The cocktail hour: Orange & Thyme Negroni

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You may not be enjoying a sundowner abroad, but there’s no need not to sip something superior. Upgrade your aperitivo with this simple spin on a Negroni

ORANGE & THYME NEGRONI

25ml Berry Bros. & Rudd Orange & Thyme Gin
25ml Tempus Fugit, Gran Classico (or Campari)
25ml Lustau Vermut Rojo
Orange peel

Build over ice in a tumbler. Garnish with a piece of orange peel trimmed into a twist – squeeze it over the drink to extract the oils and essence, then drop into the drink and stir.

Category: Spirits

Your staycation guide: the South of France

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Forget airline meals, waiting for your luggage or the queue for car rental, and get set for a seriously luxe staycation. Here’s our holiday hit-list, with everything you need to bring the South of France to you this summer

Pack your imaginary suitcase, because we’re whisking you away to the South of France. Virtually, of course. You may not be strolling amongst the lavender fields, cobbled streets and sun-drenched beaches of the Med, but you can easily bring a little bit of France to you.

So grab the corkscrew and an appropriate bottle, line up Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg on the sound system, and start planning for your staycation. Below is our starter for 10 on what to read, watch, eat and listen to on your week “away”.

Watch

  • Jean de Florette: We couldn’t not include this tragic classic – with both superstars Gérard Depardieu and Daniel Auteil. Go all out for a marathon with the sequel Manon de Sources.
  • Amélie: Ok, it’s not set in the south of France, but allow us that for this feel-good classic.
  • Visages Villages: An enchanting yet poignant film that follows Nouvelle Vague director Agnés Varda and photographer/street artist JR on a jaunt around rural France.
  • Les Choristes: The sort of heart-warming film we all need right now.

Read

  • Bonjour Tristesse – Françoise Sagan: You can practically feel the sunshine (not to mention the teenage angst) in this evocative summer tale set in the French Riviera
  • Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tragic, romantic and transportive, make time for this classic from one of the 20th century’s most talented writers.(A dose of Hemingway with The Garden of Eden would be an equally excellent choice.)
  • A Year in Provence – Peter Mayle: Savour this frank and witty memoir about moving to France – with all the highs and lows that come with rural life in Luberon.
  • Swimming Home – Deborah Levy: Dive in with this unsettling but superb novel, with its pinpoint descriptions of rural France.

Listen

Eat

  • Salade niçoise: Feel virtuous with a generous bowl of this glorious salad in the sunshine. Glass of Provence rosé rarely optional. We like David Lebovitz’s recipe.
  • Cassoulet: It may not be particularly seasonal, but – often – nor is the English weather. Plus, what holiday to France doesn’t come with a tin of cassoulet, possibly only savoured once back home? You can make it (go all out with Julia Child’s classic if you must), or you can buy some from Waitrose: your call.
  • Moules marinières: Clichéd maybe, but clattering pots of steaming mussels doused in garlicky goodness are guaranteed to bring a French feel to any day. You could serve them with crusty bread, but we don’t consider the frites optional.
  • Madeleines: Savour a Proustian moment with a freshly baked madeleine (or two). A la St John, with a glass of Madeira, there is little better. We suggest their original recipe, found in a dog-eared version of Justin Gellatly’s book for us (but available online here). (For an alternative sweet treat, we’re also particularly fond of our Head Chef’s canelés.)

If you’re after a dose of culture, you can do a virtual tour of the Royal Academy’s Picasso and Paper exhibition, gaze at Van Gogh’s vibrant paintings or explore some of the Centre Pompidou’s current offerings.

Find the appropriate bottles to complete your at-home adventure on bbr.com – including a mixed case for exploring the region.

Category: Miscellaneous

Kitchen secrets: Café de Paris butter

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Our Head Chef’s flavoured butter is ideal on barbecued steaks. Photograph: Jason Lowe

Whatever’s on the menu, make sure you have our Head Chef’s secret weapon on hand: Café de Paris butter. Stock the fridge with a stick of this and get set to slather it on anything that comes sizzling from the grill

Years ago, on a trip to Toulouse, I came across a restaurant called L’Entrecôte which served just one dish: steak frites. Judging by the queues outside each day, this simple concept certainly worked. I had to see what the fuss was all about. What I experienced was fast food, French style: a simple mixed leaf and walnut salad to start, and then steak served with a “secret recipe” butter sauce and the sort of fries that are as much a signature of French cooking as frogs’ legs.

