“Days of wine and roses laugh and run away.”
As usual, if you want to see the most recent prior crime against wine reviews appearing in this blog, here is a link: Wise guy, eh?: Wine, April Part A.
I don’t really go in for the carb-loading during the marathon taper as I eat shitpots of pasta, rice, and bread anyway. So, when I saw this slab of brilliantly marbled beef at the butcher I had to get a couple of slices. Swinging by the Sainsbury’s I spied some Asian ladies hurriedly loading shopping trolleys with every bottle they could of this Saint Emilion on the top shelf but, being taller than them, I snagged one for myself (at 2/3 off retail). It was quite nice with our little feast.
It looks like some sort of curry Bolognese hybrid, but it is actually a pasta sauce…the bowl of green stuff is all the basil I had, some sliced spring onions, and some chopped parsley to go in when the pasta and sauce get tossed (probably an hour after this photo was taken from the liquid appearance of the sauce at this point). The Cotes du Rhone was the last red bottle in the rack (where DOES all this wine go?) so we trusted our luck and found it more oaken than anything we have tried all year. The Sainsbury’s Wines from France line are fairly uneven (like Two Buck Chuck back in the States), but we lucked into a good run this time:
Someone, somewhere in the annals of restaurant history, got it in their head that all sorts of other bad service and pricing atrocities could be assuaged by having the waiter stop by every now and then to top of your wine glass with the bottle you already bought, interrupting the meal or conversation or both. And, so it was that at the Dragon Castle chinese restaurant in Elephant and Castle our waitress reached across our table (using the edge to support herself and nearly toppling it in the effort), over our plates of fairly standard fare, to the wine bottle I had placed out of her reach to avoid such a travesty and sloppily poured up some of this barely passable swill:
This seemed to amuse the house deity no end:
The night before the London Marathon (after our late lunch at the Dragon, above, and our visit to Brixton, here) we supped at La Dolce Vita, a small bistro in Borough at the Blackfriars roundabout across from South Bank University. I had a pasta with capers, anchovies, chillies and tomatoes…divine, as was the homemade bread with chilli infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The house wine was perfect for this fairly delightful meal: a bit earthy, tannic, and yet with almost artificially fruity overtones:
After the Marathon, we headed toward Paddington but our train was still a few hours away. You can always count on a good meal at the touristy yet authentic Bizarro, and my reward for the day’s jog included marinated sardines and rigatoni with sausages, while Jackie’s treat included pasta with tomato and tuna started off bybruschetta with some of the most perfect tomatoes and fragrant basil I have ever smelled. The house wine was a Montepulciano and was probably as good as anything twice the price on the carte:
We went to London with the fridge and cupboard bare and only one bottle of red wine in the house. I picked up some rocket and cooked the rice that was part of the Marathon goodie bag and thawed some chicken breasts to fry little aware that it would be a couple of days before we properly resupplied. The Chianti was good, though and helped lubricate the aching old muscles:
Another hectic day and we opted to order a pizza but didn’t want to pay restaurant prices for a bottle of wine. I dashed to the off license up the street and took a chance on the Pone 2-for-£6 deal. They misspelled ”Shyraz” on one bottle and this Veneto was more like Night Train or Mogen David than anything drinkable. After half a bottle we decided to boil it down to add to a sauce, or maybe use it to clean the barbecue grill.
The Pone reduction went ahead despite the ‘Shyraz’ being marginally drinkable. I added a handful of garlic cloves, some rosemary and bay leaves then set it to simmer away. Starting with about 1.25 liters this evaporated to a little less than 200 mL. Since I am pretty sure this will either go in a sauce or get used to braise some pork chops, I floated a hot chilli in the hot reduction before freezing the batch:
Burritos are one of our staple food groups and until the summer heat, such as it is around here, sets in the savoury treats will only be spicy to the level of mild (back home) which is sort of blazing for English standards. Anyway, there’s no need to pair this delicacy with cold beer, yet, and the Spanish wines are plentiful to choose from and cheap to acquire:
I got a five-pound ribeye on the bone from Brian and Kay down the butcher shop…aged perfectly and succulently rare when it came out of the oven. Asparagus is still in season and we go some green beans and Anya potatoes to round out the feast. I can’t remember if we have had this Cotes du Rhone earlier in the year but it was clean on the palate and presented floral, oak and fruit flavours in different proportions depending on which morsel it chased down the gullet…a perfect end to a rainy day of outdoor chores:
Wines noted this half of April were:
Roc de Lussac Saint Emilion with seared steaks
WfF Cotes du Rhone with curry-esque spag-bol
Tierra Antica Cabernet Sauvignon at the Dragon Castle, London
Rosso Sanleo at La Dolce Vita, London
Vini d’Autore Montepulciano d’Abruzzo at Bizarro Italian, London
Piccini Chianti Riserva
Pone Veneto and Shyraz (cooking only…foul)
Marques de Carano Gran Seleccion
La Chasse Cotes du Rhone