Saturday, March 6, 2010

Denbies vineyard

With a couple of hours to spare in Surrey on a sunny Saturday morning, I took the locals' advice to visit England's largest vineyard, Denbies. With 265 acres of land planted with vines, the place is really pleasant and if it had been a tab warmer I would certainly have walked around a little more. However, their indoor tour packed a lot in, with a 360 degree movie experience that provided thorough review of the topography of the Weal ( the enormous stirrup of limestone based land that support the vines,) a indoor "train" tour through the workings of a winery, ending in a wine tasting experience.

The wine tasting option I chose was the sparkling wines, since Denbies sparkling wines have been known to have beaten French Champagnes in contests. While their Greenfield Cuvee is the award winner, I actually preferred their Whitedown. Much clearer and clean on the palate, and actually better than most champagnes I've drunk. Other tasting options included the classic still wine tour and one with a canape tasting (not too exciting for vegetarians...lots of salmon and meat....)

For those who plan to be in this part of the woods some time soon, I'd certainly suggest this as a nice day's excursion. Educational, fun and good exercise (if you can get out to walk around.) The gift store has some quintessentially English trinkets and foods (Clotted Cream fudge? Lime curd.) The indoor tour has a little train or peoplemover, that rather comically look like a string of old church pews trung togehter! The restaurant is pretty and the little cafe is warm and has a nice selection of foods. I can't be terribly enthusiastic about the leek and onion soup, though!

Dining in Dorking

I was out in UK, meeting with part of our European team, and found myself constantly gravitating to Indian food. I had decided to walk around the little town of Dorking on Friday night before deciding on where I would eat. I passed by Thai spots, pizza parlors, a rather high-end Nepali spot, the ubiquitous (fish and) chip shop...and retured to the Indian restaurant right across from the hotel I was staying at. Zafron was empty...I was early, but from 6pm through 7.30 pm, it was me reading my New Yorker and eating a perfectly prepared meal.

I enjoy the fact that even the simplest Indian spot in UK maintain such impeccable standards. The Pappodoms were perfectly fried (you think that's easy, but I jettison quite a few when I fry them), the tandoori mushroom masala was clearly made with real cashew nuts (though a little sweet for my taste) and the garlic naan was soft and nicely puffed. The one thing that disappointed was the house red - dreck!

More on the tandoori mushroom masalla when I am back home and give it a shot.