#HOTGV: On Francois Lurton wines with the man himself

For this episode of Heard on the Grape Vine, I met with Francois Lurton, a French winemaker with vineyards in France, Spain, Argentina and Chile.

Francois Lurton

Francois represents the fifth generation of the Lurton family, who are well known in the world of Bordeaux wines. But as a bit of a maverick, Francois has ventured out to establish his own brand and his own wine identity after more than a decade of working for the family business.

We recently met at a tasting at Lima Floral Restaurant in London to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his estate in Argentina, Bodegas Piedra Negra in the Uco Valley. There, I tried a selection of his wines from Chile and Argentina.

Francois Lurton vineyard

Reading back on my notes almost two months later, I realised just how diverse the selection of 15 or so wines were.

Some were young and robust while others were gentle and fruity. There were even notes mentioning dark and moody alongside smoke and spice. I was surprised by how remarkably well they coped with the very challenging flavours of Peruvian food. Granted, the selection matched with the punchy dishes had a bit more age to them.

Although we tasted a sizeable collection of wines, it’s less than a quarter of the labels in Francois’ portfolio across the two continents.

Well, I’ll let Francois tell his own story in this little taster:

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Photos c/o Francois Lurton Wines.

Restaurante Quique Dacosta, Denia, lunch

The Fronteras menu at the three Michelin-starred Restaurante Quique Dacosta in Denia where Dacosta explores his understanding of the kitchen today as the theme of 2016:

1st Act

Rice liquor quinine and emulsion of yuzu

Chinese orange

Cocktail of cockles

Carbon of pericana

Raim de pastor and kalanchoe

Piadina of fermented corn, red tuna and dashi vinegar

Moruno pig nose

Almond nougat

2nd Act

Dry octopus

Roe of mullet

Torta of ling roe

Red tuna belly rested between sugared kombu and mechoui

Onion in vinegar and cumin popadom

3rd Act

Crushed and dried tomato

Fish lemon and half lemon

Langoustine on the grill, green curry, avocado and corn

4th Act

Coca of peas and onions in apple vinegar

Green grapes and mezcal

Cold soup of cucumber with marbles of vegetable water

J. Sendra rice with wild chards and red crabs

Flamed eel from Albufera and ginger emulsion

5th Act

Preparation of old hen, its egg, crunchy cockscomb and grilled meat

6th Act

Strange flowers 2015

Moss 2008

Cinnamon branch and prunes

Petals of roses

Apple gin and tonic

El Poblet, Valencia, dinner

The transformed landscapes menu from Quique Dacosta’s one Michelin-starred restaurant El Poblet in Valencia with selected dishes from past menus at Restaurante Quique Dacosta in Denia and dishes created for El Poblet:

[Sweet corn leaf, mushrooms leaf, herb leaf, beetroot root and tomatoes with vinaigrette]

Petals of rose

Apple gin and tonic

Rompepiedra leaf with mackerel

Stone of parmesan cheese

Light beignet of codfish

[Cuba Libre de Foie Gras]

The haze

Cherries gazpacho

Red king prawn from Denia with tea of prawns and chard

Red mullet with pearls of its head

Cod tripe stew

Rice ashes

Black Angus churrasco

Vineyard peach

Petit fours (cinnamon sticks and prunes)

This is the menu from my visit to El Poblet, Quique Dacosta’s restaurant in Valencia. It’s named after the restaurant he originally worked at, El Poblet, which is where his current three Michelin-starred Restaurante Quique Dacosta is situated in Denia.

At this Valencia restaurant, the dishes are a mixture of new creations and dishes from Dacosta’s past exploits.

Jidori – Dalston, London – Review

89 Kingsland High Street, London E8 2PB www.jidori.co.uk

Kumamoto oyster at Jidori, Dalston

Jidori was Plan C. Not in earnest, as it was always the plan to visit after Lyle’s and The Clove Club, though there was a Plan D.

I’m not sure there’s anyone who found it on the first go. This Dalston restaurant lives in the stripped down shell of another establishment, the tell-tale sign of which is still over the entrance. The only thing that advertises Jidori is a simple branded print out of the menu, stuck on the window.

It feels like I’ve been there before though. Perhaps in it’s previous incarnation as a Vietnamese restaurant. Now it’s a yakitori joint with tiny tables that make the cavernous room look huge.

There’s enough of us to try just about everything on the tight menu, with just eight yakitori options, a set of sides, a smattering of small plates and one dessert.

A couple of things weren’t available. Like the liver for example, which was replaced by the much more delightful oyster. They were kumamoto oysters, and I really ought to have had them without the dressing, but shallot and vinegar is just so god damn good.

I also rather enjoyed it’s vegetarian options of king oyster mushroom and aubergine and miso butter. The onsen egg was gracious, as was the koji fried chicken, though I think I preferred the wings. You’d be spoilt for choice if you loved chicken or rather sick of it by the end if you’re not.

There’s only one dessert on the menu, a ginger ice cream. It came loaded with sweet potato crisps, miso caramel and black sesame. It’s unusual, but not necessarily in a bad way. I think the Jidori pickleback, a shot of whisky followed by a shot of pickled ginger juice, was made for it.

And after that solitary dessert, it was onto Plan D. A different Plan D.

Ginger ice cream at Jidori, Dalston

Bao – Soho, London – Review

53 Lexington St, London W1F 9AS baolondon.com

Pig's blood cake, Bao, LondonI finally made it to Bao.

After a morning of tasting German wines and months after everyone else has already paid their dues in the queues.

I got there shortly after 2pm thinking that, as it’s a week day and there’s just an hour left until it closes, I should be able to avoid the queues.

But I was wrong. And so I ended up standing behind two groups of people, staring across the road at the people staring back at me through the window. In no time though, I was waved through the doors, and dodging traffic to get there in one piece.

My coat, hung up high in front of me at at the table and my bag underneath the bench, I sit down.

Pig's trotter croquette, Bao, LondonThe menu is compact. I vaguely recall trying the buns at an Observer Food Monthly party but I can’t be sure. So I order the old faithful – confit pork bun. For my adventurous side, I chose the pig’s trotter croquette. And for Instagram, I chose the blood cake.

There were no surprises with the bun. It is what it is and similar versions can be found all over. The blood cake I could have done without. It’s sexy for Instagram with its runny yolk suggestively trickling down, but beyond that, well, my palate failed to be titillated.

The croquette however, I loved. Rich and fatty but cut through famously by the dipping sauce. I almost ordered a second serving straight away.

Pondering over getting the bill, I opted for a second bun instead. This time the lamb with cumin and it came with a surprise but pleasant stash of jalapeños. The tangy heat backing the light spice of the cumin actually made me like this bun more. If nothing else, it was more interesting.

As I step out 30 minutes later, leaving a half empty restaurant, I spot more diviners queuing up at the Bao stop.