RSJ's 30th anniversary: 1980-2010

2010 was a very special year for us as the RSJ Restaurant celebrated its 30th year. We held a number of special events through the year to mark our 30th birthday.

36th Year: 1980-2016

Another milestone with events happening during our 36th anniversary year.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thomas Meunier presents the wines of Frédéric Mabileau

Thomas pointing out Le Puy-Notre-Dame the source of their Chenin for the Saumur Blanc

In the unfortunate absence of Frédéric (see previous post), Thomas did a brilliant job yesterday evening presenting the wines to 50 people in the upstairs restaurant. It was good that all of the wines showed well.

2008 Osez Rosé

Aperitif: 2008 Osez Rosé, Rosé de Loire
Guests were welcomed with a glass of 2008 Osez made from 100% Cabernet Franc. This is very pale coloured rosé – the colour only comes from pressing the grapes as there is no maceration. Osez is really light and fresh with attractive pear character will be a great summer drink, assuming we get a summer this year.


The first vintage of Frédéric’s Saumur Blanc was next – 100% Chenin Blanc from vines at Le-Puy-Notre-Dame, south of Saumur and not far from Montreuil-Bellay. The grapes were harvested on two different occasions. First the golden grapes at the end of September 2007 to give the wine freshness and then the rest some two weeks later with a proportion of grapes affected by noble rot to give weight and richness to the wine. The initial selection was vinified in stainless steel tanks (35%) with the second batch (65%) in 500 litre barrels. (In 2008 the proportion in wood was raised to 80%.) The 2007 Saumur Blanc was wonderfully expressive before bottling. Since bottling it has been decidedly closed but the richness is now coming out – well balanced with mineral acidity in the finish.

It was 60 years since the Mabileau last made a white wine. The last vintage that Fréderic’s grandfather, Armand, made was the 1947 from Chenin Blanc planted on the clay-limestone hillsides behind Saint-Nicolas. The creation of the Saint-Nicolas appellation in 1936 meant that the small production of white in the village stopped and the Chenin vines were replaced with Cabernet Franc.

2007 Les Rouillères, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil

2007 Les Rouillères, St Nicolas de Bourgueil £9.85
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Anjou Rouge,
The 2007 Les Rouillères is all about soft, easy fruit with very little tannin – very much the ideal approach in 2007 when there wasn’t the ripeness to justify long maceration and a lot of extraction. Young this while it is young – no point in keeping it.

The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, AC Anjou comes from a parcel of vines just to the west of the Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil appellation. A little more structured than Les Rouillères this is still a wine to drink young to enjoy its youthful blackcurrant fruit.

First course:
Pan seared cured salmon, mash & thyme jus

We had two more 2007s with the first course:

2007 Racines, Bourgueil £12.75
From vines planted on clay and gravel, this spends nine months in 600 litre barrels. This was the most structured of the four 2007s served but still with an accent on the fruit and ready to drink.

2007 Les Coutures, St Nicolas de Bourgueil £14.25
“This is the little brother or sister of Eclipse, Frédéric’s top wine,” explained Thomas. “We don’t make l’Eclipse every year only when the quality of vintage is good enough. When we don’t make L’Eclipse the wine normally destined for L’Eclipse goes into Les Coutures.” The 2007 has lovely stylish, sweet fruit.

Both wines went very well with the salmon again demonstrating that Loire reds are often a very good match for fish, particularly the more ‘meaty’ varieties. The quality of these 2007 reds is a tribute to Frédéric’s skill in a difficult vintage.

Tom King serving


Main course:
Roast ribeye
buttered carrots, mangetouts,
French beans, fondant potatoes
Red wine jus

We then moved onto a small vertical of l’Eclipse featuring 1999, 2000 and 2001 with the main course.

Frédéric made his first vintage of L’Eclipse in 1996. It comes from the oldest part of the vineyard where the vines at 50 years old. Originally it was aged in barriques but since 2001 Frédéric has reined back on the oak and instead now uses 600 litre barrels.

In terms of the three vintages 1999 and 2001 are very similar with some rain during harvest, while 2000 was dry until around the 18th-20th October when it started to rain and hardly stopped until the following March.

Of the three wines 2000 was easily the most full bodied and tannic. It would benefit from further aging. 1999 still has charm but is beginning fade, while the 2001 is between the two. Of the three vintages it is the most marked by oak – it spent 18 months in barrique and has a somewhat international tone about it. The 2001 has rather grainy tannins.

Although I would be happy to drink all three, my preference was for the 2000, especially with the beef, which successfully hid the tannins.

