odder pieces of furniture they didn't quite gel together to make an over-arching statement.
Dessert I couldn't fault. The Apple and Berry Pie (£5) was consumed with remarkable celerity. Not due to any problem but rather my need to make a 'last of the evening bus-train connection'. Amazing how the passage of time alters - a little wine, damn decent food, an interesting location and a lively catch-up with an old friend and before you know it the chat turns to train times.
The conversation pre-dinner, was dominated by that coaster - was the middle figure actually a guy? Impressively muscled or wearing man-boobs? The coasters weren't for sale.
The Public House
54 Islington Park Street
London N1 1PX