How many of us wine-lovers who wouldn't dream of serving a sub-standard wine to our friends are perfectly happy to give them - or serve ourselves - a cup of tea made with a teabag? Like wine, tea is a daunting subject. Many of us, and I include myself among their number, are woefully ignorant about different types of tea, how best and when to serve it and how to partner it with food.
Most people wouldn’t think in terms of combining tea and food beyond the classic pairings of Indian teas with a traditional afternoon scone or sponge, or jasmine tea with Chinese food but there are many other possibilities to explore, says Signe Johansen.
There’s a fascinating article in the current edition of Elle à Table about a cheese and tea tasting conducted by Maitre Tseng of La Maison des Trois Thés in Paris with French artisanal cheeses from Alléosse.
Signe Johansen selflessly reports back from two tea and chocolate matching events during London's recent National Chocolate Week.
As a massive sherry fan I confess that I find it hard to envisage any other drink with tapas but when you’re invited to experience an off-the-wall pairing you go - or at least I do.
There’s an improbably good tea shop and café near where I live which is as good as any I’ve been to. I say improbable not because it’s in Bristol but because it’s in a far-from-smart shopping parade in one of the less cultish areas of the city. It also has a brilliantly clever name - ATTIC - which stands for All The Tea In China.
This week is the beginning of Fairtrade fortnight, the British Fairtrade Foundation’s annual push to encourage us all to buy more ethically traded products. There are now over 2000 Fairtrade certified products* available in the UK, ranging from peppercorns, cinnamon and vanilla pods, to avocados, rum and wine.
I’ve been rediscovering tea pairing with food lately and this was a standout match at my local self-styled modern tearoom Lahloo Pantry in Bristol. It was a simple pound cake topped with spicy pears* cooked in chai syrup with the company's own green jasmine tea.
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.
As you've probably noticed we're currently in the middle of Fairtrade Fortnight. Encouragingly sales of Fairtrade produce and products were up 12% last year making sales in the UK worth £1.32bn in 2011, compared to £1.17bn in 2010, according to this recent piece in the Guardian.
Simnel cake, for those of you who are not familiar with it, is the traditional British Easter cake (although at one time it was baked to celebrate Mother’s Day).
With Chinese new year coming up this weekend you may be planning a trip to a Chinese restaurant or planning a Chinese meal at home. But which wine to serve?
The most interesting meal I had last week was undoubtedly at Viajante, an innovative new restaurant in what used to be Bethnal Green town hall. You can see my full review on decanter.com but I just wanted to write a bit more about the pairings.
To the incomprehension of my husband who can’t see the point in raw fish, I adore sushi and try to eat it at least once a week - usually with one of my daughters who are both big sushi fans.
Mince pies are not that different to Christmas pudding and Christmas cake so you could drink much the same sort of wine with them. But tradition obviously plays a part in terms of what most people expect and they do pair particularly well with fortified wines like port, sherry and madeira
Those of you who follow my Twitter feed will be aware I’ve been away at the Vegas Uncork’d festival so it might seem a touch perverse to pick out a non-wine pairing as my match of the week - and one from a meal outside the festival programme.
If you’re planning a Pancake Day celebration tomorrow and haven’t yet decided what to drink here are few ideas.
When I read Mark Hix recipes in The Independent today they were so challenging that I nearly gave up but as everyone else seems to be writing about asparagus today and I’ve done a lot on asparagus recently there was no other option . . .
The Chinese New Year, which starts on Sunday, is one of those annual events that really captures the imagination. It is celebrated in such a colourful and joyous way and Chinese food is so delicious, quick and simple to make that I hope you won't be able to resist having a go at it. Buy in the dim sum and make the ice cream ahead and all you need make on the night is the stir-fry.
Although stollen is a little bit lighter than the classic British Christmas baking some of the pairings I suggested with mince pies (like sweet sherry and tawny port) will work too . . .
With the Thai New Year celebrations coming up you may well be planning to eat in a Thai restaurant or host a Thai meal at home. But which drinks are the best to serve?
It’s a tribute to the sheer joie-de-vivre of the Irish that we regard St Patrick’s Day with much more enthusiasm than St George’s, St Andrew’s or St David’s Days (the patron saints for England, Scotland and Wales for those of you who aren’t into your saints). So your friends are going to be more than pleased to be invited to celebrate it with you.
For the last couple of weeks The Telegraph has been running recipes from two of my favourite chefs, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro, the iconic Moorish recipe in Exmouth Market in London that I discover, to my amazement, is now 11 years old. Sam (the husband) is very into his wines, particularly sherry, so I'm suggesting Spanish wines for the pairings.
This month’s issue of Observer Food Monthly hasa special on TV dinners featuring celebrities talking about their favourite snacks. Very few beverages are mentioned so I thought I’d suggest a few pairings ;-)
One of the more charming touches of my stay at Langford Fivehead last week was the way they offered a cup of tea and seedcake on your arrival, a deliciously old-fashioned English cake made with caraway seeds.
Now that fish and chips can found in every posh fish restaurant, wine has become as popular a pairing as a nice cup of builders' tea (good though that is). But which one?
The book I’ve been looking forward to most so far this year has just started being serialised in the Guardian today. It’s by Yotam Ottolenghi who founded two exceptional London restaurants and is simply called Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. l love Ottolenghi's food - it’s so generous and big-flavoured, piled high on bright, colourful platters - you can't fail to be tempted by it. It also lends itself perfectly to entertaining for large numbers at home.
A recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai opened my eyes anew to the possibilities involved in drinking wine with Chinese food. Many of the conclusions we have painstakingly arrived at in the west turn out to be less obvious when tried out in situ.