Pear and pistachio jalousie with chocolate sauce

Tom in discussion

Special thanks again to Thomas Meunier for a great presentation. We understand that Frédéric is considering releasing a 'Sans papiers' vin de table made from 'Chemin Blanc' to mark the occasion when he found himself barred from flying bacause his carte d'identité was out of date. Doubltess this will be a wine to drink 'sur place' as it will not travel!

Monday, March 30, 2009

No Frédéric Mabileau tonight

"Vos papiers!"

Passport control 1 Frédéric Mabileau 0

Unfortunately although tonight's tasting and dinner with the wines of Frédéric Mabileau will be going ahead it will be without Frédéric himself. However, we will be fortunate in having Thomas Meunier, their commercial director, who is very involved with everything in the winery and the vineyard. Thomas speaks very good English and we will be in good hands. Tonight's wines will feature a rare vertical of three vintages of L'Eclipse, Frédéric's top wine.

Why no Frédéric you will no doubt ask. A very good question! I saw Frédéric with Thomas at Tours airport this morning as I was going through security and expected to see them both in the departure gate before boarding the Ryanair plane. No sign of them, so I got on the plane and saw Thomas was one of the last to get on. It was only after we were airborne that I was able to get to speak to Thomas and he explained what had happened:

Frédéric's identity card was out of date, so invalid for travel! He does have a valid passport but he had left that in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil!

Thomas Meunier

Our sincere apologies that Frédéric will not be with us tonight as advertised but as you can see due to circumstances beyond our control!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ursula Ferrigno forthcoming dates and menu

Sunday 26th April: Emilia-Romagna £30.00

Ursula Ferrigno

The people of Emilia-Romagna eat more, cook more and talk more about food than anyone else in Italy. They like nothing better than to get together eat, drink, tell jokes, sing and discuss the merits of dishes. We wish to recreate this atmosphere at our Sunday lunch.

Pasatelli soup
A light flavoursome broth of noodles with fine breadcrumbs, eggs and cheese worked to a paste and passed through a mincer, scented with herbs

Famous in this glorious gastronomic region. Freshly made ravioli using Italian eggs ( RSJ use Italian eggs for all their cakes, pastries and ice creams), this ravioli is filled with spinach and ricotta and then the cheese with a sage butter.

Funghi Trifolati, Cipolline a Agrodolce, Pomodori Ripieni
A selection of delicious vegetables prepared simply to enhance their natural goodness in the typical style of the region. They look stunning on the plate.

Insalata Mista
A cleansing mix of fresh salad leaves, dressed with a simple extra virgin oil and lemon juice

The one and only cheese from this region - Parmesan. You will enjoy an aged wedge of this famous cheese with honey and grapes.

George, RSJ ‘s pastry chef

Panna cotta. Cooked cream is the likened translation. George, RSJ ‘s pastry chef, will stun us with his creation - he never disappoints!

If you would like to assist Ursula during the morning – making bread, pasta soup and the sauces associated with these lunches- there are a limited number of places available. As you can see here and here, theses sessions are both great fun and very informative. The cookery tuition will cost an extra £30 per person. You are advised to book early.

Summer Sunday lunches with Ursula

Sunday 14th June

Sunday 12th July

We’ve fixed the dates and Ursula (we are counting on you!) will be letting us have the themes and the menus next week.

Bookings now being taken on 020-7928 4554 or

Great feedback on Ursula's Sunday lunch last week:
We were delighted to read this on Kym's Gidday from the UK blog:

'It was a fabulously sunny Sunday here in London and a couple of friends and I went to a restaurant near Waterloo called RSJ for a bit of a foodie event. Italian chef 'extraordinaire', Ursula Ferrigno, was hosting one of her monthly Sunday lunches where she creates a set menu - this one being Italian Springtime Favourites. Hosted upstairs in the converted stable building, four long tables were set out so we got to sit with other people and chat - we were fortunate enough to be at the table where three of the people had been in the kitchen with Ursula helping to prepare the lunch so we got a bit of 'inside information' on some of the recipes!'

To read the rest, please click here

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ursula's Italian springtime favourites: 15th March

Ursula: "You want the pasta to be a thin as a love letter....."

Once again we got to sneak into the RSJ kitchen to watch Ursula and her students for the morning prepare Sunday lunch. This time the theme was Italian springtime favourites on a suitably lovely warm, sunny March day with signs of spring all around London – daffodils, hawthorn blossoms and bursting horse chestnut leaves.

Italian springtime favourites – menu
Three generations of family favourites - light fragrant dishes using seasonal produce and the finest ingredients.

"That's a scarf, Ursula. I thought we were making pasta."

Cannelloni with broad beans and ricotta
A wonderful flavour of broad beans and mint combines magically with the freshly made pasta.

Serious pasta making!

No laughing matter!

Attentive students

This is how you make them....

