I’ve always thought of an elderflower spritzer as the perfect drink to pair with elderflower fritters - until this weekend when I tried them with Moscato d’Asti at the local underground supper club Montpelier Basement.
In the run-up Christmas there’s not much time for time-consuming dinner parties so this tasting and light supper is a fun and indulgent way to entertain good friends. Ask each of them to bring a chilled* bottle of bubbly - Champagne or otherwise - provide a couple of your own, cover up the bottles and taste them ‘blind’. Great fun for a start to see who can spot the ‘real’ Champagne (don’t worry if you can’t - many professionals are fooled by these kind of exercises) and a delicious way to get into festive mood.
A recent email from a reader asked me to suggest a wine to go with “a triple coconut cake with a tangy pineapple icing served with fresh fruit salsa that has kiwi, strawberry, madarine oranges, blueberries and fresh pineapple in it”. Quite a challenge (I suggested demi-sec Champagne or a peach-flavoured liqueur topped up with fizz) but it got me thinking that there are many possible matches for cake beyond a cup of tea or coffee, particularly if you're serving it as a dessert.
With Wimbledon kicking off this week, I’m sure you’ll be enjoying a bowlful or two of strawberries. But what to drink with them? The classic Wimbledon pairing of champagne is to my mind too dry unless the champagne is demi-sec but there are plenty of other possibilities depending on how you serve your berries.
This is a slight adaptation of a fantastic recipe from Italian cookery writer Valentina Harris which I first tasted on one of her cookery courses in Tuscany and included in my book Food, Wine and Friends.
Although Christmas might feel firmly over many people will still be celebrating Twelfth Night this weekend. In France they mark the occasion with a Galette des Rois - a round cake filled with frangipane (almond paste) and topped with a golden paper crown.
There’s no doubt about it, trifle is tricky. If it includes booze already do you serve more on the side? And what kind of booze should that be?
If you haven't yet worked out what to drink on Thursday (February 14th, if you need reminding!) here are a few suggestions to match popular Valentine's Day foods.
With the blazing weather over the last couple of days it's hard to remember it's still spring rather than summer but here's a light lunch to enjoy with a couple of friends before we move on to full al fresco eating.
I call these cupcakes but in fact they're more like old-fashioned English fairy cakes which seem more appropriate for the Jubilee. I must say I prefer them. Made with butter rather than oil they taste more natural and 'cakey than an American-style cupcake and have about a third the amount of icing.
Vermouth probably isn't the first thing you would think of pairing with cheese but this combination I enjoyed at our local wine bistro Flinty Red in Bristol the other night was just dazzling.
The soft creamy fizz of Italy's famous sparkling wine Prosecco makes it a marvellous match for Italian panettone which is not too rich or too sweet to overwhelm it. I discovered the combination a couple of years ago when I tried the celebratory Easter dove-shaped Colomba Pasquale which is topped with crystallised sugar with a glass of Bisol’s elegant Cartizze Prosecco de Valdobbiadene which sells in the UK for roughly 16 a bottle (check out wine-searcher.com for stockists)
Heston Blumenthal’s Jubilee picnic hamper was unveiled yesterday - to be served at Buckingham Palace before an open-air concert on June 4th. The picnic is being funded by Waitrose who must be pleased as punch to have the Palace’s endorsement in this video. The guests will also apparently be given vouchers for a glass of Moët or a bottle of Cobra beer (the other sponsors of the event).
If you’re planning a Pancake Day celebration tomorrow and haven’t yet decided what to drink here are few ideas.
This is the perfect time of year for buying oranges and lemons but what effect do they have on the recipes you’re making? Quite a marked one, if truth be told. Lemons in particular have a high level of acidity which will make any wine you drink with them taste sweeter. If that’s counterbalanced in the recipe by sugar as in a lemon tart or lemon meringue pie, for example, the result is a dish that’s really quite hard to match.
It’s a mystery to me why we need a Chocolate Week. Surely no-one (except aberrants like myself who have an inexplicable preference for potatoes) needs encouraging to eat chocolate. But there we have it and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy your favourite food in the country’s classiest chocolate shops over the next few days.