Now that Delilah has got its feet firmly under Leicester’s table, it’s starting to run the wine and food evening events that have become popular at it’s Nottingham branch.

The first one of these themed evenings ran last night and focused on the wines of Lombardy and the Veneto. They were presented with great enthusiasm by wine buyer  Rick Tryner, who’s collection is full of wines from owner-managed wineries, often small family concerns  in up and coming areas. It means there’s not much at the cheaper end of the market but lots of interesting, full-flavoured exciting wines.

The events involve around 8 wines, matched  with generous-canapé portions of food from Delilah’s chefs and using ingredients on sale in the deli. Our evening started with a creamy  prosecco (£12.99)- their best selling wine – to go with very posh truffle-scented crisps and nuts. Then  an entry level Soave Classico (£7.99) with a brilliant sharp ceviche of seabass. Then two more serious whites – a peachy. very lively 100 per cent Turbiana I Fratti (£18.99) matched with a fantastic lobster ravioli, and an upmarket Soave “La Rocca” from Pieropan (£28.00), which stood comparison with big white burgundies. That came with more excellent pasta – handmade in Italy and imported fresh – this time in a creamy wild mushroom sauce.

Then four reds, starting with a Valpolicella Classico from Zenato (£13.99) – soft and gluggable but still complex – served with lovely little tomato and mozzarella arrancini. Then a Zenato Ripasso (£24 – Valpollicella  that has been “repassed” over the used grape skins of an Amarone), a big beast of a wine that was beautiful with strips of rare bavette steak from the Vale of Belvoir. Then for me the star of the night – Marion, a big 2010 cabernet sauvignon from Veneto (£30) bursting with fruit, for which Delilah is the only UK supplier. The rest it seems goes to the USA where it is seen as a rival to those fabled Napa Valley reds. This was magnificent with some  Italian cheeses including a 36-month aged parmesan and a sensational creamy number from Beppino Occelli that was wrapped in grape must.

We finished with a sweet red Veronese  Recioto della Valpolicella (£22), where selected grapes are dried for three months on wooden racks then pressed and fermented to create a desert wine that is full of fruit and floral notes.

A high-end tasting like this, with simple but excellent food, is yet another feather in cap for St Martin’s. Just a few back I could never envisaged saying this but within literally a few paces we have wines, gelato, burgers, chocolates, gins , cocktails, charcuterie, coffee and cheeses that are the equal of anywhere in the country.

 

 

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The latest of my reviews to go up on the Leicester Mercury website is the Queen of Bradgate. I enjoyed it and its tasty, slightly off-kilter food. It’s a good complement to the neighbouring Orange Tree, which has got decent food and drink too but, which I can find a bit too boisterous  – no criticism of a well-run bar, simply a sign I’m really starting to feel my age.

So here’s the link to the review   – Queen of Bradgate –  with the usually warning/apology for the aggressive ads on the Mercury site.

WP_20141211_15_48_58_ProOn another note, I’m sorted for Christmas wines after a super tasting at the weekend at Evington’s on Evington Road. Simon March always seems to find interesting wines and this year the standouts for me were a superb Sauterne from Chateau Villefranche (£11.89 half bottle) and, much to my surprise,  a wine from FYR Macedonia called made by Stobi called Vranec Veritas Reserve (£14.79) and made from local Vranec grapes. The latter is a booming 14.5 per cent red which would sit in for Clarets priced much higher, and while – sadly – I can’t say I drink Sauterne regularly, this one was the best I’ve encountered – incredibly complex and multi-layered for wine that sweet.

If you are looking for something special for the festive period I do recommend a visit – Simon is always happy to advise.

34 Windsor St

October 1, 2014

Restaurants, higher-end places especially, recognise that it’s not enough just to open the doors and cook. It can help if your venue develops a personality and offers chances to deepen the relationships with clientele. Special events such as wine tastings can do that.