Enthralled, except for Alex on artichoke detail

There're so tiny!

Foccacia farcita
Freshly made bread using six year old starter dough - a real joy!

Pappa con pomodoro e porri
Leek & tomato soup with a hint of chilli oil make this a light and fragrant soup with a slice of bread at the bottom of each bowl to thicken the soup

The hands are a blur... Alex Lovett dealing with the artichokes

Insalata Mezzogiorno
Prawn & artichoke salad - In Italy 'mezzogiorno' has two meanings: noon and the Southern regions. This salad celebrates the South using capers, prawns and of course, new season artichokes.

Discarded outer artichoke leaves

Artichokes to the right, pasta to the left

Dolci – Zuppa Inglese
Cream & marsala trifle - there are many variations of this popular dessert which loosely translate means 'English soup' but is a creamy trifle flavoured with Marsala.

Abby: "I'm not quite sure about this..."

Special selection of cheese to complement the menu.

Alex Lovett:the RSJ's head chef

Abby sorting out the tables upstairs

Makes you hungry all this cooking!

You can now find out of Ursula's cookery courses (Cook with Us) on line – visit or email Ursula on

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mother’s Day Menus

3 courses £21.95

Soup of the day

Wild mushroom and Madeira tart, rocket and Parmesan salad, shallot dressing

Scottish smoked salmon, spicy crème fraiche, soda bread

Terrine of guinea fowl and foie gras, grape
and apple salad, toasted brioche

Tomato and mozzarella pizza

* * * * *

Roast beef, traditional garnish, Yorkshire pudding, red wine jus

Roast leg of Welsh lamb, traditional garnish, lamb jus

Slow roast belly of Suffolk pork, braised onions, garlic mash,
apple sauce

Cod and chips, peas, tartare sauce

Organic penne pasta, arabiatta sauce, Buffalo mozzarella

Cumberland sausage, mashed potatoes, onion gravy

* * * * *

Apple pie and vanilla ice cream

Sherry trifle

Steamed syrup pudding and custard

Cheese and biscuits

Ices and sorbets

Children’s Menu

3 courses £10.95
2 courses £9.50

Soup of the day
Tomato and mozzarella pizza

* * *
Chicken breast and chips
Penne pasta with tomato sauce
Cumberland sausage, mashed potatoes and gravy

* * *
Sherry trifle
Apple pie and vanilla ice cream
Selection of ice creams

Exceptionally the RSJ Restaurant will be open for lunch on Mothers' Day on Sunday 22nd March.

We will be open from 12 noon with last orders taken at 3.30 pm.

Why not celebrate as a family?

Bookings now being taken on 020-7928 4554 or

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mothers' Day: 22nd March RSJ open for lunch

Exceptionally the RSJ Restaurant will be open for lunch on Mothers' Day on Sunday 22nd March.

We will be open from 12 noon with last orders taken at 3.30 pm. Details of menu etc. to follow.

Why not celebrate as a family?

Bookings now being taken on 020-7928 4554 or

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sancerre tasting: 2nd March 2009

Last night nearly 30 people attended another successful Monday night tasting and dinner. It was good to see many regulars present but also some people here for the first time.


2007 Sauvignon Domaine de Bablut, VDP Val de Loire [that very well known Sancerre!]
From Anjou but a vin de pays and from Christophe Daviau. Some weight but overall a very typical of the 2007 vintage – clean and precise.


The first two Sancerres were served by themselves without food.

2007 Les Pierris

2007 Les Pierris, Roger Champault et fils
The Champaults are based in the same hamlet of Champtin between Bué and Crézancy and this comes from vineyards planted on clay-limestone. This was many people's favourite wine of the evening, combining the purity of the 2007 vintage with attractive weight.

2007 La Vigne Blanche, Henri Bourgeois
Comes from vines planted on chaillottes – white limestone with very little or, in places, no soil. Decidedly austere and lightly mineral.

Served with first course: an assiette of fish with herb risotto and pepper coulis

2007 Le MD, Henri Bourgeois
From Les Monts Damnés (damned slopes), the steep, south facing slopes above Chavignol, this is one of the Bourgeois' best Sancerres, which ages well. Characteristically minerally and with more weight and length than Les Vignes Blanches.

2004 Les Culs de Beaujeu, François Cotat
Les Culs de Beaujeu is another steep vineyard above Chavignol but on the other side of the valley from Les Monts Damnés. On the evening the Cotat was a bit of a puzzle. Often the Cotat wines are quite rich, while this, admittedly from 2004, was quite austere and seemed to tighten up over time, although going back to it right at the end it had opened up more. A wine to carafe and give an hour or so to open up?


