Monthly Archives: March 2012

By Farr Tout Pres Pinot Noir 2008

It’s not often I get to enjoy a £73 bottle of wine, but this one’s been sitting in the wine rack for a while and last weekend Luke and I decided to crack it open alongside our mini beef Wellingtons (recipe below) as a special treat (I know it’s not Pinot Noir and beef weather at the moment, but by the weekend it probably will be!)

This Australian Pinot Noir was incredibly interesting and pretty seductive with layers and layers of flavour. Ruby in colour, with a savoury, earthy aroma (beetroot?) and notes of sour cherries and dark chocolate, this is definitely a beef wine.

If you fancy giving this tremendous red a try, you can purchase it online from Slurp. To allow the full range of flavours to develop, try leaving it for a few years to age before opening.

Mini beef Wellingtons (adapted from Lorraine Pascal’s recipe)

(Not quite ‘mini’ – more ‘individual’)

Ingredients – serves 2

2 x 150g beef fillet slices
2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry
10g butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
200g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
50ml Fino sherry
Small handful fresh thyme leaves
1 egg, beaten
100ml crème fraiche


1. Preheat the oven to 200°c (180°c for a fan oven)
2. Heat the butter in a pan, season the beef with salt and pepper and fry on each side for 1 minute. Remove from the pan and set aside
3. Fry the chopped onion in the pan until soft, then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes
4. Pour the sherry into the pan, turn up the heat and reduce to a sticky glaze
5. Add the thyme leaves and cook for a further minute
6. Spoon a tablespoon of the mushroom mixture into the middle of each piece of pastry and place the beef on top
7. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg and fold the corners of the pastry into the middle
8. Remove any excess pastry, turn the parcel over and slash the tops with a sharp knife
9. Brush the parcels with the beaten egg and bake for 15 minutes (for medium)
10. Meanwhile, add the crème fraiche to the remaining mushroom mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes
11. Serve the wellingtons with new potatoes, green beans and a spoonful of the sauce



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The Contented Sole

The Contented Sole is one of my favourite restaurants and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a while. Nestled in the historic and picturesque town of Burnham-on-Crouch, their menu never fails to impress, and last Friday night, Luke and I paid them yet another visit.

G & Ts in hand, we perused the food choices. To start, I went for lobster ravioli with a lemongrass, chilli and ginger broth, followed by stuffed pork tenderloin with beetroot and purple sprouting broccoli (it was from the specials menu and I have forgotten the details!) Luke opted for seared scallops with black pudding, and for main he had Gressingham duck breast with confit of leg, beetroot dauphinoise and celeriac puree. Both of our meals were delicious – the ravioli dish was warming and rich with a robust kick of chilli, and the pork was succulent and well put together. Luke’s scallops were delicate and sweet with a salty tang from the black pudding, and his duck was rich and expertly cooked. The star of the show for him was the beetroot dauphinoise – it made a welcome change from the traditional potato version!

Alongside our meal, we shared a bottle of La Côte Flamenc Picpoul de Pinet 2010. The fresh vibrancy of this wine made it the perfect choice alongside the range of flavours we had across our two courses. With notes of lemon and a crisp minerality, it would also be just as enjoyable without food. Picpoul de Pinet is rapidly becoming my favourite spring grape choice.

Not wishing to be defeated by our already bulging stomachs (the basket of warm, delicious homemade bread we demolished before our starters didn’t help), we decided to tackle pudding. My Amaretto crème brulee was perfection – creamy and subtle (I was quite pleased to discover that I couldn’t taste too much of the almond liqueur). Luke’s slab of dark chocolate torte with Chantilly cream was a little on the dense side for me, but he scoffed it with ease.

If you’re ever in the area, make sure a trip to this award-winning restaurant is way up on your to-do list. During the week, you can opt for the table d’hôte menu offering 1 course for £13.50, 2 for £18.50, and 3 for just £22. Here is a picture of the beautiful surroundings to whet your appetite…

This stunning waterside is just 200m from the restaurant – perfect for an after dinner stroll!

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Aldi reds

I was just as impressed with the two red wines that I was sent from Aldi as I was with the sparkling rosé and Pinot Grigio, and four out of four isn’t bad!

Toro Loco Tempranillo 2010, priced at just £3.49, is the perfect easy drinking red! Delicious on its own or alongside spaghetti bolognese, this wine is juicy with black cherry flavours and a dash of white pepper.

Another gluggable red is the Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2006. Unbelievably good value for money at just £5.99 (bare in mind it has been aged for at least three years in oak), this warming wine with classic Rioja flavours of vanilla and ripe blackberries is just as good alongside your Friday night pizza as it is with your Sunday roast lamb.

These delights have certainly made me reconsider my initial reluctance to shop for wine in a budget supermarket!

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Perfect party wines

Last week I was sent a selection of wines from Aldi. Prior to sampling the delightful Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura Sparkling Chardonnay at Christmas, I would have been a little wary of wines from this budget supermarket, however with an open mind, I tried two of the selection last weekend.

Here are my verdicts (wine snobs look away now):

Castellore Italia Pinot Grigio Frizzante Blush
Beautiful and pale salmon pink in colour with aromas of red fruit (raspberries and strawberries) and a pleasing gentle fizz, for £3.99 this has to be one of my greatest wine discoveries. It makes me wish it was New Year’s Eve/I was getting married/ having a 21st birthday party, just so I could stock up on this absolute bargain!

You might pull a face at this, but it went excellently with our Saturday night fish and chips (well, they say fizz and chips are a perfect match).

Castellore Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio doesn’t usually light my fire given the amount I have tried that are watery and insipid, however this Pinot Grigio has an intense nose and crisp minerality along with flavours of honeysuckle and ripe apricots. At £3.99 per bottle, you’d be mad not to pick up half a dozen next time you’re catering for the masses.

After the weekend I’ll be reviewing the two remaining wines from the Aldi selection sitting in my room (I’ll also remember to take my own pictures rather than relying on trusty Google).

Happy drinking!

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Raimat Abadia Rosé 2010

I had meant to include this in my Valentine’s feature but alas, it managed to work its way to the back of the cocktail cabinet only for me to discover hiding behind a bottle of King’s Ginger.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, this vibrant pink rosé from Bodegas Raimat in the Costers del Segre wine region of Spain, is full of ripe strawberry, cherry and raspberry flavours with a crisp acidity.

Enjoy chilled alongside a tasty tuna niçoise for a simple and healthy supper – tuna (fresh or canned), sliced new potatoes, sliced cucumber, sliced hard boiled egg, French beans, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, thin stips of anchovy fillets, and black olives tossed in extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and black pepper.

Raimat Abadia Rosé 2010 is available online for £7.99 from Your Favourite Wines and Donard Wines.

Definitely one to try!

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