Sue Vide? Never met her.

September 27, 2010

For a year or two our kitchen team awoke preposterously early every Sunday morning and prepared our Sunday roasts under a method known as sous vide. It involved cooking the meat at relatively low temperatures. The result was to preserve the flavour of the meat and make it unbelievably tender. We thought we were terribly sophisticated and waved aside the more than occasional criticism or unemptied plate as a refusal to keep up with the times.

Beware the restaurant that doesn’t listen to its guests. It took time but we realise that our guests were right all along. So WELCOME BACK TO THE ROAST. We now cook our lamb, beef and pork more traditionally at high temperature. The way you have grown up to love it. And the reason why it used to be difficult to secure a table at the Griffin on Sundays. Let’s see how it works out.

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In a Bristol back street

September 22, 2010

To the Bristol home of one of our favourite wine suppliers, Nick Brooks of Vinetrail. A frisson of excitement as his tastings never fail to throw up something we want to shout about.

Apart from the odd New Zealand orphan, his list is sourced in its entirety from within the hexagonal boundaries of France. Mostly small domaines focused on great winemaking, more often than not using organic or biodynamic principles. Wines with real purity, yet jumping with character and texture. Nick talks about the impact of geology on wines in a way no-one else we know does. A fascinating afternoon.

Five of us tasting, converging from Brecon and from the Gurnard’s. Rarely a concerted reaction to a bottle: concord would be a boring thing when it comes to wine. The lists at each of the Griffin and the Gurnard’s vary, as they should, reflecting the individuals, the food, the landscape.

Which wines talked to us this time? For me: a Cote de Brouilly that will sit happily on the Gurnard’s list, Gamay with a stony edge to it. A Roussette de Savoie of which only 70 cases or so are made each year. I hope we can take one of them. Rich but in no way oily. Truly beautiful when we tried it later in the evening. A St. Chinian from the Languedoc, given backbone by more than a slug of Mourvedre, like a dose of national service perhaps. Brilliant for early winter lunches in the Beacons. And a Sauvignon de Touraine that gives its posher Loire cousins a kick up the behind.

Afterwards, supper at Flinty Red, one year old progeny of our friends from the Gurnard’s Head, Matt Williamson and Claire Thomson, and the owners of Bristol wine shop, Corks of Cotham. Our first visit, and as brilliant as we hoped. If you are in Bristol and hungry, it should/must be your first choice.

A few days off in Cornwall

September 9, 2010

A few days off in West Cornwall near the Gurnards (www.gurnardshead.co.uk). A week that starts with apocalytpic skies and forecasts that allow little room for optimism. A wife who wonders “will it be like this all week?”

Nature makes fools of the best of us and it has ended up being a magical few days in this beguiling part of the world. I feel only a bit guilty in wondering whether the rest of the country is being gently showered by nature’s watering can while we bathe in September’s benevolent sun. A time of year when this landscape is at its very best.

The two sides of Cornwall’s coast today.

A bucket and spade beach in St. Ives. A proper seaside town with beaches at its heart. The water at its warmest of the whole year, bringing no more than the slightest grimace to the face. I do wonder why so few of the massed throngs actually make it to the water though. A question for another day.

And then on to pay homage to the Atlantic rollers at Sennen Cove. The Spring Tides were imbuing them with a little extra juice to give a good beating to the coastal defences. A handful of very serious surfers fighting nature on our behalf. All best seen from the Beach Cafe which continues to do its thing really very well.

Another thought. A good dinner last night in another local restaurant. But were we flattered to see our carefully thought through introduction to the Gurnard’s Head’s wine list paraphrased, at best, or copied, at worst, in their own wine list? I’m not sure, but left a little depressed that people’s imagination and independence of thought can be so dilute.

Back to Wales tomorrow.