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Looking for a caterer?

Having a dinner party?

Look no further. The Food Station, which is based in North Essex and services the Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk counties, is run by Emma Bennett and Dominic Carter. They are passionate about food and dedicated to a high level of customer service, with bubbly Emma fronting the operation and busy Dominic in the kitchen. We can`t recommend them enough.  Many of our local customers will know The Food Station name from the days of Lynn and Gerald Barnard from Dedham. Well, Emma and Dominic have taken over from them and are already going great guns. Chef Dominic had much of his training at The Great House in Lavenham, so you can expect delicious, well-presented food and speedy, professional service.  And Emma has a rich and diverse background in hospitality which shows in her confidence and efficiency.  A great team.

The Food Station
No 4, Browns Close, Hitcham, Ipswich, Suffolk IP7 7NP

Tel: 07587 196 496

Cact Emma on 07587 196496

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Deli Supper & Wine

Last nights deli supper & wine evening was our first "Table of Eighteen" in seven years using almost exclusively the food from our own fridges. And what a feast it was too. Tony added some of his magic, such as adding tapenade to the anchovy galettes and grilling the chipolatas in marmalade, just two delicious dainties of the evening as we grazed our way through the fish, meat and cheese platters, finally winding up around 10.45. The wines were the right stuff for the occasion too,  and our guests were spirited and great fun. My personal favourite food/wine combination was the galette of anchovy with Barbadillo Manzanilla. It was super. Thank you those of you who came and went away with all those of cases of wine and bags of food, your service is valued and much appreciated. Looking forward to the next of these supper evenings August 25th. 

Ventisquero Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Chile, £9.99 – aperitif

The Sauvignon Blanc grape remains ever popular, in particular from NZ and Chile. This one from Casablanca Valley has a citrus/ mineral quality which is refreshing with a crisp acidity which cuts nicely through oily fish and partners well with seafood and salads.

 Barbadillo Manzanilla, Spain £10.99  

This very Spanish aperitif is traditionally enjoyed with olives, but anything salty works (salted nuts, anchovy cheese-palmiers, fresh anchovies, eel slices, smoked fish, tapas etc.) The darker dry sherries are more suited to charcuterie and smoked meats.

Pasquiers Grenache-Cinsault Rosé 2016, France, £7.99

Our bestselling Rosé is from Languedoc, south of France. Although perfectly dry, it has a bitter-sweet note mid-palate which is delicious on a hot muggy day, and is especially enjoyable with Paella, tapas and charcuterie. The berry like flavours and crisp acidity should complement almost everything on your platter this evening.

Los Gansos Gewurztraminer 2016, Chile, £9.99

This fragrant white wine by Cono Sur has delicious notes of ripe peach, apricot and lychee. The wine is perfect with Asian food, but this evening we recommend trying it with the smoked fish and chicken. It also drinks well on its own.

Les Oliviers Merlot Mourvedre 2015, £7.99

A good value red from Languedoc with herbal, vinous scents and a trace of wild lavender. On the palate, plum and damson is spiked with spice. Although most suited to charcuterie this evening, it is also suited to grilled and roasted red meats.

False Bay Pinotage 2014, S. Africa £8.99

This coastal Pinotage has an aroma of summer pudding followed by a vibrant and fruity palate with a more savoury quality than the nose suggests. The earthy/smoky note is redolent of its sandy provenance – perfect with barbecue and smoked meats.

Fantini Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2016, Italy £11.99

A Sangiovese from the Adriatic coast of the Abruzzo. Wild cherries and a leafy character leap from the glass. Notes of strawberry and Morello cherry persist throughout with subtle background notes of vanilla. This well-rounded red is a banker for Puttanesca and tomato-based pasta dishes, but also suited to grilled and roasted red meat. This evening we trust its fruit quality will partner the cheeses well.


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By George that was good… 31/3/17

My thanks to George Randall, guest speaker, for an impressive presentation. George waxed lyrical, a shining light under which we all basked. Well done, young man!

Guest speaker: George Randall – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Jon Cutts

Wines of France versus Rest of the World

We did not not go head to head, comparing like for like, rather we appraised each wine in its own right, one at a time, judging its quality, authenticity and value for money. We scored wines out of 20 and between us, at the end of the evening, determined  which faired best: France, or Rest of the World. And the winner was…… first take a look at the selection of wines and the delicious food we enjoyed with them. Chef Jon Cutts, previously Demi Chef de Partie at Buckingham Palace and most recently head chef for Jam Tartz,  is now self employed and for private hire. He comes thoroughly recommended.