34 WindsorI was at 34 Windsor St in Burbage recently at a fun evening that offered an intriguing way in to understanding wine. Billed as a Cluedo evening, wine educator Raj Solanki’s approach (left) was to personify grapes – hence Pinot Grigio was Paris Hilton, “an It Girl, of good heritage, can be a bit vacuous, but capable of something more”. He fleshed these out with details of what to look for in terms of colour, acidity, tannins and flavours and invited diners to work in teams to use these clues to identify a selection of mystery wines served with a three-course dinner.

So a light-hearted way of getting information across, and while it wasn’t a food and wine matching event, Raj did set up little demonstrations to show the effect of certain flavours – lemon, chilli, sweet biscuits – on the palate and on individual wines. We were also had our nosing ability tested by having to identify a variety of fragrances in tiny phials.

Foodwise the evening featured the delicate, skilful cooking of chef Sam Owen. He learnt his trade in top Lincolnshire restaurants – including Winteringham Fields – and cites the likes of David Everett-Mathias, Sat Bains and Simon Rogan among his inspirations. That much was certainly evident in a technically impressive starter of pear and cauliflower textures, accentuated with flavours of lemon (including little chunks of compressed fruit where the air has been vacuumed out, resulting in an particularly pure flavour) and hay smoke delivered under a cloche.

The main course featured a mountain of deeply meaty “pressed beef” (blade possibly?) with a wonderful little croquette of salted cod. This came with jeruslaem artichokes – which to me looking revolting on the plate but if you can get over that, they add an intriguing earthy taste. The dish might have been better balanced with a bit more than a couple of small spinach leaves, but great flavours. Highlight was a desert with 11 elements of bitter chocolate, acorn and caramel. This combined being technical and “interesting” with straightforward choccy appeal. Actually the best bit for me was the ambrosial acorn panna cotta – extraordinarily creamy and moreish.

Wine events are set to become a monthly event at 34 Windsor St, with a Seresin Estate,  Marlborough, tasting dinner at the end of October. A good way of getting to know this smart West Leicestershire restaurant offering serious, grown-up food.

Carluccio's Leicester

Enjoyed a splendid winetasting at Carluccio’s in Leicester’s Highcross last night.  Of all the chains I’ve been to, this lot seem to pull it off best – the environment is classy, the staff seem to care and while I know the menus are run with strict corporate rigour, the food still manages to convince.

This event was part of their summer promotion of wines from Veneto and featured five wines introduced by Mike Stocks, the company’s bar training manager. I’d say four were very good indeed – a fruity Prosecco Santo Stefano and three more from the Bertani company, which has a portfolio of 200 hectares around Verona. These included an elegant rose and a stylish Soave which was apparently served at the coronation of George VI.  Best of all was the superb Amarone Villa Arvedi – a prestige wine obviously, but despite being a stonking 15 per cent, it was smooth, well-balanced and not overpowering.  The wines are not cheap – the Amarone is £30 – but given that you can buy them in the deli part of the restaurant and drink with your meal for £5 corkage, they start to look rather good value.

We enjoyed some excellent anti-pasti with the drinks – very light squares of polenta with melted gorgonzola, roasted marinated vegetables, super fishcakes and parma ham on grilled bread.  At £10 this was an excellent little promotion for the “Magic Hour”  of 6-7pm, and it’s worth looking out for future events – Carluccio’s Leicester

Xmas wines

December 12, 2009

Picked up some Christmas booze following a tasting at Evington’s, a wonderful shop on Evington Road, close to the Spar supermarket. I recommend it to anyone not sure what they want  – have a look at the website  but do visit the shop too if you can. Owner Simon March is the third generation of his family to run the shop and is a genial, knowledgable and helpful chap. He doesn’t sell bad wines.

 winesMy selection then (all round about a tenner): Errrazuriz Max Reserva 2007 – a premium wine from this major Chilean maker which is a characteristically fruity cabernet sauvignon but with some real complexity too; Seifried Gewurztraminer 2007 from Nelson, New Zealand,  full of  tropical fruit that I plan to match to spicy-glazed gammon; an unusual, modern-style Rioja from Becquer, 2005,  considerably lighter than might be expected; and a quite sublime Hunter Valley Botrytis Semillon, 2007 from Margan – a sweet, fragrant, non-cloying desert wine I simply can’t wait to crack open.

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