Sticky heat. Warm air. Blistering sunshine. Hot days like this make summer food and drink taste all the better: somehow fresher and brighter. The three members of Run Club came for dinner this week and I made a papaya, watercress, feta, white chicory and mint salad with lime and olive oil dressing as a starter. It’s a Sybil Kapoor recipe I found in a magazine years ago and besides being very quick to throw together at the end of the day, it’s absolutely lovely.
But what wine to have with it?
As well as running, Run Club quite likes to drink. In Tromsø in the Arctic Circle once, we got through two bottles between three the night before a midnight sun half marathon. Travel Jenny and I protested but Science Mike gave us a stern look, said very firmly, “We won’t drink on the actual DAY of the race,” and ordered them anyway. We had better intentions for our first marathon in Rome but on arriving at the hotel – at 11 o’clock in the morning, the day before the run – a nice man brought us a glass of prosecco on the terrace. It was sunny and everything. So we all said yes. Then we had another. Because it came without us asking and it seemed a shame not to.
That’s a long-winded way of saying that thinking about what to open with the papaya and watercress was more like asking myself, “What wine shall we drink first?” A bright white with enough fight to level off with the watercress seemed a good move. I chose this one with Tesco’s 25% off if you buy 6+ bottles in store until next Tuesday promotion in mind but actually it’s cheaper online at the moment, down to a silly price if you buy by the half case.
Finest* Cotes de Gascogne 2011 France (12%, Tesco, Online: currently on offer at £4.27/bottle when you buy a half case of six; in shops: £7.29 or £5.47 until Tues 31st July on the 6+ bottles multibuy, Tesco) is very refreshing, made in Gascony from the local gros manseng grape which reminds me of quince, sunflowers and grapefruit. It has a bit of texture but there’s no oak, just a quickening splash of sauvignon blanc. If you’re looking for a cheap kitchen white to have sloshing around, at the online price this is hard to beat.
It was delicious with the salad. I know because I tested it before the others arrived. Unfortunately we got to the end of the bottle with a bag of Kettle Chips before I served dinner. Perhaps I should have bought two.