Tag Archives: food

Festive Greetings & Sneak Preview

Dear Friends,

It has been exciting few months since the launch of SweervyWine. I would like to thank all my readers for your continued interest. As much as I enjoy writing for my blog, I very much hope that it will become a valuable yet fun source of information for you wine and food lovers out there. A special thank you to those who supported me throughout the creation process and provided the incredibly important feedback and comments after the launch – you know who you are!

And last but not least, a little spoiler of what is coming up in the new year… SweervyWine will be offering consultancy services to help you build your very own wine collection – no matter how big or small – along with sourcing the best value on the market for you. So stay tuned and sign up for updates if you haven’t done that already!

In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas with your beloved ones and a fun & fizzy New Years celebration!

With warm wishes,
Your SweervyWine

No guilt no pleasure at Christmas

The well known fact is that Christmas is a time to indulge. To indulge into all sorts of guilty pleasures – the more the merrier – until the January blues kicks in with all the detoxes, dry Januaries and other kinds of depressing New Years resolutions. But until then, we enjoy stuffing our bellies with hearty filling delicious things (solid and liquid) in company of our beloved family and friends and we do it without any hard feelings.

Therefore, in the spirit of Christmas indulgence, here is a dish I made for dinner today, inspired by Fiona Beckett’s Instagram post. It is ridiculously easy to make and even if you happen to be one of those people who wishes sprouts to become extinct – worry not, you can simply replace them with a veg you enjoy. And here how it’s made:

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Toss your sprouts (or baby potatoes or any other veg of your choice) with sea salt and a bit of olive oil and roast on a baking tray in the oven until tender. Get your Camembert out of the package and put either into its own wooden box or into a little ovenproof dish and using a sharp knife score a large cross in the top of the cheese. You can add some rosemary or other herb to taste if you wish (I left it plain). Roast in the oven together with the sprouts so they are ready at the same time.

Arrange on a wooden board or serving tray with crispy rind bread (baguette, ciabatta or similar) and serve with beetroot & red onion chutney (mine was out of the jar and delicious). You can go with cranberry jam or any sweet component you prefer with cheese.

This can serve as a delicious starter on your Christmas dinner or maybe as a main for vegetarians. Enjoy and let me know what you think about it!

Recommended wine pairing: full bodied creamy Chardonnay from Burgundy, Australia or California to match the weight and creaminess of the cheese. A more adventurous alternative, especially if you are having a sweet chutney or jam with it, would be a sweet red wine.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Quick & easy green veggie bake

I have to admit it’s a rather rare occasion that a meal coming out of my kitchen doesn’t contain a representative of the world fauna. But there are days when your fridge happens to have 5 different veg, all with best before date being yesterday while the chicken is enjoying its deep winter sleep in the freezer. A girl needs to eat after all and the outcome of my vegetarian mission turned out surprisingly delicious! Here’s how I did it:

Ingredients:
Pack of Brussels sprouts
Pack of broccoli florets
Pack of baby courgettes
2 tbsp of low fat crème fraîche
2 tbsp of low fat mayo
1 tbsp of low fat cream cheese
1/2 pack of low fat grated cheddar cheese
Seasoning: salt, white pepper, nutmeg, thyme

Preparation:
Boil the veg in salted water – my Brussels sprouts were quite big in size so I put them into the water first, followed by the broccoli and courgettes cut in bite size pieces a few minutes after. While the veg is boiling mix the crème fraîche, mayo and cream cheese in a bowl. Drain the vegetables as soon as they are almost done but still have a bit of crunch to them, transfer into a backing dish and pour the dairy mix over, season with pepper, nutmeg and bit of thyme and more salt if needed (just taste a piece of veg for salt first). I also added half a handful of grated cheese before mixing everything thoroughly so that all vegetables are evenly coated with the the creamy mixture and seasoning. Top with the remaining grated cheese and put this baby into preheated oven (~180C) for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Et voila, surprisingly yummy and healthy meal where even the biggest meat and poultry fans wouldn’t notice it is vegetarian (I think that’s thanks to all the cheese ;-))

Green veg bake 1

Green veg bake 2This dish is perfect as a meal on its own but can also be enjoyed as a side dish to meat or poultry of your choice. And YES, you are right  thinking of Christmas dinner! It will be a wonderful accompaniment to your turkey or any other roast you decide to make.

