Last Wednesday I had an appointment in Winchester at 8.00am, so instead of a 5.30am rise that morning, I decided to treat myself to a stay in Winchester the night before and be cosseted by the people down at Hotel du Vin, in the town centre. Babette and I stayed there about 15 years ago and we both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It is, in my book, a really delightful place to stay and perhaps particularly during good weather, as they have a large courtyard for outside dining. It's walled on two sides by the hotel itself and on the other two by high brick walls, so a sort of walled garden effect, which they’ve beautifully planted out.
When I arrived, in the late afternoon, the tables were already set, the sun was out and it had a sort of fairy tale feel to it…really quite lovely. Indeed, as I sat there and recalled our visit all those years ago I felt a bitter sweet feeling, as I imagined Babette sitting opposite me…poignant would not understate the case!
The service levels were in keeping with everything else. The only blot in this experience was the aircon in my bedroom, which was on the blink!
Now, I may have mentioned this earlier in the year, when we stayed at the Hotel Du Vin in Stratford, as our base for the Birmingham Spring Fair, that they used Riedel glasses (yup I hear your groan..!), and their wine menu even describes the theory behind them, a bit. So, taking advantage of the opportunity I started with a small glass of Riesling and moved onto a red Bordeaux afterwards, both in the correct glasses, delicious...and the food wasn’t bad either, although none fitted my new diet, but I wasn’t going there to sip gruel was I?
Whilst talking Bordeaux, I ordered, the other day, a mixed case from a customer of ours (Lindsay Poole) who runs a wine importing business with her husband, Barry, up in Warwick, called Wine Poole…quite clever use of their name I always think. Well, this mixed case arrived and in it was a white Bordeaux, Chateau Lestrille Entre-deux-Mers, which I don’t think I was expecting….don’t think I’ve ever had white Bordeaux before, and to say I thought it was phenomenal might be to overstating the case (but not by much). It was to my very narrow and uneducated palate, a really lovely white wine. With its elderflower notes it reminded me of Sauvignon Blanc,* but it was markedly sweeter or less acid and otherwise just highly drinkable. When I looked at reviews on the Vivino app, there were mentions of apple, gooseberry, pineapple and slight floral notes. Clearly, I’m not cut out to be a wine taster or writer….! So I thought a bit more research was in order, and on finding the wine on Lindsay’s site, I’ve discovered that it is made from a blend of two grapes, Sauvignon Blanc 85%, Muscadelle 15%....no wonder it reminded me of Sauvignon Blanc….! My guess is, that the it’s the addition of Muscadelle that gives it its slightly sweeter tone.
*(I think that you should) Never drink Sauvignon Blanc out of anything other than the right shaped bowl, it will always be too acidic and probably lack flavour.
This week, I have another Le Creuset (another groan) treat and a rather nice Joseph Joseph one as well. Although, it has to be said that when Em and Paul heard I'd ordered the Joseph line they were not enthusiastic, thus diminishing my opinion of their taste...black mark. Note to self, I must remember when interviewing people to ask if they have good taste (i.e. my taste) or some other taste.
Le Creuset Oval Casserole 23cm.
The Le Creuset marketing machine has come up with the wee(ish) 23cm oval casserole (2.6l / 5.4pts) and all for a very competitive £159.00. When I went searching the internet for price checking purposes, I found it for an even more impressive £128, which we will be price matching this weekend (or for as long as this price is available).
They are available in 5 colours Bamboo (Green), Cerise, Volcanic, Satin Black, and Meringue and we have ok stocks of all 5. So, there you have it, a smallish casserole, easily big enough for three people, maybe 4 at a stretch, (depending on how rich it is and how big appetites are) all for £128. Not cheap exactly, but an awful lot of Le Creuset for the money!
Joseph Joseph Uno Salad Bowl + Salt & Pepper Mills
Back in January last year, the Joseph brothers brought out a new, rather stylish Salad Bowl, and this is what I said about it at the time…
….it’s called the Uno Salad Bowl. It is made from plastic, but doesn’t feel like it because it’s got some real weight to it, it is beautifully shaped and has two salad servers / paddles that hang on the inside of the bowl and the way in which they somehow blend into the bowl's design, I find very attractive and typically Joseph. In short, I find it beautiful and very practical and, oh yes I forgot to say, it is pretty large so that when you are tossing the salad it doesn’t fall all over the table.
This year, they’ve come up with an Uno salad bowl and Salt and Pepper mill set. So, in addition to the bowl, you get their Salt and Pepper Mills as well. These are well made and use the Crush Grind mechanism at their core (one of the best mechanisms on the market)
And you get all of this,
- Uno Salad Bowl RRP £50.00
- Pair of Salt & Pepper mills RRP £49.00
- All for £59.00 - which is only £9 more than the bowl by itself.
As you can see from the picture, one of the mills is Off White and the other Dark Grey and they are upside down, or Inverta Mills, that leave no tell tale trace behind them. Simple and clever!
Incidentally being Crush Grind ceramic movements, you can put salt or pepper in either mill, it doesn’t matter (unlike metal mechanisms where steel is typically used for pepper and stainless steel for salt), I’ll leave you to work out what to put in each one!
So there you have it for this weekend.
I hope it’s a sunny and peaceful weekend for you.