Elwood Tasting: Producer’s Dinner with Bodega Norton

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Written by Alice Reeves

Last week, elwood launched a new event series in a new venue, holding their first Producer’s Dinner at Blanch House. Brighton’s original boutique hotel – just recently re-opened – this gorgeous Georgian terrace is a chic, stylish, friendly little place in Kemp Town; the perfect spot to showcase a vineyard with a pretty quirky story…

About Bodega Norton

It was an immense pleasure to meet with, chat to and hear from Bodega Norton’s representative Diego Surazsky, who captivated everyone with the tale of the winery’s unusual beginnings. Founded in 1895 by Edmund James Palmer Norton – an English engineer working on the railway connecting Mendoza to Santiago – it all began with a love story. During his time in Mendoza, Norton fell for and married an Argentinean girl, whose family presented him with some land as a gift. It was here that he decided to…

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Event Review: Elwood Wines’ Summer Tasting

Elwood Wines Summer Tasting at Lighthouse

(c) Elwood Wines

Last month saw the showcase of Elwood Wines summer collection at Lighthouse. Wine-lovers and business folk from all over Brighton gathered to taste a fantastic range of 47 reds, whites, rosés, ports, sherries and cognacs – including some incredible home-grown wines from Sussex’s very own vineyards.

As well as a plethora of wines to suit every palate, La Cave au Fromage were there to showcase their sensational selection of cheeses; while the wonderful Hove-based Chocoholly brought a devilishly delicious table full of hand-made chocolate delights.

Adding an element of fun to proceedings – as if tasting almost 50 different wines wasn’t fun enough – Karl and Tracey organised the Vinolympics to inject a little healthy competition between attendees. Unfortunately this didn’t involve us performing gymnastics on the serving tables or swimming through pools of Pinot Grigio – instead we had to rank six wines out of 20 and guess which was the most popular of the evening.


Chocoholly’s table of treats.

Alas I didn’t win the top prize, but did manage to pick out that the Stopham Estate Pinot Blanc 2010 – grown right here in Sussex – was well worthy of the gold. In fact, my personal picks of the evening were mainly English wines. Here are a few of the bottles which I enthusiastically circled on my list and ended up treating myself to:

Foxwood Dawn Picked Viognier, Languedoc 2010 (£7.95): Medium-bodied white with characters of summer flowers and citrus fruit – fantastic value at less than £8. Elderflowery and refreshing, I’m looking forward to cracking this one open.

Stopham Estate Pinot Blanc, West Sussex 2010 (£14.95): Served on board the Royal Barge during the Queen’s Jubilee flotilla, this is a wine deemed fit for royalty. Think pears, apples and crisp orchard fruits – perfect for summer picnics. Oh, and it was the Vinolympics winner!

Nutbourne Vineyards Bacchus, West Sussex 2010 (£13.75): If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll LOVE this. With summery notes of cut grass and gooseberries combined with peaches and orchard fruits, this is a bottle well worth spending that little extra on.

Nutbourne Vineyards Sussex Reserve 2010, West Sussex, England

Nutbourne Vineyards Sussex Reserve 2010. My favourite!

Nutbourne Vineyards Sussex Reserve, West Sussex 2010 (£9.95): Blend of Bacchus, Huxelrebe and Schoenburger. Deliciously aromatic with zesty citrus notes on the nose, a supple creamy texture and racy acidity. Probably my favourite wine of the night.

The Exhibitionist Merlot, One Chain Vineyards, Western Australia 2008 (£9.00): Packed with super-ripe red berry flavours, this is one of the best Merlots I’ve tasted in a while. Easy-drinking and great value at less than a tenner, this is a red that benefits from being slightly chilled.

Mompertone, Prunotto 2008 (£12.95): Loved this wine from the second I tasted it. Great complexity on the nose with notes of plum, cherry, coffee and peppery spice with a deliciously plump taste. Will most likely be saving this for a tender, rare sirloin steak.

Lo Tengo Malbec, Mendoza, Bodegas Norton 2011 (£8.95): Being extremely partial to a good Malbec, this is a good value wine from one of Argentina’s most renowned producers. Full-bodied and spicy but still quite fresh, you can’t go wrong for this price.

