Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I’m an enthusiast about natural wine so I was particularly interested to go to a couple of natural wine dinners this last week at Artisan and Vine and Angela Hartnett’s Murano
The other evening I had an interesting session with a few food bloggers matching Davidstow cheddar for which I’d been asked to come up with some drink pairings*. My task was to talk about the wine. The company’s Head Grader Mark Pitts-Tucker brought along a couple of Cornish ales - Sharp’s Doombar and St Austell Tribute.
As the old saying goes, it’s a small world. I was already booked in for a Pegasus Bay wine dinner in London when I ran into their winemakers, Matt Donaldson and Lynette Hudson last week on my trip to Oregon - not once but twice. So they felt like old friends by the time I caught up with them again at Providores where chef Christian Hossack (Peter Gordon was away) came up with some really well thought out pairings.
I have to confess I found it pretty hard to concentrate on the finer nuances of the food and wine combinations at the recent Cinnamon Club dinner. But when the speaker is the discursive Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon and you're sitting next to him that's no great surprise. Before the meal had even started we were into Kierkegaard and a vigorous discussion of terroir in the bar below over our glasses of Vin Gris de Cigare (a typically unorthodox full-bodied rosé based on Grenache, Cinsault and Roussanne).
Earlier this week I was involved in judging a selection of South African rieslings at High Timber in London and afterwards we had a three course lunch that had been designed to match with them. This is what we ate and drank.
Texture is one of the few restaurants to showcase a sommelier, the star in this instance being Xavier Rousset who used to work at The Manoir aux Quat' Saisons. His two year partnership at Texture with his former colleague Agnar Sverrisson has just been acknowledged with a Michelin star. I’ve reviewed it for Decanter here but the pairings were so exceptional I thought I’d go into more detail about them.
I've been invited to a game dinner at Brown's hotel in Mayfair next week at which every course is matched with a beer or a perry. I can't make it but thought you'd be interested in the pairings (my notes in italics):
The dinner I mentioned earlier this week was ostensibly to present Zalto wine glasses but was interesting in its own right too as an example of a well-devised wine dinner. Goodness knows, it should be. Neville and Sonia Blech, a former professional chef, have been entertaining winelovers at their Kensington home for years and before that in their own restaurant, Mijanou.
Take 6 top international chefs and 6 Argentinian wineries determined to prove their wines outlast anyone else’s and what do you get? A fascinating dinner but some titanic struggles on the plate and in the glass.
Having written a book on beer and food matching and cooking with beer last year (An Appetite for Ale) it’s been heartening to see the growing interest in the subject, especially in the states.
Fascinating to see Gallo (now Gallo Family Vineyards, note!) make food and wine matching the focus of their latest glossy, full-colour advertising campaign in the national press (which also coincides with their sponsorship of Gordon Ramsay’s F Word.)
Pairing cheese and wine was once a no-brainer. In that post-rationing era when the British were just rediscovering wine, and had no idea what to drink it with, cheese and wine evenings provided an answer. Cubes of Cheddar on cocktail sticks made the vin rouge taste a little nicer, and were a useful way of soaking up the alcohol.
As I predicted in my round up of Top Trends for 2008, wine bars - and wine-themed restaurants - are already proving huge this year. New York and London seemingly can’t get enough of them and they’re even booming in smaller (but admittedly not so small) towns like Montpellier. The latest edition of Terre et Vins, a really excellent wine magazine which covers the south of France, devotes a whole feature to them.
Discovering you could make a wine from grapes that have shrivelled with rot to leathery little fossils on the vine is viticultural history’s finest example of making a silk purse out a sow’s ear. There is a sense of the miraculous in every sip.
On Saturday night I went to a splendid dinner at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol hosted jointly by a group of Bordeaux producers in conjunction with the city’s best-known chef Jean-Pierre Xiradakis of La Tupina and Barny Haughton of BQ, as it’s known locally.
Last night I attended what must be the glitziest, most glamourous, wine dinner ever cooked by the world’s top chefs.
The marriage of the aromatic wines of Alsace with spicy foods (Chinese and Thai cuisines leading the charge, with Indian usually not far behind) has become such an axiom of modern gastronomy that we might be forgiven for wondering what on earth anybody drank them with before.
I spent an interesting evening this week at one of London’s leading Indian restaurants Benares. It was organised jointly by a wine events company called The Wine Nose and SOPEXA, the promotional arm of the French food and wine industry.
This week I had a really fascinating vegetarian tasting menu at the Lecture Room and Library at Sketch, Pierre Gagnaire’s London restaurant. The sommelier, Fred Brugues, claims not to believe in food and wine matching (too complicated, he says, with large tables all ordering different dishes) but he actually came up with some inspired pairings.
One of the most useful tricks to master, especially when you’re dealing with a tricky-to-match ingredient, is to introduce a ‘bridge’ ingredient - in other words an element in the dish that makes it easier to match with the wine you want to drink. It can be something as simple as cream or mashed potato or something rather more specific that picks out a flavour in the wine you’re serving.
At £32.50 a head (and you have to order it for two) this isn’t the cheapest aperitif in London but it’s certainly the classiest. As you would expect of a restaurant just off Sloane Street in Knightsbridge.
What do you give the winelover who has everything? Dinner at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe looks like the answer. A recent dinner to launch their laudably adventurous new wine list revealed a whole bunch of grapes that I’d never heard of including Braucol (an alternative name in Gaillac for Fer and Mansois - pretty obscure in themselves), Gringet, a crisp white from Haut-Savoie (described as ‘glacial as a Hitchcock heroine’), Mondeuse (another wine from Savoie, this time a red) and Frappato, a 'rarely encountered' Sicilian red.
Eating out in Venice is not cheap, as we’ve discovered, but there are ways of mitigating the cost (essential if you’re spending a fortnight in the city!) Here are five of the more classic Venetian restaurants we’ve been to. Some less expensive and off the beaten track options over the next few days.
Last post (for the moment) from Paris! A quick run-down of the most interesting food and wine ideas I picked up for those of you who haven’t time to read the full reviews:Sardines - cheap, sustainable - this summer’s must-eat fish, it seems. Grilled (Le Temps au Temps), served with red peppers and black-eye beans (La Gazzetta) served whole in a tin with seaweed butter (Cristal de Sel)
Last week I finally realised a long-held ambition to eat at La Maison de Marc Veyrat in Veyrier-du-Lac. Not a lot has been heard recently from Veyrat recently despite the fact that he is the only chef to have been awarded six Michelin stars for his two restaurants and score a perfect 20/20 from Gault Millau. Just under two years ago he had a horrific skiing accident that left him with multiple leg fractures and he now faces major surgery to break and reset the bones to try and regain his mobility.
Stuart Walton checks out the restaurant scene in Colmar.
There have recently been suggestions that Paris’ status as gourmet capital has been usurped by Tokyo and even London in recent years. While Tokyo has been lauded by Michelin for its impressive array of 3 star restaurants and London offers a diversity of cuisine unparalleled by many cities, one would have to be a total barbarian to dismiss Paris’ pre-eminence in the sphere of fine dining.
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.
This party piece – a deliciously aromatic fusion of flavours – isn’t a true Moroccan bastilla, but it is inspired by those I have eaten there, and less laborious to make. I serve it with a green salad – with fennel slivers and coriander and mint leaves added – and a bowl of yogurt to spoon onto your plate beside the pie. The filling can be made ahead.
A classic starter from the ‘70’s but one that our customers seem to enjoy every bit as much today. This version originally came from a book called Take Twelve Cooks and was one of Pru Leith’s recipes. However Stephen Bull attributes it to Peter Kromberg of Le Soufflé at the Intercontinental who was also featured in the book . . .
Smoked eel is not so difficult to find but most retailers sell it vacuum packed*: the problem with this technique, whilst keeping the fish admirably, is that it tends to express the oil from the meat. It is worth drying the fillets on kitchen paper before slicing. Most people don’t peel young baby carrots: I prefer to because I like to see them look smooth and glossy but I see the point of those who don’t.
From my cookbook Steak - now sadly out of print - a homemade alternative to demi-glace, a foolproof steak sauce that you can use on its own or as a basis for another dish such as bavette aux chalotes
I love pies but you can’t get away from the fact that they’re fiddly and time-consuming so here’s a neat idea for cutting the time they take by at least half and possibly trimming a few calories off the meal into the bargain.
This delicious cake, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is based on a recipe from one of Britain's best bakers Dan Lepard. Do use organic dried fruit in it - you’ll get a much better result.
There's nothing like a glass of mulled wine to get you into the festive spirit. Here's three variations - including a seasonal sangria - plus a gorgeous mulled cider
Secret Kitchens is a highly personal selection of recipes from the cooks who work for Sarah Willes’ Blues Agency. It’s been put together to raise funds for a groundbreaking project that Sarah has got under way at Gibbs Green School in West London, a primary school for children with emotional and behavioural problems.
If you haven't heard of David Everitt-Mathias I wouldn't be surprised. But ask any leading chef in Britain - including Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, who have both paid tribute to him in this book - and they certainly will.
This typically Burgundian dish of pork with a wine, cream and mustard-based sauce is quick, easy and versatile. You could equally well use it for chicken.
Sometimes you go to a wine dinner with some trepidation wondering if the wine will stand up to the food but I was pretty optimistic that Domaine Long-Depaquit’s Chablis would survive at Nobu (the original Metropolitan hotel restaurant in London, not LA, sadly!)
Following my tips on buying from wine sales yesterday here are some of the independent wine merchant sales that are currently on and some of the bottles that I would consider buying from them (though I should stress that I haven’t had the opportunity to taste most of the wines). Remember an unsplit case is generally going to be cheaper than a mixed case but a bit of a risk if you haven’t tried the wine. Some deals may have already sold out by the time you read this.
