04 March 2007

Sunday lunch

London in at the end of wintertime is dire. It's miserably cold, grey, wet and rainy. But right now, Chefette is too well fed and watered to care. She has just got back from a memorable Sunday lunch at Pont de La Tour (the Bar & Grill side, not the Restaurant side), where she indulged in a lusciously dressed langoustine cocktail, followed by chargrilled calf's liver with bacon, mashed potato and caramelized pearl onions. The Husband had a crab mayonnaise followed by a medium rare sirloin steak with deeply golden chips and bearnaise sauce. We shared a bottle of 2005 Marsannay (well rounded, and full of ripe red fruits), plus I had a 2003 Californian ice wine for dessert (the 2004 Bonny Doon California Vin Glacier -- quite lusciously sweet, with vanilla and honey notes). The husbanded opted for a slice of the classic lemon tart. How spoiled we are to have this place within 15 minutes' walk from the flat!

The coolest thing of all was the feeling that I got when I looked over their dessert menu, to see they were serving rhubarb jelly. As it happens, I recently made rhubarb jellies at the restaurant, and C (the head chef) put them on the menu. Let me tell you, it felt tres chic to see that a top London bistro also has your dish on its menu! At one point, I got a glimpse of their version coming out of the kitchen. Their jelly looked quite similar, but mine was more lavishly decorated. I garnished my jellies with some of the rhubarb compote taken from the base mixture (flavoured with cinnamon, sugar and blood orange), as well as a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, and a dollop of thick cream.

As it happens, we were celebrating a couple of special recent events. First, is the Husband's acceptance of a New Job Overseas (of which readers of Chefette will hear more when it's publicly announced). Second, is that Chefette has just finished taking her Advanced Certificate course at the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. The course was very intensive (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4.30pm each day), with tastings and lectures, followed by 3-4 hours of reading and note-taking at home every night. Nevertheless, it was fun to be back in the classroom for a week, tasting wine with other students/teachers. All in all, we tasted around 90 wines over 5 days. Everything from Gran Reserva Rioja to Margaret River unoaked Chardonnay to dry Oloroso sherry. We finished with a 2 1/2 hour exam.

The first part of the exam was a blind tasting. We had to check off the different characteristics that a particular wine displayed from a master list (intensity, fruit characteristics, acids, tannins, body, etc.). Then we had to guess the type of wine, the price per bottle, and the quality level. Then came a multiple choice section of 50 questions, followed by 4 short essay questions on wines, spirits, vinification and viticulture. It wasn't easy, folks. Keep your fingers crossed that Chefette passed.

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