Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Champagne's Really Gone to the Dogs

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Champagne's Really Gone to the Dogs

Article excerpt

This is a tale of two lunches, although one was actually early supper and the other lasted so long and nourished me so roundly that no further sustenance was required that day. Both involved champagne but there the resemblance ends.

The latter was at Texture, a high-end London restaurant with a fine line in fish (the chef, Agnar Sverrisson, is Icelandic), and was the best example of food and wine matching I have ever encountered. The wines were all Bollinger RD (vintage champagnes aged for at least eight years for extra depth of flavour) and Sverrisson had taken the tasting notes--a hint of ginger in the 1995, a waft of hazelnut in the 1976--and created his dishes around them. The result was a wondrous enhancement of something that was, frankly, already pretty good. Most people know that salmon and champagne complement one another but it takes an inspired chef to lure the shy tropical notes in a glass of Bollinger RD 1996 into the open with scallops in a passion fruit, ginger and coconut sauce.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Even I don't have a Michelin-starred chef and a range of expensive champagnes to hand that often, although come the revolution, trust me, that will change. I take my wine education where I can get it. Which brings me a couple of years on and a few streets east, to Bubbledogs.

Odd name, no? A friend suggested it sounds like a canine with flatulence problems but I think she's being uncharitable. Actually, the title is descriptive of a phenomenon far rarer in the natural world: grower champagne paired with hot dogs.

Before we come to the mind-boggling weirdness of this, let's clear up a couple of things. The hot dogs are none of your greasy innards encased in a lurid condom: they are proper beef or pork. The accompaniments can be strange: kimchi and bean paste; mango chutney and coriander. …

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