What's New at artisan & vine?

This blog site includes news on latest wines, food, events, offers and happenings at artisan & vine. It also includes stories of my wine adventures in and outside the bar, wine facts and wine profiles.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Now open for lunch, leaf teas and espresso coffees!

I have loved sleeping in these last two years, don’t get me wrong. The thing is, since French Head Chef Jeremie took over our kitchen in March this year, I’ve been getting more and more requests for us to do a lunch as well as dinner service. So, roll on the day time opening…
As of next week, 31 August, we’ll be serving lunch, from £5, Tuesday – Sunday, 12noon – 3pm, at artisan & vine. Here’s what’s cooking:

Mussels in a white wine sauceSalad Lyonnaise: poached egg, bacon, croutons
Omelette – with ham, cheese and/or mushroom with a side salad
Tomato, mozarella and pesto on toasted ciabatta with a side salad (V)
Goats cheese tart with French dressed salad (V)
Dolcelatté stuffed mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise (V)
Croque monsieur – cheddar, béchamel and ham with a side salad
Smooth chicken liver pate with toasted bread with a side salad Bruscetta with fresh tomato, basil with a side salad (V)
Plus daily specials

10oz gourmet beef burger
Classic chicken Caesar salad
Salmon fishcake with poached egg, hollandaise sauce & side salad
Seasoned lamb kofta with tzatzki, pita bread and side salad
Vegetable pasta with creamy tomato sauce

Our full dinner, snacks and sweets menus will also be available during lunch time opening hours.

Our new lunch menu and day time opening hours bring with them the need for some exciting new non-alcoholic beverages at artisan & vine.

Firstly, we’re finally getting that espresso machine in. You’ll soon be able to drink fresh Illy cappuccinos, lattes and espressos in our comfy sofas with great music.

Secondly, having conducted some extensive taste testing we’ve selected some gorgeous, natural leaf teas that we’ll now be serving at artisan & vine. The black tea I’ve selected is from one of the last few tea gardens in Kenya to produce leaf teas (others supply teabags grades). Our chai whole leaf tea is infused with cinnamon, aniseed, ginger, black pepper, cloves, chicory roots, cardamom seeds and cardamom pods. We have whole leaf earl grey and peppermint, as well as a special balancing infusion made of cinnamon pieces, cardamom, liquorice roots, coriander, fennel, ginger roots, and rose petals. Your favourite leaf tea will be served with an individual filter (pictured), for you to control exactly how much infusion you’d like.Of course our new teas and coffees will be available whenever we’re open, so are also perfect for a relaxing evening out.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Screw vs Cork

Frustratingly, I recently opened a bottle of Le Grand Prebois Blanc, and it was faulty. Instead of smelling like peaches, almonds and marzipan, it smelt much like dirty wet socks. The surprising thing about this was: Le Grand Prebois Blanc is sealed by a screw cap, shouldn’t it be more immune to bottle faults?

Wines stoppered under screw caps will not be “corked”, that musty effect that occurs when chlorine, mould and cork meet to ruin an otherwise lovely beverage. Screw caps have their own, if less common, flaws. Because screw caps offer a tighter closure than cork, there is a greater chance of a wine being “reduced”, ie, not having enough oxygen in the bottle. A reduced wine can smell of cabbage or rubber, not great for enjoying!

That said, there have been enough studies now that seem to point to screw caps as a superior preservative of wine, both over time and as a resistance to shorter term faults (see Jamie Goode’s Wine Anorak site for more). On account of the newness of screw caps, we don’t have anything other than laboratory simulation of very long term bottle ageing under caps, though premium wine producers like Bonny Doon in California are optimistic and pleased with early results.

The largest complaints against screw caps seem to be customer perception, followed by adherence to tradition. Personally, I’d rather increase the chances that my wine comes without stopper fault, and to that end my preference must be for screw caps. In the least case, it is worth noting that, increasingly, screw caps are not necessarily a sign of a lower quality wine.

Friday, 13 August 2010

St John's Hill Festival 2010

After last year’s massively successful street festival, the community on St John’s Hill has got together to build an even bigger event this year. Even if you don’t live local, make the trip over to the Hill: it’s the closest thing you’ll get to a traditional village fair in London.

Here are a few of the things going on:
· Live music at the BeeHive pub and a Real Ale festival, which will be running in the pub throughout the weekend
· Children's pizza making classes at Tutti Tucci
· Wine making workshop at Artisan & Vine
· The Gold Fish Gala at the Fish Club
· Village Stocks at Potter Perrin
· Books and prints at Regent House Gallery
· BBQ at YumYum and ACE Fusion
· Instant, outdoor spray tans at Facial Attraction
· 'Guess the weight of the Cake' at Lollipop
· Launch of the "Blow Bar" at Alan Foster's hair salon
· The Human Fruit machine at Admiral Carpets
· Face painting at Doodlebug
· A troupe of stilt walking characters
· Huge selection of fresh food & drinks from cuisines around the world, provided by the delicious collection of eateries on the hill.

We also have St John's Hill Festival Raffle - the list of prizes is enormous and tickets are just £1 each - buy yours at any of the shops and businesses on the Hill, in the weeks running up to the festival and on the day itself. Full list of prizes will be published HERE and the draw will take place at 4pm on the festival day, outside the Beehive pub.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

July’s 3 Most Interesting Wine Stories

As August 2010 launches into our lives, I thought it worth a little look back at July 2010. Here are what I reckon are the 3 most interesting wine stories for last month:

1. A Spanish ice wine was given official Denominacions (DO) status for the first time ever. This is particularly scandalous because it is the first European ice wine to allow artificial freezing of grapes. The traditional ice wine regions – Germany, Austria and Canada – only allow natural freezing of grapes on the vines. As you may guess, artisan & vine will be boycotting artificied Spanish ice wine.

2. Automated wine dispensers launched in the US. Brilliant. A vending machine for wine in a supermarket. You need to insert an age ID card and pass the breathalyzer installed on the machine then push a button.

3. Momentum grows for “Vins de France”, an alternative to the arguably outdated French appellation controllee (AOC) system. Vins de France will allow wines to be blended across regions for “more consistent” flavours. The wines will be labelled by grape variety, to compete with New World wines. This is the opposite of creating wines with a sense of place; register Boycott #2 for artisan & vine this month.

Image: amidst news stories and innovations, wine at it's best continues to originate from simple, healthy grape vines.