Food and Wine report by Stephen O’Halloran

Around the world we went yesterday, the notion perhaps stirring distant fun memories for some! I digress.

We had a terrific day yesterday, travelling from the mountains and valleys of Nepal, to the sunny pastures of the La Mancha region, south of Madrid, then onto the vineyards of the Pessac Leognan region of Graves in Bordeaux. Our tour guides were our REX Chef Amosh for the food and Tony Scott for the wines. Our collective thanks to Tony for his generosity in supplying all of the wine. An exceptional gesture.

The Food

I must have been too busy taking photos and making notes to be able to enjoy all of the canapes, only snaring one chicken dumpling. The steamed dumpling came in a seductive spicy sauce which was delicious. From the noises around me, I am sure that the Puri balls and the Bara were also excellent.  The main was slow-cooked Nepalese chicken confit, a thigh with the skin on. Served with a sauce similar to the one with the dumplings. Beautiful, juicy, full of flavour, and tasted like the real chicken we grew up with. Alongside was some Pulau Nepalese Basmati rice and mixed spicy vegetables. A great combination. A most enjoyable meal thanks to Amosh.

The cheese from James Healey was up to the usual high standards we have become used to from our Cheesemaster. This time it was the legendary Manchego from the La Mancha region. A sheep milk cheese, semi-hard. It came in two servings one 3 months old, the other 12 months. Another triumph of selection by James. Great flavour, lingering aftertaste, milky and creamy delicious. I think I preferred the older version. Whenever I hear the name La Mancha, I am taken back to Jim Nabors singing the “Impossible Dream “, one of my favourites, I love the line, “to be ready to march into hell for a heavenly cause “. Quite stirring, at least for me.

The Wines

Once again sincere thanks to Tony, as the Jesuits say “a man for others“. Today we were treated to some excellent French Wines from the Pessac Leognan region, In particular, some Sauvignon Blanc, for which the Graves area is renowned. We do not see a lot of these wines here, a pity as they are a revelation in showing the comparison between Graves SB and the same grape grown in NZ. Many years ago I was able to share a bottle of the famous Graves white, Chateau Carbonnieux. It made a lasting impression. Today Tony produced two straight SB and one SB/ Semillon blend. All were excellent and went so well with all of the food. I preferred the Lurton of the two aperitif wines, but overall my choice was the third wine, the Louviere. The added Semillon gave it more depth and finish. A lovely complex taste.

 In all honesty, when you drink these wines and then compare them to that crushed Lantana smelling rubbish from NZ, the wine you only ever are served at any function I wonder why? Is it part of a Prisoner Exchange Programme with NZ?  I do not allow NZ SB in the house. There, got that off my chest!

Finally, we were served three reds from the same region. I personally thought the reds played second fiddle to the whites. Nothing wrong with any of them, just overshadowed by the excellent whites, perhaps they were affected adversely by the spicy sauce with the main. I did however enjoy the last red, the Rochemorin from 2014. Nice lifted Bordeaux after taste and flavour. Went very well with the Cheese.

All in all, a very enjoyable lunch, consistent with our high standards of late.