SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY
- Masonic Hall: Delighted to read comments from Pat & John Shore ré the number of wines at HMWS tastings and Chris Durrant’s catering. (see Hedonist Monday 18 February)
Life In Sri Lanka
- Galle Face Hotel in Colombo is one of oldest and grandest this side of the Suez. I rarely venture in to the City these days but last Sunday I had the pleasure of having ‘High Tea’ at this venerable seaside hotel facing Gall Face Green – city resident’s favourite promenade. (Six years ago I published a post called “Hightea At Galleface” on Bandi’s Blog. Click here if you would like to see it)
- I am back in Colombo after a trip to the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka during the weekend visiting ancient monuments and wildlife parks. On Friday I visited a second century BC irrigation reservoir rich in bird life and on Saturday, Galoya National Park – well known for its large herds of elephants
SUNDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2019
- The Society is indebted to Rob Buckley who expertly presented an exceptional selection of “New Zealand Pinot Noir” at last week’s HMWS tasting. Many thanks too to the two members who took the trouble to forward notes and comments on the event. One expressed the view that a maximum of six quality wines would be the more appropriate number for a tasting. I am in full agreement, and as you can see, the next two tasting will feature only six wines each and Seven wines are listed for each of the last two tastings of 2019
- Wine Offers: The Douro wines on offer from Fells this week are all worth buying. As I already have stocks of most of them, I shall be ordering only the relatively new Altano Reserve White and Altano red which I have not tasted. Delivery will be in April when I return to the UK. It is helpful that Fells have released the monthly fine wine offers for the whole year. The Society has asked for an allocation of Prat & Symington Chryseia 2017 which is the March fine wine offer
- Chris Durrant of the Masonic Hall, so far, has cooked two meals for the Society but Members have not made any comments about the quality of suppers. Feedback is most welcome. I am still waiting for the menu & cost for the Spring Lunch
- Tony Lee’s Letters From Galapagos are being read with great interest and admiration. It is wonderful that he finds the time to send in such detailed reports and high quality images during his travels and I wish more Members would do that. Some of you will remember the private visit to Ecuador & Galapagos the Society arranged several years ago and how it sadly collapsed because too many pulled out at the last minute. Thankfully, Tony & Renna didi not have such problems
Life In Sri Lanka
- In the first two weeks of my stay in Sri Lanka this winter, the house was redecorated, lunch was had in a new Colombo restaurant and one was hosted at home without the cook who is in hospital with Dengue fever. I also attended two dinner parties, the second of which was a jam session at my next door neighbour’s where the music and drinking went on till the early hours of the morning
- I have managed the first two weeks in Sri Lanka without wine – drinking beer, gin, Scotch and arrack but finally succumbed and ordered a case each of Wyndham Estate Bin 222 Chardonnay and Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz from Pernod Ricard
- The first trip of the year to the wilderness in central Sri Lanka is on Friday with Flamingo Tours, my regular and favoured local travel agent. Posts will appear on Banda’s Blog
SUNDAY 10 FEBRUARY
The 71st year since the end of British Colonial Rule in Sri Lanka was celebrated last Monday. The usual military parade was watched by the usual bunch of ruling corrupt and ordinary citizens hoisted the National Flag and lit fire crackers.
One of the pleasures of life in Sri Lanka is eating and drinking natural foods seldom found elsewhere. A great mid-morning drink, apart from gin & tonic, is king coconut water– said to be isotonic with body fluids. It contains free sugar (about 4g/l) and a small amount of sodium and potassium. King coconut (Cocos nucifera) is a variety of coconut, native to Sri Lanka. It is golden in colour and is not used in cooking.
Canereed (Costus speciosus) is called Thebu in Sri Lanka and the leaves are used in salads mixed with grated coconut and lime juice. It is not only delicious but lowers blood sugar in diabetics.
NOBLE ROT – SUNDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2019
Blaufränkisch, the dark-skinned, dark-fruited Austro-Hungarian grape that is increasing well cultivated and vinified. In Germany it is called Lemberger and the over 4000 acres of vineyards are mainly in Württemberg wine region in the south around Stuttgart producing a lighter but fruitier wine. The 2015 Lemberger B from Weingut Schafer in Kleinbottwar has and several months in oak barriques making it more refined and elegant. The wine went well with an oxtail stew and there was no difficulty in finishing the bottle. The Lemberger will be served with supper at the Society’s Henschke tasting this April.
The visit to Herdade do Esporão in the Alentejo in 2016 with the HMWS was great and the Esperao Reserve White served at their tasting lunch was impressive. It was relished again with lunch at the Grain Store in London’s Granary Square last year. The wine is made by David Baverstock with organic Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro fermented in steel and aged in oak for six months. The 2016, full bodied and packed with fruit is one of the wines sourced from Enotria&Coe this month. It will be served at the Society’s Spring Lunch in May.
Salsify, the ‘forgotten’ but delicious Victorian winter vegetable is making a come back. Waitrose in Harrogate sell it. I found it delightful, simply peeled, boiled and seasoned to accompany lightly smoked salmon steaks. Here are a few salsify recipes from chef Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall.
The game season is almost over. The last Harrogate based pheasant shoot was on Saturday the 26th and a good friend brought me a few birds on Sunday. They were washed down on Tuesday and Wednesday with Esperao Reserve White which performed almost as well as a Pinot Noir.
We arrived in Sri Lanka on Friday. A Freedom Taxi (01423 595959) took us in freezing to Manchester Airport and we caught the afternoon Emirates flight to Colombo via Dubai. Manchester was snow covered but there was no problem with the flight. There was Arcadian Sauvignon Blanc and Boekenhoutskloof Porcupine Ridag Syrah to kill time with on the plane. A taxi from the Airport Drivers’ Association drove us to our holiday home just outside Colombo. The temperature was 31degrees C. It was pleasing to note that the cook had turned up and and the highly endangered species of Southern monkey is surviving.