Just as in every other kind of store, specialist wine shops have sales at this time of year largely to clear stocks that have been slow to sell through and make way for new vintages they've ordered. But is wine the sort of product you should be buying in a sale? Well it depends . . .
Champagne is never exactly cheap (think what you could get if you spent the equivalent amount on a bottle of still wine) but Christmas is undoubtedly when you can get the best bargains. (Updated Dec 20th)
Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
It’s a while since I’ve been to Germany so I thought I’d take the opportunity of running some top German wines through their paces at the restaurant Seven Park Place, which was coincidentally awarded a Michelin star last week in the 2011 UK Michelin awards. The dinner was hosted by Iris Ellman of The Wine Barn and featured nine of the top level wineries whose wines she imports.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem finding cheese matches for claret. Cheddar is often suggested but I find mature versions have too much ‘bite. Stilton slays it and so do most washed rind cheeses, oozy Camemberts and Bries. The most successful match I’ve found so far is Mimolette so maybe it was auto-suggestion at work when I tasted a deep orange Red Leicester at The Fine Cheese Co’s Cheese Fair in Bath at the weekend and immediately thought of red Bordeaux.
The results of a unique competition in Hong Kong suggest that Asia-based judges may have a different take to Europeans on matching wine to Chinese food. The judging panel at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition awarded several medals to full-bodied reds in preference to the more common aromatic white wine styles such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer
The other night I was lucky enough to go out with a wineloving friend of mine and his wife who brought along a bottle of Château Palmer 1990 with them. It was a lovely wine but, as any 20 year old vintage would be, quite delicate so immediately created the dilemma of what to eat.
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 ;-)
It’s less common to come across Indian-spiced seafood dishes than it is fish and vegetable-based ones so what sort of wine works? Yesterday I had a chance to find out
Many of us are familiar with Lebanon's rich culinary heritage, courtesy of the Lebanese diaspora and food writers such as Claudia Roden and Anissa Helou. Yet the prevalence of popular Lebanese dishes such as tabbouleh and hummous in our supermarkets is not yet matched by Lebanese wines despite a long history of grape cultivation dating back to the Phoenicians.
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall proclaims firmly in The Guardian today that he won’t be serving turkey for lunch on Christmas Day so if he’s going to break with tradition why shouldn’t you? Bring on the beer!
When asked at a tutored tasting when his Grand Cru Chablis would be ready to drink, the maverick Burgundy and Luberon producer Jean-Marie Guffens replied in his usual opaque way "It's not a question of when the wine is ready, it's a question of when you are ready". Guffens was, I think, attempting to get away from what he saw as the tyranny of 'the perfect moment', the year, the month, the day even, when a wine is 'at its best'.
Hugo Rose examines the conventional wisdom that they do.
Here's an important area where the science is not fully formed, though a sufficient consensus exists to give useful advice.The uncertainty arises from the different storage environments that exist in different countries around the world. The ambient temperature in warehouses and cellars in Burgundy, for example, or in Spain, has been higher than in Britain, yet these are regions with traditions of long term cellarage.
People in the wine trade often talk about ‘food friendly wines’, a term so vague you might wonder what on earth it means. Surely all wines are designed to go with food? Is it supposed to be a criticism or a compliment?
With two TV series and a blockbuster book in the pipeline Heston’s set to be the chef we’re all going to be talking about this autumn. Matching Food & Wine contributor Signe Johansen, who spent three months working at the Fat Duck, gives an exclusive insight into what goes in Heston’s lab and the team who bring his off-the-wall ideas to fruition.
Coincidentally I’ve received two recent requests for help with pairing main course fish dishes that include saffron, a tricky spice with a slightly medicinal, taste.
Good to see Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall giving some recipes that use beer in the Guardian today. As I discovered when my son Will and I wrote our book An Appetite for Ale last year, beer makes a great addition to many recipes and is often just as good a match for a meal as wine.
If you’re trying to get ahead for Easter here are some suggestions to match Angela Hartnett’s menu in the Daily Telegraph today.
One of the problems about today’s ultra-complicated restaurant food is that dishes tend to be what I once heard aptly described as ‘ingredient-heavy’. Which can mean that a wine of character may just be one flavour too much.
Some unusual steak recipes from Jason Atherton (then of Maze, now of Pollen Street Social) that prove you don't always need to drink red with beef.
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.
Last year I was party to a presentation at the recently-opened Norwegian Gastronomic Institute to the Vinmonopolet (state wine monopoly) buying teams by winemaker Nicolas Joly of France where he explained his approach to biodynamic winegrowing.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had one ingredient constantly by the side of the stove - a bottle of vin cotto. Literally it translates as 'cooked wine' but is in fact made from the cooked down must that’s left over from the winemaking process. In other parts of Italy it’s known as Saba.
Some of the most difficult people to buy presents for are serious wine collectors. Unless you have a cellar of your own from which to pluck a suitable bottle it’s quite hard to find something that will ring their bell (obscure sweet wines and sherries, I generally find, being the best bets)
According to Tesco in the UK, sales of Riesling are up 30% since TV temptress Nigella Lawson used it to make the French classic coq au Riesling - in one programme succeeding in what a generation of wine writers have conspicuously failed to do: to make this grape variety sexy.
If you’re in London this weekend don’t miss the city’s big annual open-air food festival Taste of London which is supported by the city’s best-known chefs. The Big Idea is to give you an opportunity to sample the food at their restaurants. Last night big stars such as Giorgio Locatelli, Gary Rhodes, Angela Hartnett and Michel Roux were all on hand to chat about their food.
When I received an invitation to a lunch that would see a range of wines from giant Australian wine producer Hardys paired with food prepared by Pied--Terre’s Shane Osborne, I have to admit that my inner wine snob rather expected the stuff in the glasses to be outclassed by the stuff on the plates.
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Or, more accurately, that he can’t reinvent himself. The Old Master is Parisien chef Alain Senderens who until recently presided over the long established Parisien restaurant Lucas Carton. His sublime skill was pairing the world’s best wines with his three Michelin-starred cuisine, a fascinating pastime which I was lucky enough to witness on a couple of occasions but which certainly didn’t come cheap. In fact you’d have been lucky to get out at under €500 a head which put it well out of the reach of ordinary Parisiens.
There are no less than five Greek restaurants in the small town I live in, all of them with a virtually identical menu - taramasalata, hummus and other meze, grills and kebabs. One still offers weekly plate smashing sessions.
Last night we opened a bottle of 2005 Nugan Estate McLaren Parish Vineyard Shiraz - a typically big lush Aussie red at a hefty 15% ABV.
I’m sitting in the pitch dark, my hand groping around the table. On my plate I think I’ve got some tuna - or is it chicken? - orange, fennel and yes, those are pomegranate seeds. In my heavy glass (so it doesn’t shatter if I knock it over) is what tastes like a commercial Vin de Pays d’Oc chardonnay.
Not a question I normally have to trouble my head about, I admit but which was prompted by an extraordinary wine dinner I went to last week at The Don in St Swithin's Lane.
The Bordeaux wine region produces a multitude of top class red wines that these days tend to be blends of four main grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
When you have a fish as fine as Dover sole you don’t want to mask its delicate sweet flavour in any way. Here are my suggestions for Gordon Ramsay’s recipes in the Times today.
Now that Grner Veltliner has become a fixture on fashionable restaurant wine lists (along with Albarino and Picpoul de Pinet) there are signs that sommeliers are looking for the Next Big Thing. And the most likely candidate looks to be Vinho Verde.
A lot of chefs - particularly male chefs - don't really get salads, making them either an afterthought or wildly, elaborately fussy. Mark Hix of the Independent is an exception - his are always simple but imaginative, reflecting the season perfectly. Here are my matches for his recipes in the Independent this weekend.
Peashoots exemplify the delicate flavours of spring as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall persuasively argues in the Guardian today. How do you find a wine that won’t overwhelm them?
If anyone still needs convincing about the virtues of food and wine matching Mark Hix’s fresh seasonal recipes in The Independent today should convince them. Even the ‘drink what you like with the food you like’ brigade would have to admit that a voluptuous Meursault or oak-aged white Bordeaux would totally overwhelm the flavours of raw food.
Turkish food is not traditionally accompanied by wine. And although the Turks do have a wine industry not much of it makes its way over here. But here are some thoughts on possible pairings for Mark Hix's Turkish inspired recipes in the Independent this weekend"
Mark Hix may have been knocking back the tequila on his recent trip to Mexico but if you’re not made of such stern stuff try my alternative suggestions for his Mexican-inspired recipes in the Independent today.
As was the case with his previous restaurants, Corrigan’s, which I reviewed yesterday, has a fascinating and idiosyncratic list put together with the help of the ingenious Douglas Wregg of Caves de Pyrne, the company which is also behind the excellent new Terroirs ‘natural’ wine bar* just off Trafalgar Square.
It’s a lean weekend for menus to match in the national press so I’ve picked Thomasina Miers’ favourite childhood recipe - and one of mine - from the Times for my weekend pairing.
Forget for the moment my often-advocated match of chilled red wine with salmon, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a wild fish it deserves one of your best whites. Here are my suggested matches for Mark Hix’ recipes in the Independent today:
Fennel is one of the handful of vegetables that can influence a main course pairing - almost always for the better. Its aniseed flavour seems to have a pronounced affinity with many wines, especially whites. Here are some suggested matches with recipes that two British chefs have published this weekend - Gordon Ramsay in the Times and Skye Gyngell in the Independent on Sunday.
Seems to be food week for the broadsheets. The Guardian has a food supplement with menus from Britain’s top chefs (matched with wines by their wine columnist Victoria Moore) while the Indy has an extra-long selection of summer main courses and puds from their cookery writer Mark Hix. Since you can find Victoria’s matches online I’m tackling Mark’s dishes today:
I was interested to read in the Telegraph this weekend that Ken Hom is planning to move from his French base in Cahors to spend more time in Italy and Thailand.
