Sunday 2 August 2009


So my plan was to recreate a Ligurian meal, or rather my interpretation of one, and drink wine I'd brought back, served alongside other nice wines to compare. Was it really as good as it seemed on holiday? Then, after a few cancellations, I realised four of us would never make it through all the wines, and since I was determined everyone try this one, my Vermentino lives to be blogged another day..

This isn't of course Ligurian, but it's the best white I've drunk this year. An absolute belter and it's worth joining Costco just to buy it- a perfect dry Riesling. One word of warning though, it absolutely reeks of petrol. The old fashioned stuff that me and my brother would wind down the window to inhale at garages. Mature riesling is supposed to smell of petrol. Mary didn't like it, but she loved the taste. For me it was like a complex lime sorbet with hints of mint and ginger. Perfectly balanced, it danced down my throat.
What makes this wine even more stunning is the price... £8.95 for the 2005. Incredible. We drank it with a herb tart.

Herbs are big in Liguria. This was spinach, sorrel and fennel. An adaptation of a recipe in 'Leaves from the Walnut Tree'. Ann and Franco's time capsule. Franco's actually from the Marche but by some way it's the best Italian cookbook I've got so it's a good source.... probably long out of print but worth tracking down.

Despite having a big coastline, fish is a relatively recent addition to Ligurain cuisine. One article suggests this dates back to when Genoa was the biggest port in the Med. Away at sea sailors ate dried food and fish. When they came home they craved to taste the land- rabbit, herbs, baking- they gave the world pesto. Rather weirdly, now thinking about it, I didn't make any.
Main course, again inspired by both Liguria and 'The Walnut Tree', was quail stuffed with sage and wrapped in bacon, served with lentils on roasted polenta... I even made a focaccia.. supposedly a Ligurian invention too. Sage has an incredible affinity with quail. Try sniffing a raw quail, you'll see what I mean.

With it drank one of the three Rosseses reds I brought back with me.

This is a really good wine. Like mixing Burgundy with Barolo and adding a hefty splash of Bandol. Now there's an idea!!! Wrong in so many 'wine' ways, but I'm going to try it soon.
Back to Rossese, Ka Mancine, Galeae, 2008. To me the bouquet is a mix of raspberry and sherbet. Like the moment you hit the middle of a sherbet centered sweet. The palate is full, floral and oh so moorish... that's not a typo. Think rose water, hookah and hooker. It's all in there. One big souk of a glass. Gorgeous. It was in some pretty good company too.

Ross and Mary's Chianti and the second wine of St.Emilion's Chateau Grand Mayne. Both top bottles. I thought the Rossese was best. Top marks.

Finished off the meal with a chestnut and chocolate pudding which should have been decorated with strawberries and cream... but by now I couldn't be bothered.

Chestnuts are big in Liguria and Marron Glacé was apprently invented here back in the 1790s... though I'm pretty sure the French will dispute that.
Now, for anyone reading this in Glasgow, who shares my craving for seafood after drinking slightly more than necessary on a Saturday night, some really good news.

Crab Shakk in Finnieston is now open on Sunday from 12-5. Nine oysters for £11.95 washed down with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Job done.

1114 Argyle Street,
G3 8DT
0141 334 6127

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