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Friday, 27 June 2014

Go Pink for Summer!

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Wines chilling for a tasting

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A refreshing summer cooler - recipe further down

I think I'm finally getting the hang of this wine tasting business! After attending a rather fabulous wine tasting event last month, I learned exactly what food would go well with a good bottle of Rosé d'Anjou, and how different a collection of rosé wines from the Anjou region could be.

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Great setting for a party

Along with 20 or so other food and wine bloggers, I went to the rooftop gardens at the Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch, for an evening of wine, food, photography, friends, more wine, a kebab competition, more wine and a sumptuous dessert table. Oh wait... and there was more wine to take home!! Yes, you could say it was the perfect evening for me.

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Canapés - including honey thyme chicken, cuttlefish with chorizo & potatoes, and char-grilled vegetable skewers 

We started with canapés and a tasting of rosé wine whilst waiting for everyone to arrive. The rooftop gardens were decked out beautifully, with fairy lights and colourful decor.

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Each wine was different in colour and taste

Then we moved on to our wine tasting. Our host for the evening, Douglas Blyde, talked us through five chilled bottles of Rosé d'Anjou, each one tasting very different from the last. I have written some notes on how to taste wine properly in this post.

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Table for photography

For the bloggers interested in food photography, photographer Paul Winch-Furness was on hand to give a short talk on lighting, depth of focus and how to improve our photos in general. There was a table decked out with well-presented dishes of food for those that wanted to have a go.

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Winning kebabs

If that wasn't enough for one evening, we were split into teams (I was with the Pink Bandits - Rosana, Denise, Sophie and Andrew) tasked with making our own kebabs using an array of fresh ingredients including fish, meat, spices, herbs and marinades. Now for the clincher, the team with the best kebab would each win a case of... Rosé d'Anjou! I'm sure you would like to know what goes into a winning kebab right? Well you need scallops, prawns, and salmon, plus onion, red peppers and pineapple. Add a marinade of chilli, garlic, coriander and Thai green curry paste, thread onto sticks and grill! There were a few weird combinations going on from some of the teams, but Pink Bandits came through and won. YAY!!

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Sharing platter

While we were waiting for our kebabs to be cooked for us by the Hoxton head chef, Daniel Ashley, we waded through sharing platters of tempura prawns, courgette, broccoli, carrot, and aubergine; sesame prawn toast; vegetable pakora; shashlik skewers; curried lentil & chickpea sliders; onion bhajis; chicken in a spicy chilli sauce; with nan breads, poppadoms and chutneys to accompany.

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Vanilla cheesecakes

The dessert table included baked vanilla cheesecakes, summer fruit pavlovas, apple tarte tatin, fresh fruit salad with clotted cream and individual white chocolate orange possets.

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Wine hamper

Loire Valley Wines sent everyone home with a generous hamper, including two bottles of Rosé d'Anjou, a bbq book, sauces and tongs.

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Glazed salmon kebabs

We were asked to suggest our own food paring with the bottles of Rosé d'Anjou we were given. I've gone with a summer theme and have made some simple spicy salmon sticks with a cool-me-down mango salsa. My dishes go really well with a glass of La Grille Rosé d'Anjou Gwenaël Guihard 2013, available from Majestic wines £8.49.

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Mango salsa

If you want to serve something even more summery to your guests, try my pink sangria. Made with a bottle of Champteloup Rosé d'Anjou 2013 available from Waitrose £7.99. It's light, refreshing and pairs well with anything you serve outdoors.

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Rosé Summer Sangria
These amounts are just a guide, you may prefer a little more lemonade or to use sparkling water instead. Cut your fruit up if needed, I used melon, blueberries and raspberries.

1 bottle of chilled Rosé d'Anjou
½ pint of chilled sparkling lemonade
1-2 tablespoons cointreau
Summer fruits of your choice
Large ice cubes

Mix all the ingredients in a large jug and add some large ice cubes to serve.

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Here are some more photos from the evening, click for larger views.

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Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Loire Valley Wines event by Douglas Blyde and Sopexa UK, thank you. All views are my own.
Please drink responsibly, visit Drinkaware for more information.

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Do not use photos without full credit or permission.
This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Royal Bath and West Show with Barber's 1833

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A few weeks ago, I found myself in rural Somerset at the Royal Bath and West Show. I had been invited by the lovely Barber family to spend the day enjoying the livestock, food, drink and, of course, the cheese of this beautiful area! I certainly wasn't going to miss anything involving cheese, especially when there was talk of a cheese toastie competition using Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar to make the toasties.

Cheese, onion, mushroom toastie
My finished toastie

After spending the morning pottering around the various exhibits and the British Food Hall in particular, I made my way over to the 'British Farming for the Family' tent to meet the other bloggers who would be making their own versions of the humble cheese toastie. I hadn't realised that I would have to go up on a little stage and cook the sandwich in front of an audience, who would then be judging them! But we all had a bit of a laugh because the prep kitchen was extremely tiny, with just a couple of tables laden with the ingredients to make the toasties. I was second up with my creation, which was a caramelised onion, fried button mushroom, 1833 Cheddar & chilli jam toastie. Some of the other toasties included apple & bacon, smoked mackerel & coriander, and Nicky Barber's own creation, which was a good old fashioned cheese and Worcester sauce toastie.

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Making a winning toastie
There could only be one toastie winner though, and that honour went to Jane who blogs at Fromage Homage, with her excellent Cheddar, caramelised red onion chutney, smoked bacon lardons and watercress toastie. My toastie didn't do as well as I had hoped for (it came last.... shhh) - I guess my chilli jam is an acquired taste, haha!

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A right British cheese tasting

Afterwards, we popped over to the hall where they were holding the British Cheese Awards, and had a very informative talk from one of the top cheese experts, along with a special cheese tasting. Some of my favourites were the Green Thunder, a hard cheese with garlic and herbs, and the Cornish Yarg, a cheese wrapped in nettles. Apparently 'Yarg' is 'Gray' spelt backwards, the family name of the original producer of the cheese.

Here are my photos from the day, click for larger images.

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Results being announced

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A packed shopping area

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Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar

British food hall

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Mature cheddar & Cornish Yarg

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Cheese for inspection

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I spotted this chipotle chilli salt & some fresh bread

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Other items on sale - the tractor on the left was a little out of my price range!

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Making toasties

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Cheese for sale & for tasting

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Cheese made with charcoal & a supreme champion of cheese - Rosary, garlic & herb goats cheese

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Morris dancing

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Disclosure: I attended the Royal Bath and West Show as a guest of Barber's.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.