At Whistle Wines one can buy the most delectable wines in Exeter. In fact, Whistle Wines is more or less the only place I buy wine when I am in town. At times, I even bring wine along from there when heading up to Bristol or elsewhere. Piers does not just sell wine, he has a passion for wine, which makes it a joy to be a customer in his tiny shop. I love it there. Even more so because he is another natural wine enthusiast.
Next door to Whistle Wines is the Exploding Bakery, which is rather fortunate. As evident from my previous blog post, I adore it there. The coffee, the banter – top quality. Now, in an ideal world, one would combine Whistle Wines with the Exploding Bakery. However, that would leave one with good wines, awesome espresso, and delicious cakes. But what about the savoury bit? As in the starter and the mains, the mezze, tapas, sharing plates, or whatever you want to call it.
On occasion, we have combined forces and enjoyed small informal dinners together – Mr Whistle, the bakery boys and myself. Once, when I delivered a manuscript, the menu was lentil and tomato soup with soda bread and a great bottle of Dard and Ribo’s St Joseph (2009) – the atmosphere was so good, the postman even had a cheeky glass of this natural wonder. Another time, not long ago, we had pork liver pate brought back from Paris, serrano ham, tapenade, roast artichokes in olive oil and, of course, some nice bread and dark chocolate to follow. The wine? Mind-blowing. A lovely Portuguese white – a rather affordable, light and crisp, yet fruity vinho verde Quinta da Raza. The star of the show, however, was a beautiful Sagrantino di Montefalco (Pagliaro Secco) by Paolo Bea. A limited edition natural wine, and therefore not cheap, but completely worth every penny. Not too natural in flavour, despite being unfiltered, and having no sulphites – a ‘vin vivant’. The flavour is full of mineral, fruit (think figs and prunes), and some oak. Interesting and just perfect; a real sharing wine.
Given the shared passion for cooking, food and wine, this simply seems an opportunity too good to be missed. And Danes are doers rather than talkers. So, a tiny kitchen is going to be popping up sometime in 2014. It is almost certain. Almost. There will be dinner for 14 people. 3 courses with wine. When? Not sure yet. Where? We are getting to that. Price? Not too high, but enough to be able to use local, seasonal, organic produce as much as possible. How often? Once a month or so. I shall keep you posted. It may be a bit of a slow process, but that is because once we pop up, we mean business. In a good way. Lovingly cooked food, the funkiest bottles from Whistle Wines, locally sourced ingredients, and served in a quirky, intimate space. Informal, cheerful, fun. An omnivore’s delight.
On Monday, I shall do my best to convince my potential partners in crime, that this really has something going for it. Hence, I shall engage in a little cooking. To go with a bottle or two of funky wine we shall surely be cracking open, and to enjoy alongside (or prior to) Ollie’s delicious garlicky, pea pesto and yogurt pasta dish, I shall be cooking a potential item on a Middle Eastern inspired menu: a warm salad of roast cauliflower, almonds, celery, pomegranate and plenty of herbs. And perhaps another loaf of sourdough. Salad recipe to follow on Tuesday.
Whistle Wines: 1a The Crescent, Queen Street, EX4 3SB. Open Mon 10-6; Tue-Sat 10-7. Keep up to speed with what is going on: @whistlewines