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August 15, 2010

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Bordeaux goes with gastro grub

FOR 2,000 years London has been at the center of the British dining experience. While cuisines from around the world now make London one of the dining capitals of the world, perhaps no style of food is as intimately associated with London as pub fare.

Affectionately referred to as pub grub, food served at authentic pubs in London has evolved from simple salty snacks to encourage patrons to drink more ale to classic British staples like steak and ale pies, shepherd's pie, bangers and mash and fish and chips. To drink anything but ale with these classics would be considered by many as sacrilege, however, several of these dishes pair nicely with wines.

In 1991, London entrepreneurs David Eyre and Mike Belben purchased The Eagle Pub in Clerkwell, London. Their original dream to open a restaurant was not possible due to a shortage of funds so they decided to buy a pub. Keeping the pub-like relaxed atmosphere, they concentrated on upgrading the kitchen and dining experience.

The Eagle Pub in its new form was so successful that a new epicurean term was born, gastropub, a combination of the French word gastronomique and pub.

Over the past few decades, gastropubs have proliferated in London and even popped up in other global gourmet centers like Paris, New York and Tokyo.

The enhanced menus at the best gastropubs reflect the spirit of classic English fare, while using high-quality local ingredients. Wines to enjoy with this fare should be reasonably priced, as spending a lot of money on wine in any pub doesn't make sense.

They should also have British heritage, like Bordeaux wines as the region of Bordeaux was part of Britain for centuries. Seafood dishes like smoked haddock chowder and Atlantic cod fish cakes are perfect with fresh white wines with good acidity like the Chateau Timberlay Blanc 2007 and Chateau Chauvet 2007.

The acidity of the wines accentuates the freshness and natural sweetness of the fish while cutting through the creaminess and oiliness in the dishes.

Gastropub meat dishes include shepherd's pie prepared with Welsh lamb and organic potatoes and handmade bangers with wild mushroom-scented mash potatoes.

Both these dishes benefit from balanced Bordeaux red wines with good tannins like the Chateau Haut Mayne 2005 from Graves and Chateau Listran 2007 from Haut Medoc.


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