The reds: 1996 Vacheron, 2006 Côte de Champtin, 2007 Les Pierris

2007 Les Pierris, Roger Champault et fils
Light and charming wine with the accent on the fruit, which worked surprisingly well with the lamb. One to enjoy when young.

2006 Côte de Champtin, Roger Champault et fils
Another steeply sloped vineyard, this 2006 unsurprisingly had more weight and concentration but is currently less expressive than the 2007. Needs another couple of years in bottle.

1996 Domaine Vacheron in magnum
The Vacherons have long been one of Sancerre's top producers. This had wonderfully, seductive Pinot Noir aromas – autumnal undergrowth, mushrooms (French use the term – sous bois) and just shows what a decade or more in bottle can give.

All three reds were served with: roast saddle of lamb, fondant potatoes, Savoy cabbage, carrots and a red wine jus

Lemon & mixed berry roulade

The next wine tasting event features our favourite Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil producer – Frédéric Mabileau. Hurry – still a few spaces available.

While on the subject of Sauvignon Blanc, the list of the 2009 Loire Sauvignon Blanc Ambassadors from the new Loire Sauvignon Blanc project are now on Jim's Loire.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Philippe Germain, Château de la Roulerie, Saint-Aubin

1st February 2009

The elegant front of La Roulerie

Following the Renaissance des Appellations tasting at Les Greniers Saint-Jean in Angers Tom King and I headed off to Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné in the Layon to see Philippe Germain at Château de la Roulerie. Although Philippe has been living at La Roulerie since 2001 and since 2004 has been making the wine with his older brother, Thierry (Domaine des Roches Neuves in Saumur), since 2004, 2008 was the first year they had made wine at La Roulerie. Previously the wine had made at Château de Fesles in Bonnezeaux.

Philippe Germain drawing a sample of 2008 Anjou Blanc

Philippe’s father, Bernard Germain bought Fesles in 1996 along with Château de la Guimonière and Château de la Roulerie from pastry chef Gaston Lenotre, who died at the beginning of 2009. Lenotre had bought them in a fit of enthusiasm in 1991 following the wonderful vintages of 1989 and 1990, which unfortunately were followed by the severely frosted 1991, very mediocre 1992, average 1993 and difficult 1994. I fancy Lenotre had little inkling of the risk involved in making great sweet wine in the Loire nor that, if you do succeed, it is decidedly difficult to sell.

At the height of his pomp Bernard had 300 hectares of vine – 200 in Bordeaux and 100 in Anjou. Unfortunately Bernard ran into financial problems and last year (23rd June) was obliged to sell Fesles to Grands Chais de France. There had already been a meeting of the family in 2006 when Philippe and Thierry apparently declined to take on Fesles. During the course of our visit I asked Philippe how his father was. His guarded reply suggested that relations between the two brothers and their father at present are unfortunately not good.

Some of the grounds and the vineyards

First and foremost Philippe is a salesman and this allied with his natural enthusiasm at making his first vintage at Roulerie in the hastily renovated chai produced a vintage performance, which not even a very painful dental complaint could temper. Following Philippe around the cellar tasting from 400 litre barrels we were regaled with an almost continuous commentary that included frequent repetitions of “chers messieurs” “très sincerement” and other similar phrases. Apparently wine has not been made here for nearly 20 years since Dominique Jadeau sold the property to Lenôtre.

Philippe in full flight!

Philippe: “In 2008 we made 40% of normal – 538 hls compared to 730 hls in 2007 and 850 hls in 2006. The summer was catastrophic. The grape skins were very thick and there was little juice. At La Roulerie we have 24 hectares, which are in 22 separate parcels.

The focus is on Philippe!

We only tasted 2008s including the mineral La Petite Roulerie from vines between 20 and 25 years old that overlook Saint-Aubin and the richer and fuller Les Terrasses, planted on grey schist. We tasted Les Terrasses from both barrel and from a 27 hl wooden conical vat that Philippe has on test. We also tasted the rich, black fruited 2008 Anjou Rouge, which will be bottled in March. “Normally we would make 180 hls of this wine,” said Philippe, “in 2008 we only made 94 hls. We were hit by frost on 23rd/24th April and then later by mildew.”

The conical wooden vat

As with other Layon producers the hopes of a good sweet vintage which developed during the fine October weather were cruelly dashed by continuous rain in November. The 1er Tri of the 27th/28th October has 55 gms of residual sugar and is a quite rich blend of honey and citric flavours. It should be an attractive easy drinking Layon to enjoy young.

Tom: contemplative but relaxed

The Layon was still bathed in brilliantly, bright sunshine when we left Philippe to get ready to entertain a group of merchants, out for the Salon, to dinner.

Philippe Germain, Château de la Roulerie, 49190 Saint-Aubin-de-Luigné