Autumn, it's my favourite time of year. Perhaps it's because this
is the moment when the grapes start to come in: the end of another
year's labour, the start of a new year of wine as the old year
passes by. Critical days and weeks lie ahead, and warm autumn sunshine
is required to bring the grapes to their full ripeness. Fingers
crossed, then, for Geoff, Mario, Giuditta and all our other friends
in the wine country, who work so tirelessly to grow and transform
fresh grapes into something quite wonderful and magical: wine.
The Vino Kitchen
Thanks to all who have come along for our Italian Table evenings
over the past months. These have been really fun occasions, with
everyone sitting cosily at the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar trestle
tables, enjoying a range of Italian homecooked foods from the Vino
Kitchen. Memorable dishes have been sgombro in saor - Venetian
style sweet-and-sour local mackerel; Tuscan sausages and beans;
brodetto - a fish and shellfish stew in the style of Ancona; our
cena al limone - a 'lemon evening' with lemon risotto, lemon chicken
and lemon puddings; and, most recently, a summer meal of panzanella
- Tuscan bread salad (see recipe below) followed by Roman style
porchetta - Kenniford slow-roasted belly and loin of pork stuffed
with fennel, garlic and chillies.
We now have a schedule of Vino Kitchen dates for the coming months:
September 23rd - American Table
October 14th - Italian Table (La Bagna Cauda to celebrate the
vendemmia - harvest)
November 18th - Italian Table
December 16th - Vino Italian Table holiday celebration evening
The format is very simple: the evenings are by reservation only
and everyone turns up from 7pm for a 7.30 start. Part of the fun
is that everyone sits together at the trestle tables. Be warned,
it's pretty cosy, and this is a time to get together with both
friends as well as to meet and make new friends.
Payment for the food is to Vino (currently £10 for 2 courses
for Club Vino/Friends of Pebblebed members, otherwise £12.50
for non-members, with an optional extra cheese or dessert course
usually available). Wines are purchased from Geoff, including Vino
house white and red at just £10 per bottle.
These evenings have proved to be very popular and for most months
we have had a waiting list. So if you would like to join us, please
email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible to secure your place.
Payment in advance is appreciated.
An A-Z of Italian grape varieties
As Club Vino members, we hope you are enjoying the range of outstanding
Italian wines that we bring to you direct from the vineyards. Wines
such as Mario Fontana's Barbera d'Alba and Giuditta Politi's Loretello
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi are classics. Barbera and Verdicchio
are both grape varieties that are quintessentially Italian in character,
with flavours and personalities that are quite unique. In Italy,
there are literally hundreds of indigenous grape varieties often
rarely encountered outside of their area or region of production.
This is exciting for the intrepid wine lover, but it can also be
baffling to those coming to Italian wine for the first time. The
best way to learn is simply to choose wines that you've never heard
of before and then sit down and drink them. Second best is to read
simple guide to Italian grape varieties, as published recently
in Italy Magazine:
The Ultimate Student Cookbook
It's September, back to school time. And off or back to university
time, too. I can't help, therefore, but make a shameless plug for
a wonderful new student cookbook, written by our good friend Fiona
Beckett, with contributions from three foodie student co-authors,
James, Sig, and, yes, our own son Guy. Of course I am biased, but
we think it is a really brilliant book not just for students but
for anyone learning to cook, and to cook on a budget. Fiona is
the author of a number of student cookbooks (as well as brilliant
wine books), and so the recipes are tried and tested, and really
do work. Furthermore there are additional recipes from each of
the student cooks, as well as their own pithy comments, asides
and 'student tips' peppered throughout the text. So if you know
anyone about to go to university, or simply in need of a fun, basic
primer on how to cook, then this
is the book for them.
P.S. Guy and his girlfriend Claire, currently on a two-month trip
across America, will be assisting us with this month's American
Table - they are returning with lots of exciting ideas, so watch
this space for the menu.
Here's to autumn, and to the winegrowers
working so hard at this time of year to bring pleasure to our tables.
Best to all,
Marc and Kim