Friday, November 29, 2013

Pat O’Connell: The Fishmonger

Pat O’Connell: The Fishmonger

Pat O’Connell’s The Fishmonger, a memoir of life in the English Market in particular and of  growing up in Cork City in general, was launched with a shoal of fish puns in that very market in midweek.

Diarmuid O'Driscoll, himself an author (he co-wrote the market’s history, Serving a City, with his brother Donal) was breaming - well, we all caught the pun fever - as he spoke at the launch. “I was expecting a load of pollocks,” he said. “But it is brill!”

Cork's Mayor Catherine Clancy was in tip top form too as she officially launched the book for Pat who then took the mike and began talking about Pickles. We were wondering where this was leading us. But he was spot-on, comparing the sudden fame that descended on the dog Pickles after he found the stolen World Cup trophy in 1966 with Pat’s own rise to international prominence when he entertained Queen Elizabeth at his stall in the market.

And now that fame has led to the book. Pat admitted that it was a tougher assignment than anticipated and paid big tributes to his many helpers along the way, especially to his family and his great staff. He also paid a moving tribute to his departed mother and father. It was his mother Kay who started the now famous fish stall in the early sixties.
Thanks also for the Hartes (Rebecca and Kay of the Farmgate) who, with help from the traders, organised the food and drink for the evening's function. Pat said there was a great camaraderie among the traders and together it came to more than the sum of its parts. “Keep the market going,” he said. “City Hall, look after it. Future generations will thank you.” And so say all of us.

He finished by reminding us that his share of the proceeds from the book would go to Marymount Hospice: “Wonderful people, wonderful organisation.” Well done boy!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Halloumi sample bites
It looks as if there’s no end to the inventiveness of the folks behind Toonsbridge Dairies. Their latest offering, a fabulous Halloumi cheese, made from Buffalo milk, is our Taste of the Week.

This ancient cheese, which originated in the Middle East region, is usually made from sheep or goat milk. It is white with a distinctive layered texture. It is often used in cooking and can be fried until brown without melting, owing to its higher-than-normal melting point. This makes it an excellent cheese for frying or grilling or fried and served with vegetables, or as an ingredient in salads. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sweet Intro to Excellent Sultan Meal

Sweet Intro to Excellent Sultan Meal

Taoufik, the Chef/Owner at The Sultan, the Lebanese restaurant at Penrose Wharf, told us our starter would take about twenty minutes to cook - “everything is prepared fresh” - but that he had some Lebanese tea to warm us up while we waited. It was sweet but gorgeous and we sipped to our heart's content. At the end of the meal, he treated us to his Arab coffee (containing cardamom, apples and more and sweetened with rose water).
He has a great selection of  Mezzes to share and we opted for number two, including Baba Ghanoush, Potato Haro (Spicy Potato), Fatayer Spinach, Fatoush Salad, Hummus, Falafel and more, served with pickles olives, tahina sauce and Lebanese bread. It was quite a plateful - maybe too much if you are going for one of his superb specialities afterwards - but it does serve as a terrific introduction to the type of food you may expect in this comfortable place.
Enjoyed it very much and then I tucked into my main course, the Dawood Basha: Charcoal Lamb meatballs, cooked in a terrific lively tomato sauce and served with a delicious Lebanese rice.

CL loved their version of moussaka, lighter and more flavoursome than the usual Greek version and consisting of aubergines cooked with tomato, onions, sweet pepper and minced lamb and served with that fabulous rice. They also do a vegetarian moussaka. Overall, there is a massive choice here and they also do takeaway.
Dawood Basha

We were too full for dessert but our host kindly treated us to some Lebanese coffee. The coffee was poured from a special pot and then topped up with a little rosewater. Good, but the tea was better! And before we left, we got some of his big selection of baklava. He has quite a lot made with an eye to the Christmas market.
A little rosewater in your coffee?
Overall the dishes are overflowing with flavours, flavours that we locals don't come across everyday, and they are enhanced by the herbs and spices (but nothing too extreme, they don't use chilli, for instance). If you want a change, then do try the Sultan. You'll be assured of a sweet welcome from Taoufik and his staff. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Curious Case

My Curious Case
Pouring or posing? Mike Kane gets into the swing of it.
Close to a hundred wines available at the very successful Curious Wines Christmas Fair in the Gresham Metropole on Saturday. Spent a very enjoyable couple of hours wandering among the nine tables, two representing Spanish vineyards, and was highly impressed with the quality available.

