Painting the town red
Susie breezed round an autumnal Leamington Spa, while I paid a visit to Teesside – and was lucky enough to enjoy a kick-around at Middlesborough FC’s famous Riverside stadium (a rare honour), video evidence of which can be found below.
First up, though, it was Susie’s turn to strut her stuff in Leamington Spa, hunting out wines to partner dishes by Atul Kochhar and Tristan Welch.
For Atul’s stir-fried squid with apple salad, Susie went for the Waimea Estate Pinot Gris 2009 (from £8.99, Majestic). Atul commented, ‘great wine, really works well with the squid’ while Tristan agreed that it, ‘works really well’.
Tristan was cooking a somewhat convoluted but delicious salt marsh lamb cooked with wild sea herbs and home made jus. For this, Susie chose the Secano Estate Pinot Noir 2009 (from £7.20, M&S), which Tristan termed ‘fantastic: soft, seductive, perfect’. Atul’s simple assessment of the match? ‘Super’.
Studio guest Monty Don had his food heaven – hazelnut-crusted pork escalopes with chard and sautéed potatoes – which Susie paired with Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Goose Valley Chenin Blanc (£7.49).
Programme details, including recipes, can be found on the BBC website by clicking here.
Everybody was incredibly friendly and welcoming – from the lovely folk at Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Riverside stadium, to our saviours at BBC Middlesborough, who kindly loaned us a camera when ours suffered a nervous breakdown.
It was great to get a feel for this former industrial powerhouse of a town, now trying to re-invent itself in difficult times. While grey and soggy on the day we visited, it was also a bustling place full of life and character – the kind of place I’d like to re-visit very soon.
But without question the highlight of the day was filming at the Riverside.
This famous stadium was built when Middlesborough were riding high in the Premier League. Now the team is struggling at the wrong end of the Championship, and once again times are tough in the north east.
The day we came to film was something of a momentous one for the club. Manager Gordon Strachan had recently had his marching orders; when we arrived news was just breaking of the appointment of local legend Tony Mowbray (Mogga, to fans).
In Tony Blair’s words – the SK wine team isn’t much for sound-bites, but we sensed that the hand of history was on our shoulders as we walked onto the pitch and met Roary the lion, Middlesborough’s club mascot, as well as Rupert Adeyemi, head of venue.
My previous footballing apogee had come during the Varsity match when I scored the final goal in a 4-0 drubbing of Cambridge at Craven Cottage, in a match refereed by the (in)famous David Elleray.
But this was right up there, as I filmed my intro piece, club ball in hand, delivered before I booted the ball goal-wards. I was so excited that I made director Andy Clarke film lots of videos, the first of which was this:
We then cheekily asked if it would be OK to film me taking some penalties. (Normally on top-flight football grounds it’s a cardinal offence even to step foot on the pitch, let alone the penalty area: the footballing holy of holies.)
But Rupert kindly agreed so I can now say I’ve scored not only at Craven Cottage, but also at the Riverside. (Penalties, low right, with a satisfying clunk of the advertising hoardings due to the nets being raised.) Here is the evidence:
There then followed an impromptu kick-around with club mascot Roary (who did amazingly well considering he could barely see out of the suit, let alone have any idea where his feet were). And finally a bit of fun when James filmed me emerging from the tunnel in a mock match-day scenario, which culminated in a cheeky bit of footwork:
With the shoot risking degenerating into a Match of the Day pastiche, we decided it was time to issue our profuse thanks and try to capture some other local scenes. The first of which didn’t take long, as Anish Kapoor’s Temenos sculpture is just outside the Riverside, overlooking the famous Transporter Bridge, as featured in this video:
As for what’s cooking in the studio, Norfolk-based Galton Blackiston (a notorious Norwich fan, along with Delia) was rustling up roast Gressingham duck crowns with wilted watercress, butternut squash mousse and bigaride sauce (which features oranges).
This went down very well in the studio, with Cyrus commenting, ‘it’s great with that orange sauce’ and James saying it worked ‘really well’. Galton, never one to waste words, pointed out very appositely that ‘you get what you pay for: it’s great wine’.
Somewhat more challenging was Cyrus Todiwala’s Parsee-style lamb cutlet served with tomato gravy. I plumped for the Taste the Difference Primitivo 2009 (from £4.87, Sainsbury’s) – a real bargain, and a soft, richly fruited wine with a touch of residual sweetness to help offset the spiciness of the dish.
James duly noted that ‘it’s a difficult dish to match wine to, with lots of flavour’ before adding, ‘but he’s done really well with that’. Cyrus agreed, describing it as, ‘fantastic’. Galton quietly concurred.
For programme details, recipes and the iplayer version available for a week, click here (wine bits at 17:35 and 56:40).