It was a pleasure to return to Village East in Bermondsey Street where we’d been some eighteen months previously for the launch of their breakfast menu. This time we were at this New York themed brasserie and cocktail bar for a special wine tasting and dining event, hosted by their resident wine guru, the wonderfully named Pippa Penny. Pippa formerly worked for Fullers pubs in their wine department and now organises wine and dine events around London, including the monthly event at Village East. Before each course Pippa gave a brief but informative introduction to the wine and food pairings and circulated among the guests getting our feedback during the dinner.
There were ten guests seated around a large oval table so we were able to chat with our fellow diners and compare notes as the evening proceeded. Conversation was immediately enhanced by the aperitif of Sloe Gin Royale. A bottle of sloe gin lay at the back of a cupboard at home for some years but no longer, because mixed with a sparkling wine, in this case Prosecco, it makes a lively cocktail.
A duo of starters followed, smoked mackerel served with a Terra Gauda Albarino, a white wine from Spain, and seasonal game terrine served with Framingham Pinot Noir from New Zealand. I’d tasted Albarino before in Spain and been underwhelmed, but this one was in a different league – it was fresh with hints of grapefruit and apple. I wasn’t so taken by the Pinot Noir, maybe just not to my taste. Both starters were tasty with the terrine being particularly appetising.
We were looking forward to the main, honey-braised pork belly with cauliflower puree, glazed shallots and charcuterie sauce, and we weren’t disappointed! The perfectly cooked meat with the crunchiest crackling and a rich sauce was mouth-wateringly good and served with another Pinot Noir, Santa Macarena from Chile. This Pinot Noir was right up my street with a fuller, rounder flavour. I was surprised to discover it was quite a bit cheaper than the first one – this shows one of two things: I know a bargain when I taste one or, everything I know about wine is wrong! It is amazing though, how two wines from the same grape variety can taste so different, showing that climate, soil and process are often more important in the final product.
Our dessert was a flourless chocolate cake with whipped creme fraiche served with a fortified wine called Banyules Robert Pages from Domaine Madeloc, Roussillon in the south of France. Portions both of food and wine had been generous, and the dessert was no exception – I had to admit defeat and was unable to finish it off, even though it was extremely more-ish! The Banyules was a cross between a wine and a port and was an excellent complement to the dessert. But we hadn’t finished – we were then served mini mince pies along with an actual Port, a Taylors 10 year old Tawny. Rising to the challenge, I managed a mini pie to round off an excellent evening!
Pippa was a marvellous and knowledgeable host for this thoroughly entertaining evening. You can enjoy a wine and dine event at Village East for the very reasonable price of £45pp or a wine only tasting for £25pp and all the food and wine (except the Banyules) are available from the menu at this lively and atmospheric restaurant and bar.