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Bisol Jeio Prosecco Food & Wine Matching Competition – The Entries

The Bisol Jeio Prosecco Food & Wine Matching Competition has closed, and we’ve had some wonderful and interesting recipes submitted as matches for Bisol Jeio Prosecco. I had lots of visitors to the stall over the last few weeks who sampled the prosecco and described the range of flavours they experienced. They then went home and put a lot of thought into how that would work well with food. It’s been an education for me to observe and it’s been so lovely to meet everyone and chat about food & wine, two of my favourite topics.

There’s been some really inspiring recipes, and the competition even inspired Kathy of Bemused Bouche to start blogging. What a compliment! Our original plan, was to choose 5 finalists and give them passes for The Wine Show on in London this weekend. We didn’t bank on the interminable Royal Mail strike, so we’ve had to review as we were not able to post the passes out to the winners. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing, the quality of the entries is so high, it’s good to have more time to choose the finalists. We’ll be in touch this week with details of the new arrangements.

For now, here’s those lovely recipes for your perusal. Which ones do you think would be the best match?

Pork Belly Tortellini with Prosecco Poached Pears, Pecorino and a Sage Brown Butter from Neil at The War On Cookbooks. “The cheese and the brown butter give the perfect kind of nutty vibes with the pear complimenting the fruitiness. The addition of the prosecco itself into the menu doesn’t harm the combination either but the effect is a subtle undercurrent.”

Carnitas with a spiced apple and lime salsa from Carla at Can Be Bribed With Food. “I know my likes and dislikes and tend to go for fairly generic matches, so this is the perfect occasion to test myself. After much thinking and trying I have decided that the Jeio would go quite nicely with this dish.

Chicken steamed in Sake with Bok Choi and a Soy Dressing, first blog post from Kathy at Bemused Bouche. “My first thoughts were either something involving fruit, maybe using figs or incorporating the membrello I have left over from last years quince season or where the main component has a salty flavour, seafood or pork perhaps. And then I thought about a soy dressing, giving the salty element and a definite attempt at a non-italian match.” Welcome to the blogosphere and well done!

Pork Chop with prosecco and tarragon cream sauce, goats cheese and olive crushed potatoes, parsnip puree from Dan at Essex Eating. “I’m pleased to report, it did appear to work, very well in fact – the prosecco didn’t grate alarmingly against the dishes ingredients, in fact they seemed to compliment each other nicely….I like to put it down to my bulging analytical brain and amazing palette, stressing categorically that it’s absolutely not more luck, than judgement.”

Danny at Food Urchin matched Warm Winter Salad with Pheasant, Pear, Pomegranate and Walnut. Dedicated to the cause he did this at 9am. “There are many reasons for drinking sparkling wine at 9 o’clock this morning son. Mostly poor ones but I’m going to stick by them. I’ve left things to the last minute you see. I need daylight for optimum photographising conditions and I have to test out this recipe that I’ve been formulating in my head for the past two weeks, by tomorrow. Deadlines, son.”

Rebecca from Fresh-Lee submitted Salmon-Mango Ceviche Snack. “As soon as I had a taste of the Bisol, the amazing fusion food of Miami Beach came to the front of my mind, and I thought I’d try some variations on a Mexican ceviche – fish ‘cooked’ in citrus juices.”

Claire from The Hungriest Hippo submitted Smoked Garlic Risotto with King Scallops and Prosecco. “I loved the idea of having a glass of chilled, sparkling Prosecco to sip along with a sumptuous treat of a supper dish – and once this seed of thought was planted, I could not get the idea of a rich, creamy risotto out of my mind, delicate in flavour and accompanied by a trio of the freshest king scallops, simply panfried.”

Ailbhe of Simply Splendiferous made sea trout fillets with a fresh rocket, spinach and watercress salad and a tartare based sauce. “After much to-ing and fro-ing I’ve settled on the combination of sea trout fillets with a fresh rocket, spinach and watercress salad and a tartare based sauce.”

