Monthly Archives: May 2011

Bank Holiday Drinking

Bank holiday weekends (on top of post-exam celebrations) call for drinks in your local on a Sunday night! Not wanting to miss out, that’s where my family and I headed the night before last…

My sister’s local pub, the Mawney Arms in Romford, holds twice weekly quiz nights (on Wednesdays and Sundays), but since they start at 9pm, we’ve only ever gone when none of us have to get up for work the next day!

After 6pm on Sunday evenings all bottles of wine are just £8, so my mum, my sister and I decided to go for something different to our usual Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

In between trying to answer the quiz questions (emphasis on ‘trying’), we gave the menu a browse, eventually agreeing on a bottle of Casillero Del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc….

Pale golden in colour, bursting with citrus notes and gooseberry flavours it was definitely a good choice! The aftertaste was crisp and firm; a delight to drink!

I recommend pairing this Sauvignon Blanc with light seafood dishes in order to fully appreciate what it has to offer. Since it costs just £5.99 per bottle at Majestic (if you buy 2), I’m considering stocking up and drinking it alongside a delicious sushi supper.

Despite losing the quiz we had a great night…


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Co-op’s Prosecco- Special Cuvee Vino Spumante Brut

Last night was definitely a quirky one…

A group of us visited Hertfordshire University’s annual Summer ball which consisted of a fun fair (a word to the wise- fast moving rides are not ideal when wearing a short floaty dress), a casino, several weird and wonderful bars, as well as live sets from the likes of Ellie Goulding and Chase and Status.

Living in London, it was a bit of a trek to rely on cabs so Luke and I holed up in Hatfield’s Travelodge (not luxury I know, but at £35 a night, I wasn’t complaining)…

In celebration for completing my exams, I brought along a chilled bottle of Prosecco my friend Ella had given me on my birthday. When we arrived, however, the only drinking vessels available in our room were mugs for morning coffee… Since neither of us fancied asking reception for champagne flutes, (connoisseurs look away now!) we tasted this delightful sparkler out of a mug.

I have to say, while we probably didn’t fully appreciate the ‘pale straw colour’ and ‘delicate bubbles’ that the wine had to offer, we both agreed that it was delicious; rich and creamy on the palate with tart, fruity flavours. It served as the perfect apperitif to our night out…

Next time, we’ll bring our own glasses!

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Bottle 12 of 12- Cape Peak Collection Pinotage, 2010

‘Ripe dark berry fruit aromas and flavours’… the bottle didn’t give a lot away about the last red of our Tesco wine case. Rather than making food recommendations or providing specific tasting notes, it focussed more on the region of South Africa where it came from.

With no clues on the bottle, this tasting was somewhat blind…

The scent gave way to strong blackcurrant aromas, delicate and enticing; I was looking forward to the first sip. I have to say though, that first sip was rather strange; I was instantly hit by a strong tobacco flavour which was pretty unpleasant, leaving a burnt aftertaste in my mouth. A second opinion from my mother confirmed this observation (and neither of us are smokers!)

Not willing to be defeated, we went in again, only to find that the tobacco flavour had faded, making way for spicy tannin undertones. It went well alongside the spaghetti Bolognese we had for dinner.

My verdict; a slow burner.

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An Alternative use for the Wine Glass

With some leftover Madeira sponge cake, Greek yoghurt and soft fruit in the kitchen, I decided to make these individual trifles. Served in wine glasses, I think they look rather fancy!

Why not try your own variation on a traditional trifle? Plus it’s lower in calories without all the custard and cream (see previous post on a sherry trifle)

Ingredients (makes 3)
½ Madeira sponge cake (almost any cake will work! I’ve used Panettone before)
3 tbsp liqueur such as Grand Marnier, sherry, or Baileys (your choice)
120g soft fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries
6tbsp Greek (or natural yoghurt)
1 tsp hot chocolate powder for decorating

1. Place 1cm thick cake slices in the base of each wine glass
2. Drizzle over 1tbsp of liqueur in each
3. Layer 40g soft fruit on top
4. Pour 2tbsp yoghurt in each glass
5. Decorate with a scattering of hot chocolate powder


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Week night Wonder

Last week I reviewed the cheap as chips Vieille Fontaine Vin de Pays du Comté Tolosan, 2010, suitable for mass dinner parties, barbeques and summer drinking.

