Tag Archives: wine

It’s CHRRRRRISTMAS!!!

16 Dec

Christmas tree

Apart from summer holidays and birthdays, Christmas is most definitely my favourite time of year. So much so that even at 25 years of age, I still purposefully walk home via different routes to look at (and admittedly judge) everyone’s Christmas trees in their windows – and just for the record, number 54 is definitely a current front runner while number 23 needs to sort out their tree light distribution.

It’s cold outside so hearty meals are the order of the day. Tonight was the turn of the fail-safe chilli con carne, given an extra twist with roasted peppers, tomatoes and garlic on the side – and yes, that’s right, you can see a quaint advent candle in the photo (told you I love Christmas, although it’s not easy keeping up with days, never known such a slow burner):

Chilli con carne

We’d had friends round for a Christmas jumper themed dinner the Friday before so had a bottle of Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon (Tesco.com) left over from the evening which went very nicely with the chilli. It’s not the most complex of wines but with notes of coffee, chocolate and blackcurrant it’s certainly a winter warmer.

While staying in is one of the best things about this time of year, there’s also nothing nicer than discovering a cosy pub or bar and getting settled by an open fire for a few hours. One of my latest discoveries is The Bingham in Richmond, a Mr and Mrs Smith hotel that’s perfect for adding a touch of luxury to your weekend. The first time I went with the rentals, I had a delicious Champagne cocktail. This weekend I opted for a crisp glass of Vinho Verde from Portugal. Zinging with crisp citrus notes and a fizzy hint of sherbet, I’d thoroughly recommend it for anyone looking for something slightly different to their normal Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.

The Bingham

Finally, and this doesn’t have much relevance to anything apart from the fact it’s Christmassy, but see below for the cute mince pies the boyf made the other week – we quickly learned that they don’t go very well with wine but tasted absolutely delish. Merry Christmas and make sure you enjoy a glass or two of good wine over the festive period!

Mince pies

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Jamie’s 52 minute half meal

27 Aug

In the last few months I’ve made several dishes from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals and, despite really enjoying the end products, I can honestly say I’ve never managed to complete one of his recipes in under an hour, never mind 30 minutes. And yes, Jamie, I followed your instructions by getting all my equipment ready first, using a mini blender to chop my herbs and taking multitasking to the extreme but seriously there’s only so fast one girl can go!

However, believing that everyone deserves another chance, last weekend I gave Jamie’s summer veg lasagne and Tuscan tomato salad a go. Miraculously, it was swelteringly sunny in London so the light lasagne of asparagus, pea and mint was spot-on for the weather. Despite misreading the ingredients list (I do this a lot resulting in recipes of varying success) and only adding one tub of cottage cheese to the lasagne, the meal was very tasty, if a little stodgy (my fault, not Jamie’s). The Tuscan salad was a good accompaniment too as the acidity of the tomatoes cut through and balanced out the creaminess of the lasagne:

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This light summery meal was crying out for a crisp, refreshing white wine to accompany it so who was I to argue – Torres Vina Sol fitted the bill nicely and had lovely notes of apples, lemons and pineapples and at around £6 a bottle, you can’t complain. Widely available at all major retailers:

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder

7 Aug

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Whoopsies…apologies I’ve been somewhat absent the last few months, but you know what they say, time flies when you’re having fun. With a new job and what feels like a wedding/ engagement do every weekend, I haven’t quite had time to post.

I have however got a brand spanking new blog logo, kindly designed by my brother Jonathan (I’ll pay you back in royalties one day, bro), so to celebrate, here’s a quick rundown in numbers of my life over the last few months:

5 – The number of English wines enjoyed this summer alongside the Jub-Olympics celebrations (drinking is definitely a sport)

4 – The number of weddings attended so far in 2012 (how many times can you wear the same fascinator with different dresses?)