Linda, of With Knife & Fork, matched her autumnal sort of salad, “a little bit of googling and reading and a few thought came to mind…..pears…well they go well in salads with blue cheese and often walnuts. Pears and peaches…sometimes served with air-dried hams. A sweetish fruit and salty theme was emerging. I’d also got a hankering for something autumnal, earthy…”.

Pete submitted a recipe for seed cake with a bit of a chilli kick. He kindly brought some down for me to try and it was delicious, I loved the chilli in there. It’s a nice match too.

Mia, of the Urban Foodie, submitted Chilli Crab Spaghetti, “a delicious store cupboard favourite for when the fridge is bare”.

Emma, blogger behind The Little Welsh Eats the Big World, and avid twitterer, submitted Oriental Duck Risotto.

Denise, of The Wine Sleuth, loves Bisol with strawberries, and matched it with her childhood favourite Strawberry Shortcake.

Spaghetti a la Putanesca from Dino at The Epicurean. “The perfect match with Bisol Jelo Prosecco before during and after – eating the dish that is :-)”.

Pork with apple & walnut with a spinach & salsify gratin from Martin at What I Would Rather Eat Today.

Jeanne, from Cooksister, submitted a lovely seasonal Blackberry and Prosciutto salad. “all the crunchy goodness of a green salad, the silken saltiness of the Prosciutto, offest nicely by the sweetness of the rich, ripe berries. ”

prosecco matching

And finally, Biggest Jim submitted a Goat’s Cheese Souffle. “Not having cooked a soufflé and being in one of my particularly ambitious cooking moods, I thought I’d try a Goat’s Cheese Souffle combination with Prosecco.”

So, that’s it folks! Very impressive submissions, it makes our job quite difficult. Thanks so much to all who entered. I’ll be back soon with a shortlist of finalists.

autumnal sort of salad
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The Blaggers’ Banquet – Details at Last!

It’s time to reveal the details surrounding the Action Against Hunger Bloggers’ Fundraiser. On November 15th, we will be taking over Hawksmoor, the revered steakhouse in Liverpool St, for the blaggers’ banquet. This will be an exciting dinner created entirely by bloggers and using only food that they have blagged and that they themselves will cook and serve.

There will also be a blaggers’ auction, where we will be auctioning exciting items we’ve blagged. This auction will be two fold, a portion of it on the night, and the rest in the weeks following. Further details relating to the auction will be announced as they become available.

We’ve got just over three weeks to pull all of this off but we do love a challenge. All proceeds go to Action Against Hunger too, a great cause (more on them here).

PRODUCERS: Want to donate some produce? Food, drink, items for the auction? It might be a good way to get your products seen by thousands of blog followers and sampled by the lucky few who get tickets for the banquet. Please get in touch – email blaggersbanquet@gmail.com. We want to hear from you.

BLOGGERS: We’ve had a lot of blogger volunteers, but we could always do with more! We will need people in the kitchen, people front of house and blaggers. If you are interested in getting involvedven’t been in touch already, please email me at blaggersbanquet@gmail.com. Those that have been in touch, I’ll be emailing asap.

AUCTION: We need lots of stuff for auction. Whatever you’ve got. Equipment, food, wine, trips, posh dinners. Whatever you’ve got, seriously! There will be an auction on the night and an online auction. Email blaggersbanquet@gmail.com.

Thanks to Amy who designed our fab logo for free in her own time, and at extremely short notice. Much appreciated!

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Last chance: Get your competition recipes in!

You’ve just 12 hours to get your entries in for the Bisol Jeio Prosecco and Food Matching competition. 5 finalists win tickets for the Wine Show this weekend, and the winner who will be announced at a cook off shortly after at Bibendum Wine HQ, will get to dine at the chefs table at Trinity. Giles Coren has proclaimed it “the perfect restaurant”.

We’ve had some great entries but you’ve still got a chance. Submit themn by leaving a comment on the oiginal competition post with the link, or by emailing me the recipe.

