Campari and Wine - The First Genius of Fergus Henderson...
...is to tell me about the Bicyclette
I just bought myself a copy of Beyond Nose to Tail. I am not quite sure what led me to make the purchase - I must have read something about it somewhere that piqued my curiosity. It has what might possibly be the most inspiring start to a book I have ever seen. To begin with there is a photograph of an almost-naked Barbie doll sporting a pair of angel's wings made from pigs ears and the promise of "something to get the juices going". You flip the page to find a recipe for Campari and Wine which apparently, in Italy, might be dismissed as something akin to a Snakebite.
It might make me sound a bit like a lush, but to deny it would be a lie. I have been drinking Campari for twenty years. It's a longtime favourite drink, especially in the UK where pubs don't often sell my other favourite beverage (Champagne).
When I was in my early 20s I had a boss who accused me of drinking campari only because of its hue. "You only drink that because it matches the colour of your dress" he insisted. It was a ridiculous implication that reminds me of my father who has more than once suggested I always choose the most expensive thing on the menu simply because it is the most costly item. This isn't an accurate summisation either, but either way shouldn't he be proud that his daughter has good taste?
Back to that Campari cocktail. It just works. Simple as that. A wine glass, some ice, a shot of campari topped up with dry white wine to the level that suits you. I used a Sauvignon Blanc from Paso Robles that someone had brought and left at one of my parties. The wine enhances the herbal overtones in the Campari so perfectly, I am kicking myself for not discovering this pairing sooner. Negronis aside, to think I have wasted the rest of the past twenty years watering down Campari with soda is somewhat, well, depressing actually. You live and learn. Don't ever say I didn't warn you!
PS [Adendum Nov 8th] *Thanks to the reader [Diane] who alerted me to the fact that the New York Times wrote an article on exactly the same subject a few days earlier. I don't read the NYT unless someone points me to a specific article and so their piece had no bearing on my own post. “I’ve converted many folks to this drink,” said Henderson in the article. “And life should be about conversions, shouldn’t it? Pleasure should be infectious.” It's all about spreading the good stuff in life. Go be contagious!
Yesterday at work we had a non-profit fair so I sought out the food charities and met the charming ladies from STREET SMART 4 KIDS which is happening right now until November 18th at participating restaurants in San Francisco. Proceeds help the city's at-risk and homeless youth. The restaurants will collect voluntary $3 contributions when you pay your bill. 100% of your donation will go directly to Huckleberry Youth Programs, La Casa de las Madres and Larkin Street Youth Services. If you are not planning on eating out, why not send them some money anyway. It's a small amount that makes a huge difference. Thank you to everyone who donates.