Qype: The Old Bank Steak & Ribs Restaurant in Brighton

BrightonEating & DrinkingRestaurantsSteak HousesEating & DrinkingRestaurantsEating & DrinkingRestaurantsFamily restaurants

Inside The Old Bank

After wanting to visit The Old Bank for a while, I was delighted to be invited to another Brighton Qype event to sample the wine list and menu. Being a BIG fan of a good steak (and good wine, of course) I’ve been to a lot of steak houses – mainly chain-style ones which try hard to be faux-American and never quite beat a steak from a good butcher which I’ve cooked myself. This place is (thankfully) something completely different and in a class of it’s own.

I was the first one to arrive at the event (I have an awful habit of turning up to things stupidly early) and was greeted by Helen, the owner, and Jonathan, the general manager. It was lovely to chat to them a bit about the place first, which despite only being open for a couple of months already has the fantastic homely atmosphere of a well-established restaurant.

So, onto the food and wine. We started with a Prosecco which was wonderfully light, easy to drink and an absolute bargain at £19.75 for a great bottle of bubbles. The next wine we had was a Muscat – a gorgeous, sweet dessert wine priced at £16.50 for 50cl – accompanied by a chicken liver pate (on the menu at £4.50) which complemented it perfectly.

Next came a Chardonnay blend accompanied by warm goats cheese (£3.95 on the menu) – even though I’m not normally a lover of Chardonnay, this wine was actually really nice and very decently priced at £13.95.

Then it was onto the reds and the meat dishes. The next wine we sampled was a Riesling supplied by local wine merchant Henry Butler – priced at £24.95, this was at the top end of the wine list and it was easy to see why. It went fantastically with the chicken wings (from £3.95 a portion) which come in either ‘hot’ or ‘not’. Because I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to spice, I went for ‘not’.

I’ve heard great things about The Old Bank’s ribs and I wasn’t disappointed – they are blimmin’ fantastic, especially when accompanied by another of Butler’s fantastic wines – a beautiful Malbec priced at £22.50.

The minute steak and chips, £6.95

But they saved the best until last – the steak. Jonathon bought out a medium-rare 28oz rib eye steak on a platter (which is ALL yours for £29.95) and I’m not ashamed to say I could probably have eaten the entire thing. With the steak we had a gorgeous rich, full-bodied Shiraz priced at £20.25. Perfect.

After such enticing tasters of the menu I had to order something – I went for the minute steak which is served with chips, jacket or a salad for £6.95. Keen to sample more wine, a few of us sampled their house Malbec which (although not as good as the one from Butler’s Wine Cellar) is fantastic value for £11.95.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the evening – great food, great wine and a great atmosphere. I’m very much looking forward to going back there and tackling one of those 28oz steaks. You never know, I might even share it. Yeah, right.

Check out my review of The Old Bank Steak & Ribs Restaurant – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Event Review: Elwood Wines Tasting at The Chimney House, Brighton

Here are some snaps from one of the fabulous tutored tastings by Karl Elwood from Elwood Wines at The Chimney House in Brighton.

Karl runs these tastings monthly, so if you fancy going along to one click here for upcoming dates. Or you can sign up to the Elwood Wines newsletter, Tales from the Vineyard, here.

The seven wines from Bordeaux on the tasting menu

Attempting to be a bit 'arty' with my camera

Flight 1: Quail's Eggs and Crayfish Tails with Rocket

Flight 3: Cheese, Biscuits and Olives

My copious notes, which began to tail off towards the 7th wine

I liked the chandelier in The Chimney House function room

Karl tells us about the wines

Great turnout, lovely atmosphere

Karl chatting about the wines

Qype: Salvador and Amanda in London

LondonEating & DrinkingPubs & BarsBars

If you love eating out and haven’t got a Taste Card yet, you absolutely must. Salvador and Amanda is one of the places where you get 50% off food Monday-Thursday so that’s how we discovered this place, which is a stone’s throw from Covent Garden and Leicester Square stations.

This is one of the few tapas bars I’ve been to in the UK that has a genuinely Spanish feel to it. It’s underground, it’s candlelit, it’s warm, it’s ambient and throughout our entire meal we were accompanied by a guy playing Spanish guitar on a little bandstand in the middle of the restaurant. All of which made for an incredibly pleasant dining environment.

Inside Salvador and Amanda, London

I’m not ashamed to say that between four of us we TOTALLY pigged out, ordering the Tortilla Española, Patatas Bravas, stuffed peppers, mini tuna pies, grilled queen half shell scallops with crispy Iberico ham, pan-fried baby chorizo, meatballs in tomato sauce, chicken wings roasted in lemon and chilli, chicken breast wrapped in Serrano ham… oh, and a lovely bottle of wine: the Terrassa Tempranillo Spain 2009.

