a community of wine lovers


May 2009


The Vino Kitchen launches The Italian Table @ Pebblebed Tasting Cellar this Wed May 4th - 7-ish for 7.30pm

We've talked about it for a while and it's finally happening. Starting this Wednesday May 4th, Kim and I will, once a month or so, put aside pen and camera and instead put on our aprons and head into the kitchen. Our plan is to create simple, fresh wholesome meals to serve in the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar at a single sitting to a limited number of friends, guests and Club Vino and Friends of Pebblebed members. Nothing fancy, no cheffy restaurant stuff like we usually write and photograph about, just good simple home cooking, usually (but not necessarily) Italian in style, to accompany the range of Vino Italian wines on offer in the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar. The extent of the menu and the price may vary somewhat from month to month (sometimes 2-course, sometimes 3- or possibly more for a special celebration events or time of year). Our aim, however, will always be to provide freshly prepared, homecooked meals that are excellent value. We're starting this month with an Italian meal of 2 courses for £10 per person (if you're still hungry afterwards you can share a Pebblebed cheese platter). At the same time, we will be introducing some new great-value Vino house wines to accompany the meals, as well as suggestions for more special bottles from the Vino/Pebblebed list.

£10 for 2 courses (payable to Vino - wine purchases from the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar)

The (probable) menu

Sgombro in saor
Exmouth mackerel fillets marinaded Venetian-style in an agrodolce


Salsicce arrostiti con fagioli all'uccelletto
Roasted Tuscan sausages made to our recipe from Gloucester Old Spot pork by Jason Wise of Ark with white beans stewed with garlic, sage and tomato

The Vino Kitchen is by reservation only - to reserve your place, please email marc@vino.co.uk or telephone 01392 873778.


Italian evenings in the Pebblebed Tasting Cellars - every Tuesday

If you'd prefer to speak Italian rather than just eat and drink it - or come to think of it, if you'd prefer to speak Italian while eating and drinking Italian (for there are always nibbles as well as good Italian wines on offer) then come along to the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar on most Tuesday evenings. This idea of Geoff's has really taken off, and a really nice, friendly group of people are now coming along regularly to enjoy la dolce vita, whether speaking in Italian or about Italy, and generally just sharing a love and affection for all things Italian. We're delighted that a number of Italian friends are coming along, too, so the company is always interesting and warmly friendly. Whether you are learning to speak Italian, thinking about learning to speak Italian, or already fluent, we'd love you to join us.

Please note: though the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar will be open this Tuesday, neither Geoff nor I can make this week. However, since the Italian Table will be taking place on Wednesday, if you would like to speak, eat and drink Italian, then why not come along then instead?


Slow Food Valdera and Vino

As many of you may already know, Slow Food Devon has now unofficially twinned with Slow Food Valdera, from near Pisa in Tuscany. Simone Brogi and Michela Passetti came over both for the special Tuscany-Devon Twinning Celebration dinner at Michael Caines in March, as well as for the recent Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink. The tasting of super-Tuscan wines that Simone gave in the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar a few weeks ago was memorable indeed (though I confess that I have already forgotten some of the wines as I drank far too much that night...).

We hope to be working directly with some of the producers whose wines we enjoyed that evening. Furthermore, we are also looking to bring some of the stunningly delicious and special products of the Valdera to the Slow Food Devon Topsham Market each month, as well as to sell on a small scale direct to Club Vino friends.

At the moment we have small quantities of two special products:

Pecorino del Parco - an unpasteurised sheep's milk cheese made from sheep that graze freerange in the Parco della Valdera, a beautiful protected natural area - £6 per 250g piece

Tenuta di Ghizzano olio extra-vergine d'oliva - an amazing, intense, lean and grassy Tuscan olive oil from a great wine and oil estate in Valdera - very limited quantity £12 per 500ml bottle

There will be new and different products each month, we hope, so watch this space.

Vino recipe of the month
Coda di rospo — monkfish Ancona-style

I adore peperoncino and chillies of all types and varying degrees of heat, much to the dismay, sometimes, of my family, who have almost given up protesting when I overdo it. Northern Italian foods rarely make use of chilli, nor does the cuisine of Tuscany. By contrast, the cucina of Le Marche, one of the still undiscovered region’s of Italy, straddles north and south, and the discrete note of peperoncino often finds its way into the cooking pot, a most welcome and delicious addition, to my taste.

This simple monkfish stew is a good example, the robustly flavoured fish stewed in olive oil, fennel (a characteristic flavouring of the region) and peperoncino. The fennel and chilli combine well, with the latter adding just the right note of piquancy.

We get good monkfish here in Devon and it’s generally available at this time of year, from both Derek Thorman, who brings his van to outside Matthews Hall Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as well as from David Kerley at The Fish Shed. Ask for the monkfish to be boned and skinned, and save the trimmings to enrich the broth. As for the peperoncino? Well, that’s your call: just add as much, or as little, as suits you.

This dish is perfectly matched with a Vino favourite, Loretello, a richly flavoured and full-bodied dry white from the Castelli di Jesi wine hills just inland from Ancona. Loretello is definitely a big enough wine to enjoy with robustly flavoured and spicy hot dishes like this one!

Serves 4-6

1.2 kg monkfish (plus trimmings)
1 bulb fennel
Pinch of piri piri chillies
1 clove garlic
1 fresh chili
Extra virgin olive oil
Dry Italian white wine
1 dried peperoncino (or more, to taste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Skin and bone the monkfish or have your fishmonger do this. Save the trimmings and bones to make a fish stock: to a saucepan add the bone and trimmings, half a chopped bulb of fennel, a good pinch of piri piri chili, a glass of dry white Italian wine. Top up with water to cover, leave to simmer gently for half an hour, strain and reduce by about half.

Cut the rest of the fennel into matchsticks. Finely chop the fresh chili. Crumble or chop the peperoncino, to taste. Finely chop the garlic. Heat about half a glass of olive oil in a frying pan and gently stew the fennel, garlic, chili and peperoncino.

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Cut the trimmed monkfish into even sized cubes. Raise the heat in the frying pan with the oil-fennel-and-chili mix, and add the pieces of monkfish. Turn on all sides to seal, then add the reserved fish stock. Place in pre-heated oven for 7-10 minutes or so, or until the fish is just cooked through.

Arrange the fish onto deep plates then spoon over the cooking liquid.

Wine: Loretello Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2007


Hope you enjoy a great Bank Holiday weekend, whatever you're doing.

Best to all,

Marc and Kim


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

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