My wife and I had so many plans for this year. From simple things like quiet meals at our favourite restaurants, walking by the Welsh coast, visiting a friend in Geneva and a few days away for English Wine Week. But, paraphrasing Robert Burns (yes, I had to look up the reference!) “the best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry”. And, when that happens, the only positive thing to do is to make the best of it.
For us, that means buying good food and wine and, perhaps, choosing both to remind us of places we’ve been. Then, whatever the world outside throws at us, we have our own little corner of France or Italy or, in this case, Greece, right here in the centre of Bristol.
3 years ago, we enjoyed a wine tour there (you can read my blogs of the trip on this site under the index tab for ‘Greece’) and one of the vineyards we visited was the dynamic and beautiful Alpha Estate in the less well-known Amyndeon region in the north of the country. There, we tasted a range of their wines including a delicious red made from the local variety, Xinomavro. Fortunately, this wine, unusually named ‘Hedgehog’ (a local species of the animal nests in the vineyard), is available in the UK from specialist Greek food and wine merchant, Maltby and Greek (www.maltbyandgreek.com) (£17.20). We have been buying it ever since.
Its lovely, spicy, bramble and black cherry flavours are ideal to match with lamb and, in keeping with our Greek theme, we chose a recipe for Kleftiko – a dish in which lamb shanks are marinated for 2 days in a mixture of red wine, orange zest and juice, garlic and herbs and then cooked very slowly until the meat almost falls off the bone. Delicious! The marinade gives the lamb a sweetness that pairs perfectly with the black fruit flavours in the wine.
And, on a sunny evening, we could just about imagine that we were enjoying the tastes back in northern Greece with panoramic views across Lake Petron.