Bring a course & wine – Round 3

It’s only taken 18 months (!!) to complete the “bring a course” circuit, but finally the circle is complete. The rules are simple; the host cooks the main course and selects an accompanying wine; the starter, dessert and complimentary beverages are prepared and sourced by the guests. The first two rounds were a great success, featuring some fabulous food and some excellent wine sections; here are the links to the write-ups:

Round 1

Round 2 

Beautiful Cheltenham was the location for the latest round, following trips to Cambridge and Watford on our UK tour. As the host, Joel was in charge of the main course, Dave was on starter duties and yours truly took his turn at the pud. Eurovision was the soundtrack to the evening… let the gluttony commence!


To get things started we opened a bottle very interesting pink fizz and of one of my very favourite wines, a Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal, and neither disappointed:


Whole Foods Rosato NV, Veneto, Italy (Whole Foods £6.99)

This super-fun wine comes with a crown-cap closure, which doesn’t signal a great wine, but boy does it deliver a bucket-full of aromas and flavours! There’s yeasty brioche, creamy red fruit and vanilla cream… it reminded me of the super-mousse of my childhood, or Campino sweets. A very gentle fizz and a very agreeable aperitif… and outstanding value for money. 88 points


Rabl Kaferberg Grüner Veltliner 2012, Kamptal, Austria (Wine and the Vine £19.95)

Delightful nose of citrus, peach and grapefruit with plenty of clean slate-like minerality. The texture is rich and voluptuous with very pure lemon and peach fruit. The attack and finish is bone dry with cool minerality and a gorgeous, warm and spicy white pepper finish. 93 points




Dave really cares about food and takes these things very seriously (he also has very bad taste in beer but you’ll have to read about Bangers & Smashed to go into the detail!). Three days of preparation went into his ham-hock terrine for the evening’s kick-off… so imagine his distress when he dropped the bloomin’ thing on his kitchen floor the evening before! A lesser man may have quit, but not Dave. He went shopping at Whole Foods and pulled together a magnificent Caprese salad and a delightful plate of Morcilla sausage topped with red pepper and toasted breadcrumbs… Mmmmm!

The wines Dave brought along were selected to accompany the terrine, but Vermentino and Viognier are a great match for many starters:


Berton Vineyards Metal Label Vermentino 2012, Eden Valley, Australia (J Wadsworth Wine £8.99)

Aromas of tropical fruits, lime and a gentle floral touch jump from the glass and follow through to the palate. The acidity is fresh and crisp, the texture has a touch of richness but this is a can of fruit salad in a glass – a great summer wine and would make a fabulous aperitif. 89 points


Finca La Linda Viognier 2013, Maipo, Argentina (J Wadsworth Wine £9.97)

Peach, apricot, floral (it says orchid on the label and it’s bang on!) and a real almond nuttiness. Oily texture but the alcohol is quite overwhelming. Once it clears away there is ripe peach and apricot with a twist of citrus and the nuttiness we found on the nose. There’s lots there but the alcohol is just taking over – the pieces of the jigsaw don’t quite fit. 85 points


Main course

Joel has been looking forward to this ever since he visited Meat Liquor on my recommendation. He fell so head over heels in love with their “Dead Hippie” burger that he scoured the web for a recipe and treated us to a brilliant rendition of this modern classic. The meat was sourced from the very fine JR Pilkington of Bishop’s Cleeve and, after much discussion, a blend of 80% flank/20% chuck was agreed upon. And he managed to serve up some of the very best onion rings I have ever had the privilege to devour!


The accompanying wine was a juicy young Chianti and we also opened up a bottle of Chateau Musar to play along with that week’s #newwinethisweek:


Chianti Classico Riserva Castello della Paneretta 2011, Tuscany, Italy (M&S £13.99)

The reviews we’d read for this one suggested a full-on, chocolaty monster… so I was very happy to find ripe red cherries and a touch of raspberry freshness on the nose! It’s all creamy fruit and so drinkable in it’s youth for it. A touch of smoke adds a hint of complexity but a very linear wine and very good for it. 87 points


Chateau Musar 2007, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon (Waitrose £21.99)

The nose was spicy and concentrated – blackberry, a hint of red currant and very spicy with hints of pepper and garam massala. On the palate the wine was spicy and fruity with good acidity and firm tannin – still young. I kept some wine in a glass and kept going back to it… and it kept getting better and more elegant as it opened up. I’d like to try the 07 again in 5 years time. 92 points



I knew that Joel was planning to recreate the Dead Hippie so I wanted to create a dessert of disgusting magnitude to match the burger filth… so what better than a peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake? I’ve never made a baked cheesecake before (the Fish and Mad Louise are both experts) so it was rather reckless of me a) not to practice and b) to make most of the recipe up after giving up on converting the measures from cups to metrics! I was so worried but even I couldn’t go wrong with cheesecake + Chocolate + peanut butter!

The big question for me was what wine to pair with this monstrosity. I saved a bottle of late harvest Sancerre from our visit to Bougeois last summer especially for the occasion, but I needed something sweeter, stickier and nuttier to match up to the calorific colossus… I needed Pedro Ximénez!


Harveys Pedro Ximénez VORS

VORS stands for “Very Old Rare Sherries” and this sticky sherry delivers in spades. The nose is fig, caramel and toffee with a slightly liquorice undertone. The palate is lusciously thick and rich and sweet with concentrated flavour of raisins, liquorice, black treacle and toasted nuts. The flavours last for an extraordinary length and the wine is so, so smooth. I love this stuff. 93 points

By the time we got to the sweet Sauvignon I was done taking notes, so this is what I wrote when I tasted it at Henri Bourgeois in the summer!


Vendange De La St-Luc 2007

100% Sauvignin Blanc, grown on Kemmeridgen clay solid and picked several weeks after the main harvest to concentrate the grapes and produce this delicious sweet wine. The wine demonstrates the diversity of the Sauvignon Blanc grape and is absolutely delicious. It’s certainly not over sweet and its oh so fresh with a wonderful spine of acid. Golden in colour and highly concentrated tropical fruits – enjoy as an aperitif, serve with foie gras or match with a fruity dessert. Mmmm! 93 points


We all loved the “Bring a course” series and we’re working out the next event already; give it a go… its great fun and we’ve all learnt a hell of a lot at the same time.





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Posted on May 18, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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