Posted in l'ortolan, Wine, tagged Christmas, Cocktail, festive cocktail, Festive Lunch, Food, fruit liqueurs, restaurants, sparkling wine, Stephen Nisbet, Wine on December 7, 2012 |
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A couple of years ago we blogged about the history of the L’ortolan festive cocktail; a sparkling favourite during the festive season. We thought we would share this great blog with you all again and give you an update on all the flavours that have gone into making the 2012 festive cocktail so scrumptious.
To sample the 2012 festive cocktail book a place on the L’ortolan Festive Lunch.
The sparkling wine cocktail with a specially blended syrup dates back to December 2005, and each year the syrup is developed by adding new flavours and spices. In 2011 a mulled wine reduction was infused with flavours of blackcurrant, strawberry, blueberry, fig, peach, pear, chestnut, herbs and spices & tot of Scotch. Using the syrup left over from last year as a base, L’ortolan Sommelier Craig Steven has blended raspberry, blueberry and cream fruit liqueurs of blackcurrant, blackberry, peach and wild strawberry. Earlier in the a year syrup was made from the poaching liqueur from cooking Mirabelle’s that were foraged from the local area for the use in some of the chef’s dishes. The Mirabelle syrup has also been added to the blend for this year’s festive syrup.
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For his final blog in his ‘Spotting Faults’ series, l’ortolan Sommelier Stephen Nisbet rounds off with his five top tips that reduce the risk of unhealthy Festive-Season wine.
Some top tips for healthy wines for entertaining:
- If someone is bringing ‘that special bottle’ ask them to bring it the day before – if it is red then it might need to be decanted, if it is white you wouldn’t want to shock it by suddenly plunging it into an iced bucket, and also you can have a back up if it’s not up to scratch! If someone has just brought a bottle to your celebration, it is probably better to find a polite way of not serving it – if the wine is faulty both you and your guests will be embarrassed.
- If you are really worried about guests turning up with wine, and having to deal with the social faux-pas of trying to quietly ferret it away, you and always ask your visitors to not bring a bottle. For me a bad wine is as bad and as embarrassing as the turkey not being cooked.
- Really think about the best place to store ‘that special bottle.’ Garages, cupboards, attics and under stairs are often either too hot or too cold – or worse a bit of both. If where you store your wine is a little too warm, this isn’t too much of a problem as if the temperature is fluctuating. If you have a room that is 16 degrees and it will stay at that temperature, although it is not ideal it is not anywhere near as damaging as keeping it in the garage where the temperature could range from 5 – 25 degrees.
- Make sure you finish a bottle before you start another one, as once open the wine won’t keep. Wine, once open, should be consumed within 24 hours. A wine has been sealed at a point where it is ready to drink, so allowing more air into your bottle just accelerates the wine’s deterioration. Your choices are drink it, pour it away or use it in cooking.
- Fortified wines oxidise just as any other wine, it just happens a bit more slowly. The best way to enjoy them is to consume the bottle fairly quickly, within a week ideally. Although they will last a bit longer than ordinary table wine, if you keep them longer than this you will not be enjoying them in the way they were intended. If you open a bottle of sherry for Christmas, you should aim to finish it by New Year. Fortified wines now come in a variety of bottle sizes so you can measure against your likely consumption. So rather than serving your Nan’s six-month old sherry at your dinner party, make sure you buy fresh!
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Sauces always add another dimension to a dish, creating a depth and a flare in a plate that can compliment and tie-in a whole range of flavours. L’ortolan chef Elliott Lidstone takes a moment to share some of the secrets of making the perfect sauce that will both really impress and help you deal with your Christmas left-overs.
“The real secret to producing the best sauce, full of depth and flavour is to create a fresh and clean footing for your flavours to work with.
At the base of good sauces is always a good stock. Stocks are generally very thin and give you the groundwork flavours for your sauces, and the trick is always to get as much flavour as possible from the bones. You should always make sure that the bones you use are fresh, if they are slimy, or starting to smell don’t use them. They’ll ruin whatever you try to make.
In the restaurant we use predominantly chicken stock as it provides a lighter and cleaner finish to our sauces. So with all that leftover poultry the festive season is the ideal opportunity to create the perfect base to your post-Christmas sauces.
L’ORTOLAN CHICKEN STOCK – This is the recipe we use in the l’ortolan kitchen, so beware – this makes a lot of stock! Feel free to shrink the recipe as required!
- 80 litres of cold water
- 15kg chicken bones
- 6 leeks
- 6 onions
- 2 celery sticks
- 6 carrots
- Place the bones in a large stock pot and cover with cold water
- Bring to the boil, skim well and then add the vegetables and garnish
- Simmer for 8 hours, skimming frequently
- Pass the stock through a fine chinois
At l’ortolan we have stocks on the go five days a week, cooking each stock out for around eight hours, and preparing over 100 litres at one time – that’s not really practical to use up in your average domestic kitchen! So a good idea for when you are at home is to make your stock, and then pour it into ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop the cubes into a bag or a box in the freezer and then you have stock for whenever you need it!
This clean, clear, fresh stock provides a great starting point for your sauces as stock made from poultry are really versatile. It can be used in making risottos, braising vegetables, or making soups really adding to the background flavour, substance and depth.
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We’re feeling festive at l’ortolan these days. The Christmas decorations are up, the Festive Lunch is really popular and we’re getting ready for our amazing Gala Dinner nights. Even our little bird has been caught up in the festivities:
Our bird is feeling festive!
There are still places a few avalible on 18th December for one of our Gala Dinner evenings. So why not really get into the Christmas swing and join everyone at l’ortolan to celebrate the festive season with an amazing evening of fine food and wine, and with entertainment from the dazzling Tenors Unlimited. Experience the very best of l’ortolan.
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