Monthly Archives: February 2011

Clementine and Bucks Fizz Jellies

When planning Luke’s birthday meal, I was stumped when it came to deciding what to follow a rather filling main course such as paella. I didn’t think a heavy chocolate dessert or cheesecake would do the trick and wanted to make something light and refreshing (any attempt to make me feel a little more summery!).

After browsing through the BBC Good Food website I came across a pudding that incorporated the fruity refreshing flavours of clementines with my favourite celebration drink; prosecco. Some of the reviews claimed this dish was ‘lacking in flavour’ so I opted to substitute the prosecco for one of the bottles of Clementine Bucks Fizz we had leftover from all our Christmas festivities.

As I was only making enough for two of us, I did adjust the ingredient quantities somewhat and since I couldn’t find gelatine leaves as the recipe suggested, I substituted gelatine powder. Here’s what you need:


200ml clementine juice (from about 6 clementines)

Juice of one lemon

100ml Bucks Fizz

½ sachet gelatine powder


  1. Juice the clementines in a blender
  2. Put 50-100ml of the clementine juice into a small pan and gently heat
  3. When the juice is just simmering, remove from the heat and add the gelatine power. Stir thoroughly, making sure there are no visible lumps of gelatine before you continue
  4. Stir the hot juice into the rest of the juice with the Bucks Fizz, then transfer to a jug
  5. Pour between 2-4 small glasses, cover with a sheet of cling film and chill for at least 4 hrs until set
  6. Decorate with a lemon wedge or mint leaf (optional)

These were the perfect accompaniment to an otherwise heavy meal and were incredibly refreshing and palate cleansing.

My one criticism would be that peeling and juicing the fruit was rather time consuming and they did not produce a smooth jelly as I didn’t strain the blended clementines (an easier option would be clementine juice if you can get it) but for those who like bits (Luke) it was yummy! 

Here’s the finished article…


And here’s Luke enjoying the rest of the Bucks Fizz! (well, it was his birthday weekend after all)

For those of you who wish to try the original recipe and not my Christmas leftover variation, you can find it here


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Filed under Boozy Recipes

Cellar of the Devil

Luke’s birthday present from my parents, much to his delight consisted of a case of 6 bottles of his fail- safe favourite red wine; Cassilero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, produce of Chile.

For someone who isn’t much of a wine drinker (often to be found with a bottle of Corona in hand post- 6pm), I would have thought going for a grape variety which produces, what I have always considered, quite bold tannin flavours would be quite ambitious. Having said that, I am slightly suspicious that the child within him took a liking to this story printed on the front of every bottle:

‘More than 100 hundred years ago Don Melchor de Concha y Toro reserved for himself an exclusive batch of the best wines he produced. And, to keep strangers away from his private reserve, he spread the rumour that the Devil lived in that place. Hence the name: Casillero del Diablo or Cellar of the Devil’.

While I have had Casillero del Diablo before, and I can quite confidently say it has always gone down well in the past (I recommend the Sauvignon Blanc), I wanted to have a go at being a tad more critical than ‘mmm it’s nice’.

The particular bottles we have are labelled as ‘Reserva’, which I learnt from a day- long wine tasting course means that it has been aged two years longer than necessary, and is very good quality. Needless to say, I eagerly poured myself a glass in one of my sister’s impressive fish bowl glasses (connoisseurs, yes I gave it time to breathe first).

Price- In the wine aisle at Tesco and Sainsburys this comes in at a rather reasonable £7.29. Whilst this isn’t the cheapest you can get a good red, you can save by buying this in bulk from Tesco wine by the case (6 bottles for £27 which is less that £5 per bottle!)

Appearance – This wine is a beautiful ruby red; very rich and deep in colour.

Smell and taste- The bottle claims that this is a ‘smooth, full- bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with cassis and black cherry flavours, complemented by hints of coffee and dark chocolate’.

The smell definitely offers a cherry flavour, with a subtle hint of dark chocolate as the label suggests, however both myself and Luke failed to pick out any coffee.

Upon tasting the wine, the initial flavours offered from the smell are joined by a wonderfully intense woody, almost nutty flavour. Surprisingly, I didn’t find there to be any strong tannin notes in this wine which makes for easy drinking so we might have to ration the bottles!

Food matching-  The bottle itself recommends matching this wine with red meats, herby dishes or mature cheeses and I couldn’t agree more- it would go down a treat with spag bol! I would also like to try it with a good quality dark chocolate such as Lindt 80% cocoa.

We will be enjoying the second of the six bottles tonight with a selection of cheeses, fruit and crackers… delicious!