Like salt, pepper has a pronounced effect on wine, often making reds taste softer and lusher than they otherwise would. Unlike salt though, you also find peppery flavours in wines such as Northern Rhône Syrah and Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
The problem with the old media is that their lead times are too long. Skye Gyngell, the Independent on Sunday’s food writer and chef at the heavenly Petersham Nurseries Cafe in Richmond probably wrote her al fresco menu in today’s edition a couple of weeks ago when the sun was blazing. Today the wind is howling and the rain lashing against the windows.No matter. It’s only May and summer will (hopefully) return. Here’s what I would suggest drinking with it.
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 . . .
Sometimes I wonder when we get to drink our best wines, food has become so fiddly and complicated so it’s a welcome relief to see a recipe like Rowley Leigh’s in the FT this weekend for a simply roast duck with peas.
I’m not quite sure whether it’s a blessing or a curse to be able to access the English papers so easily on-line these days. It makes it hard to resist the temptation to have a peek and therefore harder to cut off.
Cheese and wine is a notorious minefield but is it any easier when the cheese is cooked? See my suggestions to match Mark Hix's delicious recipes in the Independent today:
Being Easter it’s not surprising that there’s a focus on chocolate in the press today though I’m not sure how many of us would be bold enough to serve venison with chocolate sauce to our nearest and dearest as Mark Hix has done in the Independent today.
Scallops are normally a sure-fire match for chardonnay so it was quite a challenge to think of some alternatives for Skye Gyngell’s inventive recipes in the Independent on Sunday today.
Wow, the celebrations are coming thick and fast this week! After lovers, now mothers . . .Well, curiously, a similar psychology applies. Mums come in all shapes and sizes so what will appeal to one may not necessarily appeal to another. It’s all about thinking about the individual and picking the bottle they would most enjoy.
Q I’m cooking a haggis for Burns’ Night but don’t know what type of wine to serve. Or should I serve whisky?
The new generation of Portuguese wines deserves greater attention from consumers and restaurant buyers alike. While successive waves of wine commentators have celebrated the broad spectrum of original flavours and styles the country’s renascent industry is producing, they remain too little explored. What’s more, compared to the big, clunking fist of much Australian Shiraz, or the twacky, juicy-fruit quality of many a New Zealand Sauvignon, they are demonstrably food-friendly wines.
William Smith and Anthony Demetre found a formula for success selling their winelist by the 250ml carafe at Arbutus. Now they have pulled the same trick at their latest opening Wild Honey, just off Bond Street. It has been received pretty well on the whole by the critics (including Giles Coren and A A Gill of the Times and The Sunday Times respectively who curiously went together then wrote about each other).
If I told you we’d kicked off a tasting menu with a dish of barely seared, pepper-crusted tuna, with a punchy sesame and ginger dressing paired with a chilled cherry beer you’d probably think we’d dined at one of London’s cutting edge Asian restaurants rather than one of its most venerable institutions, the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. But its chef-patron Michel Roux Jr is quite prepared to challenge his well-heeled Mayfair clientele. In fact I suspect that if he felt he could get away with it his whole menu would be packed with similarly bold combinations.
People occasionally ask me what characterises British food. Unlike French or Italian food it can be hard to pin down, there are so many different ethnic influences but last night I had a meal that was quintessentially English summer food.
I was writing an article the other day about food and wine matching that required spot-on pairings and found myself specifying the age of the wines I was recommending. It’s not something I tend to do when making generalised recommendations (as opposed to matching a specific wine) but I realised it is as important as giving information about whether a wine is oaked or unoaked, the nature of the vintage or what country, region or producer it comes from.
Anyone who thinks the only place for beer is with a curry or a barbecue should take a look at this scrumptious menu from a ‘Grand Banquet’ which was prepared for the 1600 delegates to the Craft Brewers Conference in Austin, Texas last weekend by Executive Chef Mark Dayanandan of the Hilton Austin.
A friend I ran into the other day asked my advice on a birthday meal he and his wife were cooking. He wanted a menu - and wines - that would iimpress their 20 guests but which didn’t involve them in too much work. He’d also recently developed a taste for German riesling but wasn’t sure if his guests would share his new-found enthusiasm. So what should they eat - and drink?
A new regular feature on the site to give you a chance to play sommelier and practise your matchmaking skills. Here’s how it works:
Q Could you make a suggestion for a pan-fried flank steak with a mustard/cream sauce consisting of shallots, white wine, chicken stock, cream, and Dijon mustard?
Marylebone High Street in central London has become a mecca for foodies in the last few years but the jewel in the crown is undoubtedly Patricia Michelson’s La Fromagerie, a glorious jumble of a shop that sells everything from cheese (obviously) to chocolate, via honeys and herbal infusions.
Q Are there not some classic wines, perhaps Chateauneuf-du-Pape that are typically recommended with smoky meats? I ask this as here in Texas we are big grillers and pit smokers of meat, meat, meat! I'm thinking there truly are wines that are good with smoked meats and wonder if you might recommend a couple.
Q I am going to a dinner where we take our own wine. The starter is slices of smoked pheasant with partridge pate, followed by fillet of venison then a dessert of profiteroles with lemon cream + chocolate sauce. then a savoury of rabbit and tarragon terrine. You may now realise my problem! Any suggestions?
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.
Those of you who've looked up my recommendations on cheese before will have picked up that I'm not a big fan of large cheeseboards. Especially with red wine. But at Christmas people tend to expect them so how do you create as harmonious as match as possible?
Q We’re getting married shortly and thought we’d ask our friends to give us wine as we’d like to start putting together a cellar. Do you have any ideas on the type of wines we should include and who could help us?
Q I am the best man at a wedding and agreed to provide the wine for the head table. The couple is serving a soy, ginger salmon and chicken dish (i assume you get a choice). Any thoughts?
Just as we get used to the idea that there is an ideal wine glass foreach grape variety along comes a producer who suggests the enjoyment isall in the angle of the glass.
I’ve done a fair few cheese and wine tastings in my time but none quite as challenging as the one I did at the RAW natural wine fair recently matching natural wine with unpasteurised cheese.
Our roving gastronaut Lucy Bridgers discovers why German Mosel riesling is the ideal wine pairing for Vietnamese food
It struck me as slightly ironic that the best example of a food offering I’ve seen at a consumer tasting recently was the Food Pairing Room at this weekend’s Whisky Show - whisky being the last drink that many people would think of pairing with food.
The most hyped restaurant launch this year, Bubbledogs, which opened this week in London’s Fitzrovia has naturally focussed on the hot dogs but of equal significance, I reckon, are the ‘bubbles’ or champagnes that they serve.
To kick off my coverage of the first Wine & Culinary International Forum in Barcelona last weekend (and while I disentangle the many complex threads on food and wine pairing) here are some highly practical points which were made by a high level panel of restaurant and wine critics including Jancis Robinson, Victor de la Serna of El Mundo and Nick Lander, restaurant critic for the Financial Times and author of the recently published The Art of the Restaurateur. (My comments in italics)
Lucy Bridgers reports on an elegant dinner matching different vintages of Domaine de l’Arlot burgundy with a seasonal spring menu
Donald Edwards finds a clue in the traditional Georgian food that was served at a dinner at the Notting Hill restaurant Colchis recently.
Our new contributor, former sommelier Donald Edwards, reports back from a sake and food tasting at Novikov and reveals why the art of sake appreciation has a lot to teach wine-lovers.
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.
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.
The answer most people would give to the question ‘should you use wine to make cocktails?’ is ‘Why ever not?” Yet there is a general feeling, of which I must confess I’m occasionally guilty, that it’s a waste of a wine that may be perfectly well balanced in itself.
Our roving gastronome Lucy Bridgers puts Portuguese wine through its paces with a succession of small plates from the inventive Nuno Mendes.
Just as you think you might have got to grips with matching wine with Chinese food along comes a regional cuisine like Szechuan which is twice as challenging, as I discovered at a wine dinner at Flinty Red in Bristol last night.
How can champagne be used to create a summer tasting menu? Seafood is an obvious candidate but as food and wine writer Lucy Bridgers found at a recent Billecart-Salmon event at the Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar in London you need to choose your flavours carefully.
Lucy Bridgers reports: The quintessentially English Quo Vadis in London was the setting for a recent lunch hosted by Australia’s First Families of Wine, a group of 12 long-established family-owned companies
The news that London’s latest impossibly glitzy Russian-owned wine shop Hedonism aims to offer a ‘personal, concierge-like approach‘ according to an interview its CEO Tatiana Fokina gave the wine magazine Decanter, doesn’t come as a total surprise. The C-word has been creeping into the wine world for a while.
There was a fascinating report in The Drinks Business this week of a speech by Dr Peter Klosse of the Academy of Gastronomy at the Fine & Rare Specialist Course in Vienna in which he argued that white wine is easier to match with food than red.
Those of us who have been writing about beer and food for a while have seen many false dawns in the UK - breweries positioning their beers as perfect for different kinds of food, competitions to find the best beer for British staples such as fish and chips, Indian restaurants offering beer pairing menus . . . there was no lack of ingenuity but it didn’t quite take off. But with the number of events and initiatives taking place this summer it really looks as if beer and food pairing has reached a tipping point.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about formal wine tastings, more particularly that they’re far from being an ideal way to show off wine. But what’s the alternative?
I have no evidence for it but I’m sure that the vast majority of wine that people buy is bought to drink with food. Yet most of the wine that’s tasted or presented to journalists and bloggers is shown on its own.
Lucy Bridgers discovers some stunning matches with madeira and gets some inspiration for Christmas entertaining.
The recent lunch hosted by Alfred Tesseron of Château Pontet-Canet at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester revealed the extraordinary versatility of red Bordeaux and how it can be served right through a meal.