Cotes du Rhone Blanc , La Fleur Solitaire £11.99

Domaine du Petit Metris Savenieres £18.99

Montagny 1er Cru Les Jardins Feillat-Juillot £26.99

Rest of the world

Emiliana Signos De Origen `La Vinilla` Casablanca Valley (Chardonnay, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne) £14.99


Seguret Rhone, Boutinot £16.99

Rest of the world

Kloster Eberbach Crescentia , Spatburgunder (trocken) £26.99

Emiliana “Coyam”, £24.99

Cadus Malbec, £16.99


One wild card served `blind` – guess France or Rest of the World

Price point: £


Mussel & crab tart with a light curried mayonnaise.

Potted rabbit with piccalilli & sourdough toast.

Roasted pork loin with Smoked bacon & sherry puy lentils with spinach

Cheese Platter

The results:

One guest for France, three guests a  tie and the  rest of the table : Rest of the World.

Winning wine: the amazing Emiliana Signos De Origen, white wine of Chile. A real beauty from Casablanca Valley.

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Look to the source…

Look to the source … and the sauce.

Continuing this column on the theme of wine and food, it is logical to look to the source of the wine to see what the locals eat with them. After all, more often than not the wines have been produced historically with the local foodstuff in mind. Let`s take Argentina: what they have achieved with the Malbec grape, in terms of both its notoriety and the sheer level of flavour concentration, is remarkable. Indeed, it is Malbec`s robust brambly quality they favour above all else at home to accompany their rich, succulent meats, and especially their beef. In Chile their national dish is Ceviche, typically made from fresh fish cured in citrus juices, lemons and limes, and seasoned with onions, salt, coriander and chilli peppers. It is no coincidence they produce vast amounts of citrusy Sauvignon Blanc wines to go with it; they are perfect together. Travel north to California USA and you`ll find their beach barbecues are being washed down with the brambly, fruit-rich red wines of the Zinfandel grape. In Australia the full-bodied fruit-driven Shiraz reds do a similar job, UK`s favourite choice with the barbecue.    There are also influences from elsewhere, naturally – and these will be reflected in the foods and wines produced in any given country. For example the Spanish-Mexican, Italian and French-Mediterranean influences in California brought about their Californian nouvelle cuisine and a new food ethic emerged, and with it new wines to compliment the new foods.   In New Zealand the rich and varied seafood available to them brought about the production of white wines to match, both Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay shining examples. NZ lamb inspired the production of Pinot Noir, the juicy-red meat perfectly suited to the fresh, fragrant red fruits of their elegant Pinot Noir wines. Finally, from South Africa there is the national relish they call Chakalana ..  its own spicy hot-pot relish and its own eponymous wine (by Spice Route) to match. This delicious, spicy Swartland red wine is a complex blend of 29% Syrah, 29% Mourvedre, 13% Grenache, 13% Carignan, 8% Tannat & 8% Petite Syrah. A great barbecue wine at £14.99 per bottle and all the sauce you need.

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email

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The Marriages in Heaven

Let me introduce you to some truly great wine and food matches (the so-called marriages in heaven). Why not experiment with some of them. I promise you these are well and truly tested. My top twenty: 20. Port & Stilton (alternatively Sauternes & Roquefort). 19. Sancerre &  goat`s cheese. 18. Chablis & oysters. 17.  Côtes-du- Rhône & charcuterie. 16. Thai Goong Paow & Dry Riesling. 15.  Vietnamese fish-soup & Gruner-Veltliner. 14. White Burgundy & Turbot (or Dover Sole). 13.  Chianti &  Puttanesca. 12.   Muscadet Sur Lie & Moules Marinière with French fries (think of Paris). 11. Rioja Reserva & roasted lamb. 10.  Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas & roast beef (with a meaty gravy), aka Sunday roast at home for a treat ….. 9.  Champagne with Caviar (if you never have, you should try this). 8. Pinot Noir & grilled salmon. 7.  simple Rioja & Paella (or a pale dry Rosé with seafood Paella). 6.  Sauternes with Foie Gras. 5. Zinfandel & Chilli Con Carni. 4. Mature claret & Beef Wellington. 3.  St Joseph (Northern Rhone Syrah) with steak. 2.  Barolo & beef stew. 1.  Nuits-Saint-Georges (red burgundy, Pinot Noir) and rare to medium-rare roast beef or lamb.

Of course for every wine style I could suggest an alternative. There are different ways of doing things. For example, instead of Sauternes and Foie Gras how about the little known Jurançon Doux of 100% Petit Manseng grapes grown in the Pyrenees, together with  Carl Shillingford`s local meat patés – a luxurious way to start a meal,  a fresher more vibrant sweet wine and slightly meatier paté  than Foie Gras, and a whole lot less controversial! Another: instead of Chablis with oysters, Picpoul de Pinet – at 50% less cost it offers similar qualities; true it`s not quite as good, and the best of Chablis is better than the best of Picpoul, but it`s nonetheless a match in heaven.