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Matching Wine with Food part one; Spanish paella

It’s my boyfriend, Luke’s 24th birthday today and, as my sister is away from her flat on holiday, we thought we’d go on a little Essex jaunt and stay there for the weekend. This gave me the opportunity to cook a meal without my parents breathing down my neck about making a mess of the kitchen (I always clear it up after, honest!).

As we are both big fans of Spanish/ Mediterranean food, here’s what I decided to make for dinner on Saturday night:

Bread and olives

Goats’ cheese and red pepper salad


Chicken, chorizo and prawn paella


Clementine and Bucks Fizz jellies

What stumped me after deciding on the menu was what wine to serve with the food. Since the goats’ cheese salad and jelly dessert are very light dishes, I would have instantly gone with a white, but a bit of Googling suggested a red wine such as a Tempranillo or rose with a paella that contained sausage meat such as chorizo. Some further research did recommend white wines such as Albarino or Rioja Blanco and I eventually decided to go with a Spanish white to match all of the three dishes in the meal, rather than having to pair a new wine per dish (I’m not made of money you know!).

 So, off to Sainsburys I trotted (sorry if purchasing wine from a supermarket offends anybody). After trawling the wine aisle, spotting bottle after bottle of French wine, California wine, Italian wine (everything but Spanish!), I eventually managed to locate an Albarino. Since this is a wine variety I have not tried before I thought I’d give it a go. I also could not resist, on offer at just £5 a bottle, one of my favourite wines to drink while I’m in Spain; Vina Sol. 


 Anyway, back to the Albarino…according to the bottle, this particular grape is grown in the Rias Baixes (rias, I’m formed, are water inlets), part of the Galicia region of North- western Spain. The mild, wet weather conditions in this region apparently produce a grape with a thick skin which results in wines with an intense, sometimes bitter flavour.

 A bit of research (trusty Google!) suggested that it can be difficult to find a reasonably priced Albarino in supermarkets (although a trip to Majestic or Oddbins might prove to be more successful), but I managed to find, at well under a tenner (£7.49) a Sainsburys Taste the Difference one.

 On first taste, I was struck by the pleasant peachy notes of this wine present both in the scent and taste, but I was taken aback by the acidic bite it left on my tongue. In fairness, this wine did match the goats’ cheese and red pepper salad perfectly, given that the acidity of the wine did not overpower the sweet tang of the balsamic dressing. When sipped alongside the paella though, both Luke and I felt that the match was completely wrong- the full flavours of the saffron and chorizo completely overpowered the wine and after a few more sips it became far too acidic. With a seafood paella this might have gone much better, but I can safely say, after banishing the Albarino to the back of the fridge until dessert time and opening a delicious bottle of Tempranillo, I am now a paella and red wine convert!

 The poor match in this case has somewhat skewed my opinion of what is a very nice wine. I can imagine drinking it in the garden on a hot summer’s day with a nice fresh chicken salad. I’ll let you know how that goes comes summer time!

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Filed under Matching Wine with Food

Wine passion

First things first- I’d like to get a few things straight… I’m not a wine expert, I’m not a wine snob, and I truly believe that if you enjoy a glass of wine that is not considered ‘fine’ or ‘fashionable’, then good for you!

Having developed a passion for wine over the last few years, my tastes have changed with the weather, my moods, and my ‘changing palette’ as my mother would say. I’ve had my favourites ridiculed and I’ve been told that my palette is ‘immature’ when enjoying a nice glass of sweet, icy cold rosé on a hot summer’s day.

It was not until I was introduced to the beauty of southern Spain and the wonders of Mediterranean cuisine that I developed a taste for red wine, and only then was I accepted amongst the wine connoisseurs in my family for having a more refined ability to discriminate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ wine. What makes me wonder now though is why there is such a stuffy attitude to wine. Why can’t it be something we all enjoy matched with a particular dish, when socialising with friends or to help us wind down after a long day?

What I want to do is make wine accessible and enjoyable for all. This blog will follow my journey in exploring various wines from various regions of various countries, in all the different colours- red, white and rosé! It will document ones I have enjoyed, ones I was not so keen on, ones to watch out for, and there may be the odd food recipe in there for inspiration.

I feel at this point I must include a disclaimer for all the wine connoisseurs out there- I am new to the art of wine tasting and, as a student, am not privy to the higher end of the wine market. I will, no doubt, embarrass myself along the way, whether it is due to my poor use of technical terms or appalling geographical knowledge. If  you are willing to join me, make some mistakes with me and hopefully learn a few things along the way, then I hope you enjoy this blog.

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