Parmesan is an ingredient I always have in my fridge, so I was excited to celebrate this Italian cheese with a special dinner at The Frog.
After nibbling on chunks of delicious Parmigiano Reggiano and sipping Italian prosecco we were all seated to enjoy Adam Handling’s parmesan inspired dinner.
Each course featured a different aged parmesan…
Cheese and Truffle Doughnut with 24 month Parmigiano Reggiano
Mac & Cheese – The Frog Way with 30 month Parmigiano Reggiano
Burnt Honey, parmesan, malt and lemon with 18 month Parmigiano Reggiano
The doughnuts were blissful, rich mouthfuls of cheesy heaven. I’d tried the decadent macaroni cheese from The Frog before, but this version was even more brilliant. A perfectly simple bowl of macaroni pasta topped with a comforting cheese sauce and enhanced with 30 month grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Adam’s clever dessert was a revelation. I never thought parmesan could successfully be included in a pudding, but this recipe craftily concealed the overwhelming cheese taste with contrasting citrus and sweet honey. It was a wonderful mix of textures and flavours, whilst illustrating how versatile Parmigiano Reggiano can be.
More information about Parmesan here, and read about my experience at The Frog here.
I could claim that my love of champagne and cheese is something I have inherited from my French family… but I think it is an enthusiasm that most people would admit to.
On the hottest day of 2015 I headed to the sheltered Brixton Village to indulge in a bubbles and cheese fuelled evening at Champagne & Fromage. The little shop and bistro offers rustic fare and fizz to enjoy at a table at the venue or to take away and relish at home. We sat outside to watch the village activity around us while sipping the finest champagne and feasting on unusual cheeses and charcuterie.
After a few moments an ice bucket arrived with a cold bottle of Lacroix champagne peering out the top. There is nothing quite like the first taste of a cold glass of fizz, especially after a sweltering bus journey, and I savoured every sip of this delicious drink. Lacroix white wines have a mouth-filling, medium-weight, biscuity flavour profile and are produced from the classic 3-grape blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. It was more complex and vibrant than champagnes I have tasted in the past.
When we started to get a bit peckish we ordered a range of the foodie treats. Melted garlic and herby camembert was a warm gooey mess, a wonderful dip for the chunks of toasted artisan bread. We had great fun tasting a selection of cheeses accompanied by fruit jelly, cherries, grapes and membrillo. On the board we had seven varieties including blue, goats, smoked, sheep. I loved the Comté Extra, a firm cheese matured for 24-26 months with a slightly sweet and nutty flavour. I also loved the Langres from the region of Champagne-Ardenne, it has a complex and punchy flavour with a decadently creamy centre. If you want something meaty I suggest ordering a selection board which gives you a range of the thinnest sliced salamis.
Both branches of Champagne & Fromage hold masterclasses and tasting evenings where visitors can learn about pairing food and drink, understanding grape varieties and the different cheese regions. I imagine this knowledge would be useful when holding a sophisticated dinner party!
You might want to wile the night away with cheese and champagne or just pop in for a decadent snack and sip, this little venue has the expertise and produce to excel for either occasion.
More information here: www.champagneplusfromage.co.uk
After a tiring day trawling the shops of Westfield I always crave a chilled glass of white wine. Despite living in the Shepherd’s Bush area for years I have only recently discovered the delightful Albertine wine bar.
Slightly removed from the main grubby Shepherd’s Bush strip, Albertine has a charming old-fashioned feel with tired but characterful wooden furniture, a blackboard with special suggestions, dimmed lighting and clouded windows. The vibe is very different to anywhere else in this loud and busy area of London. I felt like I was hanging out in a little tavern frequented by the Hogwarts students and magicians.
Albertine is definitely not a newbie, and has been satisfying West London customers for decades. A huge range of bottles are picked for their individual and unique qualities. The global list features over 130 wines with something to suit every requirement and taste. The prices are reasonable too, for less than £30 you can enjoy a fine bottle with a delectable cheese board and bread to accompany.
Wine bars are making an apparent revival in London at the moment, and Albertine is a great place to enjoy this growing trend.
Follow Albertine wine bar on Twitter here.