Dinner at the wonderful Viajante with Dirk Niepoort

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Dinner at the wonderful Viajante with Dirk Niepoort


Sensational wines. Sensational food. Just what you want on a cold Tuesday night in January.

Amaranth with sorrel; onion brioche with stilton cheese; thai explosion 2

Dirk Niepoort, one of the winegrowers I respect the most, was in town, and he kindly invited a small group to dine with him at Viajante in Bethnel Green.

The food was memorable and creative: a multicourse menu created by Portuguese-born chef Nuno Mendez, who’s worked all over the world, including a short internship in that famous, now deceased restaurant in Rosas.

Potato with yeast and freeze dried olive

I had to leave at 11.15 pm, and sadly missed the last 6 courses, but I did catch the preceeding 14, which covered all but one of the savoury items. We had started at 7! [Please excuse the quality of the photos: there was virtually no light to work with, and I hate flash.]

Walnut sourdough and codfish roll

The wines were uniformly good, but two were outstandingly great. First, the 2002 Charme, which is now super-elegant, silky yet complex, slightly meaty and intense, with lovely red fruit character. It was perfect with a couple of the courses, including the accorda with lobster and truffle.

Prawns with frozen mayonnaise and bisque

Second, the supremely elegant, pure Batuta 2008. Just so pure, with incredibly fine tannic structure. An immense wine that will be beautiful in a decade and will last far longer.

Roasted celeriac with homemade ricotta and lemon thyme
Accorda (Portuguese bread stew) with lobster and black truffle
Turbot and duck hearts
Langoustine with presa iberica and smoked endkis
Farinhiera, a Portuguese sausage, with cabbage
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