Archive for the ‘Chardonnay’ Category

We got a surprise call from our great friend Ben who had some live lobsters which he was terrified of. He’s now got over this and is an expert lobster stabber and we got the benefit of two live lobsters too. I made this years ago before I met Jules and have always promised to cook it if two live lobsters arrive on our doorstep, so happy Friday night Jules! This recipe feeds 4 people – we had no problem finding 2 volunteers to help us eat it.

Il miglior brodo siciliano di aragosta – the best Sicilian  lobster broth – to serve 4

  • 150g dried lasagne sheets, smashed up
  • 2 x 1kg live lobsters
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes or 1 or 2 small dried red chillies, crumbled
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, smashed
  • 1/2 a bottle of Sicilian white wine – you can substitute any white wine
  • 850ml passata or 3 x 400g tins plum tomatoes, liquidized
  • a large handful of whole almonds, skins on
  • a small handful of fresh basil leaves
First you’re going to have to kill the lobsters. The best way to do this – and the fairest way for the lobster – is to get a large sharp knife, place the tip on the little crown on the head and chop straight down between its eyes. Be brave! Once you’ve killed your lobsters you need to twist and pull the head away from the tail. Put the tails and claws aside for now. Open the heads and discard the little grey stomach sack which will be near the eyes. Then just cut the head up into little pieces, keeping all the brown meat and other stuff.

Put a large pot on a very gentle heat. When hot, pour a good glug of olive oil in along with all the head pieces and lobster legs. You can turn the heat up a bit now. Add your onions, garlic, carrots, cinnamon stick, chillies and fennel seeds. Continue frying this for about 15 minutes – keep moving it around in the pot – so the onions take on a bit of colour but careful they don’t burn. If the pan gets too hot just splash in a bit of water.

Add your white wine and boil hard for 5 minutes before adding the passata and the same quantity of water. Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 or 30 minutes. Now put a colander on top of another large pot and pass the soup through it. Press down on the shells with the back of a ladle and let them drip for 5 minutes to make sure you get all the flavour out of them. You can now throw the shells away. Put the soup back on the heat to simmer. It should look like tomato soup – if you think it looks to thick you can add a little water.

Slice the lobster tails across, through the shell and the meat, into 2.5cm slices and put these into the broth. Crack open the claws and pick out all the meat and add this to the broth too. Continue to simmer for 8 more minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water, then drain and toss into the soup for 4-5 minutes.

Chop the almonds very finely and stir into the soup. Taste and season if needed. Divide between 4 bowls, tear over some basil leaves and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.

Wine Suggestions: as this is such a rich dish you need to pair it with a wine that is a little more robust and full-bodied. For whites there are a couple of options: stay local and choose Sicilian wines like Inzolia or Grillo which have weight and a herbal minerality. The other option is to look at a classic Chardonnay with a bit of oak for structure. Try to pick one that has a little bit of acidity for freshness too. This was the option we went for and it worked a treat. For red, do the opposite and look for a fruity, but lighter style of wine like an easy and inexpensive Pinot Noir or Grenache – you want to avoid too much tannin and weight which would overwhelm the sweet, delicate lobster.

(Original recipe by Jamie Oliver in Jamie’s Italy)

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From The Corkscrew on Chatham Street (off Grafton St in Dublin): three guys who are passionate about their wines!

This is one they import themselves and I can see why: it has a fullness and roundness to the body and fruit while balancing a real easiness of drinking. The flavours and aromas of grapefruit and apple meld well with the fullness and juiciness to give a delightful wine that works very well with winter dishes of chicken and turkey, but equally on its own too. €14.95 and well worth it .


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We came across this eye-catching wine advertised in Central Victoria when we visited in June, but didn’t get to try it. When we saw it on the shelf of OddBins in Blackrock at just over €20, we thought it was definitely worth a try.

Made by two men (despite the name on the label) and inspired by their love of game and shooting; this is a characterful wine that combines depth of flavour, a full, rounded body and a lovely, light, freshness and drinkability. In comparison to the elegantly crafted but slightly dull Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay tasted a couple of weeks ago this is definitely less polished – and to it’s advantage as it is a delightful wine full of interest and character. We’d like to see more of these types of wine, and will be looking out for the matching Ladies Who Shoot Shiraz to see if this is just as interesting.

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This week a wine found in Tesco – normally €23.49 but on offer for €15 (and so it qualifies for our wine of the week slot!)

We had some trepidation over this wine as we are a little biassed against big brands of which Wolf Blass is one – the cheaper level wines tend to be a big and brash and have much less attention to detail and the sense of place the grapes have been grown. We like to see a little individuality and personality in the wines we drink.

The Gold Label signifies a step up from the masses and we agree, this is sophisticated, balanced and not without charm. Would we pay full price – probably not – but for €15 it is a steal.

This would go perfectly with creamy chicken dishes; a full-bodied and yet soft and low-acid wine with flavours of yellow apples and toast. It maintains freshness through well judged winemaking techniques (battonage) and the result is very pleasant. A well balanced, well made, clever wine.


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Proper blog to follow but for all the Irish Foodies doing the Cookalong this evening here is our Winter Warmer – really rich and seriously tasty!

Serve with crusty bread and Man O’War wine.

Last night we took part in our first Irish Foodies cookalong. Check out the Irish Food Bloggers Association website for more information. We only heard about this on Wednesday and didn’t think we could take part as we were determined to cook prawns (as our freezer was full of them). Also the theme was Winter Warmers which to us means pie or stew or pumpkin or chestnuts, but not prawns. Still never ones to turn down a challenge (and not wanting to miss out on all the fun) we set about finding a Winter Warming prawn dish and I think we managed it with our Baked Prawn Casserole (from Vefa’s Kitchen).

We were at a fabulous Lustau Sherry tasting on Thursday night which inspired us to have some nibbles and Sherry to start (see post below) – all very festive.

Baked Prawn Casserole (to feed 6 but there was 4 of us and we managed to finish it)

  • Put 1.5kg peeled prawns into a saucepan, add 4 tablespoons of water, bring to the boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and keep the liquid.
  • Melt 60g butter in a pan and add a large chopped onion, cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
  • Add a sliced carrot and a green pepper cut into thin strips, cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Whizz up a tin of tomatoes until smooth and pour into the pan along with the reserved prawn liquid, season, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until thickened.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C and brush and ovenproof dish with oil.
  • Take the sauce off the heat and stir in 250g crumbled feta and 4 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley.
  • Spoon the prawns over the base of the prepared dish and pour the sauce over them.
  • Sprinkle with 150g diced Gruyere and a pinch of cayenne pepper and dot the top with butter of drizzle with some olive oil.
  • Bake for around 30 minutes, until the  top is lightly browned.

We served this in bowls with some crusty bread for mopping up all the lovely sauce.

Our guests brought us a bottle of Valhalla Chardonnay 2009 from Waiheke Island, New Zealand (which has just arrived this week in O’Brien’s). The wine worked perfectly as it had the weight to pair with the richness of the dish.

Aren’t we lucky!


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