Last Friday night, I had the very great pleasure of matching wines to the utterly sublime food of hugely talented young chef, Danny Gill, at our latest, and most innovative, ‘pop up’ restaurant event.
Hailing from Lincolnshire, Danny served a successful apprenticeship under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. At 25, he was appointed head chef of 2 Michelin starred restaurant Midsummer House and now he’s about to open his own restaurant with good friend, and right hand man, Phil Henson, back in their home county of Lincolnshire.
Danny’s 6 course ‘taster’ menu for the ‘pop up’ evening was largely informed by his experience at Midsummer House and was cooked, almost in its entirety, on charcoal fuelled Big Green Eggs. I’d best explain – ardent foodies aside, not many people know of Big Green Eggs but top chefs, the world over, sing their praises. Not least, Danny’s ex-boss and Midsummer House owner, Daniel Clifford, “It is the most magical piece of kit. It’s transformed my kitchen and taken flavours to another level. “
Here then, is Danny’s amazing menu with accompanying wines. Needless to say, the wines were supplied by yours truly and, as I suspect you may have guessed, we’re also able to assist if you fancy becoming an ‘Egghead.’
Vouvray Sparkling Brut, Vincent Careme £ 19.00 with Sour dough, piccalilli, sour cream & chive
Vincent Careme’s, organic Vouvray Sparkling Brut is an excellent alternative to Champagne and displays yeasty, caramel notes with undertones of honey and dessert apples.
Quinta da Raza Arinto £ 10.99 with Celeriac baked on open coals, apple & celery pickle, caramelized celeriac broth
Portugal is the proud possessor of over 400 indigenous grape varieties and one of my favourites is the white grape variety, Arinto. In particular, I adore the Arinto produced by Quinta da Raza in the Vinho Verde region in the far north of the country.
It’s minerally smokiness paired really well with the celeriac and, pleasingly, it was Danny’s favourite wine of the evening but if you’re of the, understandable, view that life’s too short to patiently bake root vegetables over open coals, then try it with goat’s cheese.
Iona Chardonnay £ 14.50 with Crisp confit of chicken leg, burnt onion, buttermilk & sorrel
I can’t pretend there weren’t a few disappointed faces when I announced this wine. However, the ABC (anything but Chardonnay) gang were, immediately, won over by the restraint and elegance of this Chardonnay from the cool climate region of Elgin in South Africa. It’s a wine that judiciously balances freshness with richness and tastes of grapefruit, pear, white peach and subtle bready notes.
Fino en Rama, Fernando de Castilla £ 9.50 with Seared cornish mackerel, tartar, pickled cucumber, fennel chantilly
Realistically, this one’s never going to convert any non-believers to the Sherry cause but if you hanker after a truly authentic Sherry taste, then it’s a must. En rama means in the raw and this wine is taken, unfiltered, straight from the barrel.
Manga del Bruyo, El Escoces Volante £ 10.50 with Venison loin lightly smoked with pine, braised shoulder suet pudding, red cabbage, parsley root
People are still, a week later, rhapsodising about this dish and the wine has been flying off the shelves. Comprised of 4 grape varieties, the Manga del Bruyo is forthright, full bodied and massively imbued with flavours of black fruits, cracked pepper, smoke and toast.
Pineau de Charentes, Chateau d’Orignac £ 19.99 with Yorkshire Rhubarb, Stem Ginger Posset, Hazelnut and ginger biscuits
Made from two-thirds of grape must (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and one-third aged Cognac, the Pineau de Charentes takes 10 years to produce and possesses a ridiculously moreish palate of peaches, apricots, honey, and almonds.