Author (and self-proclaimed shopkeeper) Sally Butcher of Persepolis asks whether Grenache rosé reminds you of patchouli and Malbec of Beethoven. And are we missing out if we’re not fellow synaesthetes?
Having moaned for years how unhelpful it was for retailers and wine producers to put an incredibly vague ‘good with pasta’ or ‘good with chicken’ on their back labels I’m not sure the pendulum hasn’t swung too far in the other direction.
Are Languedoc wines grand enough to stand up to truffles? Our new contributor Donald Edwards reports:
It’s rare to go to a wine event and be blown away by the matches at every course but my recent lunch at Murano devised by Angela Hartnett and her sommelier Marc-Andréa Lévy was as close to perfection as it gets.
Ollie Couillaud’s inaugural wine dinner at The Lawn Bistro in Wimbledon, west London yesterday was a masterclass in how to get it right.
Does the temperature at which you serve a dish affect the wine pairing? Matt Walls investigates:
I went to a really interesting seminar last week on matching champagne with food. It was based on the chemical compounds flavourist Danny Hodrien of F & F projects had identified in Mumm champagnes using gas chromatography, solid phase micro-extraction and mass spectrometry (No, I don’t know what they are either). Based on those findings Iain Graham, the executive chef at the Caprice had devised a range of canapes that incorporated the flavours rather than seeking to complement them
A report on the fascinating food and wine matching workshop that was held at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon last month which showed that you can find a pinot pairing for almost any kind of lamb dish.
I don’t think I ever go to a sherry tasting without coming away renewed in my conviction about what a marvellous match it is for food and the one I attended yesterday was no exception. It was organised by the enterprising Les Caves de Pyrne who are importing for the first time into the UK some rare sherries from Emilio Hidalgo and took place at Dehesa, the sister (if that’s the appropriate word) restaurant of the better known Salt Yard.
Last night we had a fun five course wine and food matching dinner at Rockfish Grill in Bristol which showed the range of wines you can match with fish. Here’s a few thoughts about how we approached it for those of you who are organising a similar event.
It’s become fashionable these days to vilify butter and cream but if you want your wine to shine bring them into play. There’s almost nothing better than a rich creamy sauce to show off a fine white burgundy and whisking a little butter into a red wine sauce will set your Bordeaux off a treat.
Apart from it being the basis for all known life, I have long harboured an interest in the nuances of H2O, visiting Buxton and Vittel’s bottling plants and Bath’s Roman Spa. I was thirsty, therefore, to see what the ‘Best Sommelier in the World’, Andreas Larsson had to say on the subject at his presentation at the recent Identita conference at London’s liquid theme park Vinopolis.
A muggy evening in mid-July might seem an odd occasion to focus on wine and game matching but there were two reasons for last night’s Louis Jadot game dinner and the Westminster Kingsway catering college. One is that they hoped to engage the attention of consumer magazines who work 4-6 months ahead in terms of feature planning and the second is that the Game-to-Eat campaign is trying to encourage us all to think of eating game year round.
About the most daunting audience that anyone could face is a group of wine writers, especially if a number of those happen to specialise in food and wine matching so it was with some trepidation that I agreed to lead a tasting on wine and charcuterie in London on Monday night on the eve of the London International Wine Fair.
Five inspiring ideas from my recent trip to Toronto for home or professional cooks.
In a recession you need to think outside the box to attract and keep customers. One way is to add a bit of theatre by serving a dish at the table or at a central point of the restaurant where everyone can see it. Here are three recent examples from France and Argentina:
Another fascinating meal in the Masters of Food and Wine programme was my first encounter with high end Brazilian food. It was an impressive one. The chef was Alex Atala from D.O.M. restaurant in Sao Paolo which has been listed by Restaurant Magazine among the top 50 restaurants in the world. Sao Paolo is generally considered to be the culinary capital of Brazil and judging by this light, colourful, creative meal has a lot to offer.
Olive, the UK-based food magazine, has identified cocktail and food pairing as a coming trend in 2009. It's possible but I'm a little sceptical nowadays when it comes to initiatives involving spirits and food. There have been so many false dawns over the last few years (remember cocktail dessert menus?) and I would have thought the current economic climate was the least propitious period to get the idea off the ground. But I could be wrong.
It has been both the handicap and the saving grace of the English-speaking countries not to have a recognised centuries-long gastronomic tradition behind them. Settlers and colonists brought their own food customs with them to what became the British dominions.
If any sommelier looks set for Gordon Ramsay-style super-stardom it has to be Enrico Bernado.
Author and food blogger Signe Johansen reports on a visit to spice blender Rolf Gast.
Last night I went back to The Greenhouse for the first time since its revamp, for dinner with its owner Marlon Abela and his head wine buyer Jean-Marc Heurlière.
Former sommelier and wine consultant David Furer writes about a tasting at leading London chocolatier William Curley
Wine writer Stuart Walton casts a sceptical eye over accepted wisdom:
In preparing for a visit to Cognac I read an eponymous-titled book by International Herald Tribune editor Kyle Jarrard. Towards the end of the book Jarrard mentioned a restaurant in the region which pairs this finest of brandies with its own creations. “Ambitious,” I thought and immediately decided a meal at La Ribaudière was in order.
It might surprise you to learn that Napa’s famous French Laundry has an English pastry chef, Claire Clark who previously worked at Claridges and The Wolseley in London. I know Claire from way back when we did a number of food and wine pairing exercises together and thought it would be fun to get her and head sommelier Gregory Castells to come up with some pairings for her incredibly exciting and creative desserts.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about ingredients that cause problems for wine and have come to the conclusion that lemon is one of the major culprits. Of course we add lemon to many things for a subtle lift - I’m talking about recipes where lemoniness (if there is such a word) is the essence of the dish.
The launch of Dom Prignon 1999 in London the other day was the occasion of one of winemaker Richard Geoffroys’ legendary food and wine matching experiences.
Advice on food and wine matching tends to focus on such issues as flavour intensity and finding a wine to complement or contrast with the dish in question (not an approach, I admit, of which I’m overly fond) but a meal I had the other day reminded me of a couple of other factors that it’s worth bearing in mind.
We Londoners are spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend breaks. A lot of people are drawn west to the Cotswolds or south to Sussex, Hampshire and the New Forest. For me, though, East Anglia takes some beating.
One of the more endearing aspects of the current British food scene is the number of festivals devoted to a single food. I’d heard of oyster festivals, crab festivals and cheese festivals but I’d never come across a scallop festival before.
So many institutions are being converted into hotels these days that one should feel no great surprise at staying at a former eye hospital. But I must confess to feeling a shade queasy at spending a night in the operating room* at the Magdalen Chapter in Exeter - particularly when I spotted the drain in the floor down which many unspeakable fluids must have been sluiced . . .
Travel writer Philip Sweeney hobnobs with the locals, checks out the best places to eat and discovers why fishing for bouillabaisse isn't as easy as it once was . . .
As you walk through the door of Al Pompiere in Verona you could easily be back in the '70s. A timbered ceiling, checked table cloths, walls lined with pictures of guests through the ages, it’s every inch the traditional trat. In one corner where hams line the shelves and hang from the ceiling an elderly chef in a toque is slicing ham and other salumi to order with a large, impressively flashy machine. If you think it’s old-fashioned though take a look at their website - the retro feel is deliberate but they’re linked to all the social media.
You might think an establishment run by the world’s best sommelier would be intimidating. After all if anyone knows what wine to choose and the right way to serve it it would be Gerard Basset, who scooped the title back in April (right). But happily Basset is a modest man who puts the comfort of his customers above any desire to flaunt his credentials.
What happened to days 2 and 3 you may be asking and indeed that’s what I’m asking myself. We swept through Eastern Washington as fast as a tornado, barely pausing to sleep, never mind write.
For the next 10 days I’m going to be visiting the vineyards of Oregon and Washington State so the site will turn into more of a blog. Our first day yesterday included lunch at Chateau Ste Michelle, by far Washington’s largest wine producer.
The first thing everyone asked me when I got back from Korea was what does the food taste like? Unless you live in London, or New Malden in Surrey, which, rather randomly, boasts the UK’s biggest concentration of Korean restaurants, then you probably won’t be familiar with Korean food.
In the second of his features on his recent trip to China, food writer and restaurant guide inspector Stuart Walton examines the burgeoning restaurant scene in Beijing and Shanghai
Given that San Francisco is within two hours drive time from over 1200 wineries it is not surprising that one can savor great meals with delicious wines in any number of world class restaurants. But maybe fewer of you are aware of the opportunity to experience a food and wine matching experience without even leaving the City limits.
Hawke’s Bay is a sunny, coastal province, situated in the east of New Zealand’s North Island. The region is gaining repute as a wine and food locale that marries delicious regional cuisine with a diversity of exceptional wines. Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s second largest producer of wine, after the South Island’s Marlborough region, known around the world for its herbaceous, tropical Sauvignon Blancs.
I’m embarrassed to admit that until last week I’d never been to Beaujolais - it was the one French wine region that had passed me by. I’d heard it was attractive and even on a bleak early March day it was - the famous villages are clustered improbably closely together in the middle of pretty, rolling countryside, spiked by soaring church towers.
I came across this article the other day which I wrote 4 years ago after a visit to Chablis. We attended two great dinners organised by Daniel Defaix and Herv Tucki of La Chablisienne which were an object lesson in how to pair Chablis with food. I thought it deserved a re-run.
A few weeks ago I was invited to try out the menu at the Hotel du Vieux Moulin, Domaine Laroche’s wine bar and restaurant in a converted water mill in Chablis. What they didn’t mention was that they’d just opened a cutting edge boutique hotel.
New Zealand cookery writer Lauraine Jacobs reports on the Pinot Noir '07 conference in Wellington, including a gourmet sausage tasting
A new online wine store whose USP is only selling 100 wines at any one time - apparently we get confused by more than that.
