Baked fish requires a citrus wine, and ginger very nearly fulfills that role. The wine was perhaps a little robust, but there was no struggle involved in finishing it. Nor in finishing the current book: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty. I picked this up from one of the Little Free Libraries dotted around Leeds, expecting it to be trashy, badly written yet fun. It only matched the last of those - perhaps not Great Literature but extremely engaging and written with knowing humour. It was not what I expected - more Romance Structure and less Murder Mystery than anticipated.
Sunday, 27 June 2021
Saturday, 26 June 2021
A Saturday bottle of wine. The day had been lovely. I spent most of the morning making an asparagus and emmental quiche - which was a Triumph (he said, modestly). Then Richard & Linda came round for lunch, during which the Triumph was eaten with relish. We stayed outside enjoying a British summer's day and it was great to be entertaining again. Late afternoon I played Mom at Scrabble (always a weekly highlight) and in the evening we drank blackcurrant wine (another Triumph) whilst being disappointed with Gross Pointe Blank - far duller than I remember it being in 1997.
Friday, 25 June 2021
We are having a proper June. May was exceptionally wet, but this month has been glorious: hot and sunny. Our garden is looking wonderful, and we drank some of this bottle outside parading the grounds. The rest was drunk to an Indian Takeout and an episode of ER. Perhaps not the most exciting of Fridays, but precisely what I wanted. The orange wine matched that description too.
|Our garden in the evening sun|
Thursday, 24 June 2021
When choosing a wine on Wednesday, I noticed this one had its cork part of the way out. It was stored on its side, so emergency action was required. There was a small 'pop' as I opened it, but the wine did not explode out of the bottle. Its taste was excellent, though, and it took all self control not to finish it then and there. Claire had the rest on Thursday - the Feast of St Ithamar - whilst I was at Pat & Peter's for the first time in 16 months to play trios. It was so good to be there again and, against all expectations, it was musically satisfying too.
|The Feast of St Ithamar|
Wednesday, 23 June 2021
The week has been a veritable social whirl: to York on Tuesday for Mom's 80th, Book Group on Friday (albeit virtual) and then a proper dinner party at Angie & Phil's on Saturday. Yes, we spent most of it outside, but that was because it was a lovely summer's evening rather than a Government Edict for the Protection of Society. It was a marvelous evening and felt so normal. Life will return to much as it used to be and we are on the first steps of that.
I took this wine at Liz's request and it is an excellent bottle. So much so that I may make a double batch this year.
|Angie's recipe for Rhubarb & Custard Cake|
Tuesday, 22 June 2021
|Elderflowers overhanging our fence|
We have had an absolutely splendid June. After the sodden May, it has been wonderful to bask in warmth and sunlight. The garden is looking terrific this year and everything seems to be thriving. Particularly the rhubarb. We have been having stewed rhubarb with our morning porridge every day for weeks and I have been trying every rhubarb cake recipe that I find (tomorrow is Rhubarb & Custard). Last month was rhubarb wine and of course this month it is Elderflower, Rhubarb & Mint. I had planned on a double batch but Claire, in her campaign to drink shop-bought wine made from grapes more frequently, requested that I stick to a single batch. And because I love her, I have.
|Some of the Rhubarb|
I started the wine on Sunday 13th June. Pulling up 3 lbs of rhubarb was no effort - some of that in the back garden has been starved of sunlight by other, taller, plants and so has the deep pinkness of forced rhubarb. I picked my elderflowers from the tree overhanging our fence from the synagogue. The mint came from our herb patch and, as last year, I have used only a small handful of spearmint.
|A small handful of spearmint|
Stripping elderflowers, as always, was the tedious part. I sat outside and turned my thumb pollen-yellow in the process. My haul only produced ¾ pint of elderflowers, but I was sufficiently bored by this time not to collect more to make it into a full pint.
|Yellow thumb and finger|
I sliced the rhubarb thinly and put this, the elderflowers and the chopped mint into my bucket. I poured over 6½ pints of boiling water and added 2 lbs 14 oz sugar. The following morning I added the yeast and a teaspoon each of nutrient and pectolase.
|The main ingredients|
The wine got a vigorous stir each day until Friday 18th June, when I put the wine into the its demijohn. I spent some of this process worrying that Claire might have been abducted or dead - she had sent me a message at 5:45 saying that she was setting off and had not returned an hour and a half later. Happily, she had only got chatting to a colleague after sending a message so it was perhaps a little premature to be planning her funeral. Phew! Anyway, the wine is the same pastel pink as pure rhubarb and is now by the bath bubbling away.
|The finished product|
Sunday, 20 June 2021
I cooked Hot Tomatoey Garlicky Asparagus on Thursday, which is not as successful as its cousin, Hot Tomatoey Garlicky Prawns - or even the mackerel variety. The asparagus gets lost in the mix.
