WITH The first solo project for the new royal is a cook­book which is help­ing to raise money for the Gren­fell com­mu­nity

Uxbridge Gazette - - Food & Drink -

I WAS asked to do a lit­tle bit of a talk the other day. On wine by the way, as I’m not much of an ex­pert on the ef­fects of cli­mate change on bird mi­gra­tion or the pol­i­tics of 20th cen­tury China.

I thought yes, wine, I’m bet­ter suited to that. Peo­ple can en­joy a lit­tle glass or two of some­thing as well, which is much more in­ter­est­ing on a Satur­day af­ter­noon than hear­ing about the Qing dy­nasty.

Two wines in par­tic­u­lar de­liv­ered an “ooh, aah” fac­tor from my en­thused bunch of sip­pers. The bot­tles were both English sparkling wines at op­po­site ends of the style and price spec­trum.

Bal­four 1503 Fox­wood Clas­sic Cu­vée NV (£17.99, the Co-op, 11.5% abv)

THE Duchess of Sus­sex has lent her sup­port to a new cook­book of 50 recipes from women af­fected by the Gren­fell Tower fire. Meghan cooked with women from the Hubb Com­mu­nity Kitchen and col­lab­o­rated with the women to cre­ate, To­gether – Our Com­mu­nity Cook­book.

Her mother Do­ria Ragland even made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance for Meghan’s first royal solo project, proudly telling guests: “Hi, I’m Meg’s mom.”

Meghan, 37, told guests she had felt “im­me­di­ately em­braced” by the women when she started work­ing on the book.

She also spoke pas­sion­ately of how the mul­ti­cul­tural Hubb Com­mu­nity Kitchen made her feel wel­come in the cap­i­tal.

It comes af­ter it was re­vealed that Meghan made se­cret trips in Jan­uary to a mosque to cook with the Hush Heath Es­tate in Kent by wine­mak­ers Vic­to­ria Ash and Owen Elias and is a blend of the three grapes al­lowed in the Cham­pagne re­gion.

Did you know that most English sparkling wines use the same grapes as cham­pagne? Our wine­mak­ing skills are in­creas­ing, we’re in­vest­ing more in the in­dus­try, our vine­yards are ma­tur­ing, and cli­mate change is al­low­ing us to grow grapes to per­fect ripeness. Move over Cham­pagne, we’re on our way. sur­vivors of the tower-block blaze, which killed 72.

The duchess said: “I had just re­cently moved to Lon­don and I felt so im­me­di­ately em­braced by the women of the kitchen.

“Your warmth and your kind­ness, and also to be in this city and see in this one small room how mul­ti­cul­tural it was.

“I felt so proud to live in a city that can have so much di­ver­sity. That there are 12 coun­tries rep­re­sented in this one small room is pretty out­stand­ing.”

Yoga teacher Do­ria, 62, flew in from her home in Los An­ge­les to join Meghan and Prince Harry in cel­e­brat­ing the launch, in a tent at Kens­ing­ton Palace, West Lon­don.

Mum and daugh­ter were seen laugh­ing warmly dur­ing their first pub­lic out­ing since Meghan wed Harry, 34, in May.

The trio chat­ted with guests

Bal­four is a blend of pinot noir (63%) chardon­nay (35%) with a touch of pinot me­u­nier and has a woosh of fruit notes, with green ap­ples, a short­bread of ap­ple tart and a good flash of cit­rus. It’s a great value English sparkling if you’re hav­ing a cel­e­bra­tion and want to dip your toe in for the first time, so to speak.

My fi­nal wine re­ceived the big­gest wow of the day. Digby 2010 Vin­tage Re­serve Brut (£39.99, digby-fine-english. com, or £35, thecham­pagne com­, 12% abv) is a blend of those same grapes, with 65% chardon­nay and the pinots shar­ing an al­most even split.

The grapes for Digby’s flag­ship wine are sourced from the chalky soils of Kent, Sus­sex, Hamp­shire and Dorset. The bub­bles are and fam­i­lies af­fected by the fire, and made their way around four food sta­tions, with Meghan help­ing to cook.

Res­i­dents left home­less by the blaze last June came to­gether to open the Hubb Com­mu­nity Kitchen, but could only fund it for a short pe­riod of time.

It is hoped sales of the book, which Meghan called a “tremen­dous labour of love”, will help the kitchen ex­tend open­ing from its cur­rent

per­sis­tent and el­e­gant, the aro­mas de­liver a sub­tlety of spring flow­ers, fresh and dried ap­ples, a peep of brioche and a shiver of le­mon. In the mouth the fresh fruit notes are rich, the acid­ity all-em­brac­ing and the fin­ish is long and de­li­cious. It’s a show­stop­per.

■ Also in my glass... I’m a bit sad when peo­ple say their favourite wine is PG (my short­hand for pinot gri­gio). I’ll then en­thuse about PG Tips, which are my rec­om­men­da­tions for much tastier white wines (in my hum­ble opin­ion). Don’t be stuck in a pinot gri­gio rut, I say.

Then along comes a pinot gri­gio which is rather nice and I have to eat my words (or per­haps drink them). This is the case with Seven Num­bers 3 Pinot Gri­gio two days a week to seven for the next two years.

The duchess added: “I’m es­pe­cially grate­ful be­cause this is my first project, so I ap­pre­ci­ate your sup­port for the vi­sion that I had for this and see­ing it come to fruition. It truly took a vil­lage to see this through.”

Here are three recipes from the book to try at home.

■ To­gether – Our Com­mu­nity Cook­book, pic­tured left, Fore­word by HRH The Duchess of Sus­sex (Ebury Press, £9.99)

2016 (RRP £16, wood­win­ters. com, 14% abv) which won the 2018 The Drinks Busi­ness Global Pinot Gri­gio Masters Awards. This Slove­nian wine may stretch the purse strings a bit more than you’re used to for a PG, but it’s worth it.

It is made by win­ery Puklavec and the grapes are fer­mented and aged in Slove­nian oak, de­liv­er­ing a wine with a soft mouth­feel, ex­pres­sive ripe notes of ap­ple and pear, a hint of peach, in a silky sheen of vanilla. The taste sen­sa­tion is de­light­fully in bal­ance and long-last­ing.

■ Jane is a mem­ber of the Cir­cle of Wine Writ­ers. Find her on so­cial me­dia and on­line as One Foot in the Grapes.

Muck­ing in: Meghan helps out at Hubb

Proud par­ent: Mum Do­ria with Meghan and Harry

Com­mu­nity: Meghan min­gles with fam­i­lies

Hug: Meghan with women af­fected by the Gren­fell tragedy

is cre­ated on

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