28 November 2014

Friday Figments and photos

With a hiss, a roar and the thumping double bass, the silly season has begun! Rejoice! Buy painkillers, eat well and don't get caught taking photos of door knockers...!


27 November 2014

Travels + a Pinterest addiction = ...?

It's an interesting equation by anyone's guesstimate I reckon. One would begin to think that travelling would quell that insistent need to experience ever more wonders of the world, but it doesn't. Every single time I pop onto Pinterest, (owing mostly to the cool crew I follow) more travel lust rises in my heart with every beautifully framed image (and plenty of the real life, wonky, out-of-focus ones too).

It's that darned 'Add a place' button that causes the money to fly straight out of my bank account...
I can't help it.

Like an addict, I've found a coping strategy. Narrowing my travel ambitions down to 5 boards has helped this hobby a little; streamlining them into 2 categories; home & abroad and having two delicious wishlists for inspiration.

First, the World.

The UK.

And finally one of my favorite homes (all us expats will know exactly what I mean by that!)

...not to mention the awesomest explorative group board;

So, how do you cope with Pinterest inspiration overload?

Pssssst don't forget the new Monthly Travel Linkup topic is out for the 1-7th; all things deliciously festive!

26 November 2014

The tallest French wine tasting* class in all of London town

Let's be frank here - wine pairings can make or break a meal. An experienced sommelier is much like an acrobat dancing the fine wire between courses as they dance from flavour to flavour in a dish. They tease, they taunt, they delight your palate in ways you might not think possible. All from one tiny piece of fruit - the mighty grape.

French wine recommendations - Adventures of a London Kiwi

A few weeks ago, kindly invited to a wine tasting in the unmissable Paramount, Miss Jess-on-Thames (I'm reliably informed that's her new legal name) and I strode through London on a dusky work evening. Ruddy cheeked and fresh faced from the autumnal cold we were delighted to be ushered upwards to the restaurant for Sopexa's perfectly named "Absolutely Cracking Wines from France" tasting class. Bumping into the lovely, slightly altophobic Rosie, we settled in for a memorable night of learnin'.

{All of the wines below are sold widely in the UK from a large variety of independant stores and are beautifully priced. I've popped links where I can find them, and used a generous hand to bold the best descriptors of the wines - enjoy!)

French wine recommendations - Adventures of a London Kiwi
This view. Oh, this view as the dusk fell and London's myriad lights sleepily blinked on. It was delicious; The City, London Bridge, St Pauls, The London Eye, Oxford Street - I could honestly go on.
French wine recommendations - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Our sommelier savant Douglas (see earlier d'Anjou Rosé adventures at the Queen of Hoxton) paired our first gastronomic teaser with two rather interesting sweet wines. First up, one of my utter favourites, an AOP Alsace Morrison's Signature (Cave de Turkheim) Gewurztraminer 2013. With rather a long name to live up to, the title translates literally as Spice (Gewurz) Town (Traminer). The heady, sweet flavours matched our ceviche's coriander notes surprisingly, and brought out their savoury characteristics. Gewurztraminers are usually a nice, light cheeky glass - with a high natural sugar they are usually off-dry, with a flamboyant bouquet of lychees - one perfect for relaxing with friends of an evening. 

Our second introduction was to the AOP Pacherence du Vic-Bilh, Plaimont Producteurs, Saint Albert 2011 which feature more honey/marmalade notes (jokingly referred to as scarf wine - perfect comfort on a winters evening). New to me, it was lovely - surprisingly well paired with another first - a cheeky Ceviche, an appetizer of fresh fish marinated in citrus juices, sugar, salt, chilli and other forms of deliciousnesses (is that a word? Too bad, it is now). Served raw, the soft delicious flesh is 'cooked' with the acidity of a lime or lemon juice concoction.

French wine recommendations - Adventures of a London Kiwi 

Served alongside a delicate bite of Thai crab cakes, the AOP Savennies Domaine de Baumard Close du Papillon 2006 - named after the butterfly shaped of the winery courtyard - was a lovely taste of the a honeyed, dry white Chenin Blanc grape - lightly followed by Brangelina's AOP Côtes de Provence, Château Miraval, Rosé 2013, a celebrity scented strawberry noted rosé with honest roots in flavour. Lovely.

French wine recommendations - Adventures of a London Kiwi

With delectable mouthfuls of wild mushroom risotto, we tested the woodsy and 'fabulous' AOP Cote Roannaise, Domaine Sérol, Vielles Vignes 2013 - a medium-bodied red with deep cherry notes was super easy on the palate, whilst the mushroom & coffee flavours hinting through the AOP Alsace, Domaine l’Agapé, Hélios 2012 paired so beautifully with the risotto I was almost converted from my sweet wine lovin' ways.

French wine recommendations - Adventures of a London Kiwi

We settled on two fuller-bodied reds to accompany our classic miniature Yorkshire puddings with roast beef & horseradish. A full-bodied and complex sip, cabernet savignon and merlot smokey flavours featured in our tannin-rich AOP Saint-Julien Domaine Henry Martin Château Haut-Beychevelle Gloria 2009, whilst the heady blackberry and vanilla notes threaded through the Vin de France, Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Faustine Rouge Vielles Vignes 2011 caused Jess's eyes to light up. I enjoyed it, but was a little too distracted by our next - and last course - to concentrate properly.

French wine recommendations - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Dessert wines, oh dessert wines. Rich, luscious, and a perfect high note to a delicious meal, the AOP Rivesaltes, Domaine Cazes, Ambré 2000 was a delicious, unctious vintage fortified grenache grape, with a concentrated but not overbearing balance, with notes of port, prunes, autumn evenings and raisins. What's more, their organic and biodynamic winery arranges their work according to the lunar calendar. My hand's down favourite - in fact there is a wee bottle awaiting my glass once I've finished typing this post out. That's how lovely it was.

It was paired with a taster of cheeses unusually - dessert wines are usually left to shine on their own as a post-meal treat or paired with dessert - matching beautifully. Heaven.

French wine recommendations - Adventures of a London Kiwi

Oh, and I did a little pre-festive season research for my lovely readers - Douglas kindly recommends that the best wine to accompany Turkey is a lovely red Irancy Pinot Noir.

French wine recommendations - Adventures of a London Kiwi

*Wine tastings - normally the domain of know-it-all-twits who'll spend 17 hours arguing that a mountain pasteurized Chablis is far superior to an oaked Chardonnay harvested by llamas, and harried bartenders forced to pour Rose with several ice-cubes to dull any flavor (myself being in the latter bartending camp for many student years) are actually really fun. Thank heaven for Douglas!