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Golf at Greenwich – Terroir and Turf at Vinothec Compass:
The last time I tried swinging a golf club was some twenty years ago as part of my MBA. Whether our Course Director had a sense of humour, or seriously believed that all MBA graduates needed to be able to play golf, I still don’t know. Thankfully, there was no exam to pass, or I might have failed the entire course. I have to admit to cheating a bit when I was invited to Vinothec Compass, wearing heels totally unsuitable for the preliminary golf activities. If I AM going to try again, it will be when no-one else is around.
You can’t help but be impressed, by the sleek driving range in North Greenwich. Apart from a stunning view, across the Thames to Canary Wharf, The Greenwich Peninsula Golf Driving Range has 60 bays, each with flight technology and entertaining areas and with eight PGA professionals on hand to help novices and experts alike. It’s only a few minutes from North Greenwich tube station too.
We started the evening with a glass or two of Pol Roger champagne and some Pintxos. I took full advantage of the ‘entertaining area’ to sit back and watch my friends practising their swing (one or two managing admirably despite the heels!)
A quick demo of the open kitchen, creating amuse bouche of baby squid with tomato and coriander was enough to promise a great evening. I guessed we’d soon enjoy some remarkable food from Head Chef Jordi Rovira Segovia and his team. Excellent stuff.
I was looking forward to the wine pairings. Vinothec Compass has a comprehensive range of bottles offering the chance to try great vintages and unusual wines. And, we were hosted for the evening by a trio of wine experts – Arnaud Compass, Keith Lyon who are the co-founders of Vinothec Compass together with Douglas Blyde, our host, a well known wine writer.
Given the line-up of wine experts, I was expecting the unexpected. Starting with a chardonnay from Bulgaria that tasted unlike anything I’ve tried from Bulgaria before and unlike ‘typical’ chardonnay, I wasn’t disappointed. Keith told us that Chateau Burgozone was situated in a cool part of the country, on the site of an old Roman road. Fermented in stainless steel with no oak, the chardonnay was a fresh, light almondy mouthful (I think I might have had a couple of glasses). In theory it was a pairing with the baby squid, but I seem to remember having eaten my squid before I touched the wine.
Our next dish was a delicate plate of smoked trout salad. I suspect this was a ‘miniaturisation’ of a starter for the sake of the tasting menu and, as such, it did seem a bit over complicated, though every element was delicious. There was a mousse, some roe, smoked trout, some salad onions and leaves, labneh, dried black olives, asparagus, citrus vinaigrette and fresh oregano.
The pairing, of Vin Gris, Volubialia 2013, was spot on. A Moroccan wine that tasted for all the world as if it had come from Provence, it was fresh, light and minerally.
Next up, a mouthful of a heartier dish of suckling pig with piquillo pepper. I could easily have eaten a lot more of this, and indulged in a few more glasses of the Couvent des Jacobins 2005, St Emilion Grand Cru. But then I do love fruity Bordeaux blends, especially when they are softened by a bit of aging.
Cod confit with romanesco sauce reminded me of a cookery course I did one evening with Rachel from Catalan Kitchen. Though it looks for all the world like tomato sauce, a proper romanesco,like this one, is made with a base of red peppers and almonds. And, the cod confit here was lightly salted and beautifully firm. Pairing with Dido 2013 Montsant – a Catalan white, was spot on for me.
Longhorn Onglet isn’t the easiest dish to prepare and serve, particularly when you are providing 15 or so diners with taster portion simultaneously. I have to admit to having enjoyed the ad-hoc Xinomavro 2010, a Greek wine from Alpha Estate rather better than the originally suggested white Dido. That’s either a triumph of preconception or a tribute to the success of the chef in preparing the Onglet so perfectly.
We finished the meal with a small but extremely decadent portion of Vinothec Cheesecake made with Brillat-Savarin. Now, I’ve only ever eaten Brillat-Savarin in very small amounts as part of a cheese platter. Rich and creamy, apparently it is 75% fat. Oh well. With that, a small glass of Rivesaltes 1971 dessert wine which I loved, but REALLY should have passed.
Thankfully there was coffee, from artisan roaster, Francis Bradshaw to round things off nicely. And, it was only a 5 minute walk the the tube.
If you’d like to try your hand at golf, a large basket of 120 balls is £12 and club hire is £5 for a mini set.
And you can either celebrate your skills or (like me) console yourself afterwards with some fine food and wine at Vinothec Compass
Vinothec Compass and the Greenwich Peninsula Driving Range