Archive | March, 2013

La pizza ed il vino – l’accoppiare perfetto

16 Mar

Italy

It’s Saturday afternoon, the end of the Six Nations rugby tournament (bane of my life) and I’m thinking ahead to what to eat for dinner. Well, I lie, I’ve probably been thinking about it since 6pm last night since I’m a.) a boringly anal planner b.) always hungry and c.) just generally love a food-based pointless pondering.

Which has got me thinking – whenever I’m struggling, I always revert back to the tried-and-tested Italian favourite of pizza. Hence the Italian-themed title to this post which I did on freetranslation.com, so mi dispiace (or ‘I’m sorry’ – god I really need to get off this website) to anyone who can actually understand Italian.

It’s probably not surprising therefore that I’ve recently visited two very good pizza places.

The first was Franco Manca on Northcote Road in Clapham, which I visited on a Friday night with a friend. There are only six pizza options to choose from but after visiting, you’ll wonder why you ever needed any more.

Pizza bases at Franca Manca are made in a wood-burning brick oven using slow-rising sourdough, producing a soft and pillowy base upon which the delicious toppings go, including Gloucester Old Spot ham, chorizo and wild mushrooms. The most expensive option was around seven quid which is such good value, particularly for London. I was so impressed I’m now returning with the family next weekend to the branch in Chiswick, so hopefully they’ll enjoy it as much as me (with two younger brothers, I’m hoping I can’t go wrong).

The second was Princi in Soho which I visited with another friend one mid-week evening just before Valentine’s Day when it was absolutely CHUCKING it down. We were met with a very warm welcome from our Italian waiter and tucked into yet another two very enjoyable pizzas with artichoke, olives and Italian ham:

Princi pizza

 

To accompany our pizzas, we both got a glass of Italian white wine – my friend opted for the Verdicchio (which I tried – fresh and citrusy with almond notes) while I went for a crisp, light variety which I confess I can’t remember the name of, but I do remember it going down very well!

Following our mains, the sweet tooth needed feeding so we ordered a tiramisu and lemon tart. The first tiramisu that arrived turned out to be a house special which was more ‘nutella cream’ than ‘coffee boozy delight’ so we asked for the more traditional variety instead – M-mmmmm. The lemon tart was also a-mazing: light pastry, fresh lemon curd filling and raspberry coulis:

Princi dessert

 

 

So, back to my original question, what to eat and drink tonight? As much as I’m tempted by another pizza, I think it could be the turn of Thai and, if the rugby score is anything to go by, I think the boyf may need cheering up with a Chang beer….in the meantime I’m enjoying a glass of Asda’s Extra Special New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, currently an absolute bargain at £6.98, cin, cin (Cheers)!

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An alternative to Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc

10 Mar

It may be a relative newbie in the world of wine, but since New Zealand started producing Sauvignon Blanc commercially in the 1980s, it has taken the world by storm. If you did a poll amongst my friends, I’m pretty sure I could guarantee that 90% would say it’s their favourite wine and it’s no wonder really given the wine’s reliability, decent price and clean crisp flavours.

However, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a bit of a ‘wine rut’ so the other week I gave a French Sauvignon Blanc a go to see how it compared. The Loire Valley in France is the spiritual home of Sauvignon Blanc (although it probably originated in Bordeaux) and, without going into too much technical jargon, the limestone soils of the region give the grape its characteristic minerality and freshness.

Marks and Spencer’s Touraine Sauvignon Blanc Famille Bougrier 2011 £10.45 (said with my best Arsene Wenger French accent) is zesty, crisp and fresh with delicious lemon and gooseberry flavours that make you wish it was sunny and warm outside, rather than cold and drab as it is at the moment – definitely one to try over a Bank Holiday in the coming months:

Touraine SB

 

We enjoyed this wine with homemade pesto and tomato pasta which made for a satisfying Saturday evening dinner, followed by the obligatory back-to-back TV sesh of Take Me Out, followed by Take Me Out: the Gossip – I really am rock n roll:

Pesto pasta

 

Pesto is a tricky little bugger to match with wine because it tastes so fresh and yet so rich at the same time. I’d say the pine nuts in the pesto made the Touraine Sauvignon taste a little more acidic than it did on its own, but the herbal notes in the wine matched well with the perfumed basil and tomatoes.

All in all, a lovely, light elegant wine that I’d save for when the sun starts to shine (here’s a little taster to get us in the mood):

Sunshine