Now, how would I fill my case? I did start the tasting, as you do, with the whites but it was the reds that really stood out for me, four in particular. And, if I had to pick just one, it would be the Tim Adams Bluey’s Block Grenache 2009 from the Bibendum table, light (not just in colour) and lovely, a velvet touch with an unexpected 14.5% abv!

And then I found, at table four, a new Portuguese star with an intense fruity palate, a full bodied wine with a seriously silky long finish, the Quinta da Lagoalva. Think we’ll be hearing more of this, a blend of Castelao and Touriga Nacional.

Paul Kiernan of Curious had tipped me off about the Château la Négly La Falaise 2011 and he was right. This, from the Languedoc, has it all: aroma, palate, finish. Another absolute gem from Curious.

Tom from Bodegas Exopto has some serious contenders too and the red that really caught my attention here was the Dominio del Viento Crianza 2010. From La Rioja, it is fruit forward and deliciously drinkable.

Some people ignore Rioja when looking for whites. That is a mistake. And Tom had just the bottle to prove it: Horizonte de Exopto Rioja Blanco 2011. This Viura has spent a year in old barrels and is a beauty.
Love that Enchanted Tree label. And their wines too!
And there were another couple of top-notch whites at the adjacent Castelo de Medina stand where Ivan was the host. Both the Castelo de Medina Verdejo 2012 and the Real Castelo Rueda Verdejo 2011 were excellent.

Other whites, that I would be very happy with, include the Viñedos de la Posada Fairtrade Torrontes 2012, the King’s Bastard 2011 Chardonnay, and the Enchanted Tree Semillon Sauvignon 2012.

I think that leaves just two to make up my mixed case. No problem. Back to Curious Mike and his wine of the year: Boschi dei Signori Nebbiola d'Alba DOC 2009 and finally, at Curious Matt’s high class table, we’ll take the Enchanted Tree Pinot Noir 2012.

Man does not live by wine alone, of course, and the Kanes had, as usual, a few local food producers on hand. Ummera Smokery and Ballymaloe Relish are by now well-known to most of you but I hadn’t come across Christie’s Celtic Kitchen before.

In 2011, they started off with flavoured Oatcakes, Cured Salmon and Relishes. Now they have expanded their range of ready prepared foods – I enjoyed some spiced up Cous Cous balls on Saturday – and are into home catering and delivery, and have won gold at the 2012 Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle. Check them out here and on Facebook.

Back to the wines. If you didn’t get your order into Curious last Saturday, you still have plenty of time to order a case or two before Christmas. You can call out to the warehouse at the Kinsale Road Roundabout or indeed order online. See all the contact details here.
Christie had some nice bites! Nice smile too.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Amuse Bouche

It was....decided to bake the pudding for 1859 in no fewer than eight sections....
.. this pudding was to consist of:
573 lbs of flour
191 lbs of bread
382 lbs of raisins
191 lbs of currants
382 lbs of suet
320 lemons
144 nutmegs
95 lbs of sugar
A quantity of eggs
360 quarts of milk.

The cost was £45.00.
Nor was that all.....there were provided 1,900 lbs of meat, 1,900 lbs of bread, and an unlimited supply of the staple product of the Paignton Orchards – cider! The recipients of this generosity were to be the poor of the local parishes....

From John Lucas’s essay called Uprisings in the South West, published in the 2011 anthology entitled Maps.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nash 19. Always a Winner.

Nash 19. Always a Winner.
Something small caught my attention at lunch in Nash 19 yesterday. A green salad, served as a side dish. The mixed greens, that came from Waterfall Farm, were fresh and bright and absolutely inviting, and turned out to be sweet, crunchy and delicious. Just a side dish. But if Nash 19 give so much attention to this seemingly little detail, you'd reckon that the rest of the menu is well taken care of. And you'd be right.

It is this attention to detail that has seen the ever popular city centre restaurant survive and thrive for over two decades. The sourcing, the cooking, the assembly, the service, is all top notch. Always an enjoyable meal and always an enjoyable visit.

The menu changes daily and takes a wee bit of study as you nibble on their breads with that fabulous olive oil. We got, and accepted, recommendations for the main courses and started with a couple of soups.

