Saturday 22 September 2012

Brilliant old style German Mosel Riesling

What's not to like about a wine with such a great label? A fabulous drink that's starting to develop the petrol nose Riesling's famous for when it's old. This wine will probably last a hundred years but it's so good to drink now who cares. Balanced, complex, mineral laden invigoration, the perfect wine for the beautiful early Spring day we've experienced in late September in Glasgow today. Why on earth do people waste money on cheap, sharp Champagne to celebrate when you can cop a load of this for £14?

Erdener Treppchen, Weingut Max Ferd. Richter, Riesling Spatlese, 2009 
Oddbins £14 - even so, this must be one of the best quality to cost wines on the high street.

(Drinking mine at room temperature, right enough, that's about 12c in Glasgow just now. It's getting better with every sip)

Oddbins and the Power of Social Me-Me-Media: Godellogate

So there I was yesterday, whittling away a little more of my life on Facebook, when suddenly this whizzes past on my news feed.

My local Oddbins announcing a bottle of wine's been popped into a national newspaper's 'top ten'. This particular wine's become a bit of a running joke, I love it but there's never any in the fridge, so I can't resist.

Clearly I'm going to have to get a bottle now and pop along later. Well, it turns out in the couple of hours since posting, Head Office, then shortly afterwards the Area Manager, were on the phone enquiring as to whether the, "Gentleman's Godello is in the fridge".

Those words have caused much mirth in certain quarters since. Hats off to Oddbins and if anyone reading this fancies a bottle of something particular chilled in advance, you know what to do.

Friday 21 September 2012

Paul Rothe & Son, a haven on Marylebone Lane

One of my favourite places. Old London at it's best. The salt beef, mustard and dill sandwich is perfection, they also serve the sort of tasty nourishing soups only very old grannies normally know how to make and it's the only place I take milk and one sugar in my coffee. Paul Rothe & Son has furnished me with the perfect antidote to nights of overindulgence every time.

35 Marylebone Lane
tel. 0207 935 6783


Sunday 9 September 2012

Carluccio's Restaurant, Glasgow

We went to Carluccio's for lunch on a Saturday. It's been there some time but this was my first visit, fearing their domination I try to avoid giving chains my money. In fact, I'd been trying to do just that at Robert Graham, an independent purveyor of whisky and cigars directly opposite the eponymous Italian's Italian. Unfortunately the lights were on but no-one was home. No sign, no explanation. So hungry and loose ended we crossed the road to Carluccio's, lured by a board reading 'Menu Fisso'.

I met Carluccio, or Antonio to give him his first name, once, briefly and he seemed like a very nice man. Frankly he must be, otherwise long before they'd finished filming the first episode he'd have murdered fellow Greedy Italian, Gennaro Contaldo, the world's most hyperactive pensioner.

My problem with Caluccio isn't his personality, it's his fingers. Ever since childhood the sight of chubby pensioner fingers fondling food has ruined my appetite. The worst offender, when still with us, was the dead Fat Lady. With gay abandon she'd plunge her podgy, inherited ring clad digits into all manner of doughy matter before serving up to an endless procession of unknowingly enthusiastic emergency service crews.

Clearly there was a lot of internal wrestling going on during that dash across the street. Still, everyone has their price and on this particular day it seems mine was £9.95. Anyhow, there are now forty-five Carluccio's restaurants across the UK, that's a lot of dough, so I'm guessing Tony don't knead it no more.

The place was busy, we were told we could wait for a table or have a stool at the 'bar without a bar'. I was seated before she'd finished the sentence, freed from the clutter of drinking ephemera this barless bar provides a bird's eye view of the restaurant's diners and I'd never seen so many healthy looking people assembled in one place in Glasgow. It would seem this is where the council tax dodgers of Newton Mearns and Milngavie nibble during a break from refreshing their wardrobes after a month in Provence.

The wine list is concise, well chosen and mark-ups are reasonable. The glasses are the sort you want to drink from, not those pub style, molded, dishwasher friendly goblets beloved of lazy staff and margin obsessed managers across this city. We took up the Menu's offer to 'add a glass of Sicilian Sicani white wine for £3.25'. Crisp and fresh it made the perfect aperitif.

There's not a lot of choice on the Menu Frisso. The chicken liver pate tasted like it had been 'lengthened' with the addition of milk or even water. As a result it was a lot less rich and all the better for it. The brushetta was exactly what it said it was. Tomatoes, roasted peppers, basil and olive oil on toasted bread. Tasty.

Our main courses were good. Spinach and ricotta ravioli came with a bit of the cooking water mixed into the butter. I liked that, some people won't, though the sage could have been fried a little harder in the butter first. The 'Milanese' had cheaper chicken substituted for veal but was well executed none the less. Japanese panko style crispy bread crumbs giving way to still moist, tender chicken. All of this was washed down with a very nice glass of Valpolicella.

The food isn't exactly cutting edge, even from the carte, but overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable, metropolitan experience for Glasgow. Service was fast, efficient, friendly and reassuringly confident in a way that suggests they're actually training their staff. Also, crucially and unusually for such a large operation, all the tips go to the staff. In short, an excellent lunchtime venue for hungry people and if you enjoy a decent glass of wine at a fair price, it's even better.

Click here for the Carluccio's Glasgow website

Carluccio's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Interview with a Beekeeper - Video

A couple of weeks ago I interviewed a Renfrewshire based beekeeper on behalf of a colleague. There was far more material recorded than needed, mainly because I'd never been so close to a hive before or realised just how fascinating bees are. For example, did you know the Queen can, in emergency, create bees without need for a male? Puts another dimension to 'the birds and bees'. So here's some of the unused material where Ian addresses the problems facing honey bees, woes that go way beyond the woeful summer.

Ian gave me a jar of the sycamore honey. I can confirm it is indeed delicious- sweet and nutty with a gentle, lingering aftertaste of wood and warmth. With 70 hives Ian produces decent quantities of honey, if you live in Renfrewshire keep an eye out, for some reason it's labelled 'John Craig'.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

A Tasty Loire Sauvignon at a Gem of a Price

Just walked back from Queen Street Station. Too nice a night to go under ground or sit trapped amid the scent of Magic Tree listening to a stranger's bad chat. Fortunately my evening's constitutional took me past Oddbins on Woodlands Road. Manager Ross said he'd been at an event tasting Champagne all afternoon, so, jealous, I told him of the christening I'd been to a few years back with free flowing Krug. It was knee jerk one upmanship, pathetic on my part. Luckily he didn't hold it against me, I think, and pointed out this.

£9.50 sounds a bit steep for a bottle of wine. True, but Reuilly cost at least that much four years ago. Given the fact that other precious liquids have risen ten fold since then surely makes this a bit of a steal. It has a nice restrained nettly, elderflower nose with a refreshing, mineral taste. The Loire's having to raise it's game and drop it's prices. North Western Spain's Godellos and Albarinos are getting better and better. If you're after minerally refershment they're hard to beat, this gets close, but it isn't for everyone as there's plenty of that hardcore acidity most Loire Sauvignon possesses and like olives, it's a love it or loath it taste with little room in between.

Cuvee nue, Reuilly, Sauvignon Blanc 2011 £9.50
Try to see beyond the dreadful marketing bollocks on the label

Oddbins Charing Cross Glasgow click on this for their Facebook page