What do you feel about looking back on 2013? My year had a certain amount of craziness about it. Lots achieved but perhaps not always the things that are most important. I’m going to try to slow things down a bit. As it is my elder teen’s last year before she goes off to university this Autumn I’m going to make the most of her being here. I cooked a lot as usual last year but not much ended up on this page. More recipes using local, fresh, simple ingredients are on the way and getting back to bread making for sure. Travel plans include Jaipur, Georgia and Lebanon so I hope you’ll join me for those visits. So here’s another quick look back before I seize knife, fork and pen and face the challenges of the new year.
I woke up to the New Year with a house full of friends and family. Big projects frighten me into ridiculous perfectionism and procrastination but finally I pressed the publish button on a Desert Island Discs-style food article which quoted some of my favourite foodie friends and most revered food heroes.
In retrospect the culinary bucket list I set myself was over ambitious; eating oysters and truffles was not on it but both accomplished with gusto – and I made a lovely loaf. Some wonderful women in wine gazed into a glass that was crystal ball shaped (part 1 and part 2). The annual Jack Daniel’s golf dinner was held on a beautiful beach, one of my best travelling buddies left Dubai for Canada and The Hedonista showed us what we should be nosing, swishing and tasting at my house. I escaped to a hidden, candlelit corner of Desert Palm with Lime and Tonic for a private dinner experience and lots of fine wine.
More visitors arrived and loved every minute of the Dubai Desert Classic especially meeting Lee Westwood in the club house. Taking 20 good friends on a food tour of Bur Dubai and Deira led by Frying Pan Food Adventures, I celebrated a milestone birthday. Nigella’s How to eat has been parallel to our lives and was the first to kick off reviews of the cook books on my shelf. My sister and I always have a good time but a Secret Venetian supper club with Lime and Tonic, a superb but surreal evening of cocktails at Asha’s, a visit to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and another wine tasting session with The Hedonista made it extra special. Chilled Champagne sipped on a sand dune while watching the sun go down was the prelude to my birthday dinner in a tented village at Al Maha. Somehow I squeezed in a visit to Taste of Abu Dhabi, a Taste of Dubai preview at Carluccios, dinner at the D Bar and Grill and a fantastic concert by the Stone Roses. And then there was the horse meat scandal.
Taste of Dubai is beginning to dull the senses whereas blind tasting seems to sharpen them. All those visitors in Jan and Feb (and since 2000) prompted my most visited post of the year. Every speaker about food at The Emirates Festival of Literature could be described as charming including the incomparable Anissa Helou, Ken Hom, Willie Harcourt Cooze and lovely Rachel Allen (again). My weekly shop got fresher, tastier and cheaper as the original farmers’ market reopened again in a new venue (Emirates Towers).
Making tarts is an art which I’d like to master (elusive pastry) but when time is short roast tomato soup whizzed up in a Vitamix is more likely to be lunch. Fiona Beckett has inspired me since I first met her at Food Blogger Connect and my first ever guest post was for her brilliant site on food and wine matching.
Not all smoked salmon is the same, and neither is Chardonnay. I went for afternoon tea with the founder of Dilmah tea and discovered a true philanthropist. I learned to make cocktails at OKKU and had a blast – more on this I promise.
Temperatures started to rise and another month of a photo a day got more challenging, I shared my kitchen with Annie Bell (from the pages of a book) and raised a glass along with many others around the world and much more merriment.
London was a wonderful place to be in the sunshine and to meet old friends and new at Food Blogger Connect with a fabulous cook book launch too. The first thing I asked my vegetarian daughter when she came back from Mongolia was ‘what did you eat?’. While missing the calm that descends on Dubai during Ramadan there were many things to keep me occupied like the Foodies Festival in Bristol.
An invite to Fifteen gave me an excuse to go back to London and I finally visited Borough Market. I entered my first Wine Writing Challenge and won so set the next theme of Possession. My favourite walks on Dartmoor helped me work up an appetite.
I unpacked rather a lot of cheese from my suitcase as well as a clutch of cook books. And packed lunches of Spanish omelette, lentil soup and keftedes for UAE Saves Week. Eating in the dark was an interesting experience. The whole month was pretty crazy but amazing (especially dinner with Shannon Bennett).
