“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sacre Beaujolais

On the 17th of November the 2011 vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau was released. Our local wine shop Liquid Pleasure was lucky enough to procure 20 cases of said beverage and they sold out in a matter of hours. However, this was not before we had purchased one of the few remaining bottles. This is a lovely exuberant red wine, and I think probably the best Nouveau I've tasted, and believe me - I've tasted a few.

Beaujolais Nouveau is made from the Gamay grape. The 2011 vintage, a year characterised by unusual weather leading to relatively early harvests, appears to have provided higher quality wine from fewer grapes. The 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau was harvested early and could mature a bit longer until the traditional third Thursday of November.

A decree in 1951 allowed the sale of wines from the same year. At first the starting date was in December and Beaujolais growers managed to get that pushed back to mid-November.

In the beginning, the new Beaujolais was mainly a festive event in the wine bars of the city of Lyon, just 30 km south of the growing area and still the epicentre of the increasingly global Beaujolais bash with a midnight party that sees 400 litres of the wine being served in just half an hour.

In 1966, the 250 stores of the wine retail chain Nicolas in Paris started a special Beaujolais Nouveau operation and later firms such as Georges Duboeuf took the wine to export markets.

Duboeuf, born in 1933, earned the monickers "King of Beaujolais" and "Pope of Beaujolais" for his efforts in promoting the wine that makes up one third of the production of the Beaujolais area - the rest is sold at a more mature age.

Duboeuf still runs the firm with his son Franck and will be present at a Beaujolais party in the United States, a key market.

In 2010, 35 million bottles of the wine were put on the market. Some 7.5 million were sold in French supermarkets and 15.5 million were exported, the rest went to bars, off-licence stores and restaurants.

The biggest consuming region in France is Paris with 1.3 million bottles.

Japan was the biggest export market with seven million, followed by the United States with 2.4 million and Germany with 1.2 million.

There are many other "new" wines in France or Italy, but the phrase 'Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé" remains the clarion call in France for the first taste of the vintage year.

Well, all I can say is, it's a damn tasty bottle and you should get yourself some while there's still some to be had. You can get it from Ocado here in the UK for £5.99 a bottle. http://www.ocado.com/webshop/product/show/18516011

In the States, try http://www.winechateau.com/sku1698831_GEORGES-DUBOEUF-BEAUJOLAIS-NOUVEAU-750ML-2011 for $8.89 a bottle.

Kooshti sante!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rovin' At Rolvenden

Yesterday I went to Rolvenden. My Grandad lives over there and we had cause to go see him. When we got there, he'd already been to the Thursday morning Farmer's Market that takes place in the Village Hall and the church of St Mary the Virgin. I hadn't been to the Farmer's market for a long time so Amy and I slipped up there for a good snoop around for some yummy treats.

The first stall I came across was the wonderful locally produced veg stall which as always was right inside the door of the village hall in the lobby. I didn't procure anything from them but their veggies looked fab, and the size of their parsnips had to be seen to be believed!

As I entered the main part of the hall, the first stall I encountered was the one of Cranbrook Conserves. Not content with displaying their jams and chutneys etc, which were delicious as well as wide-ranging, they also had fresh English apples, locally grown, including my absolute favourite, the Russet. Apple lovers believe that Russets are the best tasting apples. They tend to have a spicy, nutty, pronounced and sweet flavour and a slightly dry texture. A truly amazing eating and cooking apple. Unsurprisingly, they have “russeting” on the skin – patches that are a different colour from the rest of the apple, and that give the apple a sandpapery, leathery texture. The colour of the russeting can be golden brown, burnt umber, silvery or grey.

The lady at the stall was giving out samples of the Russets and so I greedily gobbled them up. I am not ashamed to admit it. This is one of the reasons I like to go to Farmer's Markets - there are always samples to try, and you never know what you might find.
The lady also had freshly picked salad leaves in little plastic bags. I'd had some of those before and they are so much better than ones you find in the shops, and because they're picked locally you can rest easy knowing they haven't had to travel hundreds of miles from where they were grown to get to your dinner table.

The next stall I stopped at was Catherine Jordan Cakes, run by Catherine, an ex pastry chef lecturer, who bakes cakes, scones, biscuits, tarts and pies using seasonal local ingredients. She also makes special cakes to order. What caught my eye was an apple pie. It was a small one, but for an individual pie it was a corker. Here's me about to tuck in...

A pretty decent sized pie, I trust you'll agree.
She has no website as yet, but you can get a hold of her at 07528 458444. Catch her at various farmer's markets including Warehorne, Hythe, Elham and Sandgate.

Moving along past the lady from Appledene Alpacas with her wonderful Alpaca wool products (those socks are amazingly soft!) we happened upon the folks from BubbySue's who, well, do a bit of everything! As well as a fine selection of preserves they had locally made booze including Damson Gin, Damson Brandy, Cherry Brandy, Orange Liqueurs and a liqueur made from bullace, which is a kind of wild plum. They also had a ton of cheeses and meats including a hench pack of bacon for £10 that weighed a staggering 2.268 kilos. That's pretty much 5 pounds of freshly made, unadulterated, unfooled around with bacon for only ten notes. You just can't find deals like that every day, unfortunately being a little brassic I decided maybe next time. They also had homemade sausages and some fantastic looking pancetta and prosciutto.

We stepped over to a bakery stall (can't remember the name now) and bought some lovely bread, then went over to the stall of Daisy and Polly's Apple Juice. They make their juice from their own orchard in Hawkhurst, using Bramley apples for a Dry taste and Golden delicious for a sweeter juice. I tried both and picked the Bramley apple (pun intended) which was lovely and sharp.

We then walked over to the church to see the other stalls and it was a good thing we did. First of all it is quite something to see this 14th Century church (well, the chancel was completed in 1210 but the rest is 14th Century) being used for market stalls, it's unusual but it works.

The stalls in the church included our old friends from Silcocks, as well as the lovely people from VJ Game (contact: Dawn & Vince Elliott, Shaun Hull  01424 883060/01580 200516 / 07788 ) and Farmer Palmer who both do lovely meats. Farmer Palmer had a nice sample of chorizo while VJ were handing out samples of their new Wild Boar Black pudding which was fab.

But as I turned around I met a wondrous sight. Lots of lovely baked goodies including quiches, pies, pasties and sausage rolls...

and some seriously big-ass samples, proper mouthfuls. This was the stall of Frasers from Egerton near Ashford. The lady serving was Jo Morrin and she sold us some of the most humongous sausage rolls ever.

I'm not kidding, these were some big  sausage rolls. Wanna see?

Big as your fist. And tasty too!
Next to Jo was a lady from Woodside Farm in Benenden, selling air-dried lamb. This was kinda like a softer, moister version of jerky but waaay more delicious. It was sold in different sizes from different cuts of meat. I particularly liked the idea of the salad sprinkles - it was like a more sophisticated version of bacon bits.

Last but not least we sampled the wares of The Artisan Chocolate Workshop. Need I say more? Just click the link.

All in all a good morning, with some stellar buys and more to put on our wish list.


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