A Swedish hen do

A few weekends ago now it was my best friend Emma’s hen do back in Malmö, Sweden and although it is slightly off-topic (there was food involved) I want to show you what we got up to.

My dear father helped kidnap Emma from her flat and drove her to the park where we had gathered to meet her and to have some breakfast in the sunshine. We had bubbly, nice bread, eggs, smoked salmon, cheese, fresh fruit, juices and other bits and it was a great start to the day. Emma also got to wear a tinsel wig and a special Sweden T-shirt because she used to play football.

Our first activity was to compete in different teams for two hours with different challanged at a place called Utmaningarnas Hus (The House of Challenges) and it was good fun. And not just because my team won.

After the challenges we drove to the beach and had coffee and mother’s cakes as well as fresh Swedish strawberries. Such a nice break!

After that we tried our luck at pole-dancing, but it was really hard. At least I thought so, so I just watched the others instead.

We then got ready at a few different places around town and met up at the bride’s flat, where her husband-to-be had set up a nice long table for us.

We then gathered around said long table for a champagne tasting that my blogging colleague Anders Öhman did. It was great fun and we learned a lot! Also a good start to the evening.

After trying all the lovely bubbly we had food catered from a tapas restaurant called La Roche. I let them decide the menu, and they did a great job. Everyone ate with a healthy appetite and it was a great spread.

We had charkuteries and cheese, olives and large capers, marinated prawns, tender chicken scewers with homemade chutney, strong aioli, tortilla, stuffed small red peppers and wonderful lamb chops. White chocolate pannacotta with raspberries for pudding.

The evening continues with music and chats and it was a great day for us, but hopefully even better for our hen Emma.


Champagne tasting at Harrod’s

Last week Christopher and I joined another 300 people at Harrod’s champagne tasting. We have been to two more wine tastings there; one with Tuscan wines and one with wines from Bordeaux, and both took place in Harrod’s wine cellar. This was a bigger event however, and was therefore hosted in one of the restaurants.

I definitely had high expectations for this event, as there would be 80 champagnes to try and a few of the rarer and expensive kund.

Just like at the other wine tastings we each got a glass, a brochure about the wines, a list for notes and a pencil. Since I don’t know that much about wines I find it difficult to take notes, but I still note which ones I really liked.

Plenty of well known champagnes were represented as well as a quite a few unknown to me. The big names included Krug, Lanson, Veuve Clicquot, Perrier Jouet, Mumm, Moët & Chandon, and we defintely wanted to try a few of those, although a few we had no interest in as we have tried them before and were not very impressed.

We started the evening at the Taittinger table and tasted us through all four champagnes they had to offer. Already at this point I could feel the bubbles, because the men and women pouring the champagne were very generous! There were baguettes and water at every table though, which helped, and trays of canapées came frequently from the kitchen.

I will not bore you with which order we tried the champagnes and describe them all, to be honest, I don’t even remember them all, but I will tell you which ones we really enjoyed as well as a few that disappointed.

The champagne house that made most of an impression on us was definitely Philipponnat, a small champagne house but one of the older ones. All of their four champagnes were amazing, although the non dosé (=without added sugar) was too dry as an aperitif but would work well with food. Their Royal Réserve NV actually tasted a bit like a vintage champagne and had the butteryness of older champagnes. Uttley beautiful and great value for money.

Another favourite was Ruinart‘s Blanc de Blanc, the champagne Ruinart is most famous for, and also the only one I really liked out of their champagne.

We also tried Gosset, which was completely new to me, but I learned it was one of the absolute oldest champagne houses and they have a great reputation. And after tasting their champagnes I definitely see why.

Goutorbe-Bouillot, Jospeh Perrier och Dampierre were other brans we really enjoyed and that I would happily by. The latter is served at the French embassys around the world and the former we got recommended by one of the staff at Harrod’s who definitely knew his wines.

One of the highlights of the evening was of course to try the more expensive champagnes. It felt a bit surreal to be able to enjoy Dom Perignon, Cristal, Krug och Pol Roger Cuvéé Sir Winston Churchill in one single evening. Out of these the Dom Perignon and the Cristal were a bit to young to be at their best, but still very enjoyable. Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill however was quite disappointing, especially since I really enjoy the Pol Roger NV. As expected though, Krug var delicious.

We had planned to skip most of the mainstream brands as we have tried them before and also because we knew we would be disappointed. But with twenty minutes left towards the end we still tried a few. Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon were really disappointing after having tried all the others, and we expected that. Even the Moët & Chandon 2002 was not up to scratch. The best out of the mainstream brands would have to be Perrier Jouet, even though I am not really a fan. It lacks flavour and feels quite watery.

Out of the big names we would not buy any of the above but instead focus on  Laurent Perrier, Louis Roederer and Pol Roger (only the Brut NV), and after this tasting I could just not settle for anything less after seeing what is out there, even to similar prices.

Another champagne that I would like to mention, now that it is Christman soon, is the Leroy-Duval Paris Brut, which to me qualifies as the perfect gift. The bottle is wonderful with its Paris decor and the champagne itself is lovely, and not what you expect from a pretty bottle. It is however what you expect from the brand, which is good.