This recipe is my version of that sensational butter – it works well with just about any grilled meat or fish. It’s also great on vegetables, new potatoes or as a way to liven up anything on the barbecue. The ingredient list may be long, but the results are worth it.

Café de Paris butter

  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 10g capers – finely chopped
  • 1 shallot – peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove – peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley – chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves – chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh tarragon leaves – chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 250g softened butter

Mix all of the ingredients except the butter in a bowl, leave for a couple of hours and then blitz in a food processor. Add the butter and mix it together.

Wrap the butter in cling film to form a 2cm-diameter “sausage” of butter. Refrigerate until set, then slice and place on top of grilled meat (or whatever happens to be on the menu) and grill until it just starts to melt.

What to drink: Inspired by the south of France, it’s only natural to choose a local partner if this is being served on seared red meats. This remarkable old-vine red from the terraces around Larzac would work well (as would most other Languedoc reds), as would a Rhône red, or something plusher from the New World – like Dean Hewitson’s Mourvèdre or Mullineux’s Syrah . If the butter is going on lighter fare, like chicken or veg, go for something lighter and brighter with crunchy fruit: try a Cinsault, a bright Beaujolais or New Zealand Pinot Noir.

Get set to stay home with our range of wines from the South of France on bbr.com, bringing a taste of the region to your table

Category: Food & Wine

Bordeaux 2019: jet-set samples prove the vintage’s potential

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Photograph: Jason Lowe
Earlier this week, a handful of our team had the chance to taste the wines from the Rothschild stables – including both Mouton and Lafite. Our Wine Director Mark Pardoe MW explains what the no-expense-spared tasting reveals about the 2019 vintage

One of the biggest challenges of this 2019 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign has been being able to get an absolutely clear picture of the quality of each wine from the samples we have received. Being unable to taste with the producers at the châteaux has required samples to be sent by courier to our home addresses, or to our Hampshire warehouse, and there is no control over the temperature under which the wines travel nor how the packages are handled. This poses a dilemma for the producer; do they send an untreated sample drawn straight from the barrel, which will show the wine in its best light, but be in its most fragile state and least able to withstand the challenges of the transport; or add plenty of SO2 which will stabilise the wine, but may dumb the aromas and make the wine taste overly dry?

Given this possibility we have tried to be circumspect in our assessment of the wines that we’ve tasted so far. The wines that have shown well will certainly be good in the future, but we have certainly also not dismissed any wines that didn’t show well in our tastings, as they may have suffered in transit. And even the best wines may not show their true colours under these taxing circumstances.

So we were delighted when, on Tuesday this week (2nd June), we were able to get our clearest impression to date of the 2019 vintage, courtesy of the Rothschild family, of whom different branches own Châteaux Lafite-Rothschild and Mouton-Rothschild. Selected wine merchants were invited to taste each château’s range of wine at pre-arranged times, all socially distanced, at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, a glorious neo-classical eccentricity, built as a weekend retreat for Ferdinand de Rothschild in the 19th century, bequeathed to the National Trust in 1957 and managed by the Rothschild Trust. It was opened for the day specially for the tastings.

The unique attraction of the event was the fact that the samples were drawn as late as possible on Monday, then flown to the UK by private jet so they would be handled as carefully as possible throughout the journey. As Philippe Dhalluin of Mouton-Rothschild observed in our video link after the tastings, they were the most expensive samples ever provided by the château.

The speed and care of the transfer of the samples has allowed us to see the wines in a condition as close as possible to that we would have seen, had we been able to taste at the châteaux and, as a result, we can now make a more precise observation on the vintage. It is clear that the best wines will have a beautiful purity of fruit and a delightful energy in addition to the power and generosity that we have already observed. The wines are certainly ripe but, as these really fresh samples demonstrate, the vintage also has a lovely definition of fruit, and the tannins play a vital and exciting role in giving the wines greater detail.

The tasting at Waddesdon Manor has further confirmed our view that this is a high-quality vintage.

Read all our coverage of Bordeaux 2019 here, or browse all the latest releases on bbr.com

Category: Miscellaneous