30 May 2016

Wine Tasting at Majestic's Summer Spectacular

The other day, I finally got invited to one of the Majestic Wine tasting evenings. I'd been wanting to go after someone mentioned it on one of the wine forums I sometimes chat on. So was delighted when Liam, a Wine Guru from my local Salisbury Majestic invited me along to their Summer Spectacular. At last, I thought, I've made it in the guest list!

The store was set up with four different tasting stations, each manned (and womaned) by a Wine Guru or a Wine Guru in training. There were also various nibbles to try with some of the wines (although all the Manchego had already gone on our evening!). 

We started with a glass of Champagne which was very civilised. Then moved onto white, red, some higher price point wines and then finished off with some whiskey, gin and rum. In all, there were 16 wines, plus the spirits. Frankly, I was pretty sozzled by the end of it!

Some of the highlights from the tastings for me were (from what I can remember!):

  • Ned Rose 2015 from Marlborough in New Zealand. I'm not a massive rose fan as it can often either be bland or sweet. However, this quite colourful drop of pink is a mix of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir which means it has more flavour and creaminess without being super sweet.
  • Incanta Pinot Noir 2015 from Romania. Yes, a red wine from Romania. Fairly light but with all the fruity flavours you would expect and pretty reasonably priced at £5.99 a bottle. I'd recommend it if you want to try something new and different.
  • "Angels Share" Shiraz 2014 from Two Hands. I love all the wines Two Hands make. This Australian brand is not cheap, but all their wines whether from Barossa or McLaren Vale are all delicious. This Shiraz is very rich but, although it's pretty strong, its not overpowering but rather deliciously
  • Au Bon Climat Chardonnay 2014 from Santa Barbara in California. Again, not cheap at just under £20 a bottle, but worth every penny. Rich, buttery and complex and worth the extra spend if you want something special.
  • Penderyn Myth Single Malt Welsh Whisky. I've never tried a Welsh whisky before, but being half Taff, I was fascinated to try it. Apparently it won a gold award at the Whiskies of the World Masters 2015 and I can see why. It's matured in Bourbon casks and it does have a slight sweet taste to it. Not too fiery, but full of flavour and dangerously drinkable.

However, the actual highlight from the night, was someone coming up to me and asking if I was Pinotnoirgirl from Twitter. I'm actually famous, it's finally happened!

In all seriousness, the whole evening was really nice. Not overly busy and no pushing and shoving to get to the wines. We chatted to some really friendly people and learned lots more about Majestic. For example, a Wine Guru called Lauren told us that all of the staff at Majestic have to take their WSET Level 3. Which means, if they give you advice on wine, they know what they are talking about.

There was no hard sell either (although we did, of course, buy a whole load of wines!). It was just a really interesting and informative evening. And wines at lots of different price points from £5.99 a bottle up to just under £20.

I think you can sign up to be invited to these sort of events on the Majestic website. But don't you all sign up, I want to be invited next time!

22 May 2016

Eating Indian street food at Cafe Diwali

When Crane Street Wine Cafe closed in Salisbury, I was really disappointed because it was my favourite restaurant in Salisbury. However, when I saw a sign in the window of the empty premises to say that an Indian Street food restaurant serving craft beers was coming there, my disappointment was quieted! 
Last weekend, we finally managed to get a babysitter and went to the newly opened Diwali Cafe for supper. I'd tweeted them beforehand and was delighted when they responded - it's always a good sign that you're going to get good service. And, we certainly did, with excellent, attentive service throughout the meal. 

The general layout remains similar to Cranes, but the d├ęcor has been refreshed with brighter paintwork and an Indian vibe. We were seated out in the conservatory area and I was pleased to see that the outdoor seating area also remains, it's a lovely sun trap in the summer.

The waiter came over to help talk us through the bijoux menu. Explaining that the menu was deliberately small, with the intention for them to update it every 3 months.

We started by ordering the mini poppadums which were a real treat. I love poppadums anyway, but they tend to be the same in most Indians with similar pickles. Well, not at Cafe Diwali. The mini poppadums come in a variety of flavours - some a bit more spicy, some with caraway seeds. And the pickles were delicious.

For our starters, I had the Mini Raj Kachori which were stuffed Panipuri (kind of a fried, crisp batter) and were super pretty and very tasty. My husband had the Fish Amritshari which were slightly spiced, fried fish goujons. Everything was very good indeed. As were our mains of whole tandoori sea bream and tandoori kebab platter.

As advertised, they also served a wide range of craft beers and a small selection of wines and spirits. I also noticed on their website that they have a kid's menu and a Sunday brunch menu.

Overall, I was really impressed and we will definitely be returning. A nice alternative to the other Indians in Salisbury and in a nice, cafe environment. Yum! I wish we had more independent places like this in Salisbury. It wasn't mega busy in there, so I'd really encourage you to give it a try.