Look forward to seeing them! :)

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Ham Class at Brindisa, Borough Market

Me: “I can’t meet you tonight, I am off to ham school”

Friend: “Ham School?!”

Me: “Yes, ham school! I can’t wait, it’s at Brindisa in Borough Market. You know how much I love that shop.”

Friend: “I’m jealous! Ham school was always my favourite class in school too ;)”

This style of intrepid food exploring I sometimes find myself engaged in confuses and perplexes my friends. They find it highly amusing that I am so engaged with the world of food. But even the most cynical, were somewhat startled by the concept of ham school, and more tellingly they wanted to go.

What was ham school? I was invited by Brindisa to participate in their first ham class, where they would educate me about four different hams, their different origins, both porcine and geographical, the different diets, and complex disparages in flavour and quality that these produce. We were also going to be taught how to slice ham from the leg of an iberico pig, and we would get to take the ham home. Finally there would be manzanilla.

A perfect evening. Perfect in all ways but one, timing. It was on a Thursday, market day, where I am usually busy up till 9pm in Covent Garden tidying away the stall. However, I couldn’t refuse, so I advised that I may be late but that I would get there as early as I could.

I’ve long been a fan of Brindisa. When I lived in Ireland, a few years ago now, I was looking for Judion beans, those enormous Spanish butter beans, and discovered that they stocked them there. I made it my business to go there on my next trip to London, and prompty fell in love. With their chorizo, of course.

After I moved to London, I became an extremely regular visitor, particularly to their Exmouth Market shop, which was near where I worked for a number of years. They did a marvellous chickpea and chorizo stew which I have tried to emulate at home and which I had from their shop at least weekly, along with their delicious and wholesome salads, sandwiches which put most sandwiches to shame, and of course the delicious Spanish cheeses. Sometimes I would treat myself to a bottle of their delicious Albarino, usually an indicator of a bad day at work, a visiting friend, or a trip to Ireland. I worked in publishing you see, and therefore was far from rich. Sadly that shop has since closed, but there is still the shop in Borough Market. Unfortunately, rules dictate that hot food cannot be served in the shop, so there’s no stew, but there are plenty of treats to buy to bring home and indulge in. Then there is also the ham. I was about to learn a lot about that.

The shop is located under one of the railway bridges, with big gates looking on to the market on one side and the street on the other. We were gathered around a large rustic kitchen table, with a plate of ham and sherry in front of us, looking at a large map of Spain. Zac Fingal-Rock Innes, the master carver, and Alberto Ambler, the Assistant Manager, guided us through the map, telling us in fascinating detail, where the differences in taste, and sometimes quality originate for each ham. We learned about the different breeds, and each one we discussed we then tasted and described. It was fascinating, like a wine tasting, but with ham. The class was informal and passionate, the loved their subject area and it was infectious. I found myself wanting to learn more. And to eat more.

The hams were delicious. We tried four, the final (and most expensive of course) was my favourite, and at £15 per 100g, it will be a treat, and a much appreciated one. Joselito Gran Reserva Bellota from Guijuelo, Salamanca, an Ibérico pig and therefore acorn fed, cured for 3-4 years. I could talk forever about these hams, and the pigs but I see I am already approaching 700 words, so I’ll get on with it. Just this one bit, the more expensive the ham, it seems the fussier the pig. These pigs will travel huge distances to eat the right acorn. Brilliant! I love that attention to detail, and the fussiness. I respect them for that.

The hams were by now tasted  and notes taken, had some delicious manzanilla. It was time to learn how to carve the ham. I was looking forward to this, I’ve always wanted to be shown how to do it. I took my place by the ham and proceeded to cut under the guidance of Zac. It didn’t seem too bad at all. In fact, it seemed fine. I was no expert, but I was finding it relatively straightforward, how could this be? Zac asked if I had done it before as I seemed like a natural, which I definitely had not. I mentioned in jest that I had done anatomy (and therefore human dissection) in my university years, which it turns out Zac had too. So, maybe that was it? My knife skills (ack! forgive me) translated from the lab to the kitchen.

