18 Jun 2008

Chop, Chap, Chippage

PICTURED, SUSHI, Green Park, Saturday. This selection came from the clean, crowded, relatively cheap Japan Centre nearby where a muzacal version of The Carpenter's greatest hits tinkled. The highlight: moist beetroot and moss coloured Seaweed Salad (Hiyashi Wakame) which in parts verged on being translucent. As blue sky silvered we took refuge in a Piccadily basement. However this was no dank pit, but 1707 [previous review], Fortnum & Mason's elegant, normally relaxing wine bar. Alas, on our visit, a maniacal Russian waitress managed to systematically inject tyranny, meeting every mild mannered request with signs of terrible personal shock. How dare I want another friend to join us; where are they going to sit? Mm? And if you want to split the bill, well, the manager will need to be phoned. Now, do we really want that? It's your own time your wasting... Mm?
To be honest, I was too lubricated to really care. Besides, another chap - excellent - found me Cornish oysters from another floor when their own stocks had depleted.
Anyway, bottles from the wine department can be drunk within for £10 corkage: not exactly a rip-off in an establishment of this calibre.
After a bright kaffir lime tingling, vibrant, energising glass of Polish Hill Riesling '07, we liberated a gorgeous Super Tuscan. Guidalberto '03, of Sassicaia fame (Merlot, Cabernet, Sangiovese) had bountiful charm. It had blossomed since my last encounter two years ago when I thought it had flavours of 'tuna, mild rubber and artichoke heart'. In its present condition, it was more dashing then Marcello Mastroianni, and as beguiling as Monica Belluci. Beneath its purple-plush, shiny painted veil, I saw what Hugh Johnson meant when he wrote about certain wines ageing ability: '...years in bottle give them more than just a patina of age. It does what age does to individuals: makes them more themselves.'
Dense, shiny, perfumed with perfectly ripe dark fruits and a breathtakingly prolonged, savoury, slightly smoked, pancetta like palate. Anna, who works for The Wine Adventure, said it reminded her "of the cologne used to clean violin strings". Incidentally, I have found it for £10 a bottle less then Fortnum's HERE.
Also pictured, Sunday, a leek (I side with Rowley) and mackerel pie (excellent), cushioned in unexpectedly thin, crisp pastry, at Green & Blue another wine shop/wine bar, Dulwich. A fragrant '07 Traminer Aromatico from Franz Haas was not their best vinous offering to date. It lacked length and felt obese.
I think the management need apply a little TLC to coax the potential colour out of this venue. It is at present scuffed, in parts sewer-tainted, dark with dinky flourishes and bombastic beats. Incidentally, they innovatively operate 'chippage': BYO food for £3 per plate...
Finally, I was in Cambridge, Tuesday. In the photo, King's College is visible from the gleaming glass of the new-ish Cambridge Chop House, founded by two graduates. The amusing, lethargically charming, trendily, but permanently posh waiter (in his second week) referred to his colleague as a 'stupid tit' for replacing an empty bottle of Champagne in the fridge. A palpably sticky, gristle bound sirloin was a flop for the Chop. This A3 must have seen more tenants in the last decade then my wine rack.
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Traffic to this blog has soared. One reason: people are Googling Giles Coren. Presumably fanatics are fascinated by his current gustatory romps on the BBC.
HERE is the blip on their radar.