London's most luxurious wine shop by far Hedonism looks as if it's the kind of place you'd need to take out a mortgage to buy a case. Fortunately appearances deceive . . .
Even casual restaurants tend to have such good winelists these days that you might wonder whether there’s much of a market for wine bars. But from the heaving crowd at the newly opened branch of Vinoteca in Beak Street this week it looks like they’re on to a winner.
I’ve been a huge fan of Brindisa, the Spanish food importer who was probably more responsible than anyone for putting chorizo on our culinary map. They have a great shop in Borough Market and a number of convivial tapas bars so it seemed good news when they announced they were opening Tramontana, a restaurant based on 'speciality dishes from the Spanish Mediterranean'.
Despite the fact that I ate amazing food during my recent weekend in Porto it was the tiny fish restaurant of Toupeirinho in the nearby resort of Matosinhos that stole my heart.
The Walnut Tree at Llandewi Skirrid has been on my radar for as long as I've been interested in eating out. First under Franco Taruschio and now Shaun Hill, it’s been a place I’ve returned to every couple of years, always wondering why I don’t go more often.
Sometimes it’s good to go to a place without much in the way of expectations. The Newman Street Tavern sounded on the face of it like just another restaurant climbing on the fashionable Fitzrovia bandwagon . . .
When I first went to Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek around 10 years ago I was blown away. Since then its chef Margot Janse has become one of the world’s most high profile chefs and the food more experimental. Would the experience be as memorable?
It’s a complete indictment of my lazy southerner mentality that I’ve never made it up to Simon Rogan’s restaurant L’Enclume despite glowing reviews that would have had me charging half way across France for a similar experience.
I've never managed to get to one of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage Canteens so was intrigued to find one was opening on our doorstep on Bristol's Whiteladies Road
If you’re going to go to a restaurant in a tourist city like Florence it certainly helps to go with a couple of Italians. Especially if one of them is a well-known chef* and - better still - has been recommended by one of his mates at one of the poshest local hotels.
With Sergio Herman of Oud Sluis announcing he intends to close his restaurant at the end of 2013, Jonnie Boer’s De Librije could be left as the only 3 Michelin-starred restaurant in Holland. So what makes it so special?
From the outside, the re-opened Quality Chop House in Farringdon may look like yet another retro restaurant revival but the big draw is the wine list put together by its well-connected young proprietors.
It’s unusual these days to come across a menu that’s totally unfamiliar. You can almost predict it. Pork belly? Check. Steak? Check. Sticky toffee pudding? Check. But the recently opened Lima, which specialises in modern Peruvian food, is so startlingly original that it feels like taking a two hour trip to Peru.
An establishment bearing the name Taillevent sounds scarily expensive - the main restaurant is - but don’t let that it you off eating in its very innovative and well-priced brasserie which opened in Paris just under a year ago.
Dabbous is the hardest restaurant to get into in London, in fact probably one of the hardest in the world. They are fully booked for dinner A YEAR AHEAD. Well, until the end of July 2013 which is equally insane. But I managed to get in at no notice yesterday. How?
Maybe Chinese restaurants are like buses. You don’t get any new openings for a while then several come along at once. So after Bo London the other day, it’s HKK, the latest project from the Hakkasan group.
You’d think the combination of a great site in Hoxton, an installation by Damien Hirst and a steak- and chicken-based menu devised by one of London’s best known and most successful chefs, Mark Hix, would be something you’d hurtle across London for but somehow his new restaurant The Tramshed just doesn't come off.
Talk to anyone about the food scene in Bordeaux - and they’ll say in reverential tones - ‘Aaah, but have you been to La Tupina’. I have, twice now, and while I can understand why it stands out in a city that curiously doesn’t have the quality of restaurants to match its wine I’ve never been quite as blown away as my fellow customers seem to be.
You can’t help feeling that it’s Tom Kitchin’s misfortune to be in Edinburgh. Not because his isn’t proud of his Scottish roots - he obviously is - but because if he were in France I’m sure he’d have two stars rather than one.
There was a time when Kings Cross was the last place you’d have gone to for a meal. Still now, despite the gleaming new station makeover, it’s hardly a destination to seek out if you only have a few days in the capital. But if you’ve done Shoreditch and find Soho just too tiresomely hip and crowded head up to Caravan.
If you’re the kind of sad, unreconstructed Francophile (like me) who thinks French food has gone to the dogs head not for Eurostar but the newly opened Brasserie Zédel in London’s West End. Housed in the late and not-much-lamented Atlantic Bar and Grill near Piccadilly Circus, it occupies a huge subterranean space which has been decked out at eye-watering expense in full fin de siècle style.
What is it about the B-word at the moment? Every restaurateur and his dog seems to want to call themselves a brasserie, usually indicating the room is big and has red banquettes. But Brasserie Chavot would be better just called Chavot.
The best known fact about Alvin Leung the Hong Kong-based chef who has just opened Bo London is that he serves a dish featuring an edible used condom called Sex on the Beach.*
There’s no doubt about it Balthazar is drop-dead gorgeous. You only have to see the golden lights winking through the windows to be drawn through the door like a moth to a candle. But how does the food stack up?
Marylebone has been regarded as a foodie mecca for a while but the action's been mainly at the northern end. Now posh wine bar 28-50 has conveniently established an outpost at the entry to Marylebone Lane, not far from Bond Street tube - a new haven for weary shoppers or workers in need of a restorative glass of wine.
Anyone who doubts that London is one of the world’s most exciting cities to eat in should take a trip round Soho, once noted for its sleazy bars and strip joints. Now it’s become the epicentre of Britain’s food revolution - not with the smartest restaurants in town, admittedly, but some of the hippest.
If you want to understand what British cooking is about - not the magpie character of of modern British but the genteel English country house tradition - head for Soho where Jeremy Lee has taken up residence behind the stoves at Quo Vadis.
Hélène Darroze is a controversial figure. You either love her modern take on south-western French food or you find her inexplicably over-rated. Having eaten in her eponymous restaurant in Paris a few years ago I found myself firmly in the latter camp but tried to put these prejudice firmly to the back of my mind when I visited her new(ish) London restaurant at the Connaught.
“You’ll like The Butchers Arms” said our friends Stephen and Judy. “They cook your sort of food. We’ll take you there one weekend.
It's Apple Day on Sunday (21st) so why not try this homely, comforting, very English-tasting casserole from my book Meat & Two Veg? Do try and find some proper ‘dirty celery’ with some soil still clinging to the stalks, if you can. It has so much more flavour
A fabulously summery recipe from the very appealing Great British Farmhouse Cookbook. I can't think of a better recipe to serve this sunny weekend.
If you’re in the mood for baking here’s a fabulous pudding cake from the brilliant young Scandinavian food writer, Signe Johansen’s Scandilicious Baking. I can’t pretend to be entirely objective in that assessment. Sig has contributed to this site and collaborated on one of my books but her own are really something else. Try this recipe then buy them!
One of the most popular dishes at Opera Tavern from the excellent new Salt Yard cookbook which, interestingly, is self-published. And includes drink recommendations. Hurray!
A lovely Venetian pasta recipe from Jacob Kennedy’s fantastic Bocca di Lupo cookbook which was shortlsted for Best Cookery Book in last year's Guild of Food Writer Awards.
A fabulous dinner-party dessert from Sybil Kapoor's lovely new book National Trust - Simply Baking. "Soft-baked meringues make a gorgeous pudding in the early autumn, especially when topped with cider-poached fruit and apple brandy cream."
A smashing recipe from Chris and Jeff Galvin's Galvin: a Cookbook de Luxe which you could make to impress on Father's Day. It's one of those books that teaches you to cook like a Michelin-starred chef - so also a great present for any Dad who fancies himself in the kitchen.
One of the simplest Chinese recipes but a perfect one for the Chinese new year according to cookery writer Fuchsia Dunlop, author of the brllliant Every Grain of Rice
Given the growing popularity of sherry cocktails and the fact that it's World Sherry Day this weekend here's a recipe for a sherry cobbler from Hawksmoor at Home (my son's restaurant, I have to confess).
Any of you who have been to J Sheekey's in the West End will probably have succumbed to their unbelievably good fish pie. Here's the recipe from their cookbook J Sheekey Fish.
This is one of my favourite recipes ever - made famous by the late, great George Perry-Smith and faithfully reproduced by one of his most talented protegés Stephen Markwick who retired last year.
At this time of year no-one wants to spend too much time in the kitchen but it's well worth the few minutes it takes to rustle up these incredibly easy and delicious home-made biscuits from food writer Xanthe Clay's lovely new book The Contented Cook - perfect, she says, with ice cream or with raspberries and cream
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.
A great recipe for a simple tapa from José Pizarro's lovely new book Spanish Flavours. José, as you may know if you're based in the UK, has a cracking tapas bar in Bermondsey called José and, appropriately enough, a slightly more formal restaurant in the same street called Pizarro.
An unusually complicated recipe for this site but one which should be absolutely worth the effort. It comes from Phil Howard's fantastic The Square: The Cookbook volume 1 which I suspect is already well-thumbed in many restaurant kitchens.
With July 4th coming up chances are you’re going to be thinking barbecue this weekend, not least if you’re going to the Grillstock festival in Bristol. Here’s an authentic Texan style BBQ recipe from “Slow Fire, The Beginners Guide To Barbecue” by Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ, who will be judging the barbecue cooking competition.
It's the Great British Beer Festival this week and to celebrate here is one of the most delicious - and surprising recipes - from my book An Appetite for Ale. I love serving them because no-one has the faintest idea they have beer in them. It's great for disarming prejudices!
To round off National Vegetarian Week here's a recipe from one of the most inspiring vegetarian cookery books I've come across: Sally Butcher's charming, idiosyncratic Veggiestan.. Sally runs an Iranian food store called Persepolis in south-east London so the recipes - which are terrific - all have an middle-eastern slant. It's also a cracking read!