Ham sliced and packaged up, it was time to go home with a little bag of ham treats, including some fat to render and have with potatoes or similar. I had a great time and would highly recommend it. Thanks to Celia for arranging the invite and to the lovely people at Brinidisa for arranging such a wonderful evening. Lovely people, lots of knowledge, and lots of tasty ham. The classes will be running from November for £65. Given the quality of the hams, the knowledge of the staff and the uniqueness of the experience, it’s a great value evening.

Brindisa at Borough Market
The Floral Hall
Stoney Street
Borough Market
London SE1 9AF

Tel & Fax: 020 7407 1036
Email: shop@brindisa.com

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Wish You Were Here in Soho this Sunday – another stall!

Another weekend, another food market! This weekend I will be at Wish You Were Here in the Newburgh Quarter, off Carnaby St in Soho. There will live music, lots of food and frivolity and there is lots of sunshine forecast. So, come on down from 12.30 to 6pm on Sunday. I’ll be serving up home salted beef bagels, organic Irish smoked salmon w/ cream cheese and cucumber pickle bagels, black bean chilli (v) and spiced pumpkin soup (v). Should be lots of fun!

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An epic adventure at market: defining the boundaries or the lack thereof

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I’ve  become a regular at Covent Garden Real Food Market now, every Thursday, without fail. Up early, making and baking. Bread, roasts, chorizo and pork rolls, tarts and now also soups. It’s a very long day. Starting at 5.30 am and finishing, without a break at 9pm, it’s usually approaching 10pm when I drag my weary bones home, shattered.

I’m always fine until I know it’s over. That’s the way I work. I can run on adrenaline until I know I can stop and then, knowing iot’s over, I relax, and slowly start to fall apart, needing my bed or at least a glass of wine pre bed fairly urgently. When I get very tired having pushed myself to extremes, which I tend to do alot, I get restless and itchy. It’s not nice for anyone seeing this restless, itchy lump on the sofa cradling a glass of red wine and usually wrapped in a bright red woolly blanket.

But I do it. For the love of food, and  I do enjoy the market.

How to make it even more of a challenge? There must be a way. How about starting a new job (which is great!), which has a Wednesday evening meeting that finishes late. Oh, I know, more! What about doing the market 4 days in a row, solo, all the cooking and the serving, and the transporting, setting up and packing? That doesn’t sound like enough. What about, after the first day of market, pushing the boat out, and going out with some fellow bloggers to try some of the London Restaurant Festival menus? Good company, food & wine, perhaps a cocktail and at Rules? A late night before getting up to bake again? I can do it, can’t I?

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Well, friends that is academic, as sadly I just do. The meeting was interesting and fun, and made for an very intense Thursday morning prep experience. I had a brilliant time with Sig, Dan and Mathilde, doing a mini incomplete restaurant crawl to try the menus at various places in the area. We failed to make the dessert, through a combination of a delay with the main course and frenetic, wine fuelled chatter which distracted us from the project at hand. Lots of fun. We finished the evening with a vesper martini at Rules, which was fantastic and like a trip back in time. It’s a cosy, elegant space and feels very indulgent and very right.

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall

A success, no? But what about Friday morning? Can I just say ARGH! I was tired, hungover, disorganised, but more than these three things combined I was determined. I managed to get everything done and made it to market with a new addition to the menu – soup. Now, I love soup, always have. I make it a lot, especially in Winter. I love traditional soups but also more interesting creative ones. Over the three days to follow I served three types: Spiced Pumpkin, Tomato, Lentil & Chickpea and Black Bean Chilli, soups for £3 and chilli for £3.50. All vegetarian, and all went down very well, much to my delight. I’ll have soup every day at market now. I also served organic Irish smoked salmon bagels with cream cheese and cucmber pickle which also went down very well.