The soups come in two sizes and we took the smaller bowl (€3.80) yesterday. I had the Tomato and Bean Soup with Chilli Salsa, a hearty mix of textures and flavours. CL’s Pea and Ham Hock Soup was more subtle but also a beautiful blend. The larger size will cost you €5.75.
They also do some tempting looking sandwiches, all around the tenner mark. Indeed, you may take the Toasty - Chargrilled Chicken, Caramelised Onion and Tipperary Brie Wrap and a cup of soup, all for €10.50.

The mains dishes, including their famous Local Producers Tasting Plate (€14.50), vary from €11.50 to €16.50. CL picked the Simply Grilled Fillets of Plaice, Lemon and Parsley Gremolata, vegetables and potatoes. This was expertly executed and rather expertly polished off as well.

The Aherla Veal Meat Balls, the veal from O'Mahony Butchers in the nearby English Market, were something else. These were served, Tuscan style, on Martelli Pasta, Lemon Parsley and Chanterelle Mushroom Cream, the pasta smooth and richly sauced, the meat pink and tender, and all enhanced by that special salad.

And a sip or two of wine of course. With Rhone Wine Week coming up, I opted for a glass (€6.95) of the Ogier Plan de Dieu, smooth, fruity and with a long finish. The fish went down well with a glass of Tuscany’s “refreshing and refined” Castello di Pomino BIanco (6.95). A couple of excellent coffees rounded off a very pleasant interlude.

On the lookout for a Gluten free Christmas Pudding? Nash 19 have the answer and they tell me they are delighted with the way it turned out. "Outstanding!"

Nash 19 details
Phone(021) 427 0880
Mon - Fri7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Sat8:30 am - 4:00 pm

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Carlow’s Isla Brings Her Wines Home

Carlow’s Isla Brings Her Wines Home
Winegeese organisers, Beverley Mathews (right) and
Maurice O'Mahony (left) with Isla and Paul Gordon.

There are more vines growing in the Languedoc than in Australia. Paul Gordon should know. He is Australian and he and his Irish wife Isla work (and I mean work) a vineyard in the Languedoc about twenty minutes drive from Beziers. The vineyard is called Domaine la Sarabande and they had four wines at the latest Winegeese tasting in L’Atitude 51 in Cork last evening.

The couple met in New Zealand in 2003 and then spent five or six years in wine in Marlborough. In 2009, they settled in France and raised some €40,000 from relations and friends in return for wine in the future. Isla: There is just the two of us. We are very small; everything is gently worked and done by hand. We have upped production to about 28,000 bottles a year which is more or less where we want to be.

With so many vineyards in the area, there is much competition locally and so the pair export about 90 per cent of their wine, mostly to English speaking countries. And indeed, those same countries (Ireland, US, Australia and New Zealand) are all happy with screw caps but not so the French.

And the bottling is done on the farm, but by a mobile contractor who drives up in his specially equipped truck when they are ready. “The wine goes in one end; the cartons come out the other!”
The first wine shown last evening, the 2012 AOP Rosé, is sold mostly at “the cellar door”. It is about half and half Grenache and Cinsault, very fruity with good acidity, finishing crisp and dry. Drink it young and you’ll see it goes well with salmon, smoked trout or with a medium spiced Asian cuisine.

Then we moved on to their beautifully name Misterioso, their entry level red from 2012, a great match with the Duck terrine from L’Atitude (the ladies here know their pairings and regularly get them spot on!). It is fruit forward, easy drinking, fresh and juicy and very approachable.The 2011 AOP Rouge was next up, a blend of Grenache (60%), Carignan (25) and Syrah. “A lot more going on here...more structure..more body. Suits red meats, stews. Carignan is pain to grow, susceptible to disease but its earthy character makes it worth it.” It went down well with the L’Atitude spiced beef.

Wine number four was their 2012 Vin de France, made with approximately 60 Carignan and 40 per cent Aramom. Aramom? It is an old local grape. And they have some on their land. The bush vines are 60 to 80 years old with a very low yield but very intense fruit.

It was perhaps my favourite but only 1000 bottles are produced! “It is really quite special. Earthy fungal, herbal, minty (the vineyard is bordered by the garrigue) and fresh to the finish. Because of the soil type, the wine holds the acidity, it is a winemaker’s dream, no manipulation required,” said Paul. A lovely wine to finish a very pleasant evening on.