A totally delicious strawberry pavlova recipe from James Campbell aka The Dessert Doctor which was served at a wine tasting at the Waitrose cookery school recently where James teaches patisserie classes. It's quite complicated but would be a fantastic dessert to serve on an occasion you really wanted to blow your guests away.
A recipe from a charming and inventive cookbook this week - blogger Rejina Sabur-Cross's Gastrogeek. I've picked it because I love dips - who doesn't? - but also because of the amazing-looking crackers.
A delicious relish to serve with the Thanksgiving leftovers or to bookmark for Christmas from Diana Henry's Salt, Sugar, Smoke, a lovely new book on preserving. It keeps for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
At a time when everyone seems to be looking for meals they can make from 3 ingredients in under 15 minutes Christina Tosi's Volcanoes recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar will strike you as insanely long. It involves 3 separate recipes before you even begin to embark on the Volcanoes themselves. So why am I suggesting you should attempt it?
Another run-out for Mark Hix's wonderfully decadent recipe for a lobster-stuffed baked potato from his new book Hix on Baking. Such a great idea . . .
You may recognise this shot as one of the rolling images on our home page which were taken by photographer Jason Ingram and food stylist Genevieve Taylor. The dish was so delicious I had to pass on the recipe which comes from Louise Walker's Aga Roast.
An authentic Diwali treat from food writer Sejal Sukhadwala. This recipe is Gujarati, she says, but regional variations include Maharashtrian ‘karanji’ and Punjabi ‘gujiya’.
If you're looking for new ideas for a Sunday roast try TV chef Gennaro Contaldo's fantastic porchetta (stuffed rolled pork belly) from his smashing new book Gennaro: Let's Cook Italian which is all about the dishes he makes at home for his family and friends.
A simple and delicious Christmas dessert from my mate Sarah Randell, food director of Sainsbury's Magazine, which combines two of my favourite things, jelly and cocktails.
The perfect Easter recipe comes from a lovely new book called A Good Egg by Bristol-based cookery writer Genevieve Taylor who describes herself as an 'urban henkeeper'.
To celebrate Chocolate Week here's one of my favourite recipes for a chocolate and cherry roulade which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale. Unusually it contains two different types of beer! You can obviously leave them out though a cherry beer is the perfect pairing with it.
The perfect recipe for Mother's Day this Sunday from Sybil Kapoor's lovely Simply Baking book for the National Trust. In fact you might giver her a copy of that as well . . .
As you'll see in the entertaining section today I've come up with the idea of throwing a hot dog party and here's a recipe for a basic chilli to go with it. You could of course use a more authentic recipe (without beans) but authenticity isn't the point of hot dogs. They're basically fun food.
A robust Spanish fish stew from Stevie Parle's fabulous new Dock Kitchen Cookbook. Stevie is one of the best -travelled and most original chefs in London with a well-honed magpie tendency of picking up ingredients and techniques from every country he visits. He also writes a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph.
This unusual recipe from Dutch cookery writer Yvette van Boven's lovely Home Made Summer immediately struck me as a delicious dish to serve at a weekend lunch. It's well worth getting the book for the other recipes too - including an imaginative range of drinks.
A lovely serving suggestion from Trine Hahnemann's inviting new book Scandinavian Christmas. The preserved plums couldn't be simpler.
As I'm in South Africa at the moment I thought I'd pass on a recipe from a book I discovered called Cape Winelands Cuisine compiled by Hetta van Deventer-Terblanche. Basically it's a savoury bread pudding rather than a tart but none the worse for that.
I don't normally run commercial recipes but this comes from an enterprising new cookbook from a brewery I really like called Thornbridge with recipes from chef Richard Smith.
A clever recipe from Tom Kitchin's Kitchin Suppers making the best of the short homegrown asparagus season. I love the twist of adding shredded chicken wings and ricotta as a topping which both poshes it up and makes it more substantial.
When I met Christine Manfield the other day I gave her the impossible task of picking one recipe out of her stunning new book Tasting India. This was the one she chose. It comes from the southern state of Karnataka, the former state of Mysore and is typical of the surprising straightforwardness of the recipes in the book.
If you're not one for hearts and flowers but still feel like cooking up a special meal for Valentine's night this recipe from my son Will and Huw Gott's restaurant Hawksmoor* would fit the bill perfectly. After all it does contain oysters which as you know are an aphrodisiac . . .
You might not have wanted to pay the £20-odd a bird it costs to source grouse on the first day of the season but prices will come down over the next couple of weeks and it's a great treat for a small dinner party. If you haven't cooked grouse before try this reassuringly simple recipe from chef Stephen Markwick with whom I collaborated on his book A Well-Run Kitchen
A stunning recipe from Bruce Poole's cookbook Bruce's Cookbook that shows barbeques don't have to be all about burgers and ribs.
Why has no-one had the genius idea of putting beef bourguignon into a pie before? Here's the recipe courtesy of the brilliant Ginger Pig Meat Book which I've reviewed here.
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.
This recipe came from a fascinating dinner at which chef Greg Malouf cooked a selection of Iranian dishes from his book Saraban which he wrote with his former wife Lucy with whom he still collaborates. This unusual and simple fish dish in yoghurt particularly appealed to me and I thought it would to you too.
A fresh, zesty citrus-based punch that’s packed with vitamin C. It obviously tastes best if you squeeze the fruit yourself but bought freshly squeezed juice is fine if you’re short of time.
It might seem bizarre turning to an American cookbook for a classic French recipe but this version from the Balthazar Cookbook is hard to beat.
This recipe which I edited slightly from the version in the Oktoberfest Insider Guide by Sabine Kafer, comes from my beer and food book An Appetite for Ale. The secret is the lavish last minute slathering with butter.
In our final extract from Cape Wine Braai Masters we feature a recipe intended for Gemsbok from Michael Bucholz, winemaker for the Obikwa range but as antelope are a bit thin on the ground in the UK I've adapted it for beef fillet.
Another recipe for your World Cup celebrations from the Van Loveren family. It comes from the new Wines of South Africa cookbook Cape Wine Braai Masters but you could equally well cook it with a conventional oven and grill.
Continuing with our series of South African Braai recipes to celebrate the World Cup, here’s winemaker Paul Cluver’s version of beer-can chicken made with apple juice rather than beer.
With the sun shining and the World Cup just a week away what could be better than a South African-style braai. Let alone one that involves a pie . . .
An unusual and fresh-tasting frittata that would make a perfect brunch dish from Ryn and Cordie's In Search of the Perfect Partner (The Food and Wine Matching Formula) reviewed here.
If you haven't yet decided how to cook your Thanksgiving turkey try this fabulous Italian stuffing from ex-pat American food and wine writer Brian St Pierre.
Burgers don't have to be beefy as these delicious salmon burgers from my book An Appetite for Ale prove, inspired by browsing the aisles of the Wholefoods market in Denver during the Great American Beer Festival a couple of years ago!
An unusual combination, you may think, but the acidity of the rhubarb cuts through the richness of the pork and makes this a beautiful dish.
With the country blanketed by snow what else can you think of but soup? A favourite recipe from my book An Appetite for Ale that makes a great pairing with a dark, Trappist beer. You can decide how creamy you want it - my preference is to add just a dash to the soup then swirl a little in each bowl to decorate.
Syllabub - a velvety-smooth concoction of sweet wine and cream - is one of the great English desserts, dating from the 16th century. At this time of year I like to make it with orange rather than lemon, topped with an irresistibly crunchy mixture of orange zest and sugar.
We tend to get stuck in a bit of a groove when it comes to serving cheese, picking five or six and serving them on a big cheeseboard but if you’re serious about trying to find a good wine match that isn’t the best strategy.
Before home-grown strawberries disappear totally from the shops, a re-run of what I reckon is the ultimate strawberry tart recipe from Orlando Murrin's irresistible book, A Table in the Tarn and which he used to serve at his French guest house Le Manoir de Raynaudes.
If you don’t like Guinness don’t be put off making this recipe for St Patrick's Day from my book Sausage & Mash. It makes the most fantastic dark, rich, sticky onion gravy that doesn’t taste remotely of beer.
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.
If you’re looking for something a little different to serve for dessert tonight (which in case you’ve forgotten, guys, is Valentine’s Day) how about a dessert martini?
A simple and impressive recipe to serve for pancake day. Although apricots are obviously at their best in the summer you should be able to find imported ones from countries such as South Africa and Chile.
If you’re making a dish as simple as fondue you need to use top quality cheese. Emmental and Gruyere are traditional but once you’ve got the hang of it you can play around with other alternatives.
I have to admit I was never very grabbed by the idea of egg nog until I tried it out for myself and discovered just how delicious it is - like velvety, vanilla-and-rum-scented air.
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.
You're probably all organised for the great day but just in case, here are a couple of clever ideas for festive cocktails using storecupboard ingredients from mixologist Myles Davies.
The key element to this typically Bavarian recipe, which comes from my book An Appetite for Ale, is the addition of hot stock which gives it a consistency half way between a conventional potato salad and mashed potato. It also has the most delicious sweet-sour flavour.
One of the recipes in my book An Appetite for Ale for which I have the greatest affection is Beer-Can Chicken. Actually, I say recipe, but it’s more like a technique. The basic idea is to prop a whole bird on a beer can and barbecue it. Sound impossible? In fact it’s ridiculously easy.
An amazingly delicious Thai-ish sauce that I discovered a few years ago when I was researching food pairings for Pinot Gris. It comes from Peter Gordon of London’s Providores and Kopapa who recommends it with “fish, chicken, roast sweet potatoes, cassava chips, pumpkin and lots more besides”, according to his book Cook: at home with Peter Gordon.
It's always a struggle to think of something quick and delicious to make for a mid-week supper. This easy Italian-inspired recipe from my book Cooking With Wine solves the problem.