After the craziness of September cooling weather and a pink lunch provided a relaxing escape, an irresistible new icing came out of a cake baking session, and my third annual Blog Action Day post was about taking back control of our food. Two whirlwinds and a great bunch of people met at the Miele Gallery for two days of photography and food.
…my kitchen was filled with good things for the festive season. Two highlights from this busy month were a Guns + Butter pop up at Baker and Spice and a festive cocktail masterclass at Gaucho. Just in time to raise a glass to toast the end of another fun and food-filled year round a camp fire on a beach in Fujairah.
As we start a New Year I just want to thank you all – whether you’ve read a single sentence or kept coming back. I’m truly grateful when I know someone has read something I’ve written and pushed the button to send it into the blogosphere. My own box is packed, there are never enough hours in the day and the internet is crowded with so much content that I really appreciate when you stop by my own little corner of the web. I’d love to know what you’ve enjoyed most and what you’d like to see more of. Wishing everyone a fantastic 2014.
Happy New Year
Real life got in the way of blogging over December but it’s always fun to look back over the past year and take stock before moving forward. I’ve learned not to pore over statistics too much – it’s comforting when they are on the up and up but it has a stultifying effect when they take a dip. The pleasure from reading a thoughtful comment is much more rewarding anyway (I take no advertising).
However, you might be interested in this list of what was most visited here on My Custard Pie in 2013. There were quite a few surprises:
The 10 most visited blog posts on My Custard Pie in 2013
- Where to take visitors to eat in Dubai – on a budget was my most popular post by far. It’s about tried and tested places my own visitors (over the last 13 years) have liked best, where the bill will suit everyone’s pocket.
- Saffron, tin mines and an accident – Fresh from the oven received gazillions of visits (ok, slight exaggeration) as it was mentioned in a Buzzfeed article called 18 Weird And Wonderful British Foods You Need To Try. Alongside my saffron (or tea treat buns) were a Bedfordshire clanger, Cullen Skink and stargazy pie.
- French oysters; a quick guide to choosing, shucking and eating An evening at Rostang in Atlantis cleared the muddied waters of my oyster understanding. It seems many others are equally at sea with these marine molluscs.
- Who can resist a pie? I’m so glad that this post was popular because it’s a subject I adore. Much more pie-making ahead in 2014 I promise, and a resolution to become a pastry-making maestro (ongoing project!).
- Simple roast tomato soup – iphone style I went a bit off-piste on this post (off-poste?) and I know it divided some of my readers. It addressed the issue of cooking (and blogging) around a full-schedule of work, family and other commitments, and all the photography was taken on my iphone. The main image was accepted by Tastespotting which shows it can be done (without DSLR).
- A jar of sunshine – home-made lemon curd is an enduring favourite written in 2011 and the distillation of my lemon obsession. The ‘ten uses for lemon curd’ is probably what has made it so popular.
- The many sides of Ramadan and Iftar in Dubai is as much about life here in the Middle East as it was about the rituals of food. It’s so easy to neglect writing about what you take for granted.
- Homemade rose creams – think pink was written in 2011 and I’m a bit cringy about the images (although still like the one of Hazel under the table). These simple sweets are impossible to resist.
- Waka waka – this time for Africa has a recipe for piri piri prawns (on the barbecue), a visit to Tribes restaurant in Dubai, a bit about South Africa heritage day, and my first taste of tripe. Maybe it tapped into a surge of interest in African food?
- Lamb rice with crispy potato base from The Jewelled Kitchen is a review of a new book which is now much-thumbed, written by a good friend, and a recipe which takes a fair bit of time but is absolutely the kind of food I like to eat. It got the most visits on a single day too (in July).
Thank you to everyone who visited, liked, commented and supported My Custard Pie in 2013. As always, it’s a labour of love writing about topics that compel me to put my fingers to the keyboard. I’m so glad that you’ve enjoyed them too.
What were your culinary highlights of 2013?
Christmas cooking is made special for me by the rituals of marinating, bathing, sousing and macerating various foodstuffs in alcohol. So no surprise that my kitchen is full of the aromas of brandy, whisky, bourbon, rum and orange-scented liqueurs this December.