Next up: December 5th 6.00pm in the Food Emporium (Brown Thomas). John Wilson talk and tasting on the Wine Geese. No fee but do book a place via L’Atitude or the Ballymaloe Wine Shop in BT. 

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Crozier Blue Cheese
Cashel Blue may be better known, but Crozier Blue (left in picture), that beautiful creamy cheese made from the milk of sheep that graze under the Rock of Cashel, is up there now with its more established cousin (made with cow's milk) and a firm favourite in our house. Enjoyed it most recently at a marvellous tasting in the Food Emporium in Brown Thomas (Cork) where Colm McCan and the Ballymaloe Pop-Up Wine Shop brought the Grubb family, who make both cheeses, and Taylor's Port (represented by Chris Forbes) together. Not just a Taste of the Week. More like the Tasting of the Year. Brilliant. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Good Food Ireland Conference. And Awards

Good Food Ireland Conference
And Awards
Pádraig Ó’Céidigh
Didn't expect a clinical psychologist to be the star speaker at the annual Good Food Ireland conference in the Shelbourne Hotel (Dublin) yesterday. But that psychologist was Dr Maureen Gaffney and she took the room by storm as she looked at the Feel Good Factor.

Must admit I’m one of those people who just love to see a smile. Maureen says smiles “are all important”. “People are ready to co-operate with on it.. smiles help to form that very important first impression. We all have bad days .. act positively especially when things are bad.” She said there is  evidence that shows that smiling even helps the smiler. “It triggers (even fools) your brain”.

And she also pointed out that a negative mood in the team leader can have a negative influence on the staff, your staff. This is a “high risk” to business. So learn to smile. Cheese!

“Get your self right..then you'll get a whole lot more right. Learn, achieve, grow. Vision is vitally important, start with your vision. Values are really important, not just accessories...There is evidence that people driven by a higher set of values do better.”
Maureen Gaffney (left) and Xanthe Clay
Set challenges, she urged. “Keep learning, growing, have projects, invest time and effort in them. And connect! Not just on digital platforms but also in the real world, family, friends, clubmates. These real connections will provide “personal experience and insight, contextual information, personal recommendations”.

So get social,and get connected, she urged. And she ended with a reminder about that smile. “Nurture your optimism!”

Xanthe Clay, author and journalist, spoke on the fickle British market, especially the fickle press. One day they headline that coffee is good for you, a week later they say it is bad for you. She urged irish producers to give value for money and highlighted the importance of trust (especially after the rocky year that saw the horse meat scandal gallop across the headlines). “Be open, she said. “Show people what you do. If you do add an additive to your food, list it, explain it.” Much better than your customers ambushed by the news in the press later on.

Asked what were the outstanding Irish qualities, she didn't hesitate: “Tradition, warmth, quality. These never go out of fashion.”

Coming into fashion is Origin Green, Bord Bia’s new programme to enhance and promote sustainability and explained on stage by Una Fitzgibbon. This was quite a sombre presentation, no jokes here. Great to see producers such as the Apple Farm’s Con Traas and Stonewell Cider’s Daniel Emerson being very enthusiastic about it on a short film. “This is a big deal,”said conference chair Darragh McCullough. “Only going to get bigger.”

Margot Slattery of Sodexo started with some very impressive numbers: purchases of some 18 million euro in Ireland every year. 420,000 employees worldwide and growing. “We stand for sustainability and fresh food” as client companies are looking for healthy weight and healthy life for their employees. Sodexo run gyms, even detox programmes.
Siobhain from Kalbo's and Yours Truly
Margot said they feed 50,000 a day in ireland. “Not frozen food, these are cooked, from scratch, on a daily basis.”

Just before a break for lunch, there was a panel discussion on Digital Marketing and two bits of advice emerged, at least two that I noted. Check out the recent changes in YouTube as they make it more interesting to business. And also have a look at Vine for short video promotions.

If Maureen Gaffney was the morning star then Pádraig Ó’Céidigh caught the attention in the afternoon. The founder of Aer Arann took us on a flight. He started in the Comfort Zone, then challenged us to enter the Stretch Zone before warning us about the perils of the Danger Zone (here, you can damage yourself, he reported, from experience).
Kevin and Réidín from Sage
Citing the small beginnings of what is now the Kerry group in 1972 and the choice made by Clonakilty Black Pudding’s Colette Twomey to run the company after the death of her husband as examples of leaving the comfort zone.

And Padraig is optimistic right now. “This is a great time to be an entrepreneur. There is great optimism out there, great opportunities. Time to leave the comfort zone.”

“There have never been such a demand for good quality food. Be solid on your own two feet, use what’s between your ears. No reason why we can't have another Kerry.”
The world will go on with you or without you. Make sure it’s with you. Believe it and go for it. Never forget your roots and use that little bit of Gaeilge!”

An afternoon panel discussion on our food future produced some interesting points. Martin Shanahan thought too much of our fish is being exported. Country Choice’s Peter Ward urged the industry to be creative, to re-invent our own Irish produce. Chapter One’s Ross Lewis says he sees confidence building in young Irish chefs, “not necessarily mimicking foreign chefs.The industry has changed more in the last three years than in the previous thirty.”

Minister for Tourism Alan Varadkar launched the Good Food Ireland prepaid MasterCard, a food travel passport for visitors to the county’s producers, shops and restaurants and said he was encouraged by progress in tourism numbers this year and employment growth in the industry. He lauded the “great decision” by government colleagues to retain the 9% VAT and acknowledged that lobbying had had its effect and confirmed that there were no plans to increase the rate in the future. We are very much in recovery mode.”
The delegates assembled in the same room for a cracking dinner in the evening. Skeaghanore Duck and Clare Island salmon were the centrepieces, all washed down by superb wines from Classic Drinks.

The awards were announced as the desserts were being served and the large Cork contingent had plenty to cheer about with Midleton's Sage Restaurant, URRU Culinary Store in Bandon, MIlleens Cheese, Kalbo’s Cafe in Skibbereen and Kinsale’s Fishy Fishy all winning their categories.

One of the loudest cheers of the night went to Ballymaloe’s Rory O'Connell who was declared Ambassador of the Year, mainly for his part in feeding, at short notice, 10,000 delegates at the recent Web Summit. Mount Juliet won three awards including the Supreme Award and Restaurant of the Year Award.

All the awards were presented by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny who smilingly indicated there were three women he must listen to: Mrs Kenny, Angela Merkel and Margaret Jeffares (the dynamo behind Good Food Ireland).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Amuse Bouche

Soon after that we had to register for ‘Kennkarten’, identity cards, stamped with a large J. J for JEW. How a single letter could change everything. We needed those cards to get our ration books, but our rations were meagre, a tiny fraction of those of the non-Jewish population. Two loaves for the German, one loaf for the Pole, a slice for the Jew. Mother’s soups grew ever more watery by the day. We could not get milk or eggs and never any meat. Clearly the German master plan was to starve us, kilogram by kilogram.

From The Puppet Boy of Warsaw by Eva Weaver.

Barnabrow House - a special place for lunch

Barnabrow House - a special place
Many of you will know that Barnabrow House is a special place for weddings. But did you know you can also enjoy a very special Sunday lunch there? The quality of Stuart Bowes’s cooking is well known and the value is amazing, two courses (plus tea and coffee) for €20.00, three courses (plus tea and coffee) for €25.00.

Take a stroll through the grounds before or after your meal and see the poultry, the donkeys and the goats. You will also spot the walled garden from which much of produce comes as you make your way to the church like Trinity Rooms Restaurant, beautifully decorated and furnished and also quite large. Here you see that local producers such as Green Saffron, O’Connell’s and Caherbeg appear on the tempting menu.
We were there on Sunday and the place was full. And soon we were to see why. Not the longest of menus but still you need time to make up your mind. Eventually, I picked the Gulfstream oak smoked salmon with marinated roast beetroot, omega seeds and wasabi Chantilly. This is the same salmon that Bowes use on his famous Barnabrow Benedict for breakfast and it is gorgeous, enhanced by the accompaniments.
Caherbeg Pork taster.
Our other starter was Confit Duck Terrine, plum chutney, hazelnut chutney and crisp bread. Add in a slice of duck breast and it was another top class treat. Other starters on the day included Gnocchi, roast garden veg, tomato, sugo parmesan and Soup (Roast tomato , almonds and herb oil).
Could have eaten any of the main courses on offer. Did get a taster of their fabulous baked Caherbeg free range pork, colcannon potato, parsnip, carrot and Madeira juice. What a winner, the perfect match between the parsnip and the pork a particular highlight.

But it was highlights all around here. My main course of Roast Sirloin of O'Connell’s beef, cavalo nero, caramelised onions and Szechuan pepper sauce was incredible, so tender and full of flavours, all playing off one another, no element in the plate wasted, a perfect alchemy.
Vegetables, with scattering of almonds to the left!
Must say a word about the vegetables, a bowl of perfectly done (no bother to anyone whose teeth aren’t what they were!) roast potatoes and creamed cauliflowers and broccoli. And our other main course was another flawless culinary joy: Pan Seared fillet of Sea Bass, with soft potato puree, cauliflower and parmesan risotto, smoked paprika.

Could we be tempted by dessert? Well, with the kitchen in this kind of from, the answer had to be in the affirmative. CL picked the spiced apple crumble with Chantilly cream, a seasonal delight, the spices by neighbours Green Saffron, the apples from Barnabrow’s own orchard!

For me, it was the Milk Chocolate Mousse with spiced oranges and shortbread, a delectable pairing, another piece of magic from the kitchen.

White chocolate and orange.

Service, as you might expect, is quietly excellent, courtesy and efficiency combined. As I said at the start, it is a rather special place thanks to the efforts of owner Geraldine Kidd, her Head Chef and their staff. Very highly recommended for your Sunday lunch.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Winegeese. A New Generation in Cork last night.

The Winegeese. A New Generation.
Languedoc winemakers at L'Atitude
Bottom (l to r): Leslie Williams (Irish Examiner),
Neasa Corish Miquel and Philip Grant.
A couple of modern winegeese were at L’Atitude in Cork lasted evening and very impressive they were too. Both Neasa Corish Miquel and Philip Grant operate in the Languedoc and, with Irish Examiner’s Leslie Williams linking and prompting the pair, we had a very entertaining evening and tasted some excellent wines.

Neasa Corish Miquel is originally from Dublin and married into the Miquel family. They have two vineyards, one near Beziers, the other south of the Narbonne to Toulouse stretch of the A61 autoroute.

The big surprise from Neasa was her 2012 Albarino, the only one in France (at least for the present!). The Miquels took a big gamble here, planting 14 hectares “all in one go”. But is looks like paying off. This is an elegant fresh white wine with a lovely fragrance. Matched with a mix of smoked and fresh salmon, one of the many excellent bites from the L’Atitude kitchen, it went down well.

Her opening wine, the 2011 Viognier, has been harvested by night and “handled gently”. Its freshness was evident and it went well with the cheese. Neasa said it keeps well for days in the open bottle and is even decanted in some restaurants.

Then Philip who, after a successful business career, bought the large Chateau Bellevue estate in November 2007 (just before the crash!), spoke about the main grape grown there. It is the little known Négrette which has “fabulous colour and fabulous fruit” but “is tricky to grow”.

Worth it though as illustrated through his wines. The first was his 2012 Rosé. Some forty per cent of his wine is rosé and this beauty went very well indeed with Jack McCarthy’s classy Pastrami. Bren Smith of Mackenway, who distribute for Grant and Miquel, said it was also a terrific match with curry.

Philip then produced his first red, his 2009, a gold medal winner and his best seller. It is fifty five per cent Négrette, with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah also in the blend. It is fresh and fruity, soft, and matched very well with the mushrooms.
The Canal du Midi flows through the Languedoc
and was once used for carrying wine.

Then came the big hitters. Neasa’s introduced us to her Larmes des Fees (the tears of the fairies), a 100% Syrah from 2006 and under the St Chinian appellation. It has been aged for 18 months in oak and much the same in bottle, is very high quality and will age well. The tears of the fairies, Neasa told us, flowed when they heard a group of washerwomen bad-mouthing absent colleagues. Probably still flowing so.

The 2009 Optimum is powerful and fresh and age worthy and another award winner for Philip. Indeed, it has been awarded a very hard to get Coup de Coeur by Hachette. This Fronton AOC red is from low yield vines and has “an enormous concentration of flavour. “It has taken off very well, “he said, “and the biggest buyers are the Vietnamese”.

It was quite a long evening but we didn’t notice the time going by, thanks to the good company and the good wines. More of the same next Wednesday (7.00pm) when the wines of Domainela Sarabande (also from the Beziers area and owned by Australian Paul Gordon and his Irish wife Isla) will be featured. Tickets from L’Atitude at 021 2390219.