The School of Wok. The name finally got me midway through the presentations at last night's wine and canapés event, held in the Asian cookery school in Covent Garden. I had to smile at the founder's sense of humour.
The amazing Wen of Edible Experiences had invited me and other food bloggers of note (yes, I seem to have graduated from my blogger guppy days) to experience some Calcutta canapés from the Darjeeling Express Supperclub. Each of the canapés had been paired with a wine by A Grape Night In, a new wine company that organises themed wine tasting events.
For last night's theme, the spices in the canapés had inspired A Grape Night In to come up with 'Spice Routes'. Trade, food, and the old world being topics close to my heart, I was looking forward to the journey already.
First off, we had vegetarian samosas with three chutneys. Kiki and Laura, the ladies from A Grape Night In, had already explained that they had wanted to go beyond the standard pairing of Riesling with Indian dishes, so I was waiting to see what the first wine would be. Start as you mean to go on, right?
And they're bold, these two. They opened their foray with ... wait for it ... an English sparkling wine. No better way to immediately blow any preconceptions anyone might have about wine out of the water. The Limney Estate's Blanc de Blanc was so well-matched, that I couldn't wait to have another sip after a bite of the samosa. The New York Times recently asked a NYC sommelier for pairings with Indian food, and he suggested champagne for dosai. Watch this space for high margin opportunities at Indian restaurants, y'all.
The second wine was exciting for me too, because it hailed from Portugal. You might know by now that Portugal is another home for me in Europe. (For those that don't yet, it has to do with our sister Chili and her family living there, and also with Viva Vino, which is one of our parents' lines of business, bringing Fine Wines from the Old World to Singapore.) So I was really glad to see more people appreciating the fantastic wines of this country.
We had a white from the Douro Valley (which is also where Port comes from), made of a blend of Malvasia and Verdelho. Incidentally, Verdelho and Vinho Verde ('green wine') are two varietals I'd come across with Viva Vino, when my family were first doing tastings and pairings around the dining table in Singapore. We found that the Vinho Verde went beautifully with Singapore's Chinese cuisine, so perhaps Verdelho is one to try with Indian spices. Darjeeling Express' contribution was dahi puchka, a potato-filled mini puri, with a tamarind chutney and yogurt dressing.
So, the food and wine were amazing, clearly. But as every person who writes about food will tell you, good food and good wine are only accompaniments to wonderful company. And this I want to emphasise: wonderful company. The thing about people like Wen and her Edible Experiences venture is that, because of the energy of awesomeness she herself projects and injects into her business, she never fails to attract and surround herself with awesome people. Each of the people involved in last night's event - Laura and Kiki from A Grape Night In, Asma from Darjeeling Express, Adrienne from School of Wok, and the peeps from Nuffnang X - was just radiating rock 'n' roll. They're passionate about what they're doing, they have something new to bring to the table, they're brave in the execution of their ideas, and their presentations as the evening kicked off made me feel like I was witnessing a great performance at one of the gigs I'm at almost every week - they were inspirational.
Kiki and Laura of A Grape Night In
Over the last few days, I've been looking for inspiration. Writing and performing music on stage feels great, but after the high of a gig, it can feel a bit low once you've stepped off. Also, getting a band going somewhere is just like trying to get any other venture going somewhere. You give a lot, so there are moments when you feel like you need to refuel, and to find the accelerator again. The enthusiasm and energy that these guys put into last night's event is one of the things that's helping me refuel this week, and I'm very grateful to everyone.
It was also wonderful to meet some peeps I'd gotten to know through the blog. One of these wonderful people is Ailbhe, who writes Simply Splendiferous and whose beautiful illustrations adorn her site. I had a really good conversation with Ailbhe, during which she gave me some advice and I realised a few things. One of the realisations is that I've been super shy about talking about my music on this blog. So here it is, people. My band is called Resonance. Resonance is what happens when something moves at its natural frequency, and when I'm making music, I feel like I'm at mine. We just released our debut record recently, and it's called "If The Fires They Burn Too Bright". It's out now on all the major online stores (and also on sale in a record store in Soho!). We gig lots in London - playing a live gig is one of the most uplifting experiences for me, and the energy is amazing. We'd love for you to come along and be a part of it. You can find out more on Resonance's website: www.ResonanceMusicProject.com