Francotastic wine tasting – Wednesday 27th April

Summer arrived early in all its rose-tinted glory at fabulous Franco’s last week in the esteemed neighbourhood of St James.  Franco’s oozes chic and attracts the most-friendly and erudite clientele from all walks of life.  Their love and passion for rosé was the perfect match for Rendezvous’ desire to mark the advent of the spring and summer wine list in style. The evening was overseen by Franco’s team Imogen and Jason – thank you so much for your slick event planning; such a pleasure working with you.

A lucky group of Rendezvous wine lovers had the opportunity to sample no less than 60 (six zero) rosés, as well as champagnes, whites and reds.  From Taitinger Rosé champagne to Mas de Daumas Rosé Frizant; from classic French to rural Devon. The delicious circulating canapés were no mere palate cleansers; they were pop-the-whole-thing-in mouthfuls of delightful yumminess, but I kept circling back around to friend and YouTube star Stephen Cronk’s light and easily quaffable Mirabeau. Watch him with his cute video about how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew…

Was Mirabeau a match for heavy-weight rosé star Brad and Angelina’s Whispering Angel, a wine described as white flowers and crushed strawberries?  Well if palest pink was the couleur du jour then I think these two wines were the stand out stars of the night. I caught site of several couples whispering in the shadows.

Lovely to have friends in town from Monaco and Belgium.  The many trying Rendezvous for the first time were given a warm welcome to soothe their nerves, while those who come regularly know this is a place where the introductions flow seamlessly from one new friend to another.  It truly was a night full of friendly faces, made ever more friendly with the addition of the pink stuff!

Guests were offered the opportunity to buy cases of wine, but there was something in the way iphones were being flourished at the end of the evening that suggested it was more than wine cellars that were being stocked!

Lou Lou and I had been looking forward to this event for weeks and it couldn’t have turned out better: spectacular wines, gorgeous guests and some serious blending at the end of the evening.

Diana and Christopher

The Cook, the thief, his wife and her lover

Those of you who remember this legendary film may be wondering just what bit of it resembled our chic cooking event…but bear with me.  The movie is about an eccentric banquet in a London restaurant over the (was it 3 or 4?) course of which our blonde heroine (played, unforgettably, by the iconic Helen Mirren) morphs from submissive wife to daring lover (and yes she probably did take her clothes off.)  Peter Greenaway’s film is a sumptuous display of artistic genius:  he uses a different colour scheme for each locale –  red for the dining room, white for the bathrooms –  with the characters’ costumes changing colour as they move from one to the other.

If we were to make a movie of our Cooking up a Storm event  it would star another iconic blond – gorgeous and eccentric Diana Horsford.  She’s even more creative than a Peter Greenaway film and certainly the menu we cooked was a feast for the eyes.

We all piled into the warm haven of the Avenue cookery school in Putney and were welcomed with a delicious glass of Crémant de Limoux Cuvée from the place in the Languedoc that invented sparkling wine – before Champagne – and gave us the word limousine.   What a treat to have ex-Christies head of wine Christopher Burr as our wine expert for the night.  Diana lined us up to watch her neatly assemble Thai salmon parcels, aided by handsome and eligible Tom (see pics). Next up was a gentle folding together of lemon possets and a ridiculously simple assembling of lavender biscuits direct to freezoir.  Christopher dispensed with a glass or two of Macon Villages meant for the wine tasting; couldn’t have us lot being thirsty…

Diana and TomLou & Babs Lou & Chris

Divided into groups, we all got to work, chopping and assembling our creations as directed ,with a general enthusiasm that belied the fact that some of us had yet to progress past egg boiling. All went swimmingly and by 9pm we were ready to get stuck into our appetising creations. Christopher took us through a tasting which included discussing the differences between two chardonnays: the aristocratically titled Domaine Mallory et Benjamin Talmard Macon-Villages and an earthier-sounding Heggies Eden Valley from Australia. Some of us were clearly not afraid of voicing our opinions, which proved to be sharply divided. En garde!

Our utterly wonderful Thai salmon parcels on a colourful bed of stir fried vegetables tasted as divine as they looked, notwithstanding the fact that I could see my chunky disorderly vegetables protruding from my surveyor friend’s precision-engineered ones – sorry Diana my chopping skills need work!  Christopher’s pairing of this course with an amazing  Gewurztraminer Tradition Cave de Turckheim exemplified his genius.

With dessert on its way he then played a game with us – a blind tasting where we had to answer the following questions: a) Warm or cool climate?  b) Very young wine, or matured? c) One varietal or more (simple or complex)? d) Use of oak?  e)  Where and what? Our candidate for consideration proved to be a delicious Rioja Muga, which none of us got spot on, but we got close, very close.  I wonder if I might be allowed on your Wotwine? app tasting team Christopher? I do have a lot of experience…

We downed the lemon posset and lavender biscuits with an elegant Moscato d’Asti, which I always love to drink at the end of a meal – being only 5% ABV it’s almost like drinking water…truly!  Then it was time to say good bye to our wonderful hosts.  Christopher, the perfect yin to Diana’s creative yang. We hope you’ll have us back again.

A word to the wise: if any of you have children home over the Easter holidays, Diana runs wonderful classes for those going off to university or for a chalet season.  Having your own well trained kitchen ‘slaves’ has to be a worthwhile investment.

lemon pots at Avenue Cookery School

Food and Wine – The language of love

A night to look forward to for Rendezvous singles in my kitchen for a night of cooking. We are cooking up a fabulous flirty two course meal. With the right partner beside you, cooking and preparing a meal together is the ultimate turn on. The language of preparing food is sumptuous: sizzle, melt, percolate, coddle, fold and stir.

The main course is light and appealing, Thai salmon parcels; salmon enjoys a rich history as a natural aphrodisiac, the fish that is a sexual powerhouse. An excellent source of protein – essential for stamina – salmon is also loaded with omega 3’s, that elevate serotonin levels in the brain and thereby enhance mood. Vitamin rich, with a large hit of A, D, B and calcium, great for giving the all-important libido lift. The exotic Thai spices will be evocative of beaches and sunshine.

Lemon pots with rosemary, the romance-infused herb, it amuses all of the senses with its dreamy perfume, perfect for tickling and its intense flavour and comforting aromas are unforgettable. And perhaps, used at the end of this meal, it may be the right time and maybe the right person, rosemary may find you love.

Wine is also clearly held in high regard as a prelude to romance. That’s why we have my friend charismatic ex-Christie’s Head of Wine, Christopher Burr MW taking us on a journey of affordable alcoholic aphrodisiacs.

I can’t wait to meet lots of you in my kitchen and share all the incredible tips for cooking up a meal that may well become the one that starts something very special.

Until the 15th

Diana x