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Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Fashionably Late

So, London Fashion Week finished yesterday. I know this because lots of pictures of the bottom half of people in 'distressed' jeans and bare ankles on my Instagram feed told me. I do love the circus of fashion but given that not wearing a fleece on the school run is a major fashion statement for me nowadays, I'm hardly cutting edge. So imagine my happiness when told that a pair of shoes I bought last week are, in fact, so on trend it hurts. Actually, I'm hoping that's exactly what they won't do because I've bought a pair of clogs on the grounds that they are beautiful - and really comfortable. I plan to break them in by wearing them around the house. By which time, I'll have my fleece back on.

Current rose in the fridge: Paparuda Rosé, Estate Selection 2014, £6.80, Tanners
This is made by the same team behind Asda's brilliant Bradshaw wines (the Pinot Grigio is currently on offer at £4 down from its usual £6). But this one was sent to me by Tanners, a long-standing family-owned wine company. The winery, Cramele Recas, is run by an Englishman who came to Romania more than twenty years ago and they make delicious - and outrageously good value - wines. This one's made from the indigenous Feteasca Neagra grape together with the better known Cabernet Sauvignon grape and it's gorgeous in both colour and flavour. Fresh with racy redcurrant fruits. It'll perk up a simple jacket & slaw supper no end.  

Current red in the rack: Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Priorat 2011, £8 on offer (usually £10), Sainsbury's
Priorat, from the Catalunya region over on the eastern coast, is one of the smartest red wine producing areas in Spain. Along with Rioja, it's one of only two so-called DOC regions in the country (in other words, highly rated). It's brilliant - but subtle, it is not. Full on with heady black fruits and lots of oak, it's a blend of different grape varieties including Syrah, Garnacha (aka Grenache elsewhere) and Mazuela (also known as Carignan elsewhere). If you like Rioja, chances are you will love this.  And it tastes waaaay more expensive than it is. 

Chin chin x

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Wine Lust

Last week, when everyone went Fifty Shades of mad about a certain film, I tweeted that my abiding memory of the book was the wine descriptions. Specifically, how delicious they sounded (there was definitely a cool, crisp Chablis at some point; and I think there was a Sancerre and a Pouilly Fume too, always perfectly chilled and with not too much poured into big glasses). The response to my tweet was mostly one of horror that of all the things that stuck out (sorry), it was the wine. But it was ever thus. I used to love watching Brothers & Sisters: not only did they drink delicious looking red from beautiful glasses, but the family owned a vineyard! And in St Elmo's Fire, I remember Andrew McCarthy ringing Demi Moore from a smart restaurant for wine advice (she tells him to go for Puligny Montrachet) - but I can't remember the ending. I think I need to get out more. Just not to see Fifty Shades.

Current white in the fridge: Ara Pinot Gris 2014, £10.99, Waitrose
The Pinot Gris (also known as Pinot Grigio) grape is technically grey and the colour of the wine made from it ranges enormously. Fifty shades of Gris, if you like. Anyway, this one's from the Marlborough region in New Zealand, more famous for Sauvignon Blanc. With a pink tinge to it, think really fresh nectarine and pear flavours. Not an everyday wine at over £10 but lip-bitingly good - and refreshingly different. Memorable, too. 

Current red on the side: Tesco Finest Argentinian Malbec 2013, £6.49 on offer (normally £7.99), Tesco
The thing about these supermarket finest/taste the difference/extra special ranges is that the wineries behind the wines are often really good. You might just have to squint to find their names on the label (and sometimes their name won't be on there at all). This one's made by an Argentinian producer called Catena, one of the best in the country when it comes to Malbec. And their take on Malbec is perfect for the price, full of dark berry and cherry fruit flavours and a pinch of spice. Needs meat. 

Peace out, winos x

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Mothers 2 Mothers

Photo: Annie Spratt
My friend Annie took this beautiful photo when she visited the project Mothers2Mothers in Kenya just a few weeks ago as part of Team Honk's work to highlight projects being supported by Comic Relief. In Kenya, more than a million children have been orphaned after losing one or both parents to HIV. Mothers2Mothers helps pregnant women living with HIV access the life-saving health services they need to prevent mother-to-child transmission. Women often discover they are HIV positive during ante-natal care and mentoring helps them to come to terms with this, to deal with the side effects on antiretroviral drugs, to eat well and to deliver babies with the best chance of being HIV negative. Women also learn to breastfeed safely, and to avoid stigma.

This photo took my breath away. I've sponsored Team Honk to do Red Nose Day's Danceathon here

Current white in the fridge: Willing Participant Chardonnay 2012, £11.99, Tesco
I say it's in the fridge. Actually, it's all gone. It was fresh, slightly creamy, with a bit of vanilla. And definitely a twist of melon, man. It's from the Yarra Valley in Australia's Victoria wine region, where Chardonnay is a bit of a star along with the red grape Pinot Noir. Made by a producer called Innocent Bystander. Just right with a plate of fish & chips. 

Current red in the rack: Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Primitivo, £7.50, Sainsbury's
Packs a punch, this one. When stateside, this grape goes under the name of Zinfandel. But as ever, everything sounds better in Italian. From Puglia's Salento region, this is earthy in a good way. Think baked plum and blackcurrant fruits with a liberal sprinkling of spice. Needs food - really good with tomato-y pasta. 

Chin chin x

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Dog Days Ahead

This week, I've been mostly fuelled by tea and chocolate brownies. One day I will have a tin of ready-made healthy snacks to tuck into. That, and a pre-made tiffin box of quinoa salad on hand for lunch on-the-go. Just not this week. But today, with deadlines met, I dropped in to see my mum and her new friend. She's called Philomena and she's an absolutely beautiful Irish Terrier. We watched her trot around her new home and tentatively investigate the garden. For hours. She's really friendly, quite nosey and loves a nap. I'm not sure I'd agree in this case that a dog looks like its owner but it seems they were made for each other. 

Current white in the fridge: Pecorino Terre di Chieti 2013, £5.99 on offer, Waitrose
You can't miss the label, it's got grinning sheep on the front (the Italian name for sheep is pecora). The grape is called Pecorino and it's grown in Abruzzo. And what makes this wine so brilliant is that if you're not in the mood for the zing of Sauvignon Blanc but don't want the ripe tropical fruit of an inexpensive Chardonnay, this gives us something in between. Fresh, lemony and love-er-ly.  

Current red in the rack: DMZ Syrah, £9.99, Majestic
I've not gone for subtle labels this week. This one's got enormous letters on the front (DMZ, funnily enough) which I imagine they think is easier to remember than its full name, De Morgenzon. Given that I can't remember what I went into the shop to buy in the first place more often than not, three letters is definitely helpful. Anyway, this is Syrah (same as Shiraz, just under the French name) from Stellenbosch in South Africa and if you like reds from the Rhone, this should go on your list. Bramble fruit and spice, thanks to a bit of time spent in oak barrels. Great value. 

Chin chin x