On Tuesday Richard and I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Big Wine Thing. This was an extension of the usual, monthly or thereabouts, Geek Wine Thing but instead of purely wine tasting, this was a food and wine matching event. Again held at Hotel du Vin in Brighton, and this time led by both James and Fergus from Majestic and Pierre, the assistant Somellier.
The evening started with champagne as the participants arrived and settled down ready for an evening of food, wine and education.
Our meal started with a smoked salmon starter served with a lovely, clear, crisp chenin blanc, a Vouvray Coulée d’Argent 2008. This was a delightful wine, and another wine which will be finding it’s way into our fridge over the next few months (to join the albariño and the gavi di gavi from the previous tastings).
Our main course (for the carnivores) was lamb with dauphinois potatoes served with a vibrant collection of vegetables and served with a Chilean Syrah ‘Las Kuras’ 2007 Casa Lapostolle. This met with mixed reviews. It certainly smelled wonderful, really powerful, but the flavour didn’t quite live up to the bouquet.
Dessert was the biggest Creme Brulee I’ve ever encountered (and I managed to scoff the lot) served with a pleasantly surprising dessert wine, Beaumes de Venise ‘Domaine de Coyeux’ 2004. I say surprising because I’m not a big dessert wine fan, often finding them too cloying and syrupy. But this was clean and youthful and had a lovely smell of lychees and grapes.
We gained three wine facts from the evening:
- Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape, just labelled differently
- Many wines are organic but aren’t labelled as such due to the 10% charge that the soil association charge – this was the case for the Chilean red
- Muscat smells of grapes – as evidenced by the Beaumes de Venise
All in all another great evening, and certainly an event I’d be keen to participate in again.
So, May came and went, and with it the Brighton Festival. This year it felt a bit like we didn’t make a lot of use of it (at least in comparison to previous years), but actually, looking back, we didn’t do so bad if you include the fringe too :
- Open Houses – a friend and I visited a couple of open houses on the first day of the festival. A particular highlight was a 6th floor flat in Embassy Court which had a wonderful view over the West Pier and beyond
- 77 Million Paintings – the Brian Eno installation in Fabrica. I visited this 4 times in total, twice with friends where it was a quick few minutes in and out style visit, and twice during lunchtimes where I sat down and let it absorb me. The latter was the better, and it felt like a kind of meditation.
- Speaker Flower Sound Installation – another Brian Eno installation, this time in Marlborough House on the Old Steine, and another one I visited during my lunch hour. Was an interesting installation, but was more fascinating to wander around the Grade 1 listed building which has been out of the public eye for a while
- Nicholas Parsons Happy Hour – held in a tent on the grounds of a church which meant that road noise and sirens interrupted. He had some fun guests – a comedy song guy and a Spanish magician – both of which were fun. Part of it was a question and answer session, and we wished we’d known ahead of time so we could have prepared some good questions
- The Penny Dreadfuls – excellent sketch comedy show. We booked tickets purely because we’d enjoyed the Guy Fawkes play broadcast last year on Radio 4, and this was a wise move. I’ll definitely keep my eyes out for The Penny Dreadful’s visiting Brighton again.
- Before I sleep – a wonderful piece of theatre which has been extended until 13th June. It is hosted in the Old Coop building on London Road, and its wonderful to see this building reused, even if only on a temporary building. This is the 2nd dreamthinkspeak production we’ve seen as part of the festival, and I’m planning on looking out for anything they do here again, they have an interesting take on classical literature which is quite intriguing
As we’ve previously mentioned, the whole ticketing system is a bit ridiculous, especially for the fringe. Buying tickets on line, getting a print out with a bar code on it, which then get exchanged for a real ticket at the venue all seems a bit long-winded.