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January 2008

Vino and Pebblebed Wine Cellar closed for Saturdays in January
Vino and Pebblebed are taking a short break from our usual Saturday morning openings in the Wine Cellar on Ferry Road. The reason, quite simply, is that this traditionally is a time to recover after holiday excesses. It's when the wine trade is at its lowest ebb. It's a time when people eschew wine in favour of radical solutions such as 'de-tox' (not us, I hasten to add). And quite simply, it makes a change from our usually weekly routine, and as we all know, occasional change is good for us.

We are looking to reopen on Saturday January 26th.

However, should you wish to taste or purchase wine before then, you are very welcome to email or telephone 01392 873778 or knock on the door of Quay Cottage, Ferry Road, and we'll do our best to accommodate you.

2008 is a year of change, indeed, and in February we'll be transferring from Geoff and Anna's Wine Cellar across the road to the Vino Wine Garage, as we sadly lose Geoff and Anna as our neighbours, friends and cellar mates. However, we'll still continue to work together as the Vino Wine Garage will become a Topsham outlet for Pebblebed wines. We hope that work on the Wine Garage will begin soon, and we'll be looking to open sometime in mid-February.

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Slow Food Market comes to Topsham in January!
The Slow Food Market is coming to Topsham, starting on Sunday January 20th from 11am until 3pm, so put the date in your diary and come along and support it.

Slow Food stands above all for food that is good, clean and fair. The Slow Food Market at Topsham will bring together an exciting mix of food and drink suppliers who are members of Slow Food Devon and who share these basic ideals. There will be food and drink to buy and take home, as well as food and drink to enjoy in the market hall, and it is our hope that the market can establish itself as a regular monthly destination food lovers from Topsham as well as from outside our community. Food education is an important part of Slow Food, so we are planning a range of informative and educational ‘Taste Workshops’ on any number of fascinating and topical food and drink subjects.

Slow Food was founded in 1989 in Bra, Italy to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions, and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. The idea caught on quickly, and the movement spread not only throughout Italy but also internationally. I have been involved with Slow Food for many years and am on the international jury for the Slow Food Award for Biodiversity, so this is a global movement that I believe in and support (for more information visit www.slowfood.com).

We hope you will support the Slow Food Market and tell everyone you know about.

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Carnitas!
After the traditional foods of the holidays, and after the excess of food and drink, I long in January for foods that are fresh and vivid and spicy and exciting, and which through smell and taste alone transport us to sunnier climes.

Right now, for example, I'm dreaming about Carnitas. This Mexican favourite is so good, so exotically spicy and so deliciously different from most anything else that you’ll be eating at this year, that I urge those who enjoy such foods to try this remarkably simple recipe.

Carnitas are little morsels of meat – pork – first cooked in a flavourful and spicy liquid until tender and deliciously soft, then fried in their own fat so that the exterior of the meat becomes caramelised and crunchy. The mix of succulent and moist with caramelised and crunchy, combined with flavours that are at once sweet and hot and sour and spicy is just out of this world. We like to spoon the meat into soft wheat tortillas together with some avocado and mango salsa, a good dollop of crème fraiche, a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of chopped coriander.

Carnitas is a quite simply a food of the gods, and one of the most potent antidotes for winter that I know. Here’s how I do it.

1 1/2 kg leg or shoulder of pork (the meat should have a good ridge of fat and skin), cut into large 2-inch by 2-inch cubes
3/4 kg belly pork joint, cut into 2-inch by 2-inch cubes
[Note: we are big fans of meats from both Arthur’s as well as from the Kenniford Pork Farm in Clyst St George. Don’t even think about using supermarket pork for this dish.]
3 litres homemade chicken stock (alternative you can use any of a variety of braising liquids, including tequila, lager, coca cola (no kidding!), orange or other citrus juice – but I like to use chicken stock)
Juice of 3 limes and 2 lemons
2 fresh chillies, sliced (with seeds)
Half a jar of pickled jalapeño chillies and their pickling juice
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons soft brown sugar

To serve:

Method:

This is an incredibly simple dish to prepare. The method is first to braise the meat, then to allow all the cooking liquid to reduce until there is nothing left but fat in the pot, at which point you increase the heat and fry the remaining cubes of meat. They need to be stirred at this point, and some cubes will disintegrate into flavourful shreds of meat, while others will maintain their shape. The fat itself has rendered out from the meat, leaving behind its silky and smooth texture. But make no mistake, this is not a dish to enjoy if you are on a diet.

Add the cubed meat and everything else to a heavy-bottomed pot (we use a cast-iron casserole), cover with the cooking liquid, bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 2-3 hours or until the cooking liquid has virtually cooked away. At this point, there should be a good bit of fat left in the pot. Increase the heat and fry the remaining cubes of meat, stirring all the while. When ready to serve, squeeze over the juice of a few limes and garnish with freshly chopped coriander.

Heat up the tortillas (as you cook them, place underneath a serviette to keep warm). Serve the carnitas with homemade salsa and crème fraiche.

Suggested wine:

This is not a dish that requires subtlety. Our house Statua white goes well as does the full-bodied Loretello. But to be honest, I sometimes prefer a bottle or two of Mexican beer such as Dos Equis or Sol, together with the obligatory wedge of lime in the neck of the bottle…

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Well, we're past the shortest day of the year now, and already there is just a bit more daylight around each day. Is it too much to hope that summer is, well, just around the corner?!

Marc and Kim

 
 
 
 
 

Copyright Marc Millon 2005-2009 All rights reserved
Images copyright Kim Millon 2005-2009 All rights reserved

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