The best bit? With our Taste Card discount, all of that cost us £19.50 a head. Not half bad for dinner in central London, eh?

The only downside of the place was that the service was a little slow, despite it not being that busy. We had to walk up to the bar every time we wanted to get the attention of a member of staff and our dishes were all served randomly and at different times. However, seeing as we got such a great bargain on the Taste Card, we didn’t make a fuss. I wouldn’t have been so happy to overlook it had we been paying the full price of about £40 per head though.

Web: www.salvadorandamanda.com

Menu: www.salvadorandamanda.com/menus/food.html

Check out my review of Salvador and Amanda – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: In Vino Veritas in Brighton

BrightonEating & DrinkingRestaurants

This place is absolutely fantastic. If you’ve got a fair bit of cash to splash and are after a really top-notch meal then you’ve got to get yourself to In Vino Veritas. I came here for the first time last month with my friends from Elwood Wines and had what was probably the best meal I have ever eaten in Brighton.

Determined to stuff ourselves silly, we started in the bar area with the Tapas/Canape menu which included the most delicious charcuterie plate, king prawns and deep fried mozzarella (£3.95 each) along with our first bottle of wine – I think it was the Hoher Rain, Gruner Veltliner, Geyerhof (£34). Not usually to my taste (a little oaky), but a great accompaniment to the cured meats and seafood.

After this fabulous appetizer, we moved up the spiral staircase to the restaurant area. I started with the Seared Scallops (£7.85) – which were deliciously buttery and cooked to absolute perfection – before moving onto one of my favourite dishes: Rib Eye Steak with Pommes Frites and Green Peppercorn Sauce (£16.75). Divine.

Far too full for real dessert, we ended the meal in the most perfect way – with a strong, creamy liqueur coffee. After four courses and as many bottles of wine (not all to myself, I hasten to add) I felt thoroughly satisfied. Although it would take months, perhaps even years, to work through their incredibly extensive wine list I can’t wait to go back again and start trying.

Check out my review of In Vino Veritas – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Recipe Review: Elwood Wines Olive Cake (a Recipe from Bordeaux)

Olive cake, fresh from the oven and smelling gorgeous

When Elwood Wines held their Wine Challenge at the Blaker’s Park Picnic in June this year, they were serving their wines alongside the most delicious looking bread which, being wheat intolerant, I wasn’t able to sample on the day. So, on discovering that they had uploaded the recipe to their website I absolutely had to give it a go – gluten-free style.

More like a “savoury cake” than a loaf of bread, there’s no kneading, no leaving to rise and no fiddling about with yeast and hot water necessary – my favourite kind of baking. And the end result? A delicious, savoury, cheesy, crumbly delight that makes the ideal late-night self-indulgent supper. So here it is: the Elwood Wines Olive Cake.

First, measure out 250g self raising flour (I tend to use Dove’s Farm Gluten & Wheat Free Self Raising White Flour) and, using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix in 4 free-range eggs (use large ones – medium ones don’t give you quite enough liquid). Once the flour and eggs are thoroughly blended together, add a 175ml glass of dry white wine and half a glass of extra virgin olive oil. Using a whisk, beat into the egg and flour mix until you get rid of all the lumps.

Next add to the mixture 200g pitted sliced black olives (you can buy them already sliced – which saves a LOT of time), 200g cubed ham or lardons (cooked, not raw – I fried the lardons in a small amount of olive oil) and 200g grated cheese (make sure you use a hard cheese like gruyere, edam, cheddar or emmental).

Stir these in quickly and poor all of the mixture into a lined loaf tin. A word of warning though – I used a 1lb loaf tin greased with olive oil, but the loaf didn’t hold together too well. I’m not sure if it was because of the depth of the tin, or because of the lack of gluten in the flour, but I think that a flatter tin (perhaps roasting tin) lined with greased baking parchment would be better. That’s what I’ll be using next time.

Anyway, back to the recipe. Place in the centre of a pre-heated oven (200°c/400°F/Gas mark 6) and cook for 60 minutes.

Freshly baked Olive Cake #nomnomnom

Once cooked, cut into cubes or slices and serve with red or white wine. I would recommend the Cotes du Rhone 1er Cote 2007, La Ferme du Mont (£9 per bottle/£54 per case) or the Fairtrade Thandi Sauvignon/Semillon 2009, Thandi, South Africa (£6.75 per bottle/£40.50 per case) – both are available from Elwood Wines.