I first had this wonderful vegetable stew - a northern Spanish equivalent of a spring vegetable minestrone - in a restaurant in Pamplona and dreamed about it for several years before managing to recreate it. This version comes from winemaker Maria Martinez of Bodegas Montecillo in Rioja who I was interviewing for a feature in Decanter. We bought the ingredients together from the market in Logrono.
If you’re organising a Red Nose Day tasting tonight here’s a zany idea for a pudding that I devised for a Sainsbury’s magazine feature a couple of years ago when I interviewed TV presenter Phillip Schofield for Comic Relief.
A smart new Brazilian restaurant and cocktail bar, Mocoto, has opened in Knightsbridge, so I thought I’d go down and check out their Caipirinhas, which is to Brazil what the Margarita is to Mexico. And one of my very favourite cocktails.
A really robust pasta dish from my book Cooking with Wine - perfect for cold weather eating. The wine gives a richer, more warming flavour than the usual tomato-based sauce.
An elegant main course recipe* from one of my favourite food writers Sue Lawrence's A Cook’s Tour of Scotland that would be a great option for a haggis-free Burns' Night supper.
French onion soup is one of the classic French bistro dishes, famously served to late night Parisian partygoers. But if you don't feel up to it at 2am or whenever you roll in, it makes a restorative lunch for a chilly weekend after a brisk walk in the snow.
William Coetzee is the winemaker at Flagstone winery in South Africa and is reputed to be as fanatical about his braiis (barbeques) as he is about his wine.
Pop-ups and supper clubs have been around for a good while now but an increasing number are offering a wine or beer tasting experience alongside their menu.
Looking at the recipes online for Thanksgiving turkeys, stuffings and sides they’re very much sweeter (and more imaginative) than the typical UK Christmas turkey. They’re often brined, glazed or spiced (or all three), sometimes deep-fried and often accompanied by cornbread-based stuffings and sweet-tasting vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash.
Those of you who are lucky enough to live in Oz have the enticing prospect of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival coming up next month - a two week extravaganza of feasts, workshops and tastings with some of the country's top foodies and wine experts.
To most westerners the idea of drinking young red Bordeaux with Chinese food seems bizarre. Especially with delicate Cantonese dishes, the most widely available of the Chinese cuisines in the west . Clearly though the Chinese who are paying stratospheric prices for first and second growths - and presumably drinking them - think differently. They don’t turn to riesling and other aromatic and off-dry whites for a reason.
The other day I went to an Asda wine tasting. It was held not as you might imagine in a well-lit modern tasting room but in the chandeliered splendour of Dartmouth House in Mayfair. Some of their wines were displayed in wooden Pomerol cases.
An edited version of a very interesting article written for the Oxford Wine Company's magazine by cheese expert Juliet Harbutt, organiser of the Great British Cheese Festival and author of The World Encyclopaedia of Cheese.
US-based wine writer and educator David Furer reports on an epic tasting in the homeland of American barbeque, Austin, Texas pairing a selection of international and home-grown reds with different meats.
If you’re the kind of person (like me) who puts garlic into practically everything you cook you may regard this question as an irrelevance but some dishes are much more garlicky than others.
A lot of people still think that wine isn’t a good match with spicy food but our final session of What Food, What Wine? judging this week suggested that there’s no reason for winelovers to throw in the towel. The success (or otherwise) of the pairings did however depend on the heat of the curries and how ‘wet’ or dry they were.
Yesterday was the Bunch tasting, one of the highlights of the UK press tasting circuit. The Bunch is a group of six well-known wine merchants: Adnams, Berry Bros & Rudd, Corney & Barrow, Lea & Sandeman, Tanners and Yapp Brothers. I’ve been seeing the same faces there for well over a decade. (None of them looks a day older, of course. Nor do I . . . ;-)
You don’t often get the chance to have a philosophical discussion about what makes a wine great with a winemaker that actually makes one. Let alone one who thinks more like a philosopher than a marketing man.
Having gamely ploughed through 200-odd wines at the Waitrose tasting yesterday here are seven that are currently on offer I’d be happy to put in my trolley this weekend. Prices apply until May 21st:
So sophisticated is the South African food and drink scene now that you can expect to find suggested wine pairings at practically every restaurant you go to but some wine farms have made even more of a feature of their skill at combining the two - a fun way of learning the art of matching food and wine.
I’ve just spent the past two days at What Food What Wine? tasting wine alongside dishes as disparate as smoked salmon and apple crumble, Stilton and steak and lasagne and lamb - a bit of an assault on the palate (and stomach!) but one of the best ways to work out what wine really works with your favourite recipes
A friend of mine’s brother in law apparently wants to take up brewing so I thought I’d ask Twitter for advice. As usual, people were fantastically helpful and gave so many good recommendations I thought I’d post the advice here together with a few links I unearthed myself:
Two months to Christmas and the supermarkets are already into the swing of their 25%-off offers if you buy six bottles. I know a lot of people in the wine trade feel these sell themselves and it’s a disservice to independent wine merchants to flag them up.
Tesco is the latest retailer to jump on the 25% off six bottles bandwagon though their promotion only lasts until Monday 4th. Note some of the wines are only available online (in cases of six) and that the offer doesn’t apply to the Fine Wine range or in Scotland.
The 25%-off deals if you buy six bottles are coming through thick and fast now. Here’s a selection from Waitrose’s offer which started today and finishes on 6th November (next Tuesday). See full details below
Is rosé champagne a good match with dim sum? Our roving correspondent Lucy Bridgers retains admirable control of her critical faculties while being plied with successive vintages of Bollinger's Grande Année . . .
Among the many invitations I get to food and drink matching events a recent one to attend a dinner at the Bombay Brasserie in London where each course was paired with whisky sounded the most intriguing. But pairing a high strength spirit with spicy food was surely a recipe for disaster?
I’ve been thinking for a while about adding some video content to the site and have now found the perfect way to do it: six second videos on Vine, the video world’s equivalent of Twitter.
As you may have already picked up, Tesco has 25% off most of its wine range until Tuesday (excluding fine wines) if you buy six bottles. Now I have major issues with some of Tesco’s offers as some of their initial prices are ridiculously over-inflated but the following are genuine bargains at the discounted price.
I’m always in two minds about whether to write about the beginning of the grouse season. After all only a tiny number of people will be sufficiently interested - or well-heeled - to bag the first birds that arrive on restaurant tables. (Most, I suspect, were marking the glorious 12th sitting in front of the telly, watching the Olympics closing ceremony)
Such reams of print - and space online - has been devoted to celebrating the Jubilee that it seems superfluous to add to the deluge (except for my very easy recipe for rose petal cupcakes). So I just thought I’d draw your attention to what’s out there online (you’ll find my suggestions for what to drink at a street party in last week’s Guardian and my pick of the Jubilee beers in today’s)
Whether the family have drunk you dry over Christmas or you’ve decided to throw a last minute party for New Year’s Eve you may need to replenish your wine stocks this weekend. Here are some wines that should hit the spot for different types of events - though feel free to swap them around. The categories are not set in stone.
If you’re one of those who likes to take it to the wire when it comes to Easter food shopping - or are simply nipping out for some last-minute supplies here are 10 wines which are selling at a great price this weekend.
The reaction of many people to the news that the new BBC Food & Drink show was to be co-hosted by Kate Goodman would have been Kate who? I confess it was mine.
You might be aware that I’ve been involved in a project called Cheese School for a while together with cheesemakers Todd and Jess Trethowan, producers of Gorwydd Caerphilly.
There’s been a huge focus on calories in the last couple of weeks - whether wine should be labelled with calories and whether we’re counting them the right way. For once I’m inclined to agree with the Department of Health which says it sees little benefit in revising the system according to yesterday’s report in the Guardian. "The difficulties of implementing a change to the current system of calculating energy content would far outweigh the minor gains in accuracy from such a change and would offer little practical assistance to consumers" a statement says.
If you’re the sort who likes to nick food off your partner’s plate - and even off friends' on the other side of the table (mea culpa) - you’ll love the idea of Graze, this year’s new feature at the London Restaurant Festival this autumn which features six of London’s most foodie streets including Exmouth Market, Bermondsey Street, Brixton Village and Marylebone High Street.
For a town that’s still more noted for gaming than food, Las Vegas can certainly pull in the big names. Yesterday Gordon Ramsay opened his first restaurant in the city at Paris, Las Vegas while Nobu unveiled plans for his first hotel at Caesar’s Palace.
Yesterday was a bit of a marathon on the wine-tasting circuit with a huge tasting at Waitrose and a slightly more manageable one at the Co-op but the Waitrose tasting produced this gem which I’d urge you to snap up before the current offer expires on May 29th.
Scandinavian food is becoming increasingly popular but what type of wine should you drink with it? Lucy Bridgers reports on how German wine fares.
One of the most welcome aspects of the craft beer movement is a new wave of beer events that involve learning about and trying different beers rather just than knocking them back in quantity (well, that too but it’s not the main focus . . . ). And they involve food - proper food (hallelujah!)
It’s been an article of faith as long as I’ve been writing about wine that you need to age the best wines in your cellar. We sniff at consumers who buy and crack open a first growth as unsophisticated but maybe they’re the ones who know best?
If you're looking for a sparkling wine or champagne for a party here's my pick of what's available under £15 in ascending order of price. I've deliberately picked that figure rather than £10 as I haven't found a champagne I really rate under the £10 mark.
One of my favourite food bloggers Helen Graves of Food Stories selflessly subjected herself to an evening of chocolate and cocktail pairing at Choc Tales, a highlight of London's recent Chocolate Week which saw some of the country’s best chocolatiers paired with premier booze hounds. Here’s her report:
Who better to turn to than the Aussies for advice on pairing wines with a wide range of spicy Asian food? Here's another preview of the food and wine matching sessions at the Melbourne Food Festival - Solving the Eternal Chilli Dilemma. Answers from Neil Prentice of Moondarra Wines and chef Benjamin Cooper of Chin Chin.