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall

Friday was one of those days were everything went wrong. I burned myself, the table collapsed, spilled some prosecco, the weather turned, we had lots of rain and it was generally a bit of a disaster. I refused to let it bother me as I can’t control it now, can I? Can I? No, I can’t, more’s the pity. So I was ill prepared for the scorcher on Saturday and the very busy day presented to me.

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall

Saturday was just great. Brilliant atmosphere, lots of hungry people, lots of thirsty people. It was vibrant and interesting and fun. We should have a Saturday food market at Covent Garden Market every week. Honestly, it was excellent. Lots of people asked if we would be there every Saturday and were disappointed when I said no. Covent Garden, can we please have a Saturday market?

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall

I added another new menu item over the weekend. Overnight roast shoulder of lamb with smoky aubergine relish. That, with the soups, is now my favourite item on the stall. The lamb even trumped the pork and sold out first, and considering how popular the pork is, that is saying something.

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So, that was it. Four days in a row, new job, big night out, recovery. I did it and I was very proud of myself indeed. Back to market tomorrow with more slow roast shoulder of lamb, and slow roast shoulder of pork and soup. There’ll be other things too, there are plans afoot. I’ll try, try, try to get a menu up in the morning but I’ve another late night at work tonight, and I’m only human, even if I may be in denial a bit about that ;)

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Pierre Koffman at Restaurant on the Roof, Selfridge’s

It’s nice to be in the know for once. I seem to miss all announcements of secret gigs from artists I love, moan that I can never catch some in particular, and feel like I am sometimes viewing it all from the sidelines. Bring on twitter and the democratisation of information and watch that dissipate. Follow the people into the same things as you, and hey presto, you find out stuff!

When the Selfridge’s popup restaurant details were leaked on Bloomberg, and subsequently spread through twitter like a fast burning flame, I, with others, clamoured for a table, chosing Monday lunchtime, thinking it would surely be the day least in demand. Originally the restaurant was only to open from the 8th to the 16th of October (it’s now extended to the end of October and is fully booked). I was successful and have been anticipating it since, reading other reviews, following the tweets, and waiting my turn.

Monday 12th came around quickly. I’d had an intense previous 4 days. The Covent Garden Real Food Market was running all weekend, and that meant 4 days of 5am starts to bake bread and cook soups etc., followed by long days on my feet working hard, and more cooking when I got home every evening. Insert slep where you can and try to retain a sense of humour.

The morning of my lunch reservation I had a 6.45am meeting, and another subsequently, and immeidately prior to lunch. I ached everywhere but I refused to let tiredness and soreness ruin the day. I managed to snatch 15 minutes prior to lunch, and had an indulgent small glass of Marlborough Pinot Noir in The Wonder Bar at Selfridge’s  while waiting for my friend to arrive.

EEEEEEK!

Pierre Koffman is previously of seminal restaurant La Tante Claire, a three michelin starred restaurant in London which closed its doors in 2002. In 2002 I was relatively fresh off the boat in London, and skint, desperately seeking work in an city that was saturated with graduates and at that time, lacking in work. It just wasn’t an option.

Inspired by his Gascon grandmother, I was intrigued as to how this homely influence would reflect in his cooking which is of a three michelin starred standard. I’d heard a lot about his cooking, particularly his signature dish of trotter. I, like most others visiting, excited.

We were told to seek out a lift by the Chanel counter with a security guard by it and progress to the roof. Now I am not one of those girls that knows the intricacies of the layout of the perfume and make up counters in Selfridge’s and it won’t come as any surprise that I went to the wrong one. You see there are two. Now I know the food, kitchen and shoe sections very well, but the perfume and make up, not really. Last time I went to one there last year they asked me if I had ever worn make up before and that patronising attitude combined with the feeling of being in a shop window just does my head in.

