Heeding a call for “Loire Moments” during London Wine Week, I left my ordinary world of peak-hour crush on the Underground, horizontal rain and broken umbrella to find myself in the foyer of the London EDITION hotel, 10 Berners Street, with a glass of sparkling Monmousseau Touraine Brut in my hand.
Our exquisite hosts, Douglas Blyde and Lindsay Oram, had created a menu matched with six wines from along the Loire River, with four-courses cooked by Chef Phil Carmichael from Jason Atherton’s upstairs Berners Tavern.
Even saying the word, Monmousseau, puts my mouth into a kissy kiss pout and silly voice that I find happens to me when I’m around the super cute. A baby swaddled in a blanket disguised as a burrito or watching a labrador puppy try to go down a staircase for the first time.
That’s about all I can watch nowadays, by the way, after recent horrific events – in fact, my year can be summed up by the bleak New Yorker cartoon, “my desire to be well-informed is at odds with my desire to remain sane”. Thanks to the Monmousseau Brut, I began to leave the outside world behind for the evening and have some fun. It was soon time to leave our glasses and move downstairs to the main event.
Green neon light!
Crossing the threshold of everyday reality into a dark room, we found ourselves somewhere between a disco and an aristocrat’s cave, complete with gold-framed portraits of eccentric relatives.
Once seated, the room was flooded with green neon light. “Loire Moments is to be a full sensory experience,” Douglas Blyde announced. The green light – and gentle nature sounds of birds twittering – signified the mouth of the Loire River, in the Nantais, where our dinner’s journey would begin.
The Loire River is not a gentle river. Shallow with strong currents, it has a mind of its own. From half way along, the river flows north, changing direction with a curve that flows toward the Atlantic Ocean. The last time I was in the Loire, for the Les Grands Tablées du Saumur-Champigny, the winemakers took us on a traditional flat-bottom boat adapted over the centuries to navigate the moody tides. I saw first-hand how difficult it was to go from one side to the other.
The ‘Loire Moments’ dinner in London was a gentler affair, despite the sudden change in lighting. I found it amusing but some of the photographers demanded a change back to neutral light. Judging by my photos, perhaps they had a point. But I was quite prepared to go with the flow of the evening. It was a journey down a river, after all.
We had a good time over the last drops of red wine and an extremely good espresso before hitting the reality of the last tube home, then bus, then bus, then bed and then do the daily commute all again in the morning, waking with a lovely memory of a technicolour dream of a river.
GREEN LIGHT with sounds of the Grandlieu nature reserve
Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu, Clos de la Sénaigerie, Domaine des Herbauges 2015
with Dressed Colchester crab, brown crab mayo, apple, coriander
AQUA BLUE LIGHTING with the bells of Saint Maurice, Angers
Savennières, Thibault Boudignon, Clos de la Hutte 2015
with Pan-fried rainbow trout, chargrilled courgette, cucumber, wasabi butter sauce, caviar
WARM RED LIGHTING with the champions of red wine, The New Pornographers (Bill Bruisers)
Chinon Rouge Joguet, Clos de la Dioterie 2009
And Saumur Champigny, Château du Hureau, Lisagathe 2014
with BBQ Dingley Dell pork chop, roasted calçots onions, apple, tomato and sage sauce
HARVEST GOLD LIGHTING with ‘Cheese’, Tim Minchin (Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra)
Anjou Blanc, Clos de l’Elu Berners Tavern 2015, Chenin
And Anjou Rouge, Clos de l’Elu Berners Tavern 2014,
with England versus France Cheese
DARK CHOCOLATE LIGHTING
Difference Coffee Co. Jamaica Blue Mountain
With Prévu, Pas Prévu, Milk Coffee & Sugar
I was invited as a guest and all views are my own.
To read more posts about the Loire
To Douglas Blyde’s column in The Evening Standard
A post on dinner with Difference Coffee Co.