Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Birthday Present

An old friend said this morning as we passed at the school gates: "Isn't it someone's special day tomorrow?" I must have looked blank. "It's your birthday, isn't it?" Yes! I said. It is! Except I'd completely forgotten. This never used to happen. In my Twenties, the build up involved wish lists (no necessities, luxury items only). My Thirties' birthday lists were marked by a mix of both luxury and practical, tending towards the practical by the time I was 38. And now I need a reminder. Ridiculous, really. Actually, I do have a present for one of you. My lovely friends Claire & Lucy, who blog over at Crumbs, have written a family cookbook. And it's brilliant. I've used so many recipes from their blog over the years and this book brings the best of them together, along with lots of new stuff. I've just made their eight-apple cake, mainly because they tell me it makes a great breakfast cake. And tomorrow, I'm definitely eating cake for breakfast. Anyway, they've sent me a copy of their new book to give away so if you fancy, just leave a comment on the blog or facebook page and we'll settle this in the normal* way next week.

Current white in the fridge: Cave de Beblenheim Pinot Gris 2013, £8.29 on offer, Waitrose
Waitrose have got a World of Wine Showcase on at the moment and the shelves are full of weird and wonderful wines. Pinot Gris is the same grape as Pinot Grigio, but it's known as Pinot Gris in France. The gorgeous Alsace region is Pinot Gris' spiritual home and makes wines with more fruit and oomph than most Italian Pinot Grigio wines. And I don't know whether it's because I'm surrounded by windfall apples at the moment, but this wine tastes like baked apples with a touch of honey. Utterly gorgeous, I'm going back for more before it all goes. 

Current red in the rack: Venturer Series Old Vines Garnacha 2013, £4.79, Aldi
Sent to me by the Aldi PR people, this is one of the wines in their new six-strong Venturer Series range, along with a lovely Vermentino and Nero d'Avola from Sicily among others. The idea is to seek out the more off-the-beaten track wines for this range and they're all under a fiver. This one's from Spain's Carinena region, is loaded with bramble fruit flavours and a dash of vanilla and its purpose in life is to make midweek suppers just that bit more enjoyable. (A slice of apple cake for pudding also worked wonders). 

Peace out, winos x

1. Competition closes on 23rd September 2014 at 11.59pm.
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident over the age of 18.
3. My mother will pick out a name at random and her decision is final (it's her hat).

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Reality TV

So, I was at The London Studios earlier this week for the start of the final series of The Alan Titchmarsh Show (I'm back on as the booze hound on his Friday show) when a man walked into the Make Up room. He looked really familiar but I just couldn't place him. 'You know who this is, don't you?' said Jo the make up artist, as she spray-gunned my face with foundation. Turns out, it was Barry Scott. As in 'BANG! And the dirt is gone!' Barry Scott. Except he's not Barry Scott at all. He's an actor called Neil. I know! I later played Give Us A Clue in the Green Room with Lionel Blair before squeezing past Roger Moore backstage. Honestly, you couldn't make it up.

Apologies for the video cutting out before he even says his line. Still funny, though.

Current white in the fridge: Albourne Estate Selection 2013, £12.95, www.albourneestate.co.uk
This was sent to me by the person who made it, Alison Nightingale. Her vineyard is just north of Brighton and her wines are really good. This particular blend is made up of three different grapes, including Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Bacchus and is so citrusy, it's like licking a fresh grapefruit. But there's so much more to it, including a kind of admirable steeliness. Think Judy Murray in a floral dress.  

Current red in the rack: El Patito Feo Graciano/Garnacha 2013, £7.99, Waitrose
Literally translated, this means 'the ugly duckling' because it's from Navarra, a region that lies right next door to Rioja and as the back label says, 'always the bridesmaid but never the bride'. If that's the case, this is one cool bridesmaid. Stylish without trying too hard, as it were. Made from a blend of Graciano and Garnacha grapes (both of which are found in lots of red wines from Rioja), it is brilliantly bramble-y, juicy and bright. Fab label, too. Think it's a small-ish parcel so it won't be around for long.   