My kitchen space, however, is a strange place to be right now. My oven finally packed up and a second-hand replacement gifted from a friend stands in splendid isolation waiting….waiting….waiting for an electrician to keep his promise to connect it. Frank – where are you? This is ominous as Christmas looms.
If my maths are correct I have 0.1% of the Christmas stollen baked in aid of charity by the Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates. I bought a whole stollen (60cm) out of an enormous 600 metres of stollen (made with 2,210 eggs, 600 kilograms of flour, 278 kilograms of raisins and 55 kilograms of marzipan, 120 kilograms of lemons and 131 kilograms of oranges). Staff from the hotel give up their time voluntarily to sell the stollen and give tastes to passers by. They ring a bell and give a massive cheer every time someone buys a piece (a slice is only 5 AED). It’s one of my favourite festive events in Dubai. As my family are dried fruit haters this marzipan-laden loaf needs to be shared; thank goodness half is pledged to I Live in a Frying Pan or I would end up eating the whole thing myself (not a bad thing in theory).
Thankfully my oven-deficiency hasn’t affected all my cooking as only the hob is needed for Christmas puddings and mincemeat. Adding Grand Marnier, orange juice and zest to mincemeat imbibes future mince pies with a warm spiciness and I’m confident that sploshing in an amount of rather nice Caribbean rum (Pyrat) into the pudding mix will impart smooth vanilla tones (hope KP isn’t reading this).
At last the growing season is bearing fruit here in Dubai – actually not fruit but veg – and early on a Friday morning I’m down at the Farmers’ Market at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Planning my menu around the local, organic veg I buy from the farmers saves me money (it’s incredibly cheap and fresh), keeps my family healthy and it challenges me to think differently about what we eat. It’s the shortest supply chain too; knowing where my food comes from is so important. Getting up early on a weekend has more than one reward; the market now offers a mean organic breakfast courtesy of Baker and Spice.
The dried fruits inside my Christmas cake are plump from steeping in brandy since September. Since baking, I administer extra spirit every ten days. This is not as lavish as it sounds as I’ve discovered that this brandy is perfect for cooking (from MMI at only 25 AED per bottle – ex.tax).
The moment I saw the blue jug in Ren’s picture I was on a mission to find one (PIP studio from Holland, bought in Galeries Lafayette); you could say I have a thing about blue jugs. Younger teen and KP definitely have a thing about Lindt chocolate as this is all that’s left from my Food Photography and Styling workshop goodie bag. These Christmas bears are good for tucking into stockings and scattering on tables as decoration.
Being a golf widow sometimes has its advantages and the Jack Daniels annual golf day is one of them. The dinner in the evening is set on the beach at The Westin, looking out over the lights of The Palm. KP makes a mean Lynchburg lemonade but the new JD Tennessee Honey is really smooth and a lovely long drink mixed with ginger ale and very sippable neat over ice (perhaps I did have a little glass in my hand as I was writing this).
Chocolate keeps creeping into my kitchen in different guises. The strange truffle in a jar is a crunchy praline chocolate given to me at a wine tasting event at Rare, Desert Palm, Dubai (the food was superb).
Celebs at the Dubai International Film Festival (who one presumes can afford to buy anything they like) are led through a series of rooms where they are given a range of luxury goods. While having a sneak peak in the VIP lounge, I forgot to ask whether they all receive one of the 16 kilogram camels displayed by Al Nassma but was very happy with my mini-version. As a historic trading hub, Dubai offers very few souvenirs which are actually made here so this range has become incredibly popular with visitors – and rightly so. What a handsome beast.
Are you inspired to get sorted with your seasonal cooking? Christmas Sorted – 23 recipes to take you from freaked out to festive is just what you need. This online magazine is the brain-child of The Hedonista with a few additions from me. Simple recipes that work ranging from homemdade truffles, cranberry sauce to gingerbread plus Winter and Summer Christmas menus (for those like us in warmer climes). Sarah is a great cook with an exceptional palate (here’s what she did for Come Dine with Me) and I love her recipes.
