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2010-07-01 11:17 am

On the Nature of Intoxication

So that sherry research I was planning on doing? Well, it happened!

Last night, myself, [personal profile] superpitching, [personal profile] kake and [personal profile] kerrypolka made an expedition to Bar Pepito, aforementioned sherry bar, near King's Cross.

Well, it was tiny: four teetering high tables with table-tops made from sherry barrels, with four stools to each. And it was hot; there was a large fan behind the bar, and another at the other end of the room, pointedly (at least, to us, sweltering in the heat) not turned on.

The place is built into an old warehouse -- as indeed is much of this newly-reclaimed area, the Regent Quarter -- with not much space at all, and certainly no room for much in the way of air-conditioning. This is of course a downside for customers in the Summer heat, but it turns out it's not always good for them either; they opened about 20 minutes late because, as the friendly guy running the place (only the one, though another came to help out with the tapas later on) told us, the refrigeration units had failed overnight leaving them with a lot of dead sherry to throw out. We gainfully offered to dispossess them of this stock, but that was being a bit hopeful probably.

Anyway, we settled into the menu, which includes helpful tasting notes. They have about three sherries each for a variety of styles (Fino, Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso seco, Oloroso dulce, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez), and as such offer 'sherry flights' for most of the different types, which come out as pretty good value (around £7-8 for three different sherries along with a matching tapas).

Bar Pepito, Pentonville, London

We ended up with a flight each, did a bit of swapping of the nice ones, and then agreed on our favourite two and ordered a (375ml) bottle of each. So we drank quite a bit of sherry in the end: this wasn't exactly planned, I must say. We also tried a fair amount of the tapas on offer: a lovely duck pate, practically melted into the plate in the heat; some tasty little sausages; almonds in their shells; and best of all, surprisingly perhaps, the pan con tomate, which was, as the name suggests, just bread with (chopped) tomato on it, but was lovely. We ended up with four portions of that.

So, the sherries, you ask? Well, our favourites were the Lustau Puerto Fino, which was described as "bready ocean" by [personal profile] kerrypolka, and the sweeter González Byass Solera 1847, the dry Oloroso moderated by a bit of Pedro Ximenez to give a nice easy drink. I mean, there were other nice sherries too, of course, but those were the ones we took a bottle of for further drinking.

We finished with some PX (González Byass Nectar) which was sweet, viscous and raisiny, and I know [personal profile] kake didn't like it, but the rest of us thought it was fine. Though, thinking about that, I'm reminded of an early taste of PX out in Córdoba (earlier this year), when every restaurant finished by giving us a glass of PX (they didn't say what it was at the time, but as our sherry palates have extended, we managed to figure it out), and I initially found it to be pretty horrid. Acquired taste, maybe?

Well, there's more research to be done here, and I only regret that having to rush off to catch the last train home, I didn't get a chance to take up the kind offer by our server to let me try the most expensive sherry they had. Because, you know, if you've got a chatty waiter, you should always ask naively about the most expensive thing on the menu... However, [personal profile] kerrypolka bought a bottle of the Lustau so we headed home happy. (Except for having to run for the train. I can't wait until they've finished the work at Blackfriars so that cross-London First Capital Connect services run until later.)