I digress. We found the lift and were welcomed by a very friendly girl with the list of all people allowed into the lift that day. While we waited she had to explain to some very annoyed people why they couldn’t get the lift or go to the restaurant, she has to do it many times every day and has my sympathies. We arrived on the roof, the first thing we saw was the gents which was unfortunate, but then proceeded through a lovely white curtained hallway, past an excellent ghost chair to the reception. Very friendly and not remotely pretentious, they took our coats and bags and we proceeded to our table.

Now, the restaurant is a popup, and therefore temporary. Housed in a marquee on the roof of Selfridge’s, it was intensely bright and white with a lovely wedgewood blue wall at the end and lovely fixtures and fittings including suspended bowler hats down one side, some of which doubled up as light fittings. The chandliers made from antlers were familiar from a recent trip to The Bull and Last. It was all vert stylish. It was warm, very warm, and had a slight hum. I felt as though I were in one of those fanastical enormous balloons in the sky.

We perused the menu, it was all very apealing. Guest chef for our sitting was Eric Chavot. He had a starter and a main but we were both keen to try Koffman’s so we passed. The starter menu particularly was difficult to chose from. The main course was a bit easier, I felt as though I really should get the trotter, it’s the signature dish after all and might be a little challenging, but what if it’s too much so? I decided to take a risk and go for it, ordering a fricassee of wild mushrooms with snails and bone marrow for starters and pig’s trotter stuffed with veal sweetbreads and morel mushrooms. My friend ordered pan fried foie gras with a potato gallette and sauternes jus followed by royale de lievre with red cabbage.

Unfortunately, I had another meeting to attend after lunch so we had to go easy on the wine. This was a shame as food of this standard deserves fantastic wine and lots of it, however, I had to behave. We ordered some Valpolicella which was perfectly delicious, relatively full bodied but good for the afternoon.

We started with an amuse bouche of salted code which was delicate and flavoursome and definitely got my palette going. The starters arrived and were presented beautifully. Mine rested atop some roasted bone, and was scattered with mushrooms, bone marrow and snails. The snails particularly were cooked beautifully and were melt in the mouth tender but had an earthiness that was beautiful with the mushrooms. The bone marrow added an extra layer of umami and luxury, I couldn’t resist mopping up the juices with some bread. The foie gras was intensely rich, butter and extremely tender, there was some lovely bright green appley mousse served with it which cut right through it. Finished, we caught our breath, and I anxiously awaited the trotter.

The main courses arrived swiftly. The hare (lievre) looked fantastic but my focus was on the very visual trotter which had arrived. Brown and bold, it looked succulent, unctous and tender. I nervously put my knife in a took a peak at the delights within. I cut a morsel, the knife easily slicing through the tender skin and took a bite. I’d read that it was rich and intense but for me this was delicate and elegant with warming homely flavours. Savoury but depsite the contents not overwhelmingly meaty, it was creamy and ambrosial. The hare went down well, although personally, I find the tartness of hare meat a bit much for my palette. I could however apreciate the artistry at work here.

And breathe. By now the room was hot, over the top hot and I could feel my face was burning, but thankfully the sun was starting to set and the room was starting to cool down. The hum and the vibration by now was comforting, and we perused the dessert menu. I decided on the Gascon Apple Tart and my friend the Chocolate Mousse. The tart was intesnely sweet and caramelised, which would have been too much, but the accompanying vanilla cream calmed the otherwise full flavours, and provided a delicious counterpoint. The chocolate mousse was light and delicious, much lighter than I would have anticipated and very chocolatey as you would expect. This was followed by coffees and petits fours, although the peitits fours came as more of an afterthought. They were delicious but at this stage I was extremely full. I did really like the mini choux pastry and the truffles were divine. It was all lovely really.

Overall impressions? A lovely, worthwhile experience. Not perfect, the service was patchy at points, but this was compensated by the lack of pretence and overall air of friendliness and openness that was exuded. The food was elegant and flavouromse, rich but not overwhelming and perfectly executed. The space was pretty and bright and very unusual. I am only sorry that I can’t go again. Can I please?