Wednesday, 31 August 2011
"But here it is worth noting a minor English trait which is extremely well marked though not often commented on, and that is a love of flowers... Does it not contradict the English indifference to the arts? Not really, because it is found in people who have no aesthetic feelings whatever."
That's how Orwell pinned us down. Miserable git.
Flowers aren't lightweight; they are heavy as stone, and the apogee of art. We take nature's beauty and imbue it with meaning and myth. The semiotics of flowers are centuries old; lillies and death, roses and health, rebirth and regeneration, bouquets, romance, the frail transcience of youth, even art and nature.
I bought this bottle of Fleurie for a couple of reasons markedly less serious than flowers. Firstly I liked the label- quite the prettiest I have ever seen. And secondly I liked the name.
It pours that attractive red-purple of Beaujolais. A succulent, savoury nose; violets, petals.
A simple palate with easy red fruit, but brambly blackberry too, possibly even eucalyptus. Clear and clean minerality, but a touch dilute.
Pretty nice? Yep. Worth the price? Not a chance. Will I buy it again for the name and the label and the frippery? I expect so.
Thursday, 25 August 2011
£14 (ish) for 50cl, Les Caves de Pyrene
I love my little Sister for many reasons; I love her because she is funny and fun, because we share interests, because she is pretty, earnest, silly, passionate, irreverent and intelligent. But most of all I love her because she's fucking peculiar and because she has booked me a holiday to Mallorca.
Something appropiate to celebrate then. My cellar was unfortunately unable to furnish anything Mallorquin, but 'fucking peculiar' is something of a forte... Red Pinot Gris from Australia in just the cutest little wax-sealed bottle you could possibly imagine.
God only knows what mutant clone they've macerated to get this colour, somewhere between a deep dark rose, and a light Pinot Noir, and slightly cloudy.
The nose opens big. Strawberries, cream, toffee, confection: singular, promising and unapologetic.
The palate is completely discordant; crisp and one-dimensional with a lithe citrus flavour, no mid-palate. The tannins lend a bit o' bitterness and the brevity a whack of alcohol. A bad and loveable wine.
You can't have it all and I'll take weird over good any day of the week.
Monday, 8 August 2011
On sitting down to read possibly the finest piece of writing ever (once again), I was much taken with the desire to eat a sandwich.
I was introduced to this particular sandwich recently by my friend Emily2 on a tediously prolix journey from Oxford to Guildford when we managed to eat three, washed down with what was perhaps, with hindsight, a superfluity of of M&S ready-made Gin and Slim.
The history of the New York Pastrami Sandwich is one that is shrouded in myst'ry, steeped in controversy and shot-through by warring factions; Volk says it's his sandwich / And Katz's say it's their sandwich.
On to my sandwich... The pastrami's great; tasty, and loads of it, reminds me of corned beef but without the niggling doubts about what it's made of. Gherkins and sauerkraut are good (possibly great) accompaniments, their zingy flavour and crunch playing perfectly with the meat. The light American mustard dressing is icing-on-the-cake rather than gilding-the-lily.
Damn good so far, but then you hit cheese. At least you do texturally, beacuse it tastes very precisely of nothing. No American, Jewish or otherwise, has ever done anything worthwhile with cheese, and this sandwich is no exception: an especially pointless addition.
The bread too leaves a lot to be desired. It's density and uniformity do make for a sandwich with commendable structural integrity, but there's no bite to it, and they defintiely could've done better taste-wise.
In all 'though this is a very good sandwich. On the "Spanish Airport Cheese Sandwich 20-Point Scale"* it's a solid 13. And there's potential for more, without a couple of unforced errors (cheese, bread) this is easily a 16 point sandwich, maybe even 17.
* A fairly self-explanatory rating system, whereby a sandwich is judged against the 20-point Platonically Ideal cheese sandwich- available in all good Spanish airports.
Sunday, 7 August 2011
£9.99, Majestic & £4, Sainsbury's
Most the week had been dominated by a (hitherto unexperienced) yearning to eat very expensive tinned Spanish anchovies.
For a tenacious sort finding them is not difficult, the tapas-inisation of the London food scene has seen to that, the problems arrive in locating companions, both people and wine.
Emily1's virtues are legion; she lives near me, reads the Romantic Poets, enjoys sweet wine, understands the importance of lunch, seems reasonably forgiving, and doesn't eat fish. More horrifically expensive anchovies for me.
Riesling's virtues are also legion. Lunch was a gim'me.
Aforementioned anchovies, quail eggs, sundried tomatoes, cucumber salad, pork pies, sausage rolls, couscous, ripe Camembert, apricot chutney, a baguette, and 2009 Trimbach Riesling.
The anchovies were good, firm and tasty, with a slightly metallic aftertaste. Each was indiviually wrapped around a single caper: a suitably profligate attitude to production costs.
Trimbach's effort was also straight up. A classic Alsatian style, wet rocks and sleek citrus on the nose, a wisp of smoke. Piercingly dry palate, lime and lemon peel, with just a hint of tropicality coming through on the finish.
This was a fine meal even by our own lofty standards, and a clear indication that the long hot streak that my sense of whimsy is currently enjoying shows no signs of letting up.
Saturday, 6 August 2011
£32.70, Les Caves de Pyrene
TOD arrived at mine at 9am. Early for lunch, one might think.
He was laden with an inexpliacle alarm clock*, an explicable weariness, and an unjusifiable conviction that he had power of veto over my intention to go to Borough Market that morning.
Things fell apart... We didn't make lunch... I didn't make Borough... We took a cab out West.
Saturdays seem to be becoming increasingly picaresque. We may have drunk at three separate establishments, or possibly twelve. One, a pub, served oysters (in August?!), another hamburgers. Most treated us with with suspicion, some with disdain, and at least one, I believe, with outright terror. Later on TOD lost his Blackberry, keys, mind and a peacock feather that I had rather generously bought him. A la recherche de temps perdu.
All of this I put down to the Barolo: full of a passionate intensity, and just too young.
2004 Borgogno Barolo
The elegant Pinot-ish colour feints rich red fruit and dark cherries on the nose, flowers and leather too. Exceptional concentration. The palate is more austere; juicy and crunchy but firm. Before the tannins hit. Fine grained and supple, then succulent and coating, then puckering and total.
It's a disparate and poorly integrated amalgamation of high-quality components (at the moment), and all out of time.
But then again, these days, what isn't?