Variations: to transform this innocent dish into a filling guilty pleasure use full fat dairy products – this will certainly enhance the flavours even though it’s going to feel more heavy in your stomach. To make it even more evil add chopped pieces of bacon or pancetta. Whatever variation you choose, add flaked toasted almonds for a special twist – the crunch will add texture to the dish and match wonderfully  with the creamy vegetables.

From West Sussex to Japan via Kings Road

This is one of the many reasons why I love London so much. This city offers an incredible variety of restaurants with cuisines from all around the world. But what’s just as thrilling is the rise of British food. After many decades of rather poor international reputation British cuisine is emerging thanks to a talented generation of chefs who work hard to revive the historic British recipes (e.g. Heston Blumenthal at his restaurant Dinner) or to create new exciting dishes using fresh local produce.

This post is about two London restaurants I visited very recently. I absolutely recommend them both to everybody who lives here or comes to visit London. One is Kurobuta – a Japanese restaurant by an Aussie born chef, and Rabbit – a British food venture run by three brothers from West Sussex. There is a reason why I am writing about them in one post – they have quite a few things in common. First of all, location – both are on the iconic Kings Road in the heart of vibrant fashionable Chelsea. Secondly, the concept of small plates – tapas sized portions designed to share. Furthermore, an extraordinary and innovative approach to cooking, their down to earth hip and rustic interior and last but not least, price level – similar with a total bill of ca. £85-95 for two with a round of drinks. Now to each in more detail.

~ KUROBUTA ~

I’ve been hearing good things about this restaurant from a number of foodie friends for a while, and after having tried for weeks I finally managed to get a table for two on a Sat night on short notice (same day that is). The only table available was at the window with seats next to each other, rather than facing each other. I strongly recommend to book in advance for a proper table, as in winter you will inevitably get the cold draft from the entrance. Before I start virtually teasing your taste buds with food pictures, a bit of a background to the guy behind the venture.

Scott Hallsworth is an Austrialian born chef who had spent seven years working for Nobu in London, first as chef de partie and then as head chef at Nobu Park Lane for 6 years, followed by some years in Dubai. In 2013 Scott started developing the Kurobuta concept which was first set up as a pop-up in Chelsea, which later went permanent and was followed by the second venue in London Marble Arch.

Click through the food pictures with captions below (apologies for the not so great photo quality). I was impressed by almost every dish, except maybe for the aubergines which I found a bit too soft  and squishy in texture. The biggest surprise for me, believe it or not, were the edamame (yes, edamame! hard to believe how delicious simple edamame beans can be if you put some extra thought into it!)

Since the choice of wines by the glass was rather limited we happily decided to go for sake and cocktails instead of which the selection was very good. The decor is simple and hip in style with wooden tables and chairs and graffiti on the walls. Service is very friendly and attentive.

 ~ RABBIT ~

This restaurant I discovered completely by chance on my way back home from grocery shopping. It looked very lively yet cosy inside and I knew I got to try this new place very soon. It has opened its doors this autumn and is the second restaurant of the Gladwin brothers after The Shed in Notting Hill. Gregory, Oliver and Richard grew up on a vineyard and farm in West Sussex where their culinary venture has its roots from. Each of the brothers is responsible for various aspects of the business: Gregory is the farmer and supplies the produce, Oliver is the head chef and the mastermind behind the food (he previously worked at Oxo Tower) while Richard runs the restaurant as general manager.

I saw on their website that the restaurant holds tables for walk-ins so decided to give it a shot on a Saturday night. Not surprisingly, the place was full and we were offered seats in the bar area which runs the same menu as the main restaurant.

First thing that strikes you is the interior. Tractor parts are used throughout as decoration and even furniture items: tractor seats as bar stools, tractor bonnet hanging from the ceiling holds spirits bottles and a tractor door decorates the wall. Self made wall mounted wooden wine racks, fresh squashes of all sizes and shapes all add charm and cosiness of the atmosphere (maybe not so much the fox bum & tail sticking out of a wall but luckily it was behind my back and out of my sight).