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email

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Wines of Mentzendorff

Thank you those of you who joined us for our mid-week table of eighteen last night. The food was excellent – well done, Tony – every dish a blinder! The wines were also spot on, an exemplary  selection  from the Mentzendorff portfolio.  My thanks especially to our guest speaker, Alastair Fleming, who did a sterling job of steering us through the evening`s wines.

Guest speaker: Alastair Fleming – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Tony Bell

Wines of Mentzendorff

Bollinger Brut Champagne, France, £38.99 – aperitif

Pinot Noir dominated superstar Grande Marque from Champagne. Showing beautifully on the night..

Muscadet “Sur Lie” Domaine de Grand Maison 2014, France, £13.99

Delicate aromas of stone and citrus fruit, fresh, fruity with a lasting finish. I liked the pale intensity of this wine, superb with the mussels.

Langlois-Chateau Pouilly-Fumé  2015, France, £22.99

Pale yellow with greenish hues. A fresh and intense nose of citrus, fruits and almonds. The palate is wonderfully fruity with a note of gunflint on the finish. A superb match with the goat`s cheese.

Chanson Rully Blanc, Burgundy 2014, France, £23.99

Delicate fragrances of lime blossom mixed with citrus fruit and fresh honey. Beautiful aromatic freshness. Long and crisp aftertaste with a delicate minerality. Delicious with the mushroom and pastry.

Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage “Petite Ruche”, Rhone 2012, France, £16.99

Black cherry liqueur aromas run through the heart of this savoury Rhone red. Full-bodied, complex, layered and delicious. This wine is a beauty – stylish cool-climate Syrah. Terrific with the lamb`s sweet jus.

 Roda Reserva, Rioja 2011, £34.99

Profound, fruity and delicately spiced Tempranillo . On the palate it was firm with cherry-like flavours and  fine-grained tannins. A serious wine, it oozes elegance and purity. We tasted this wine the lamb too. Each matched in its own way, the Syrah with the jus and the Rioja with the meat.

Turkey Flat Shiraz, Barossa Valley 2014, £38.99

Iconic Shiraz with red violets, currants, plum and liquorish. Rich, generous and structured with low yield and intelligent use of oak. This is clearly a heavy weight, still a little closed but with lots of promise.

Taylor`s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port 2002, £36.99

Deep purple-black with narrow magenta rim. Shows some attractive bottle age on the nose. Warm plum and cherry jam on the mouth. A subtle, elegant wine.  Lovely.. still so fresh.

Taylor`s 20 Year Old Tawny Port, £44.99

Opulent and voluptuous nose of complex spicy, jammy and nutty aromas. The palate is full of very rich and concentrated flavour – amazing wine.



Moules, white wine, shallots & cream

Goats cheese, beetroot, asparagus, walnut dressing

Chicken, cepes and chestnut mushroom pastry

Slow roasted lamb, bramble glaze, gratin potatoes

Cheese platter


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Break with traditon

Let`s break with tradition. Everyone knows white wine goes with fish, but why not try a decent Pinot Noir with red snapper in red wine butter sauce, or with bouillabaisse. Or try one with Salade Niçoise using tuna steaks and our Italian mixed olives atop – it`s a blinder! Another one: let`s break with white wine and white meat; instead try Rioja with pork or with chicken and chorizo casserole. Now let`s try that backwards: white wine with red meat. Can that work? Yes it can: with cold cuts full-bodied whites come into their own, and Vintage Champagne is text book if you like bubbles. Of course there are no hard and fast rules. We can drink what we like after all. In Germany it is the practice to drink high quality dry Riesling with goose; I would prefer one of their delicious Spätburgunder reds; for some only red will do.  Incidentally a customer also told me that with the right stuffing – involving ginger and apricots – a Gewürztraminer can also be great with fatty goose. It`s also been suggested that a fillet of beef steak with Champagne works well, the point of view being if a high acid Riesling can work with fatty goose, why not a high acid Champagne with fatty steak… but this is going too far for me. Why pass up an opportunity for a steak worthy red, after all… Next time you are planning your dinner come talk to us at The Wine Centre in Great Horkesley. We can suggest matching wines, of course, but also perhaps we can put our minds together and tinker with the menu for something just a little bit different….

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email

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Having a dinner party?


Let`s assume you are having a dinner party – the sort of evening you put on your nice chinos and get out the best cutlery, maybe even light some pretty candles; as opposed to a barbecue or a casual supper. These are the special occasions which provide us with opportunities to open fine wines. This is theatre now, where the decanter and fish-bowl size glasses are at home. In preparation for such events many of our customers come to us to be advised on the most suitable wines for the occasion, and it`s not unusual for us to go through entire menus, with dish-by-dish recommendations. Here now I will provide some brief insight into the thought process behind matching wine with food.