How do you get this? Simply subscribe to my posts (this is easy – it’s over there, in the column to the right) or Sarah’s at The Hedonista. You’ll receive an email with the secret link. If you already a subscribe or follow, email me at sally(at)mycustardpie.com and I’ll send it to you.
Kudos to Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial who tapped into an innate desire to have a nosey round other people’s kitchens. Nearly fifty bloggers joined in for November’s ‘In My Kitchen’ and there are sure to be plenty in December – imagine the collective scent of Christmas spices. Do tell me what’s in your kitchen this December?
Originality is for people with short memories
This saying came up in one of the brilliant series of four Reith lectures by Grayson Perry who explored topics such as what makes good art, who should judge art and how to become a contemporary artist. Grayson is a cross-dressing potter who by his own admission protects his ball of creative energy “with a shield made of jaded irony. A helmet of mischief and a breast plate of facetiousness,” and wields a “carefully crafted blade of cynicism”. His extensive knowledge, sparkling wit, honesty and great delivery meant I forcibly clamped my headphones onto my youngest teen’s ears and have been urging anyone with the slightest interest in creativity to listen ever since.
The fashion equivalent of this paté wouldn’t get near Grayson’s wardrobe; it’s resolutely beige as opposed to his peacock colours (he attributes his cross dressing to being poppered into a PVC pottery smock at the age of nine). On my visit to Borough Market one of the things I tasted was mushroom pate from Pate Moi. I was reminded of just how good a simple purée of funghi with something creamy and something spicy can be. It was tucked away in my food memory and resurfaced when I returned to Dubai. Now I’m sure that this recipe is far from original, (just how many variations on mushrooms with cream can there be?) but it’s what I created in my kitchen. I was almost going down the classic lemon, garlic and parsley route but had some thyme in the fridge that needed using up and a bowl full of oranges.
As for my teen, when I told her I’d linked Grayson Perry to a recipe for mushroom pate she enquired, “Did you serve it in a pot?”! So the question is, if I served this paté in a Turner prize winning pot would food be art?
Mushroom paté (vegetarian)
4 tablespoons of butter or ghee plus extra to cover
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 large clove of garlic, chopped finely
440g chestnut mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 orange, zest finely grated plus half the juice
2 tablespoons cognac (optional)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
1/4 whole nutmeg, finely grated
sea salt and black pepper
- Melt the butter or ghee in a large flat pan and lightly fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and stir through, then add the mushrooms to the pan and fry until they begin to brown, soften and shrink. Cook until any mushroom juices have evaporated. Pour in the orange juice and zest, and cognac, cook for a couple of minutes, stirring until the liquids reduce. Add the thyme and stir for a further minute, then add a good grating of nutmeg.
- Remove from the heat and spoon the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor*. Add the créme frâiche, along with sea salt (approx. 1 teaspoon) and freshly ground black pepper. Blend until smooth. (*If you want a chunkier texture, add half at a time and give a whizz for a quick burst only for the second batch.)
- Spoon the mixture into small ramekin dishes or a jar, smooth the top of the paté level with a knife or spatula. Melt a large knob of butter or ghee and pour carefully over the paté. Cool and leave in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. It will keep for at least a week.
Serve with butter on brown bread or crackers with gherkins, add to pasta as a sauce or as a baked potato topping. Tastes great on rye bread or brioche with chutney. As a lover of meat-based paté I can say honestly that this was equally satisfying – maybe due to the cognac.
So pate/ modern art – love it or loathe it?
- The Reith Lectures (bbc.co.uk)
- Grayson Perry’s Reith Lectures (digital-diva.co.uk)
- Borough Market (mycustardpie.com)
- Grayson Perry and the ‘national treasure’ problem | Lisa Jardine (theguardian.com)
“I am Frederick Loren, and I have rented the house on haunted hill tonight so that my wife can give a party. She’s so amusing. There’ll be food and drink and ghosts, and perhaps even a few murders. You’re all invited. If any of you will spend the next twelve hours in this house, I will give you each ten thousand dollars, or your next of kin in case you don’t survive. Ah, but here come our other guests.”
