Sunday 12 December 2010

Seafood and Saffron Risotto

Maine lobster tails are on offer in Waitrose just now. £4.50 a pop. An absurd price for a crustacean who spent years growing on the other side of the Atlantic. It's not as good as Scottish lobster but spectacular value for the money.

I sautéed it till part cooked, popped the shell in some hot fresh fish stock for 10 minutes, added saffron then made a risotto. The shell's packed with lobster flavour and that infuses into the stock. So, as the rice absorbs the stock it becomes saturated with lobsterness.

Once ready I stirred in a pack of pre-cooked 'seafood selection', cooked through the lobster in a little butter and...

Well, if I say so myself it was rather delicious. As was this...

From Piedmont in Italy and the 'not often seen' Arneis grape. Beautiful wine, great with food, don't serve cold... just cool. It's £9.99 and worth every penny.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Raising a glass to recommendations

It's not often people recommend wines to me. Maybe it has something to do with the blog? I hope not because I love them. There's an extra dimension to popping out for a bottle someone else enjoyed enough to tell you about. If the wine turns out to my taste too, well all the better, but even if it doesn't, that never detracts from the original gesture. Mayu 'Carmenere' was described as being "too good". That's my kind of description.

Now one of the best things about recommendations is feeling the need to try a wine that ordinarily I'd probably avoid. Chilean Carmenere's often overtly fruity, alcohol saturated monsters with little nuance or finesse. Nothing wrong with that, just not my bag. Spotting the 15% alcohol content as I pulled this off the Oddbins shelf made me fear this could be more of the same. It wasn't.

On the back label it explains this wine was made using a method similar to that used for Amarone called appassimento. Only in this case, instead of partially drying the grapes off the vine, they were left on it. Part of me wonders if they just couldn't harvest the vineyard in time and came up with Plan B. Farmers are canny buggers after all.

Even the whopping alcohol content was lost amid a seamless stream of beautifully integrated flavours. A piercing nose of black fruits, blackcurrant and elderberry with a whiff of blackberry picking fingers too. The palate was incredibly powerful yet balanced, tastes of coconut, tobacco and even liquorice. An impressive wine that would probably repay keeping a year or two.

Mayu Carmenere Reserva 2007: £10.99 from Oddbins who, just now, offer 25% off any 6 bottles. Which makes this about £8.25 a bottle and since it's well worth the full price, that's a steal. Like Amarone, probably best enjoyed with a spot of after meal 'contemplation'.