Thursday, 19th May 2011 – La Mirabelle, Harrogate
Thursday I ended up working anyway in the morning, and in the afternoon we drove up to North Yorkshire to visit friends and go out for dinner at La Mirabelle in Harrogate. This was something we’d planned from sometime back in January when we heard they were doing a special food and wine evening concentrating on Provence and the Cote d’Azur. Anyway, having arrived at our friends good and early we had plenty of time to get ready, with me deciding (much as did Sue who joined us) that I would dress appropriately, which meant white shoes, white linen trousers, a blue halter top covered in sequins, and as much flamboyant jewellery as I could comfortably wear! Well, you just have to, don’t you?!
It was a splendid evening, great fun and great food and wine considering the excellent price – £30 all in. We started with kirs, of course, and then moved straight into a nicely executed salad tiede de rouget nicoise, with a glass of rose wine, Les Acrobat Rose, Pays d’Herault 2010. It was interesting to have a wine expert to hand to talk us through each wine, and I liked his methods, talking those who didn’t know how to taste wine properly for the first wine (and for those who don’t know, swirl it around the glass, sniff it thoroughly, slosh it about in the mouth and – at least from his point of view even if it’s not the conventional method – swallow). OK, so there’s more to it than that, but it’s a good starting point. The red mullet, meanwhile, was vanishing at speed, and was very satisfying.
It was followed by a very tender and tasty poulet roti provencal (and I’m not sure how I failed to get a picture of if), which impressed me because the texture was more like a confit de canard than chicken, a meat I tend to avoid like the plague, not least because you can’t be too sure how it’s been raised in England, and I am not eating factory farmed chicken under any circumstances. The wine with it was a Costiere de Nimes, a red I’m particularly fond of, and which went very well with the extremely tomatoey sauce the chicken was doused in. The next course was a young, creamy fromage de chevre avec pain aux noix, which seemed slightly out of geographical range, because I’ve always associated walnut bread with the area around Grenoble, rather than that far south. Didn’t stop it being delicious, and the cheese spread wonderfully on the grapes that were served with it too.
It came with a white wine, a Picpoul de Pinet, which suddenly seems to be everywhere I look. We then finished the meal with a tarte aux cerise, creme Chantilly, the tarte itself featuring cherries embedded in an almond base, and washed down with a lovely, sticky Muscat de Baumes de Venise, a perennial favourite with us.
We eventually staggered back to base camp to get a good night’s sleep ahead of what would be quite a busy weekend.