Saturday, 29 October 2011

Yvon Metras Moulin-a-Vent '10

c. £23

There's something special about windmills. Their ease and grace, their silence. In parts of Spain they spatter the countryside like shot. Yet they are vital; pumping water and grinding grain, giving life out of nothing, the unmoved mover. The absurdity of Quixote is not that he saw the windmills as giants, it is that he was attacking windmills.

But here in the city we are far away from this calm and serenity, and sometimes other pleasures must be found. Sometimes the only thing for it is to get smashed on expensive wine and go out partying till sunrise with models. So I packed a bottle of Yvon Metras' Moulin-a-Vent and went off to see the Russian's American Sister in Shoreditch.

This is classy juice. It pours a light maroon and hits with a focused and concentrated mushroomy sous bois on the nose. The palate is alive, fine acidity and red fruit, precise slate-y minerality, some structure, unreal length. Reminds overwhelmingly of Grand Cru Burgundy. Seriously sexy stuff.

Gotta love windmills.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Dugois Arbois Savagnin '05 & Chateau Batailley '94

Over the last couple of months I have been wallowing with the eagles at night a fair amount more than is probably good for me. So the rare occurance of making it to bed before 7am on Saturday meant that I was up in time to accompany Sister, through the blazing October sunshine to Borough market in search of pork.

'Nduja is one of the many ingredients available in London at the moment that are as trendy and delicious as they are unpronouncable. It is a raw pork sausage from Cantabria made mostly with head and neck cuts and then laced with shed-loads of hot peperoncino chilli. The porcine equivalent of speedballing.

Some people like to cook with it; frying it up or adding to sauces for pasta or fish. And whilst I'm sure this is great, it's also a bit of a cop-out. It's really just a pimped up Sobressade and hence better eaten on it's own, spread thickly on crusty bread.

It's also fantastically difficult to pair. The rich porkiness that you get from cheap cuts and raw fat shot through with untamed chilli seems specifically designed to obliterate almost any wine you care to mention.

We tried a couple of leftfield juices with supper: Dugois Arbois Savagnin '05 and Chateau Batailley '94.

The Batailley was the better wine: all sour blackberry and sweet raspberry, cracking woodiness, length and balance. No angles, and right in its prime.

The Savagnin is definitely an oxidative style, with a distinct, nutty vin jaune-y nose. But the palate's dancin', with a keen acidity and buckets of apples, cut by a lemon-pith finish. This was the wine for 'Nduja- the apple played nicely with the pork, and the citrus cut through the fattiness. There's not really an answer for that amount of chilli, but it was close enough.

Soaring with the pigs in the morning.

Sunday, 2 October 2011


11-12 Friary Street, GU1 4EN. £7

Popular amongst the youth of today is eating chickens. And the best place to eat them alonside other like-minded gang members is, apparently, Nando's.

We untangle a folded menu to reveal a choice of food that must run to at least 10,000 options. There are wings and breasts, sauces and salads, wraps and corn and a mind-boggling array of potato based sides.

Equally confusing is the pointless hybridisation of fast-food and table service, whereby you order at a counter before your food is brought to you at an indiscriminate point in the future.

To stop my head exploding and make life a little easier I decided to focus on only a small part of the menu: the bit nearest me in the bottom left hand corner. This section was titled "Nandino's" and came with an age limit: "For under 10's".

Balls to that, I ordered the Nandino chicken breast stips, corn-on-the-cob, frozen banana yougurt and a beer (Sagres).

I've not come across adjectives suitably damning for what turned up. The chicken was a triumph of aesthetics over edibility. It did at least look a bit like chicken. The corn ran with this theme.

Sagres is Sagres: a relatively inoffesive way to consume a mild anaesthetic, and, as such, a perfect pairing for the food.

Dessert too finds new ways to undermine the traditional dining experience. Firstly it is self service, secondly the recepticle and hence portion size is entirely of your own choosing and lastly it seems to operate on a 1930s style honesty-box system, whereby if you tell them you've paid for dessert they'll let you have it.

We grabbed a couple of plastic coke cups, filled them with 'Frozen Banana Youghurt' and exited the premises. Utterly wonderful stuff. Packed full of that delicious, artificial pick'n'mix-banana-sweet flavour, and with consistency less fatty, coating and cloying than traditional ice cream. Strongly recommended when mixed half and half with rum.

This kind of gutter/stars food dichotomy is difficult to evaluate so all I shall say is that it remains the only restaurant I have visited to which I will only return to steal their ice cream.