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Autumn – A Game Season:
There’s no denying that there is a hint of autumn in the air and our long hot summer is finally drawing to a close. Whilst that’s sad in many respects, there is a lot to enjoy about the autumn; including a change of food and drink styles.
Young’s are embracing this change in season by offering a combination of game, steaks and robust red wine masterclasses and dinners. I was lucky enough to be asked along to a preview evening handily being held in my work ‘local’, the Castle in Tooting.
A little Dutch courage was required as I knew that we’d be plucking a game bird, something that I’ve never tried before, despite Alex, my partner, being rather handy with the air rifle. A chilled glass of gorgeous Perrier Jouet Grand Brut NV helped calm the slight butterflies before we entered the Castle’s own ‘Bake-off’ tent for our masterclass. Joining fellow novices, we were each given a partridge to pluck. It seems that the knack is to tug the feathers downwards, but not so hard that you tear the skin. There were feathers everywhere! I found the whole thing less stressful than I had feared, and I’d now have the confidence to do it again. Once we’d prepared our birds, we watched Young’s head chef demonstrate how to butcher what looked like half a cow. It was fascinating and helpful to hear about the different cooking techniques required for each cut. Appetite now whetted, we adjourned to the pretty conservatory where our dinner was served. We started with a bacon-wrapped partridge and wild boar terrine, served with a lovage emulsion and a parsley root remoulade. This was accompanied by rosemary scented baked potato sourdough. The starter was paired with a Lethbridge Pinot Noir 2016, the grape once described as ‘the bitch’ (temperamental, expensive and beautiful), this example from the state of Victoria is made in the Burgundian style. It’s fresh and light, with loads of red berries especially cherries. It’s acidity matched the sweetness of the terrine with the pickled element. Our main course was a rotisserie dry aged rib of beef and a short rib Wellington. This was accompanied by a sharing plate of a veritable rainbow of salt baked root vegetables, some of which had us guessing exactly what they were for a while! For our main course we were presented with 2 wines to match the meal both were 2012, but one ‘old world’ and one ‘new world’. The Batailley a fifth growth Bordeaux matured in French oak was full of blackcurrant and vanilla with firm tannins, which made it have a long flavour that lasts. This made it a great combination with the beef, and my favourite wine of the evening. The Katnock from the Coonawarra was also aged in French oak but then moved to American oak. This gave the wine a little sweetness with a hint of coconut which really enhanced the root vegetables. The bay leaf custard tart and the Beauvale Blue from the Cropwell Creamery were both paired with a chilled Sauternes, a lovely sweet wine from Bordeaux. If you like the sound of my evening, Young’s are running a variety of events throughout October and November in a variety of their pubs. I think that for a masterclass, a three-course meal with matched wines and tutoring, that these are very good value.
Steak and Malbec Masterclass and Dinner: This evening starts with a butchery masterclass, followed by a 3-course wine paired dinner and tastings of 3 varieties with Argentinian masters of wine, Bodega Norton. Tickets from £30 per head.
Trafalgar Arms, Tooting, 12 October
The Crown Hotel, Surrey, 15th October
The Home Cottage, Redhill, 29th October
Hand & Spear, Surrey, 5th November
The Bull, Streatham, 6th November
Brook Green, Hammersmith, 12th November
The Windmill, Clapham, 13th November
Game and Wine Masterclass and Dinner: This evening starts with the experts showing you how to do the plucking, and a masterclass about all things game. Followed by a 3-course wine paired dinner hosted by Katnook Estate (Australia) and Bodega Norton (Argentina). Tickets from £30 per head.
Events hosted by Bodega Norton:
Bull & Gate, Kentish Town, 17th October
The Shaftesbury, Richmond, 18th October
The Bell, Fetcham, 13th November
Grange, Ealing, 15th November
Red Barn, Surrey, 21st November
Events hosted by Katnook Estate:
The Greyhound, Surrey, 23rd October
The Bull’s Head, Barnes, 24th October
Queen Adelaide, Wandsworth, 25th October
Chequers Inn, Bristol, 6th November
Wood House, Dulwich, 7th November
For full details, check the Youngs website
If you are wondering what happened to my partridge, he joined a couple of pheasant breasts and a grouse in a game pie for Sunday dinner. We have plenty of recipes for game on the site, including this one for Pigeon Breast en Croute – now where’s Alex with the air rifle when I need him?