Archive for May, 2008


This morning I sent Graham a link to an article about barbecued spare ribs on the Cooking For Engineers blog, in an “out of interest, have you seen” kind of way. So I wasn’t expecting to come home to the full works wonderfully prepared on our new barbecue.

They were fantastic, extremely tender and very spicy. Yummy! Thanks Graham!

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Australia tasting

Another great tasting at Cambridge Wine Merchants last Wednesday, in their new basement tasting room at 42 Mill Road. The intention was to show that it’s possible to move away from the fruit- and alcohol-driven mass market and discover Australian wines which attempt a little more finesse and terroir.

There wasn’t a duff wine amongst the eight. The four I ended up buying were:

  • Harewood Estate Denmark Riesling 2006 – A lovely petrol nose undercut with citrus. Elderflower and under-ripe green pepper (tasty in a wine!) It lacked the minerality of a German Riesling but was excellent, and much more to my taste than the big tropical fruit style found elsewhere in Australia.
  • Woodlands Margaret River Cabernet Merlot 2006 – A full nose of dark cherries with herbal undertones. Full flavour of soft spice, mulled plums and damsons. Soft tannins but an underlying tautness reminiscent of a decent claret. Probably my favourite.
  • Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein 2006 – The most unusual of the eight. Deep blackberry nose with a slight hint of farmyard. Full of blackcurrant and spice, tasty tannins and cedar. The Dolcetto grape is the mainstay of the Piedmont region of Italy, whilst the Lagrein is from Alto Adige.
  • Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir 2006 – A spicy cherry nose with a slight gaminess. Fruit and light cherries on the palate, redcurrants, refreshing acid and a nice complexity. I bought this for Graham to try to see if it meets his requirements for exciting Pinot Noirs.

I almost got a bottle of the Chalkers Crossing Hilltops Semillon 2006 too.

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Stormbound in Woodbridge

I had a fun weekend with the S&CA East Coast regulars, but it didn’t all go according to plan.

After work on Friday I drove to the Royal Harwich Yacht Club at Woolverstone, roads blissfully free of bank holiday bottlenecks, and arrived in plenty of time to join my hosts Nick and John on Retriever for a pre-dinner drink together with Graeme and Bruce. Dinner in the yacht club, chosen from a short but appealing menu, was excellent. Paul arrived in time to have a drink with us, and plans were hatched to meet off Shotley Point Marina at 8 the next morning in order to arrive at the mouth of the Deben with sufficient rising tide.

The morning brought a northeasterly force 5, and John’s initial suggestion of two reefs would have been a good choice, but just the one gave us a lively day and Nick plenty of exercise on the tiller. We were half an hour late at Shotley and Bright Oyster had already left, although we passed them en route to the Deben. Once out of Harwich, tide and wind were against us and it took the best part of three hours to cover the three nautical miles up the coast, bouncing about rather a bit in places.

Nick shot us expertly into the mouth of the Deben and through a host of racing and capsizing dinghies, with the depth-gauge turned off “as it only causes one to worry”. It’s a beautiful river, and out of the swell the sail upstream to Woodbridge was very pleasant.

We arrived with just enough water to enter the Tidemill Yacht Harbour by raising our keel, but a certain Shiny Mollusc was lulled by the beautiful surroundings into a premature insertion attempt and a close encounter with the sill. An encounter which haunted her long-suffering crew for the rest of the long weekend. Lunch in Retriever’s cockpit made the most of the lovely sunshine.

Buttrums Mill

Woodbridge is a very pretty town and some of us walked up to Buttrums Mill which was turning slowly in the strong wind against its brake and with the shutters open. Drinks on Bright Oyster started our evening, where we were joined by Steve and Pete from Blue Streak and by locals Duncan and David. The Anchor didn’t have any room for us to eat, but we sampled the beers and moved on to the Royal Bengal for an excellent curry made interesting by the Goan dishes on the menu.

We knew the forecast for Sunday was bad so had a very leisurely start, brunch in the Station Cafe, and an afternoon in The Riverside Theatre being entertained (just about) by Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Harrison Ford was good, and Cate Blanchett excellent as the Russian baddie, but the film lacked story and direction. Still, it kept us warm and dry and the numerous children quiet.

The end of the film marked decision point for the return journey. If we were to make it to the Orwell on Monday, it would be best to head down the Deben on the falling tide to pass the night on moorings nearer the mouth. The forecast had got worse, so the reluctant decision was to stay put in Woodbridge. Our hostelry of choice was the lovely Kings Head, enlivened by Adnams Ales, a young and pretty crowd, and a tasty menu including a pint of smoked prawns which kept me out of trouble.


Jon and David from Jollie Rs drove down from Westleton to join us at the Kings Head, as did Sam from the Ore. We moved on to the Old Mariner, where Duncan and David put in another appearance, making a grand total of 13 members attending at some stage over the weekend.

John and Nick produced a fantastic cooked breakfast on Retriever on Monday morning before we sadly abandoned the boats at Tide Mill and made our way home by land. Here’s hoping for fair winds at the weekend to allow Retriever and Bright Oyster easy passage home.

Many thanks to Nick and John for being excellent and relaxed hosts, and to Graeme and Bruce for coordinating a successful weekend in the teeth of gales and lashing rain.

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