I came to the White Swan on chilly evening for the British Seasonal Food Evening (first off thank god for fab venues near tube stations!).
Greeted with a thickly packed and bustling down stairs area, I felt a bit confused as to where the dining area was hiding! After taking the mirrored staircase to the mid level (very clever, overlooking, the bar, with a generous helping of suited men leaning along the railing observing) I found the rather spacious and attractive dining area.
The layout centres around an open topped bar, very reminiscent of times gone by, especially when my coat was taken to be hung, and the staff committed my name to memory instantly (trust me that is something for me, I have friends who I have given up on and allow them to call me Rachel).
We sat at our perfectly set table,polished to perfection and got some far too tasty small bread rolls cooked on the premises, with gentle olive and rosemary seasoning.
It all kicked off with a friendly an unimposing introduction from the wine supplier, and the sommelier.
I really enjoyed the structure of the evening as it was bite sized information given just before a dish was served, then you were given time to eat, talk and have the table cleared before the next introduction began.
It was very well paced and executed, with just the right amount of humour, such as a reminder to “remember ABC- anything but Chardonay.”
The start of the pairing was a salad of chantenay carrots, foie gras and spiced bread served with Reisling by Mud House in New Zealand (2008).
It was a fresh and floral combination, and we were advised to “look very serious and stern when trying wine. Never, never give your reaction while tasting it!”
Next up was poached plaice, Jerusalem artichokes and black truffle with Marsanne by Terre des Anges in France (2008).
A great fragrant wine with an equally fragrant course, strong truffles and gentle blended aubergine.
By now I’m properly full and not even half way though, so I slowly got through the braised Jacobs Ladder with bone marrow and kale with Carmenère by Single Vineyard in Chile (2007). It’s a very rich dish, challenging in its potency.
Interestingly Carmeneire is an ancient grape from Bordeaux often confused with Merlot (and in my list of Must Drink wines now).
Obviously after such a flavoursome set of dishes the best thing to continue with was deep fried Wigmore cheese with rhubarb and a peppery jus, with Pinot Gris by Vavasour in New Zealand (2008).
The lactic acids take the flavours out, so it was a carful paring with
Wigmore’s ewes milk cheese (salty) Pinot Gris (Gricio in Italy).
After that rather in depth food feast I learnt that there aren’t screw tops there are stelwin enclosures (bet I can’t remember that after a glass or two!). Followed by a warning… “If you don’t like sweet wines then leave the room now!”
With our very rich chocolate, deep complex ice cream with anise ribboned dessert of chocolate ganache, star anise ice cream and candied peanuts we got a short glass of Pedro Ximenez Sherry by La Gitana in Spain.
PX not Pedro Ximenez to those in the know, is a sherry made from something very close to table grapes, then blackened with 15 days in the sunshine (imagine the sweetness!)
After the sun bake they are pressed and almost syrupy before they are allowed to ferment, allowing for an 18% stand your spoon up in it wine.
What an ending to one hell of an introduction to British produce and wine!