Peace out, winos x

Eldest Boy (standing in for my mum) picks a winner for the case of Mirabeau Rose. The winner's name is below...

Well done, Tory Blake! Send me an email (knackered mother @ gmail dot com) and your wine will be with you asap. Thanks to everyone who joined in x

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Prize Winning Roses

Tomorrow morning, things might just get a bit stress-y round here. After six weeks of not having to say shout 'I'M LEAVING IN FIVE MINUTES AND IF YOU'RE NOT IN THE CAR YOU'RE WALKING TO SCHOOL', we're back to the old routine. Alarm clocks, rushed breakfasts and the obligatory last minute missing shoe searches (sometimes mine). Then there's the bit when you get back from the school run and the house seems so very quiet. Not entirely dreading that bit, tbh. But still, to help ease us back into the new term, I thought wine might help. At last month's Camp Bestival wine tasting, one of the most popular wines was a rosé made by an Englishman called Stephen Cronk. Together with his wife Jeany and three children, he moved to Provence back in 2009 (sigh) and set about creating his idea of a perfect rosé. Five years on and not only has he created an award-winning wine that's stocked in Waitrose (£8.99), he can also open a bottle with nothing but a shoe. Stephen's kindly donated a case of Mirabeau Rosé worth over £100 and all you need to do to make it yours is leave a comment on the blog below or on the KMWC facebook page. We'll do names in a hat as usual next week.
Nice melons.
Current white in the fridge: Saint Mont 2012, £7.99, M&S
Gorgeous wine this, from a little corner of Gascony, southwest France. Made from a blend of fabulously named local grapes including Gros Manseg, Arrufiac and Petit Courbu, it tastes of citrus and pear, with a squidge of peach in there too. It feels ripe; perfect late summer drinking. Just add simply done grilled chicken and a big green watercress salad. 

Current red in the rack: Tesco finest* Colchagua Carmenere 2013, £7.99, Tesco
I know I've done this one before but it keeps appearing in my wine rack because it is just so bloody good. Maybe it's because it tastes of bramble fruits (of which I can't get enough at the moment; I'll be attempting Diana Henry's apple and blackberry cake at the weekend) but whatever, it really is delicious. Big, bold and beautiful from Chile's Colchagua Valley. 

For great videos and more information on Mirabeau, visit their website or facebook page. 

1.  Competition closes on 8th September 2014 at 11.59pm. 
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident over the age of 18.
3. My mother will pick out a name at random and her decision is final (it's her hat). 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Holiday Report

Our holiday shoes. 
This time last week, we were on holiday. Highlights include:
1. Going barefoot, wearing nothing but a swimming costume and kaftan until the sun dipped.
2. Having to sing 'Happy Birthday' to the lady in the village shop in an effort to check it was indeed caster sugar, rather than salt, that I was buying for The Husband's birthday cake (my Italian is not very bene).
3. Discovering that the local Agriturismo's homemade chocolate liqueur was delicious and had magic sleeping powers.
4. Finishing my book club book as well as reading every single old Tatler magazine found in the villa.

Tans fade, but memories last forever. As long as you haven't overdone the chocolate liqueur, obviously.

Current white in the fridge: Godello Monterrei 2013, £9.99, M&S
Having drunk quite a lot of Pecorino, the delicious Italian white, last week, I was quite happy to find this in the fridge door when we got home. A change is as good as a rest, as they say. The grape is Godello, and this is from the northwest corner of Spain. Made by a great producer, it's ripe, appley and just perfect for staying sunny, even if it's pissing down outside. Made better with breadsticks and that lovely wasabi pea dip you get in Waitrose. 

Current red in the rack: Tesco Finest Saint Chinian 2013, £8.99, Tesco
There's so much good stuff to be found in the Languedoc Roussillon region in southern France, and this mini-region of Saint Chinian is a particular hotspot. The wine is a blend of Syrah and Grenache, so think of it as a baby-Rhone. Juicy, bright and brambly. It was on my summer wine-bucket list, so practically homework, really. That's me, always working. Make sure you have this with pasta pomodoro and life will seem very bene. 

Peace out, winos x

Pecorino, chilled.