Saturday Kitchen 24.9.11

(by peter)

The Saturday Kitchen wine team was in full sight-seeing mode this week as we trawled Bristol for fine wines at affordable prices.

We took in some of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s masterpieces, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the SS Great Britain.

The latter – well worth a visit if you haven’t been – is the world’s first luxury ocean liner, iron-hulled, steam-and-propeller driven. It ferried people around the world in style and apparently ‘obscene’ amounts of food and wine were consumed, mainly by first class passengers, with Mumm being the on-board champagne of choice.

To sidestep problems associated with keeping food fresh, live animals made the trip (or some of the trip, at least) – kept in pens on the fore-decks frequented by steerage class. For steerage class, though, the food on board was simply ‘nutritious’. Like biscuits.

Changing tack, this week on the Saturday Kitchen hobs were Simon Hulstone of Michelin-starred The Elephant in Torquay and Andrew Fairlie of the two-Michelin-star Gleneagles hotel.

No pressure then…

Simon was cooking a beautifully presented dish of grey mullet with clams, tomatoes and vegetable hearts, orange and basil dressing.

We (or rather, Susie) cooked this one at home because we wanted to be absolutely sure which white to choose. In the end, we settled on the brilliant Bellingham The Bernard Series Handpicked Viognier 2010 (Majestic, from £8.79).

Simon loved it. ‘Absolutely bang on, hits the nail on the head,’ he commented with an impressive extended metaphor. He summed up by saying that the wine ‘works perfectly’ with the dish.

James termed it a ‘great’ wine, Andrew described it as a ‘fantastic combination’ and this week’s celebrity guest, the beautiful Lara Pulver (of Spooks fame) also professed herself a fan.

For the second dish, Andrew was rustling up a dream combination of roasted breast and confit leg of spiced Anjou squab served with ceps and kale.

While a good Pinot Noir and Syrah immediately sprang to mind, I instead went for the Mayu Sangiovese 2008 (Asda, £5).

I have to be honest and say that I didn’t know the wine was going to be on offer at £5 when I recommended it (normal price is about £7.50 if memory serves). At either price it’s an excellent value wine – but, as James Martin commented, ‘I can’t believe it’s a fiver … they’re going to sell out of that quite quickly, brilliant stuff’.

The wine went down well with Andrew (‘perfect: not too much tannin, great acidity, great with the spice’), Lara (‘really nice red’) and Simon (‘lovely wine’).

Finally, for Lara’s food hell (banana and custard tart), I went for the delightful raisiny charms of the Kourtaki Mavrodaphne of Patras (Waitrose, £5.99).

You can catch the show for the next week on bbc iplayer, as well as find all the recipes, by clicking on the following link: Saturday Kitchen 24 Sept 2011. Wine bits at 16:42 and 58:19.