Imagine my delight then, when I discovered its white counterpart, La Vieille Fontaine White, Vin de Pays de Gers available by the bottle for just £3.49 at Tesco!

This wine was fresh and crisp, easy on the palate and went nicely with the cheese and spring onion tart I had made for dinner (see below; adapted from a Tesco recipe).

While the glass I had after dinner was slightly disappointing given that the flavours had deteriorated somewhat, with the citrus flavours becoming a little acidic and bland, if you just fancy a week night glass of wine with dinner, you can’t really go wrong for less than £1 a glass!

Cheese and spring onion tart

Ingredients (serves 4-6)200g shortcrust pastry (or make your own in a food processor with 125g flour, 55g butter and 3tbsp cold water)
1tbsp olive oil
1 or 2 bunches spring onions sliced into 1in pieces (you can substitute some of the spring onion for finely chopped celery)
200g crème fraiche
1tsp Dijon (or wholegrain) mustard
3 large eggs, beaten
100ml milk
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and black pepper
150g cheddar, grated
Cherry tomatoes and a green salad to serve

1. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and line an 8in round x 1in deep fluted flan tin. Trim the edges and prick the base with a fork
2. Chill the base for 10 minutes in the fridge
3. Preheat the oven to 200˚c (180˚c for a fan oven)
4. Line the pastry with foil, fill with baking beans (or dried haricot beans), place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Remove the foil and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes
6. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and stir fry the spring onion/ celery for 3 minutes
7. Blend the mustard and crème fraiche together, and gradually mix in the eggs
8. Stir in the milk and season with salt, pepper and oregano
9. Tip the spring onions/ celery and nearly all of the cheese into the pastry case
10. Pour in the egg mixture and scatter the remaining cheese over the top
11. Lower the oven to 190˚c (or 170˚c) and bake the tart for 30 minutes
12. Remove and leave to sit for 10 minutes
13. Meanwhile place the tomatoes on a baking tray with oil and salt and pepper, and roast for 10 minutes
14. Serve a generous wedge of the tart with a green salad and the roasted tomatoes
15. Enjoy!

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Guest Post 1- Grand Reserve De Bergerac Sauvignon, 2010, by Sarah

My sister Sarah told me about a pleasant wine she had yesterday with dinner and, since I can’t drink and review wine everyday (well, at least not without feeling decidedly guilty); I encouraged her to write a post for me, so here it is…

‘Last night, as it was Friday and my boyfriend and I actually had a night in for once, I decided to cook something nice and wanted to choose a lovely wine to accompany the meal. We popped to Sainsburys and found a fantastic offer of 2 for £10 on selected wines, most of which were over £9.99 each anyway, so we chose an Italian Merlot and a French Sauvignon/Semillon blend.

I cooked a delicious chicken and chorizo paella for dinner (and it was a success!) so thought that the white wine would compliment this the most…

The Grand Reserve De Bergerac Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon, 2010 promises fresh lemony flavours with a honeysuckle softness and recommends food pairings such as white fish and salmon. It really did go excellently with the paella and definitely delivers on its promises, although I couldn’t really get any honeysuckle from it!

It had a fresh, zesty scent (almost like freshly cut grass) and does at first seem quite acidic but, upon tasting, it is smooth yet dry with a little acidity, lemony hints and a slight pear aftertaste.

All in all very enjoyable; it would be lovely to enjoy while sitting in a sunny beer garden! I’m not sure I would pay the £9.99 that it is usually sold for but for me it is well worth buying if you can get it on offer.’

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Sangria Tinto at All Bar One

Just a short post today to recommend some of the new cocktails available at All Bar One…

After a tiring revision session at uni yesterday, my friends and I needed a good gossip, so over we wandered to the All Bar One branch based near the London Eye.

While I was sad to see that the St Germain had been removed from the drinks list, amongst the classic cosmopolitans and mojitoes was a whole variety of new seasonal long drinks (including some skinny options dieters!)…

I decided on a favourite Spanish tipple of mine; Sangria Tinto.

This blend of Rioja, brandy, lemonade, orange juice and fresh fruit is a wonderful alternative to a glass of red wine on a summer’s day and at under £4 a glass, its cheaper too!

Sadly the food we had alongside our cocktails was a bit of a disappointment, but the staff were incredibly friendly and accommodating and we ended up having a lovely evening!

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