So, in the first place we naturally draw from our own personal experiences, but also there is the benchmark, long-established matches – the so-called marriages in heaven: Oysters with Chablis, etc.  We`ll get to these in future weeks.  But menus don`t always have obvious wine choices and this is where it gets to be fun – where off-the-map food combinations require deduction and best-guess analyses. So here`s my approach: First, I consider the food in weight terms and I aim approximately for equilibrium – a light dish with a heavy wine will be overpowered. Yet by the same token a light, yet fervent dish – with a certain spice or flavour intensity – will require a light but equally intense, vibrant wine. A benchmark example of this is light, spicy Thai with light, dry (or off-dry) Riesling. The zesty acidity of the white wine quells the spice. A richer dish will correspondingly be more suited to a richer wine: Lobster risotto with Chardonnay, Viognier or Albariño, for example.

Another approach to matching like for like is matching by contrasting – often explosive taste sensations, for example pitching sweet wine against the savoury salt of cheese. Port with stilton still one of our favourites… happy days…

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email

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Australasia fun!


We enjoyed an excellent evening with bubbly guest speaker Tom Grundy and chef Tony Bell in scintillating form. Best wine of the evening, for me, was the suave Vasse Felix Chardonnay which went beautifully with Tony`s Confit of salmon loin. All the wine/food matches were precision perfect, except arguably (for me) the Viognier with Sunbeam tomato dish; both wine and dish delicious, but together a slight jar.  The best wine/food match difficult to choose, but in my book by a nose it was the  beautiful Picnic Pinot Noir with mushroom and pastry savoury … my that was good. Thanks everyone for coming and for contributing to what was a great fun and gloriously indulgent evening. Notes and menu to follow:

Guest speaker: Tom Grundy – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Tony Bell

Jansz Premium Cuvée, aperitif £18.99

Tasmania, Australia, NV

A rich, biscuity Champagne-alternative from the coolest part of the country. Comes in a great box!

Pewsey Vale Riesling £15.99

Eden Valley, Australia, 2015

The very first vineyard planted in the Eden Valley, in 1847. Very fine, classic, dry, mineral Aussie Riesling

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc £15.99

Marlborough, New Zealand, 2015

Very good example of what Marlborough is best at – lean, zingy Sauvignon with herbaceous tang

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 11.99

South Australia, 2015

Delightful peachy-flavoured wine, floral and beguiling

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2014, £24.99

Margaret River, Australia, 2014

One of the most elegant Chardonnays of Australia. Very fine citrusy poise. Long, long after-taste. Delicious!

Two Paddocks `Picnic` Pinot Noir, Central Otago, £28.99

Central Otago, New Zealand, 2014

Delicate, aromatic and berry-scented Pinot from the most southerly growing region in the world. Superb with the mushroom.

Vasse Felix ‘Filius’ Cabernet Merlot £18.99

Margaret River, Australia, 2014

Elegant, classic Margaret River. Stylish wine and a terric choice with the beef.

Victoria Park Shiraz Viognier, £10.99

South Australia, 2014

Rich, plummy Shiraz lightened by a dash of aromatic Viognier

Running With Bulls Tempranillo, South Australia £11.99

South Australia, 2014

Generous, moreish Spanish grape grown Down Under. Hugely popular our end of the table.



Lime and ginger marinade twice cooked pork belly, ‘pickled’ cabbage

Chilli-roasted feta, watermelon, oregano dressing

Sunbeam tomatoes, dry roasted cumin and herbed scented ricotta, balsamic glaze

Confit of salmon loin, green gazpacho

Mushroom savoury

Sweet soy braised beef, mango & sesame salad

Cheese platter

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Doing it the French Way

When choosing a wine to go with a particular dish some consideration should duly be given to the protein on the plate – the meat or fish. It is the central component and important. However, it is rarely served alone so to consider it in isolation would be wrong.  A dish might be highly seasoned, or the sauce (the jus) might be light and fresh or rich and sweet. The vegetables might be fresh, roasted and/or honey-glazed. It can be a busy plate or a simple one. With simple Chicken Caesar Salad I like a decent Chardonnay, for example. On the other hand Coq au Vin (with its red wine sauce) without a Rhone red wouldn`t be Coq au Vin at all, and with Chardonnay would be plain wrong. So consider the dish as a whole when you are choosing your matching wine for supper, and avoid wines which will likely over power the dish, or be overpowered. Your merchant will help you choose, naturally. The next choice is whether to follow the main course with a desert and finish with the cheeses, or to follow the main with the cheeses and finish the evening with desert. This is the French way, and I prefer it. Sticking with the savoury until the end gives more scope for wine-drinking continuity; no reason at all why you can`t  finish off the same dry white you have been enjoying with the sea bass, it is likely to go as well with the cheeses as any red. Additionally you might bring forward the sweet wine you have chosen for desert and enjoy the contrasting sensation of its sweet taste next to the salt in the cheese. It can be explosive on the palate and joyous. Happy days…

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email