Jayne joined us for the meal - the first person (other than us) to eat inside our house for well over a year. It was excellent to be able to play host again. I opened a bottle of Gooseberry Wine to mark the occasion, though Jayne was driving and had none. Whilst Claire thought that this was little better than a mid-week bottle (on account of it not having sufficient gooseberry flavour), I disagree. It is semi-sweet with a bite, and well worth getting stuck into.
|It was my mother's 80th birthday the previous day|
Friday, 11 June 2021
I had expected this wine to be one of my failed experiments. From its ingredients we have nicknamed it 'Compost Wine'. On the basis that it was likely to be horrid I took it to Newcastle so that we could share the pain. It is with some surprise, therefore, that I can report that this was Quite Good. It has a smoother taste than pure dandelion. Sooz said it was akin to sherry that is not Croft Original (the only sherry permitted in the Taylor household) - so not a total success. Andrew and I had the lion's share.
Sunday was an excellent day, starting with a visit to the South Tyneside coast. It was shrouded in mist whilst the rest of the country enjoyed blazing sunshine. In the late afternoon I went on a sunnier walk with Judith over the Town Moor and in the evening we feasted.
|The South Tyneside Coast on a misty day|
If you want to see how I made this wine, click here.
Thursday, 10 June 2021
We have just returned from a fabulous weekend in Newcastle, and this wine was one of our Saturday bottles. Judith was effusive in her praise and rightly so! Elderflower, rhubarb and mint is a delight.
Much of Saturday had been spent driving on the hottest, sunniest day of the year so far in a car where both the fan and the air conditioning were broken. As First World Problems go, it isn't the worst. We had a lovely evening, however, with Bob, Judith & Sooz. It is so good to spend time together again.
|Spending quality time with the in-laws|
Wednesday, 9 June 2021
Since Lockdown began in March last year, I have been into the office six times. Four of those were to pick up stationery. Visits five and six were on Thursday and Friday this week - and were to tidy up for the impending office move. It was strangely melancholy throwing out handwritten notes from 2013, which were important at the time but have not been looked at since.
We drank this Tutti Fruti both evenings in front of the computer watching Derry Girls and ER respectively - both well made television. The wine was as good as ever.
|Telephones stored in the Office|
Tuesday, 8 June 2021
Claire said of this bottle that there is a decent flavour struggling to make its way through. I think this is the very definition of a mid-week bottle: drinkable without being delicious, with a non-descript taste. There is rose in there somewhere. Nothing much of interest happened on either day this was open. The foxes (or something) broke into our yoghurt, but that was as exciting as things got.
|Devastating Aftermath of a Fox Attack|
Monday, 7 June 2021
I am a weak man. After Saturday's excesses I thought that I would have an evening away from the booze. But then Claire said that she would quite like a bottle opening and I found myself in the cupboard under the stairs fishing out a bottle of Prune & Parsnip. Oh well.
The day had been excellent. I spent much of the morning wandering around York trying to see it as a tourist might (and there were lots of tourists there). Then it was Big Breakfast and a game of Scrabble with Mom & Claire - Proper Actual Scrabble rather than playing virtually on-line. I lost badly, but that is only slightly important. The wine was actually a fitting end to the day.
|Our Scrabble Game|
Saturday, 5 June 2021
Lockdown has taken a significant move towards release. We can now visit people indoors and stay over night. Our first visit, therefore, was to York where we spent Saturday night with my parents, the Eurovision Song Contest and this bottle of Rose Petal & Orange which I think everyone enjoyed. It retains its buttery smoothness.
Spending time with Mom & Pop was wonderful and, of course, immediately felt normal. Getting rapidly drunk on a Saturday night at Heworth Green is such a pleasure! As was Eurovision - as ridiculous and camp as ever. And we watched it exchanging WhatsApp messages with Todd & Anne, who were sharing the experience 8,000 miles away.
|A picture I took in York the following day|