Awesome day yesterday. Will Willis and Stuart Bowman-Hood of Freixenet UK treated Joe Wadsack and I to some fine hospitality: lunch at the wonderful Harwood Arms in Fulham, followed by a visit to Craven Cottage to see Man City take on Fulham.
Joe was late, so while we were waiting for him, we started with a pint of Wandle from Sambrooks brewery in London, accompanied by one of the Harwood’s specialities, a venison scotch egg. This was fantastic. Joe still hadn’t arrived, so we ordered for him.
My starter was ham hock on toast with crispy pig ears, which was nicely conceived and executed. Opening wine was the delicious Coudoulet Blanc 2006 from Beaucastel, which was almost perfect, with rich textured, honeyed, nutty, melony fruit. At this stage Joe arrived, and I blind taste tested him on the wine, which he got right (Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, he reckoned). The Coudoulet was so good, I think I may have to try to find some.
Main course was the rib of beef, which came on a large platter to share between two. This was some of the best beef I’ve had in a long time, and the presentation was brilliant. We needed some more wine, so from the small but well formed wine list (suppliers included Enotria, Clark-Foyster and FMV) we opted for the Mac Forbes 2005 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir, which was nicely elegant with some secondary notes beginning to appear alongside the rich fruit.
Still thirsty, we went for our final bottle - Luc Tardy Domaine du Murinais Crozes Hermitage Les Amandiers 2005. I’m glad we chose this, even though we were being steered away from it by one of the staff: it was brilliant. Perfumed, robust dark fruits but still quite pure and not too edgy, and certainly not rustic.
Then it was time to head to Craven Cottage for the match. We arrived in time to grab a pint at the ground, before taking our seats just before kick-off. Mancini walked across the pitch in his trademark blue and white scalf, plus a big daffodil. Classy.
Manchester City started brightly, passing the ball around well, and within six minutes they were ahead. Joe and Will are Liverpool fans and so were cheering for Fulham (City are fighting with Liverpool and Spurs for fourth place in the premiership). Stuart is a Chelsea fan, and he cheered for Fulham too.
Fulham didn’t threaten much, and shortly after, City were two up, after a very neat interchange between Bellamy and Tevez. It stayed that way until the 70th minute, when Fulham had a slightly lucky break and were awarded a penalty, which Murphy despatched. This left a nervy close to the game. At one stage it looked as if Fulham had equalized: everyone rose cheering, but we couldn’t see from where we were sitting that the Fulham striker (who had just come on as a sub) had missed what seemed a relatively easy chance.
City closed the game out, I was very happy, and we walked back over Putney Bridge, had a couple of pints, and then went home feeling fulfilled.