"It's not much but it's ours"

Friday, March 28, 2008


Who's not afraid to try new things
Who gets to spend her birthday in Spain

An excellent evening in the company of DH’s newest chum, Andrew Sinclair of Gonzalez Byass, who had very kindly invited us along to Café Spice Namaste where he had planned an evening of Indian food accompanied by Sherries. HS was enjoying the delights of the exotic East so I went along instead. It’s not easy being me.

I thought I had arrived too early but Charles Campion was already there (of course he was) but oddly no Jay “Slim Jim” Rayner who I expected to see engaged in a titantic struggle with Man Mountain for control of the canapé table.

After a little small talk and some snacks washed down with a few glasses of Tio Pepe Fino we sat down to the four courses devised by restaurant owner Cyrus Todiwala who had matched them with appropiate Sherries from the Gonzalez Byass range.

The starter combo worked brilliantly: a fillet of Pomfret which had been marinated in tamarind, chilli and pepper, then roasted and served with a little carrot salad. Tio Pepe Fino was served correctly chilled and in a proper sized pour* to accompany the fish. The chilled sherry counteracted the kick of the chilli and the pairing of Fino and seafood is a classic match as any visitor to Spain will know. The salad looked a bit prosaic but was in fact very sparky – I could have eaten a lot more.

I liked the pairing of Duck breast which had been smoked, imparting a subtle taste of cinnamon and cloves into the flesh, with a chilled Alfonso Oloroso although I’m not sure the accompanying cheesy toasts matched the other two components. Interesting dish, though.

The main course of Chicken curry showed that Cyrus is not afraid to give his dishes a bit of a chilli hit but the matching Vina AB, a single estate Amontillado, was served a little too chilled for my taste - things improved once it had warmed up a tad.

The last sherry we tried was the Gonzalez Byass Nectar made from PX (Pedro Ximenez) grapes. This is fantastic stuff: dark, rich and complex it actually stands alone as a pud in itself. I usually have it over good quality Vanilla ice cream. I thought it went well with the selection of Indian sweets.

All in all a pretty successful evening which shows that Sherry is a lot more versatile than people give it credit for – even I learned something.

All too soon it was time to toddle off but I thought it might be nice to have a nightcap in the newly opened East Room (fortuitously about a minute from Casa DH). We ended up staying far too late and drinking Armagnac from each of our birth dates in the engaging company of the manager Andrew Coles. A very good way to end a very good evening.

* So many places wrongly treat Fino as a spirit and sell it in miniscule servings at alarming high mark-ups

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Blogger Trig said...

One of the first kitchens I trained in and still somewhere dear to my heart. I'll be visiting while I'm in London next month. There's nothing Cyrus is scared of trying!

Sunday, March 30, 2008 5:24:00 pm  
Blogger RD said...

Yes, and the other great insult often rendered to fino sherry is to put it on the list of dessert wines and after-dinner drinks. On principle I would walk out of any establishment that does so, but often I find myself already at the end of the meal before this affront. BB

Monday, March 31, 2008 8:32:00 am  
Blogger Chris Pople said...

Weird alcohol pricing is not limited to sherries, either. Take Pimms, at 15% hardly stronger than some wines and yet charged per 25ml measure as if it were overproof rum. The whole business needs sorting out, in my opinion.

Monday, March 31, 2008 1:46:00 pm  

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