You know how it is when you meet someone and like them immediately? I met Jenny Hammerton at a conference in London and was immediately won over by her infectious sense of humour, broad smile which extends to her twinkly eyes and a sense of flying in the face of convention. A film archivist by day, she’s enthralled by an earlier era of old-fashioned glamour and stardom at all times. She’s a quarter of ‘The Shellac Sisters‘, ‘four glamorous retrochics’ who spin the decks with 78s and a wind up gramophone. On her brilliant blog called Silver Screen Suppers, she cooks her way through recipes shared by movie stars of the past. Gwyneth Paltrow is doing nothing new by branching out into cook books; Hollywood idols of the 30s, 40s and 50s shared their love of cooking in magazines, newspapers and books. On Silver Screen Suppers you’ll discover that Marlene Dietrich was partial to whipping up a loaf of banana nut bread, Jean Harlow stuffed celery with shrimp for a starter, Cary Grant was not averse to a dish of tuna fish pie and Marilyn Monroe was a cook with flair who served carrots and peas together as she liked the colour combination!
So who better to inspire a spooky Halloween cook along than Vincent Price? While grizzly ghouls from every tomb were closing in to seal our doom on 31st October, cooks around the globe were sharpening knives in the kitchen and bubbling up a cauldron or two with recipes from Vincent. Banquets were served, eaten on knocking knees in front of House on Haunted Hill (the quote above is from the start of the movie). Victoria Price – Vincent’s daughter – gave her seal of approval to the whole event. How super cool is that?
Jenny gave me this recipe by Vincent - ‘Deviled rib bones’ based on a dish that Mr Price ate at The Ivy in London. He says:
In a country that consumes a lot of roast beef there are bound to be rib bones left over. And sooner or later a clever chef will think of something good to do with them. At The Ivy the Deviled rib bones are almost a better by-product than the original roast. They tell me that this recipe was an old club favorite, and since the ribs must be eaten with the fingers, it is possible that English clubs are a lot less stuffy than we think.
I’ve adapted the recipe as cooking a whole rib roast was out of the question this week. It did give me the excuse to buy some beautiful short ribs (from Prime Gourmet in Dubai) and roast them in the oven until soft and melting before grilling a la VP.
The frugal nature of this recipe really appeals to me, as does his suggestion that the same treatment could be given to the bones of a roast capon. This is a window to a by-gone era with a recipe that’s just as good today.
Serve with a green salad, but dispense with cutlery. Bare your incisors and act like a werewolf. Gnaw those bones.
And though you fight to stay alive, you start to shake and moan,
Cause no mere mortal can resist a deviled roast rib bone.
Deviled rib bones
Recipe by Vincent Price (instructions slightly modified by me into a modern recipe format ).
4 roasted rib bones*
2 tablespoons English mustard
3 tablespoons single cream
75g fine breadcrumbs (sourdough or firm bread)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat the grill (broiler).
- Take 4 freshly roasted rib bones. Trim them but leave a fairly generous portion of meat on the bones.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Make a thin paste with 2 tablespoons of English mustard and 3 tablespoons of cream.
- Coat rib bones all around with the mustard paste.
- Sprinkle generously with fine breadcrumbs, covering bones completely.
- Dot generously with 3 tablespoons melted butter.
- Place under broiler (grill) until crisp and crusty, turning to brown all sides.
Presentation: Serve hot and, says the chef, come to terms with fingers.
* I used 3 beef short ribs which I cooked in a 200C oven, in a baking tray covered with foil, for 1 hour 20 minutes. I poured off the fat and roasted for about 10 minutes on either side with the foil off. The verdict? Short ribs are very rich (they suit braising best) and roasted rib bones (which are leaner) would be better deviled. This is a carnivore’s treat.
For further fiendish feasts in this virtual pot luck party visit: Dinner is Served 1972 – Beef Heart Stewed, Caker Cooking – Fish Fillets Nord Zee, Battenburg Belle – Deviled Shrimp and Rice and Pumpkin pie, Mid Century Menu – Unwealthy Wellington, Bloody Mary and Pumpkin Pie, Glamorous Glutton – Steak Moutarde Flambe, The Past on a Plate – Ayrshire Poacher’s Roll, The Retro WW Experiment – Chinese Chicken, Craftypants Carol – Deviled Crab, Retrorecipe – Cucumber Crocodile and Melon Monster, Beyond the Fringes – Calves liver Marinee , Saucy Cherry – Chicken liver risotto and Bittersweet Susie – Carolina Deviled Clams. Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers made Bloody Marys and cooked Oxtail Creole.