Inspired by the recent spate of minimal ingredient cookbooks such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Three Good Things I thought it might be helpful to come up with 20 wine matches that are easy to remember and which pretty well everyone will enjoy.
I’ve never totally bought into the idea but a recent wine and chocolate tasting put on by Australian Wine at Australia House in London went halfway to convincing me.
Did I want to go on a truffle trip to Spain at the end of January? Balmy Barbados seemed like a better option but since that wasn’t on the cards and the enquiry came from an old friend I said yes. The 2 day visit - the annual Viñas del Vero ‘Days of Wine and Truffles’ in Somontano would include an outdoor picnic in the foothills of the Pyrenees (eek), a truffle hunt and - the clincher - a multi-course truffle menu by one of the region’s most talented chefs followed by a gastronomic brunch. “Bring the Gaviscon”. my friend sagely advised.
Although there’s still plenty of the rich, lush style of Shiraz we’ve come to associate with Australia there’s more than one style as I discovered on my recent trip. If you like more restrained, even funky syrahs, Australian producers can deliver. Unsurprisingly many of them are organic or biodynamic and made with a minimum of sulphur. Most are from cooler vineyards. Take your pick . . .
To celebrate Australia Day here's a feature I wrote a year ago on Australian chardonnay - not as out of date as you might think as many of the vintages will only just have worked through.
It’s the time of year to look back and review the best food and wine matches of 2011. Some were comfortingly familiar, some a total surprise to me. What they had in common was that the combination was more than the sum of the parts. The drink - in most cases wine - made the food taste more delicious, the food just made the wine sing. I hope you enjoy something similar in 2012.
There were some big surprises when the results in the What Food, What Wine competition were announced this week - always a bonus of tasting blind.
For the past couple of days I’ve been involved in a groundbreaking tasting called What Food What Wine designed to find the wines that best match 10 of the most popular dishes in the UK. It’s a brilliant idea - wine is meant to be drunk with food after all - but you wouldn't believe how tricky it is to pull off.
I have to admit I accepted Leonid Shutov’s invitation to taste vodka with some trepidation having heard tales of the hangovers that some of my colleagues had suffered as a result of their visits to his Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard. My worst fears were confirmed when he insisted that our vodka shots should be downed in one but as it turned out his assertion that ‘that was the way it was done in Russia’ was not a line.
One of the aspects of the World’s Best Sommelier competition I hadn’t really thought about is how on earth you create a menu for a roomful of sommeliers. And choose wine pairings they won’t be sniffy about. One way is to impress them with large format bottles and old vintages which is the route competition sponsor Moët et Chandon took . . .
Cheese and champagne might not sound like natural bedfellows but if you think about the pairing for a moment you immediately realise they have quite a thing going. Many canapés - like gougères and cheese straws - are made with cheese for example and go wonderfully well with champagne but what about individual cheeses?
Blogger Denise Medrano of The Wine Sleuth braces herself for a lunch featuring classic French dishes and Australian wine. Was she convinced? Read on . . .
One of the highlights of my recent New York trip was an extraordinary caviar tasting at Petrossian where I had a chance to taste for the first time the new farm-reared caviars that are coming out of the US and other countries such as Israel and China.
It might seem odd to go to New York City to taste cheese but it’s home some of the most exciting stores and tasting programmes in the cheese world. One of the key figures is Max McCalman of Artisanal Cheese, author of several excellent cheese books including the recently published Mastering Cheese: lessons for connoisseurship from a Maitre Fromager.
If you’re a fellow cheese fan I hope you’ll forgive me blowing my own trumpet and pointing you to my latest book Fiona Beckett’s Cheese Course. Actually I don’t feel too bad about it because at least half its appeal is its quite gorgeous photography (by Richard Jung) and I can’t claim credit for that!
I’ll be doing a major round-up on my trip to Provence next week buthere are a few more thoughts on matching rosé and food, an update of mylast overview
I’ve written before about pairing wine with Chinese food - and so have some of my contributors but here’s a slightly different way of going about it that may help you decide which bottle to choose and make your pairings more successful. It involves deciding which flavours are predominant in a dish or selection of dishes.
The sound of the temple bell reverberates in the distance. It’s midnight in Japan, and the Shinto shrine is full of people celebrating the new year. Some are drinking amazake – a cloudy unfiltered (and non-alcoholic) type of sake drunk warm; others proffer cups to be filled with cold clear sake, served from gold kettles by ceremonially-clad priests. And the gods get their share – offerings of large straw-covered sake barrels called komokaburi are placed in front of the shrine. Only sake is good enough to keep the gods happy – in the hope they'll bestow health and happiness in the coming year.
Twelve months is a long time in a recession. This time last year we were all writing about 30 bottle water lists and 50 bottles of water. In 2009 all the talk is about tap. The unease we may have felt at flying bottles half way round the globe and lack of political correctness in drinking designer water while many have none has been superceded by the the more prosaic necessity to cut down our personal spending.
With snow on the ground and temperatures well below freezing it’s a timely reminder that matching drinks is not just about flavour but temperature and alcohol levels too.
Ever tried chocolate with smoked salmon? Or with butternut squash soup for that matter? Unlikely matches, I'll grant you, but 'chocolate' - in its confectionery guise - is actually a misnomer. It's most likely cacao you'll be cooking with in future, if the founders of the fashionable chocolate brand 'Venezuelan Black' have their way.
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.
Food and wine writer Marc Millon recounts a memorable celebration of the new vintage last week with his Piemontese winemaker friends
Can Tokaji – the great dessert wine of Hungary, and one of the sweetest wines in the world – go with Chinese food, asks Margaret Rand? And if it can, would you want it to?
It was surreal. The small room was filled with around thirty people – some with their faces painted white – walking around in disposable white boiler suits. We looked like workmen from outer space. Moreover, we’d been given miniature test-tubes of different flavoured liquids to add to our champagne to make instant, DIY cocktails – which made our glasses sparkle with exotic jewel colours of electric blue, turquoise and fuchsia. Though normally adventurous in matters related to food and drink, I chose to keep my champagne natural. After all, I was going to put my tastebuds through enough for one evening.
Despite the growing concern about alcohol levels in wine many reds still clock in at 14.5% or more, a level at which they can become an unbalanced pairing for traditional European food. Many traditionalist would say that they are therefore not ‘food wines’ but as with other types of wine it depends how well they’re made and whether overall the wine is in balance. Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe for example rarely hits the shelves at under 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.
Unusually Father’s Day, which comes up this weekend, is celebrated on the same day in Britain, the US and France. I must say I think the hype for these ‘special days’ has got a bit out of hand but if mothers are pampered, hey, why not fathers too?
Given that it's St David's Day here's a piece I wrote a few years ago on Welsh salt-marsh lamb - and why spring lamb isn't all it's cracked up to be.
A couple of years ago I went to a chutney-making demonstration and tasting. No, not at the WI - it was held by the family owned company Tracklements at leading London cheesemonger La Fromagerie which has recently expanded its empire into the neighbouring shop and now has a fancy new tasting room.
I was recently asked the following question: "What am i looking for when matching beer and food? Do I want a beer with a similar taste or should I be looking for a contrast?"
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.
Few people now throw up their hands in horror at the idea of matching red wine with fish. But how many realise just how often you can pair the two?
While I can usually find a great match for an individual cheese or for a careful selection it’s always a struggle to find a wine - particularly a red - that will take on all-comers. But I was reminded this weekend just how good a candidate mature Zinfandel is for this job. We found a bin end of Ridge’s Geyserville 2000 on the wine list of one of our favourite local restaurants at such a good price that we couldn’t resist it.
How on earth to whittle the great food and wine combinations I’ve experienced down to a mere 25? And not to base them all on a few favourite wines and foods?
Of all the different aspects of wine and food matching I write about, wine and Indian food is the most controversial. What type of wine works best, and indeed whether you should drink wine at all is the subject of endlessly heated exchanges. The subject has recently come up again with the introduction of a number of wines that are specifically designed to go with spicy food. Was this, at last, the solution?
Quite an old article from the archives (first published in Decanter in 2007) but the advice still holds good, I reckon. Although I had a fantastic bottle of 2008 Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir with a T-bone rather than a fillet the other day. But that would taste good with anything.
Today my son Will and I did an artisan cheese and craft beer tasting at the Great British Beer Festival to promote our new book An Appetite for Ale (due out at the end of September. Hint.) It seemed to go down well so I thought it might be something you’d enjoy trying at home with your friends.
Whatever you’re eating and drinking tonight you’d be hard pushed to better the feast of food and wine that one of our new subscribers Michael Barnstijn is hosting. Each vintage has been carefully selected to commemorate the birthday of one of his friends. I found the menu so seductive I twisted Michael’s arm to share it with you. The menu is devised by one of Toronto’s best known chefs Jamie Kennedy, a former sommelier and it shows in the clever choice of dishes to go with these great wines.
If you're planning a 4th of July barbecue and haven't yet decided what to drink you might wonder what wine matches barbecued food? Here's an article I wrote for Decanter 5 years ago which still holds good today, I think.
Last week, the Union des Grands Vins Liquoureux de Bordeaux, the body that represents Bordeaux sweet wine producers, hosted a tasting of wines from six of the appellations they represent to partner savoury and sweet dishes at a lunch at le Cercle restaurant in Chelsea.
I have a perfect new hangout in Arles - a salon du thé called Le Calendal which overlooks the amphitheatre (where we saw the legendary Lou Reed live in concert last night. ) It has three major attractions: it has free wi-fi (pronounced, endearingly, wee-fee by the French), air-conditioning and a great drinks list which includes teas from Mariage Frères and a range of ