Offers, Endings and Wine.

I’ve had two experiences / conversations this week that I thought you might find interesting.

The first was with a friend of mine, Casey, who is a bit of a wine buff. If you’ve been reading my emails for a while, you will know that he introduced me to the delights of Rioja, I’m guessing, about a year ago. This was a bit eye opening to this Bordeaux lover. I had previously thought to dismiss it as so ghastly a grape (Tempranillo) that they needed to age it in oak barrels (oak, if you don’t know, leaves a very marked taste on the wine) to disguise its awful flavour…a job it did badly, in my opinion. And certainly, I never bought the stuff and only drank it out of politeness to whoever (with their noses blocked and tastebuds shot off) had bought bottle when coming to us for a meal.

On the occasion a year ago, however, Casey had a bottle, a very nice one, from I forget where, that was I seem to recall a good 20 plus years old and this had changed my attitude to it altogether. Well, on Monday evening we’d arranged to meet to do a caparison with whatever he had found and I, having been to the Vineking in Reigate had a bottle of a strangely named Bordeaux from Chateaux Puybarbe. As it turned out he had again a Rioja; a Queiron Mi Lugar 2018.

We opened both and to begin with although quite different, found them both to be extremely palatable wines, although the Bordeaux was a merest bit on the sweet side, although that did make it particularly good as an aperitif. By and by I was very kindly invited to stay for supper by Tessa, Casey’s wife (this is a ruse that I must remember for other times, arrive with a bottle of wine early evening, look a bit lost or uncared for and perhaps a bit malnourished and this is particularly welcome when the alternative is bread and cheese at home)

The Rioja though as the evening progressed got better and better and I found myself remarking to Casey how similar it had become to Bordeaux in many ways and eventually I had to admit that I actually preferred it. Well, there it is in black and white. I didn’t ever think I’d ever be saying this about a Rioja for heaven’s sake. Was this a fair comparison? Maybe not entirely, the Bordeaux was around the £12 - £13 mark and the Rioja, when I looked it up on Vivino was double the price. But incidentally the Vineking’s Bordeaux was not only half the price, but it was also a marked step up from my usual sub £10 bottles of supermarket claret. So, I’d say it is very much worth a try. They have a website and doubtless you’ll find it on there (and no, I’m not on a commission, just a well-advised customer).  

In case you’re interested in what glasses we were using for this trial, then it was the Bordeaux Extreme shape, which you can find here. I suppose strictly we should have been using the even taller Syrah/Shiraz glass for the Rioja…not sure how much difference that would have made. I think either glass would do a good job on both wines, in reality.

The other notable exchange that I had this week, was on a rather more serious subject, that of death. I was talking, via email to a good friend, Mandy (who coincidentally is Casey’s mum). Her husband died very suddenly a month ago, whilst he was out walking. For Mandy there was no warning, one moment he was in the world and the next he was gone. And you know I find it very difficult to come to terms with that experience. To imagine being with someone who when you turn to speak to them, has just gone, doesn’t bear thinking about (I’ll now contradict myself and say it does and we should). So, she had no goodbyes, just an awful empty hole left behind. A void where previously there had been a human being that she loved and who loved her. For me this is imaginable, but oh wow what an awful experience to have to go through. An experience of “if only’” and wishing there had been time to save him or wishing there had been time to say goodbye.

By stark contrast when Babette died, we had had 18 months to prepare for it and that made such a difference, admittedly and arguably, more for my benefit than hers? But I think she and I both agreed that the blessing of cancer is the time it gives you, very often, to do things that you’ve always wanted to do, and of course to take your time over saying goodbye to everyone  Mandy had had no time at all, wasn’t given the opportunity to say good bye or hold his hand and that seems very, very tough. She is philosophical about it saying that from his point of view it was the best way to go as he wasn’t looking forward to getting old.

I wonder what, empathy apart, you think you might take from this story…? I’ll leave you to think about that, but before I do so, if I haven’t already distracted you down an alternative and interesting path of thought, let me talk to you about some products that we have on offer.

We’ve got a couple of lines from Zwilling the large German conglomerate who own, amongst others, Henckels and Demeyere, as well as selling under their own brand name. Then there’s a rather nice new product from Le Creuset…all with money off!

Zwilling Colanders

These three colanders have to be the sexiest, best looking colanders on the market. Quite why I make this assertion I’m not really sure, they are, after all, just a colander, made in three sizes from 16cm (about 6”) a 20cm (8”) and a large 24cm (9.5”). But there’s something about their well-proportioned all-over perforated bodies and their satin finished, stainless steel rims and handles, that somehow just look right. They really are very nice.

You can have 20% off this weekend, please use code LCZWIL20 if shopping online and just tell us who you are if shopping in Reigate or Cobham. Prices are £19.95, £24.95, & £29.95.

Zwilling Grill Pan 24cm square

The Zwilling Square Grill Pan is not a new item, but it’s just a good quality, grill pan with a 3mm (approx.) heat transmitting core sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel.

It has a stainless stay cool handle. Unlike non-stick versions (that we also sell) it will give you tastier results, either if you are used to cooking on uncoated pans, or once you’ve got used to it. There is a learning curve to be negotiated if you haven’t used one before, so, by way of a quick lesson, this very crudely, is what you do. The meat should be dry, not oiled and the pan needs to hot. And the test of heat of the pan is when you fling drops of water at it the water runs around on the surface like balls of mercury (if it immediately steams, then that isn’t hot enough). Press the steak firmly down onto the surface and do not try to move it until it wants to release itself. Turn the heat down by at least a third. At this point the steak is stuck firmly to the surface. Wait till it unsticks itself, three, four or five minutes later and turn over.

This pan is ideal for following this process. You may be surprised to hear that you can do the same with fish (with a skin) as long as you’ve patted it pretty dry…again no oil or fat!

The normal price is £59.95. Please use code LCZWIL20 to take 20% off, of tells who you are, if you’re in the shop.

Le Creuset Mixing Bowls Set of Three

Lastly, there’s a really lovely new set of three stainless steel bowls with lids and rubber bases for grip. These are practical, stylish, pretty deep and the only thing I’m a bit puzzled by is the slightly odd fit of the lid on the bowl. In short they don’t seal on the two smaller sizes for some strange reason. They do fit ok and will happily stay in place, just don’t grip as easily as the large lid does. Would it stop me from buying them. Don’t think so, but forewarned is forearmed.

Beautiful bowls at a beautiful price. £70. Take 20% off them this weekend using code LCZWIL20

I’ll leave the last word to an article I read this earlier this week, and it was billed as a great interview question.

I hate surprises, can you tell me something that might go wrong now, so that I’m not surprised when it happens.

Interesting thought…

That’s it for this week, I hope you have a pleasant and peaceful weekend.

Kind regards


Andrew Bluett-Duncan


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