Plus they’ll be a round up on Silver Screen Suppers with additional Vincent Price recipes such as Champignons Grilles Marie Victoire, Chicken Livers Sauteed with Apples and Onion Rings, Liver and Bacon Pate and Shropshire Fidget Pie (I presume you can’t sit still for this).
October goes into a frenzy of breast cancer awareness in Dubai. We’ve come a long way; within a couple of decades when even the word breast was taboo, now a pink ribbon is projected onto the Burj al Arab, there are radio and press ads, pink walkathons, running events and pink cupcakes sold in aid of ‘awareness’. It’s almost gone the other way (read here) and very strict rules about charitable giving mean that much of the money raised goes into spreading the word.
I was invited to a ladies pink lunch and as the organisers were friends I said I’d go along (see more about the cause below). I met Catherine when we were both studying for WSET3, and she qualified to be a sommelier in the US too. She choose the wine for lunch (yes, you guessed it – predominantly pink).
A friend and I taxied out to The Palm, a manmade island dredged out of the sand. Its narrow palm fronds mean that all villas have a ‘sea’ view and back directly onto a beach.
Ladies arrive, negotiating the few steps down to the terrace on dainty high heels; there are swaying-brimmed hats and pink feather boas….masses of pink in fact, from shocking to the palest salmon. The food is also pink; pretty, dainty and provided by caterers Gustronomy (tiny cups carved out of beetroot filled with horseradish cream for instance). The first wine to be poured is Domaine Chandon Rosé.
Think the name is familiar? This sparkling wine is made using méthode traditionnelle in the Yarra Valley, Australia – the same way used to put bubbles into Champagne. The winery was established by French Champagne house Moët & Chandon in 1986.
The wine is quite a deep, peachy pink in colour, light textured, with a nice creaminess combined with strawberry and cherry fruit and a dry finish. This is superior fizz and worth considering if you want the taste of Champagne without the full price tag (160 AED incl. tax MMI)
I have a real soft spot for Massaya Rosé as my first glass was poured for me by Ramzi Ghosn of Massaya at a very relaxed gathering on the Ritz Carlton DIFC roof terrace here in Dubai. At the time, the rosé had just arrived in Dubai and now a couple of years later, a source tells me, it’s selling like wild fire and difficult to get hold of a bottle at present. Massaya is a Lebanese wine company in partnership with the owner of Chateau Trianon and co-proprietor at Le Vieux Télégraphe. No surprise then that the grape varieties used for this rose are those traditionally used for rosé in the Languedoc (Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah) and it has a distinctly French-style. It was paired with a soup appetiser of chilled red pepper gazpacho (very rich and creamy) and a pink risotto topped with confit prawns. The appeal of this wine is the soft texture, raspberry and stone fruit, refreshing acidity and a dry finish, all balanced beautifully. If you see a bottle in Dubai, snap it up (at 72 AED incl. tax at MMI Dubai you can afford to).
I’m betting the well-heeled crowd would have turned their collective noses up at this bottle if they saw it in the liquor store. However, as a crowd-pleaser the final wine was going down a storm. The waiters poured the Mondoro Asti with a flourish from its ornate green bottle (possibly designed for the Russian market where it sells very well). Made of Moscato grapes (beloved of hip-hop rappers) it’s sparkling tropical fruit cocktail in a glass, a little more than off-dry (that the maker’s claim) but not cloying. At 7.5% it’s perfect for day-time drinking and matched with the dessert of raspberry and honey terrine with strawberry semifreddo (72 AED incl. tax MMI Dubai).
Proceeds from the lunch and prize draw went to Breast Cancer Arabia. They don’t just provide information, but practical support for care and treatment; vital in a country where private health care cover and costs is spiralling out of the reach of most.
I hadn’t planned to blog about this so all pics taken on iphone. Thanks to the organisers for a really special event for a very good cause.
Ever tried these wines? What do you think?
