|Roast New Zealand venison on smoked celeriac and potato gratin |
with silverbeet and roast cherries
The Tapa Room at The Providores has long been one of my favourite places to drink great Monmouth coffee and eat a satisfying breakfast of sweetcorn and blueberry fritters, Turkish eggs with whipped yoghurt and hot chilli butter or perfectly soft boiled eggs with Vegemite soldiers. Moments after I stepped, bleary eyed, off my Qantas flight to London 4 years ago, and was promptly turned in the right direction by my (Melbourne-style breakfast starved) Australian friends, I was sold. The Providores has to have one of the best and most interesting breakfast menus in London (hence the often off putting queues out the front door).
Upstairs from the Tapa Room is The Providores dining room. It was there I recently attended one of the restaurant's regular Winemaker's Dinners - this time hosting the excellent Man O' War wines from New Zealand.
When the word "fusion" is used in relation to food these days, it's often met with a collective sigh - many attempting it get it so, so wrong, earning the term a grim reputation. New Zealand chef, Peter Gordon, gets it entirely spot on at The Providores, a restaurant he opened with Michael McGrath (among others) in 2001. The mood is relaxed, the food is thrilling.
On arrival we are treated to a glass of Man O' War Sauvignon Blanc 2009, a well balanced wine with ripe fruity freshness. Sauvignon Blanc is not normally my wine of choice, but I had a feeling I was on my way to a great night as soon as I sipped this one.
After some introductions from the winery, Michael McGrath, Peter Gordon and head chef Cristian Hossack, we move on to a lovely salad of goats curd, roasted beetroot, salad greens and kikones (crunchy, salted maize kernels) with Man O' War extra virgin olive oil. It is beautifully matched by the Man O' War Chardonnay 2008 with citrus, butter and appley notes.
My favourite food and wine pairing of the night has to be the pressed ham hock and water chestnut terrine with wok-fried mange tout, green mango and pickled bean sprouts. It's dressed with a light pineapple sweet and sour sauce and paired with a marvellous Valhalla Chardonnay 2009 - with new oak, it's nutty and toasty.
A Gresshingham duck char siu bun is the best shar siu bun of my life. And I've tried a few. It accompanies a roast duck breast with ginger and garlic sauteed pea shoots and soy braised lotus root. Along side, we drink the Ironclad Merlot Cabernet Franc 2008 - lots of berries, spice and tannins.
The roast New Zealand venison on smoked celeriac and potato grain with silverbeet and roast cherries is accompanied by a terrific bold and peppery Dreadnought Syrah 2008. As wonderful as it reads, the gratin was the only slight disappointment of the evening - it tasted less like smoked cream and more like licking a burnt saucepan than one would hope for.
To finish, an apricot sorbet, burnt caramel ice cream and zabaglione parfait with a ginger lace biscuit. Aaaah, heavenly. A Valkyrie Viognier 2009 is the perfect tart, apricoty accompaniment.
Man O' War Vineyards is a patchwork of 90 small sites across 4,500 acres at the east coast of Waiheke Island. The wines gain their minerality from the position of the vines on rugged coastal hillsides. In London, Man O' War wines are stocked at Harvey Nichols (and, of course, you can drink them at The Providores).
Not only were the Man O' War wines fantastic in their own right, but Peter Gordon and Cristian Hossack designed a menu which complimented them beautifully, while losing nothing of the edge on their usual flair in the kitchen.
The Providores Wine Dinners tend to sell out quickly so look out for them on the website - they are usually priced at around £70 per head for food (5 courses in this case) and plentiful wine. The Providores is hosting a special Pop Up New Zealand Wine Dinner at The Village Underground in Shoreditch on 19 October 2010. The dinner will feature a range of New Zealand wines from various vineyards, as well a 4 course meal cooked by The Providores team. Each course is accompanied by a flight of 3 wines. Tickets are £125.
The Providores and Tapa Room, 109 Marylebone High Street, Marylebone, London W1U 4RX (Tel: 020 7935 6175)
Greedy Diva attended the wine dinner as a guest of Providores.