3 – The number of wedding invites already received for 2013 (crap, I’m going to have to buy a new fascinator)

2 – Average daily logins to Daily Mail Online (DMO)

1 – Holiday to Sicily done and dusted, what a distant memory

0 – The number of Starbucks coffees enjoyed in the last two months, savings made: £40.80 = six bottles of wine, get in

And speaking of which, here are a few of the wines I’ve been enjoying the last few months:

  • Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc (available at Majestic) – with delicious gooseberry, lime  and tropical flavours, you can’t go wrong with this wine for a wedding
  • Three Choirs Regalia 2011 (available from Asda) – an English wine perfect for those moments of sunshine and a picnic in the park
  • Chapel Down English Sparkling Rosé Brut (available from M&S) – like strawberries and cream in a glass, yum yum yum!

Finally, as a quick summary, thought it would be nice to include a photo of a card I recently sent to some friends to welcome them into their new home – nuff said me thinks:

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Taking everything with a pinch of Salt

22 Jan

Through my degree in Spanish and subsequent work on the Wines from Rioja account (for proof, check out this geeky photo of me jumping, second in from the right), I think it would be fair to say that I am an ardent fan of tapas. Since moving to London a year and a half ago, I have made it my mission to sample some of the capital’s top tapas bars, which so far have included Brindisa, Barrica and Opera Tavern. So, with my dad in town last week, we decided to give Salt Yard, the sister restaurant of Opera Tavern and Dehesa, a go and once again I wasn’t disappointed.

What I love about tapas is the flexibility that they offer – whether you’re simply after a glass of sherry and a handful of olives or would prefer to get settled for the night with a bottle of tempranillo and a never-ending stream of little plates, tapas offer something for everybody.

Feeling experimental, Dad decided he wanted to order a selection of bar snacks to get us started, without knowing what their English translations were so, despite several warnings from me, we ended up with anchovies (boquerones), caperberries, extremely spicy guindilla peppers and smoked almonds – three of which we didn’t like (yes, I know, after living in a remote Spanish town for a year, I really should be fully acquainted with this kind of cuisine, but I’m sorry Spain, I JUST DON’T LIKE ANCHOVIES).

After this, I was therefore granted the task of ordering the mains so here are my choices:

  • Confit of Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with rosemary scented cannellini beans
  • Roasted chorizo with apple and moscatel
  • Chargrilled chicken, aubergine caponata, capers and olives
  • Venison carpaccio, lardo, dandelion, marcona almonds and qunice vinaigrette
  • Grilled underblade fillet of beef, prunes, panchetta and Pedro Ximinez
  • Jamon croquetas with manchego cheese
  • Classic tortilla

The food was so bloody tasty that I’m afraid I forgot to take pictures, so the following pics are the only ones I got (only just remembered with the chorizo, oops!):

With an exclusively Spanish and Italian wine list, designed to ‘showcase the delicious indigenous grapes of these countries’, I was intrigued to try one of these indigenous grapes. As such, we chose a bottle of the Albariño San Campio Terras Gauda which came in a lovely bottle:

The albariño grape comes from Rias Baixas in Galicia and this particular example displayed a distinctive perfumed aroma of apricots and white peaches. Light, dry and intensely fruity, it probably wasn’t the best match to our rich, meaty tapas. but on its own was a delight to drink.

Feeling rather stuffed from the mains, we instinctively told the waitress that we had absolutely no room left for dessert, which of course led to us ordering a pudding and, in my dad’s case, two. In the littlemissvino family household, the sign of a good restaurant menu is the ratio of chocolate to non-chocolate based desserts on the menu and on this test, Salt Yard scored a gold star. Out of five possible options, three featured chocolate so I went for the churros with Valrhona chocolate sauce, and Dad went for the hot chocolate ganacha with Turron ice cream, plus the churros. Although he claimed this second set of churros was for ‘sharing’, they most certainly were not as they were just too damn tasty to give away:

With two satisfied tummies, we left Salt Yard vowing to come back, although not before trying Dehesa, Copita, Cigala, El Pirata, Barrafina and Fino……