Uttered when you trip up and spill a big glass of red wine down your front. Or when you take a bottle of 1996 Chateau Lascombe to party by accident. Or when you get home late mid-week, fancy a glass of red, and, thinking the label looks cute, open a bottle of 2009 Molly Dooker, The Scooter (a brain-foggingly 17% alcohol). Or when, when you are helping at a book signing, someone mistakes you for Oz Clarke’s wife – eek! Sadly all true.
How and why to slurp
The best way the word oops fits with wine….it’s exactly the sound when you sip some wine and try to take in a bit of oxygen at the same time. Go on try it….
Pour yourself a wine glass of anything you’d like to taste right now. Give it a swirl. I find it easiest to keep the bottom of the glass on the table, hold the stem and make big circles with it. If I swirl mid-air it can slop around alarmingly! Raise the glass, stick your nose right in and sniff, then get down to some tasting.
The rationale for slurping a bit of air with your wine is that it helps to draw some of the vapour up the retro-nasal passage. This is the airway that connects the nose and the mouth and also home to a small patch of nerve endings. The olfactory epithelium helps us to identify thousands of aromas and explains why you can’t taste very well when you have a cold.
On your marks, ready for tasting….
Could this be the perfect onomatopoeic word for wine tasting?
I have a horror of acronyms; those series of capital letters and full stops representing some body, committee or ruling. They trip off the tongue of those in the know leaving those who don’t totally bewildered. When I joined a large department of a bank, it was as though everyone was speaking a foreign language. Even now I get my CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) mixed up with my CMSs (Content Management System). What could OOPS stand for in the wine world?
Over Oaked and Partially Sipped; Ordinary Oenologists Prefer Syrah: Once Opened Pouring Sensible; Suggestions on a postcard (or in the comments).
O is for Oenology
…the study and science of wine. It also helps to round up a few wine things on my mind recently:
OAK- Jamie Goode published a wine manifesto this week and has a lot to say about oak which highlights the wine world’s reliance on barrel ageing (or in some cases adding oak chips or oak essence). Take points 18 and 24:
No new clothesIf you hate overripeness and obvious new oak (as you should), take care lest you end up praising a wine for the mere absence of these faults. It happens.
Escape the small oak rutToo many winegrowers are obsessed by small oak. Small oak – barrels and barriques – doesn’t suit all that many wines. But it seems the default vessel of élevage. It’s a mistake.
Read the full manifesto here.
OSBORN – One day I might find adequate words to describe a wine dinner with Chester Osborn in May of this year. Barking mad springs to mind (in a nice way), he’s a bit of a wild man of wine and his personality probably divides people, as does his wine. We
tasted drank a lot that evening including 2010 d’Arenberg Shiraz Vociferate Dipsomaniac Scarce Earth Single Vineyard – try saying that after you’ve drank a glass – which is partly treaded by foot and partly basket-pressed. Yes, I really must write about it, but in the meantime…
PICPOUL – Apparently this grape variety means ‘lip stinger’ in the local dialect but it’s far from astringent, with some creamy notes, dry, fresh and floral. Nice to see the white variety becoming more popular for summer drinking this year in the UK, pushing into the sea of ubiquitous Pinot Grigio and…
SAUVIGNON BLANC – “Cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush”. I read this tasting note somewhere recently and it sums up most SB that I taste. Reminded that it ain’t necessarily so by a Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc the other evening at Rivington Grill which although not a complex wine is crisp and fragrant, grassy and fresh without being rasping.
Oops! is the theme for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge and like Wine Kat who set it this month, I love words. Words for their own sake, words for their sound, words with the mouthfeel of fine wine, words which have many meanings. Anyone remember Wordy Rappinghood by the Tom Tom Club? It could be my theme music.
Oops! What does this word conjure up for you?
- MWWC#4: My Brush with the Biodynamic* (armchairsommelier.wordpress.com)
- Trick or Treat? Halloween candy and wine (waywardwine.com)
- Wine’s oops moments (talk-a-vino.com)
- “Oops” – Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #4 (thewineraconteur.wordpress.com)
- Oops (foodwineclick.com)
- Desolé, Beaujolais (#MWWC4) (confessionsofawinegeek.com)