A Culinary Arts Competition Team & Gastronomy Society fundraising dinner with WineTrust 100 at Westminster Kingsway College
WineTrust 100, who provided the wines for this fundraiser, invited me and a couple of other bloggers along to meet founder John Valentine.
I was not entirely sure what to expect from a culinary arts team dinner, but hoped to experience raw talent, imagination and inventiveness; impatient young turks eager to impress with zeitgeisty flashes of inspiration.
What I got was surprisingly conservative - traditional ingredients, processes and flavour combinations, well judged, neatly presented and very well executed; no chef-ism here, then.
Doyard, Cuvee Vendemiaire NV (organic), Champagne, France green apple and white pear fruit; elegant, crisp and sharp, with a pleasantly vibrant rasp on the finish. Good.
Amuse of smoke celeriac and gorgonzola dolce, parmesan crisp soup sip
A delicious espresso cup of creamy root-veg soup with a slightly unconvincing sliver of melted cheese on the saucer; good, if a touch one-dimensional.
A cone of game-bird flesh served with a chutney and some redundant green leaves plus a single blackberry.
Nicely zeitgeisty theme with really delicious meat and chutney; the unconvincing presentation aside, this was my dish of the night.
2010 Montlouis, Clos Habert, Francois Chidaine, Loire, France golden and rich, off-dry with ripe honeyed pineapple, sweet spice and some late harvest character.
Good depth and length, an old-school, geek's wine. A perfect match with the food. Very Good. My wine of the night.
A delicate piece of cod in a creamy sauce with cockles and samphire - a much lighter, more delicate dish than the game and perhaps would have done better served first.
2012 Lawson's Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand I struggled with this wine previously and encountered the same problem again; for, despite all its accomplishments, it's just too obvious and, like a greedy attention-seeker, overpowers the delicate fish.
A celebration of Welsh lambSome lovely meat, perfectly seasoned and well-cooked; delicious, but feels a bit like several different mains placed randomly on the same plate.
2009 Escarpment Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand ripe red fruits, savouriness and a long finish of sweet spice. Served just slightly too warm, there is the merest hint of flabbiness, but otherwise spot on - a great match for the lamb, too. Good.
2007 Castelnau de Suduirant, Sauternes, Bordeaux sweet cooked pineapple with refreshing, elegant acidity. Really lovely. Good.
Unfortunately, the wine arrives late; I enjoy the cheese, I enjoy the wine and I can see how the acidity and sweetness of the wine would complement the cheeses, but I don't really get a chance to try them properly together.
To my mind, chocolate does not lend itself to cake particularly well - this is rather dry and the dessert does not benefit from its deconstruction; all the elements work well together, but they need to be unified, not separated out.
The wine to match with this dish is a Banyuls; it is ever so slightly corked, with just an underlying hint of soggy cardboard, and served a little over-chilled. Otherwise, it is a spot-on Banyuls - rich with sweet berry fruit and herbaceous aromas; matches well with the chocolate / cherry / cream of the dessert.
Over coffee, I sample some of the petit fours; a blackcurrant jelly cube tastes perfectly of fresh blackcurrants whilst a chocolate praline cone is richly chocolatey and moreish - along with the starter, this is a highlight of the meal.
Top wine overall - Montlouis