Wine Tasting Afternoon

Tasting Date: 03/10/09

I had been looking forward to this tasting afternoon since The Romsey Show a month ago, especially as it was going to be wines from the Rhone region which are my personal favourites.

Rather than the 15 minute walk to the train station, we bumped into our neighbour while coming back from walking his dog and he offered to take us up to the station, which was real a bonus, especially as it was starting to look very gloomy overhead.

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An hour later and we arrived at the Wine shop and were greeted by Mrs Dawkins one of the owners of Heaton Wines. We were warmly welcomed in and asked if we were there for the wine tasting. Once we had an empty glass in hand, the pouring started and we began trying and enjoying the wines on offer.

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We started with a Domaine Bressy Masson Rasteau White Cotes Du Rhone Villages that came straight from the fridge. Not having had too many white rhones before, I did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly suprised as I am not a huge white wine drinker. However it did taste a whole lot better once the wine had warmed in our hands.

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Next we moved onto the Reds and the ones we had on offer to try were:

Domaine Bressy Masson Cotes Du Rhone 2008
Chateau de Montmirail Gigondas 2007
Domain Du Pourra Seguret Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2004
ending up with the chilled sweet Red Vin Doux’s.

Having had a bottle of Domaine Bressy Masson Cotes Du Rhone 2007 from The Romsey Show, I wanted to try the 2008 version. After a sip or two I realised it was so different, only being a year newer. It was so much lighter than the 2007 and didnt have the same depth. However it still tasted great and would make a fantastic supping wine, so we bought a bottle to bring home and enjoy.

Quickly moving on, we tried the other two reds and they were fantastic, going down very easily. I think I will be back for some of the Seguret for dinner parties and possibly christmas too!

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Once we had spent at least an hour trying the wines on offer, we were advised to pay a visit to the Art Portfolio Gallery down the road, where an Irish artist, Philip Gray, was displaying his paintings and where the rest of the Heaton Wine staff were in attendance with champagnes, and more wines, including a Rose Cotes Du Rhone.

We were welcomed in by Paul Dawkins from Heaton Wines and promptly given a glass of champers, at which point I had lost how many glasses we had tried!! The most bizzare thing then to happen, was to see Charlie Dimmock entering the small gallery, as the guest visitor for the opening. She seemed very nice when I briefly spoke to her at the bar area.

I enjoyed my time in the gallery, viewing all the paintings and meeting many new people like Lyn Ebdan who I discovered is in-charge of The Romsey Show.

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Just before we left to catch our train home, there was a presentation made to Charlie, by Philip, of one of his paintings, so I decided to take a couple of snaps before leaving. The gallery then asked if I could email the pictures I had taken to them once I got home, as they wanted to try and get a piece in the next edition of Hampshire Life Magazine (wonder if I will get the credit?).

Sat on the train home and then actually having to do the 15 minute walk home in the much cooler evening, it allowed the wines to wear off and let me reflect on what had been a fun and bizarre day all in one!

I’m looking forward to my next wine tasting trip to Heaton Wines already!

Vegetable Balti

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While cooking my Chicken Korma recipe, I thought I would make my life a little more fun (or should that be difficult) by making a second curry dish for the first time too, on our curry night. This is one of my girlfriends’ favourite currys, so had a search online and came across this Vegetable Balti Curry recipe on the BBC Good Food site. I knew she would be happy when telling her it would be high in fibre and vitamins, while low in fat and hopefully very tasty!

This recipe sounded perfect, though I wish I could have made the paste for this as well as the Korma! Instead, I had to get a jar of Patak’s Balti curry paste which I had never used before, but fingers crossed was hoping would do the job ok.

After getting all the ingredients for the Korma ready and having made the Korma paste, I set about peeling, chopping and cutting all the veg needed for this dish. I didn’t use all the same veg as mentioned on the Good Food site but used what I had in my vegetable racks, which was close enough! My only major change was using parsnips instead of turnips and only using half the amount of butternut squash and making up the rest, using some sweet potatoes that needed to be used up.

I found this such a simple recipe to make and was really glad I could leave this to cook and simmer while working on the more complex Korma at the same time.

The best part about this curry, was the fact my girlfriend and I both thought it tasted as good as the Vegetable Balti from our local restaurant. We ate half of it on our curry night and froze the rest in the hope of having it again one night soon! This I think, will become a regular home favourite with us.

Serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion , thickly sliced
1 large garlic clove , crushed
1 eating apple , peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
3 tbsp balti curry paste (we used Patak's)
1 medium butternut squash , peeled and cut into chunks
2 large carrots , thickly sliced
200g turnips , cut into chunks
1 medium cauliflower , weighing about 500g/1lb 2oz, broken into florets
400g can chopped tomatoes
425ml hot vegetable stock
4 tbsp chopped coriander , plus extra to serve
150g pot low-fat natural yogurt

1 Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the onion, garlic and apple and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the curry paste.

2 Tip the fresh vegetables into the pan and add the tomatoes and stock. Stir in 3 tbsp of the coriander. Bring to the boil, turn the heat to low, put the lid on and cook for half an hour.

3 Remove the lid and cook for another 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the liquid has reduced a little. There should be some liquid remaining, but not too much. Season with salt and pepper.

4 Mix 1 tbsp of coriander into the yogurt to make a raita. Ladle the curry into bowls, drizzle over some raita and sprinkle with extra coriander. Serve with the remaining raita and warm mini naan breads.

Try different vegetables – shallots, broccoli, swede, sweet potatoes, peppers and mushrooms would go well together.

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Chicken Korma

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I thought it was about time to try a recipe from a fellow food blogger after a month of writing my own, so after coming across Back to the Chopping Board by James Brewer (after he came up with the Farewell Floyd Food Blogging Event), I noticed he was a man after my own heart and enjoyed a curry or two!

Having wanted to make a curry from the ground up for a very long time, I thought his Chicken Korma would be ideal to try as you get to make the paste as well. I believe the recipe is an adaption of a Jamie Oliver one from his Ministry of Food book. The pictures of the curry being made on James’ site made me want to have a go as part of a curry night I wanted to do.

After going through my spice cupboard, I realised I only needed to get a few extra bits, so popped to the shops to get a green chilli, some ground almonds and desiccated coconut, some fresh corriander, a tin of coconut milk and a pot of creme fraiche. This was going to be a cheap meal as well as fun to make! The only thing I didnt use from the original recipe was the chickpeas as I am not a great fan of them.

I got everything washed, chopped, cut, crushed and prepared, took my laptop into the kitchen (my printer had run out of ink, so I had no way of printing it off) and got to work cooking this recipe. At the same time as creating this dish, I also cooked a Vegetable Balti from the BBC Good Food site, as I wanted to make my life a little more difficult! I’ll write about that dish in another post.

This recipe was great fun to make and I would recommend it to anyone to try. Making the paste at the start was the best bit, rather than having to use a bought one. I was really pleased how it came out!

All I will say is, this is the best korma I have made, and even though there are some great sauces and pastes out there, nothing can beat making it yourself from the ground up. This is definately one I will be making again. It tasted delicious!

Korma Paste

2 cloves Garlic
Ginger, thumb-sized piece
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
2 tbsp Groundnut Oil
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
1 fresh Green Chilli
3 tbsp Desiccated Coconut
2 tbsp Ground Almonds
Coriander, small bunch
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Coriander Seeds

1 Toast the cumin and coriander seeds together in a dry pan for a few minutes until they are golden. Remove from the heat and when cooled, grind them up in a pestle and mortar.

2 Peel the garlic and ginger and roughly chop.

3 Place all the ingredients into a food processor and whizz until you have a smooth paste.

Chicken Korma

2 Large Chicken Breasts
2 Medium Onions
Ginger, thumb sized piece
Coriander, small bunch
Groundnut Oil
Butter, knob of
Korma Paste (see above)
1 x 400 ml tin Coconut Milk
2 heaped tbsp Desiccated Coconut
1 heaped tbsp Ground Almonds
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
4 tbsp Creme Fraiche

1 Firstly cut the chicken into cubes.

2 Peel and finely slice your onions, peel and finely chop the ginger, pick the coriander leaves and finally chop the stalks.

3 Put a large pan on a high heat, and add a few lugs of oil. Put the chicken into the pan and brown lightly on all sides for around 5 minutes, then remove from the pan.

4 Add the butter, onions, ginger and coriander stalks. Keep stirring it frequently to ensure none of it catches and burns, but turns golden evenly for around 10 mins.

5 Add the chicken back into the pan, and cook for another 2-3 mins.

6 Put in your Korma paste, stir well and cook for around 2-3 mins to help cook the rawness out.

7 Pour in your coconut milk, ground almond and desiccated coconut. Fill the empty coconut milk tin half with water and pour into the pan and give a good stir. Bring back to the boil, then turndown the heat and simmer for 30 minutes with a lid on. Check the curry regularly to make sure it is not drying out – if it does add a little water.

8 When the chicken is tender, season with salt and pepper and stir through Creme Fraiche.

Serve with Pilau Rice and sprinkle over the coriander leaves.

Enjoy!

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