A few weeks ago, I wrote about chef Robert Owen Brown's latest food venture - a six course taster menu matched with wines chosen by Kate Goodman, under the name Manchester Gourmet Club. And Manchester got very excited - not by my blog post unfortunately, which was as lowbrow as ever - but at the thought of the majestic titian one once again cooking up unusual animal parts for our delectation. The inugural Manchester Gourmet Club, held at Didsbury Parsonage last Saturday, sold out completely - and here's why...
Aperitif: Perles de L’Angelier, Sparkling Muscadet (Loire, France). I've never had a sparkling Muscadet before, and it was quite simply a revelation - slightly off dry and easily as good as many champagnes on the market. Kate (pictured here in the middle of telling us something clever about wine, to which we are not fully listening because we are all drinking wine) sells this in her splendid wine shop Reserve Wines at £12.50 a pop, and I envisage this is something I will end up buying on a pretty regular basis.
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, with Fernando de Castilla, Manzanilla (Jerez, Spain). Always tricky to match soup with wine: two lots of liquid, no matter how nice, just make for a sloshy stomach. Kate circumvented this problem by matching the sweet velvety soup with a dainty glass of crisp dry sherry, a combination that we all thought worked surprisingly well.
Game Terrine of Wild Rabbit Sweetbread, Pigeon, Truffle Chutney, matched with Selbach Oster, Zeltlinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese. 2008. (Mosel, Germany). This was my favourite course and wine of the night - a coarse, gamey terrine packed loosely into a dinky kilner jar and served with a deliciously truffley black emulsion (tip - sit next to someone who doesn't like truffle, then you'll get theirs as well). The Riesling was just stunning, although at £23.50 a bottle I simply daren't let myself get a taste for this.
Cockles, Mussels & Morecambe Bay Shrimps with Chive Cream, matched with Coto de Gomariz Blanco. 2011 (Ribeiro, Spain). A classic Robert Owen Brown dish, although the wine was my least favourite of the night - for me, it just failed to quite cope with the sweetness of the seafood. Still drank it, mind.
Earl Grey Smoked Duck with Parsnip, Beetroot & Mead, matched with Porter Mill Station, Pinotage. 2013 (Swartland, South Africa). The only red of the night, and it was a good one, its slight smokiness perfectly complementing the earthiness of the root vegetables, the sweetness of the mead and the rich pinkness of the duck. Even better, this one is a bargainous £8.99 - we all agreed it tasted as good as many far more expensive examples of this grape.
Roast Rhubarb with Butterscotch Cream, matched with Chateau Cerons. 1998 (Cerons, Bordeaux). I'm not normally big on dessert wine, but this one was fresh and peachy rather than cloyingly sweet, and therefore didn't overwhelm the delicate, slightly sharp rhubarb. This dish looked beautiful, like a gorgeous greedy present, although we weren't entirely sure whether we were meant to eat the decoration or wear it as a snappy corsage.
Blue & Goat's Cheese, matched with Butler & Nephew, 20 Year Old Tawny Port (Douro, Portugal). Due to a late change to the advertised cheeses I can't give you any more detail here other than, in the words of our chef, "one of 'em's French". I can add to this, "they were both very nice", "I bloody love Port" and "my word, the person I'm sharing this plate with can certainly snarf blue cheese very quickly".
The overall consensus - bearing in mind that we'd just drunk seven wines - was that Rob was marvellous, Kate was lovely and really terribly clever about wine, and that we'd all been most excellent company and had had a splendid night. I can't recommend highly enough that you sign up to their mailing list here on the website and watch it LIKE A HAWK for the next one - I certainly will be.