As I mentioned already, the dishes come in tapas sized portions and 2-3 dishes are recommended per person. The menu changes daily and is divided into sections: mouthfuls at £1.5 each (these are literally mouthfuls and work like amuse-bouches), cured meats from the house-farm and the mains consisting of slow and fast cooked dishes. The photos below show the items we have ordered while I am certain to be back quite soon to taste more. My two favorites were the lamb chips (pulled lamb meat deep fried in bread crumbs, comes with delicious harissa sauce and melts in your mouth!) and the Brussels sprout hazelnut cheddar apple salad (which you just have to go and try for yourself!) In fact, all dishes were marked by quite extraordinary and refined flavours, which – although they come from rather common ingredients – were very unique in combination.

The wine list isn’t very extensive but offers a very decent selection by the glass, carafe and bottle. Service is attentive and eager to please and to explain the dishes. A request we had in regards to one of the dishes was executed carefully. This is a place I will definitely be coming back to, but next time I will book in advance to sit in the main restaurant.

For addresses, menus and other details visit the restaurant websites: KUROBUTA RABBIT

When a duck meets a Riesling (an incredible love story)

It was a rainy Wednesday eve in London when both my body and my soul were calling for something filling, hearty and warming. Knowing that all I had left in the fridge was some exotic mushrooms, two duck legs and purple sprouting broccoli I first wasn’t quite what to do. Thanks to the great era of internet it didn’t take me long to find an inspiration.

But then I looked into my wine racks and faced the next problem. The few classic matches I found – a few bottles of my favorite New Zealand Pinot Noir and some Merlot based Bordeaux were waiting for a more special occasion while fuller bodied big South African and Aussie wines I had available would have put my palate on fire if combined with the rather spicy dish I had in mind. But then I noticed an old friend tucked away and almost forgotten about – a 2007 Dr. Hermann Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett from Germany. Knowing this would be at least an off-dry and very fruity wine I thought it might be a good combination with the sauce and seasoning of the dish, even if a very unusual one with the duck itself. So I decided to be brave and give it a shot, especially because my drinking window note on the bottle said 2011-2016.

duck2First to the food: I used this recipe as a rough guide but did modify it quite a lot. I used duck legs rather than breast, first browned it in a stove-to-oven frying pan without any additional oil (if you fry your duck skin side down first it will give off more than enough fat!) and put it into the oven on medium heat to finish off. Before moving the duck to the oven I put a few drops of agave sirup and a splash of soy sauce over the duck.

photo 3Also, I added garlic and purple-sprouting broccoli to the veggies. Broccoli need to go into the wok first as they take longer to cook than the mushrooms. Very unusual for me not to have fresh ginger at home but the problem was solved quickly with little leftover packs of pickled ginger from the Japanese takeaway (never despair when you’re lacking an ingredient, there is almost always a way to deal with it 🙂 )

The outcome of the adventure were delicious Asian style spicy duck legs with amazing flavors of ginger, chilli, soy and sweetness from the sirup and a wok full of vitamin-loaded joy to go with it! (click on photos above to see them full-size)

DrHerrman1Now to the wine: I like German Rieslings a lot. They are often very good value for money,  most are very good quality (like anything made in Germany really) and even if they are on the sweeter side, their mouthwatering high acidity levels make them very easy drinking wines.

TASTING NOTE:  Medium sweet on the front palate but thanks to the very high acidity level the wine has an almost dry finish. Pronounced typical petrol notes and honey on the nose, stone fruit, cooked apple and sweet spice on the palate. Frankly, the finish doesn’t last forever but the wine is very well balanced. Light bodied and very easy drinking. Now the best thing about it – only 7.5% alcohol!! It’s almost healthy! 🙂

As I mentioned before it took me courage to pair this Chinese style duck with a Riesling. I was hoping for the chilli, Chinese five spice mix, garlic and ginger to match and play well with the sweetness of the wine, and at the same time the sweetness of the wine to balance off the heat of the food. Luckily my expectations were fulfilled! I absolutely loved this food and wine pairing and it turned out to be just as I wanted! What else was amazing about it is how the sweetness from the agave sirup and the sweetness of the wine harmonized with each other, it was like a match made in heaven! It is always a such a delight to find new fantastic food and wine pairings rather than always going to the well-known classics (as e.g. Pinot Noir or Merlot with duck)!

In my opinion this wine represents an excellent value for money (I got it for under £10 at Majestic a while ago) but this vintage seems to be no longer available in the UK. However, if you got too curious about this great wine please do let me know and I will do my best to help you source it.

P.S.: btw, if you fell in love with the duck on top of the page click here 😉