You know how you have old friends in your life that you love who somewhere in the messy old path of life have managed to become hugely successful along the way without you really noticing? I am now the proud owner of friends who actually own a vineyard. How did that happen? Rathfinny Wine Estate is now a very different place from over five years ago when a group of us went there to plant the first vines with them. Then there were only old barns and a lot of fields, but since that time a huge amount of work and investment has been ploughed in and now they are only a year away from producing their very own sparkling wine. What a long way they’ve come – an incredible achievement and I am so, so proud of them.

Last night was a double proud moment because another friend, who has just completed her cookery course at Prue Leith’s Cooker School of Food and Wine, managed a team of five chefs in a “pop-up” at the vineyard for around 80 people. Benedict Young, teamed with Nik Fairbrother, a British Olympian, Caroline Guiney and Ros Caffyn, winner of the Wine Student of the year to all did an incredible job. The food was out of this world. It must have been a very daunting task. I mean look at the crowd she had to feed:-

My photos, as per usual, don’t do the evening justice at all…but you get the general idea – that’s Benedict at the end of the table explaining what we were going to eat next:-

What an honour to be sitting next to the lady of the manner herself:-

The wine pairing was an additional bonus with Richard James, Operations and Environment Officer, talking us through each wine offering per course and why he had chosen it. We started with a glass of The Dean Blush NV, Plimpton Estate, Sussex and then sat down.

Venison carpaccio, paired with an Arndorfer Gruner Veltliner from Austria came first:-

We then had Mackeral, smoked beetroot, horseradsh cream and bla bla (she’ll kill me for saying that, but I can’t remember the detail!) with Cradle Valley 2016 Rathfinny Wine Estate (yes, they already have produced their own still wine and delicious it is too)…

Followed by Almond gazpacho in a little glass pot, followed by wild boar no less – with the best crackling I’ve ever had and then Rathfinny Seven Sisters Gin and Tonic sorbet (delicious) topped off with Almond panna cotta, poached pear burnoose and caramel express which you can see in the photo – the pudding is in the coffee cup and the thick, dark substance in the wine glass was a very raisiny Hidalgo Triana PX from Spain (not my favourite, that sticky wine):-

The girl-power chefs getting hot in the kitchen:-

The chefs at the end:-

We all then went back to my friends house to drink more wine and sleep and then had a lovely walk in the surrounding area the next morning:-

Honestly, I could not have been more proud of them all tonight. Now I just need to find a bit of time to go into a darkened room AND MAKE A PLAN for my future success story….

…I may be some time.

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