Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

Archive for the ‘Gastronomy’ Category

Four Nights in Marseille

Posted by Frank Ward on February 29, 2020

February 2020. Writing in the 1830s, Stendhal declared that “If Bordeaux is the most beautiful city in France, Marseille is the prettiest.” Were he still alive, he would surely have to revise his opinion somewhat were he to visit Marseille in the present day, though it’s still a great city and well worth a special journey. Why so? The main reason is that in January 1943 the Germans, aided by the French police, dynamited much of the city’s historic old town and demolished the gigantic Marseille […].

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Posted by Frank Ward on June 29, 2019

June 2019. LISBON, capital of Portugal, is a city with many attributes. Built on a series of hills, overlooking the vast expanse of the Tagide estuary, it boasts a number of outstanding museums (most notably the Gulbenkian), many magical squares and alleys, and – perhaps most of all – a people who are open, helpful, gentle, and welcoming. Their infinitely poignant song, fado, heart-rendingly tender, seems to sum up something in the Portuguese character… With many switchbacking streets, some of them on different levels and not immediately accessible (and often devilishly hard to find!) it’s a city where it’s easy to get lost. But that’s no problem. All you have to do is enter a shop – a jewellers, a laundry, a cafe, a tailor’s – and somebody will leave their station, join you on the pavement, and point you in the right direction, while giving exact [….].

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A few recent tastings

Posted by Frank Ward on April 10, 2018

April 2018. Our friends Philip and Cathy recently hosted another dinner, an evening of fine food and wine. It’s seldom that fewer than 8- 10 bottles are broached on these occasions, and all are tasted blind. The latest get-together took this form: As aperitif, a 1990 Riesling Rauenthaler Baiken Spatlese. Bigger than most Spatlesen, close to an Auslese in weight and body, it was medium dry (10.5 ABV) and smelled like apricot with a hint of barley sugar. The ample Riesling fruit was balanced by fine orangey acidity. Fine on its own, off-dry rather than sweet, it could easily have accompanied a fish dish too. [….].

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A retrospective review of Eating Out in Stockholm

Posted by Frank Ward on July 14, 2017

July 2017. In 1972 – 45 years ago – I published a guide to the restaurants of Stockholm: “Eating out in Stockholm”. Nobody had ever before tried to make an objective, critical appraisal of the Swedish capital’s eating out scene. To my amazement – and dismay – it created a bit of a sensation. It turned the country’s leading krögare (restaurateur), Tore Wretman, incandescent with rage. He led a campaign not just against me personally but also against my publisher, Bertil Hökby of Prisma Books. He induced gossip columnists in the Swedish press to print defamatory tales about him – he, a scholarly person of transparent honesty and integrity. As for me, Wretman banned me from his restaurants, the prestigious Operakällaren [….]

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Calon Ségur Tasting & Visit to Manoir des Quat’Saisons

Posted by Frank Ward on July 14, 2015

AvatarJuly 2015. I’ve twice been to Lutyens restaurant on Fleet Street in the last year, in both instances for a dinner combined with a vertical tasting of wines from Bordeaux estates. On this second occasion the Château in question was Calon Ségur – a property I’ve always respected, and even had a kind of nostalgia for, since drinking a quite wonderful 1947 with the late owner, Philippe Gasqueton, at his dinner table at the Château many years ago. Lutyens is a restaurant I might never have visited had I not chosen to attend those two dinners. [….]

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A Tale of Three (Italian) Cities

Posted by Frank Ward on October 5, 2014

AvatarOctober 2014. On a quick visit to three north-Italian cities – Verona, Mantua, and Bologna – I was able to sample a few delicious dishes (and some appalling ones too) and a couple of splendid reds. One of the best meals was also the cheapest: A lovely cep risotto taken in a tiny, unpretentious bistro, l’Orlogio in Verona, chosen more or less at random. It came with a perfectly decent glass of red and finished with one of the best espressos I’ve had in years [….]

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English cuisine today – Farewell to the “goo anglais”

Posted by Frank Ward on January 2, 2013

December 2012. Winston Churchill, when First lord of the Admiralty, is quoted as saying, “British naval tradition? Nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers, and the lash!” Had he been asked about British culinary traditions, he might well have characterised them as “fry-ups, ketchup, and orange tea” (he never did so, however). Only recently has cooking in Britain started to recover from the devastating effects of the industrial revolution which, of course, started in these islands.

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Three days in Budapest – and some tastings of older rarities

Posted by Frank Ward on June 26, 2011

June 2011. The Vàsàrcsarnok market in Budapest is the biggest indoor market I’ve ever seen – as vast as a main line railway station and just as busy. Hundreds of stalls are festooned with almost every imaginable item of food, smoked, preserved, salted, tinned, or fresh. Arrays of ham hang like bloated wineskins, while below are ranged every conceivable cut of pork, beef, or lamb.

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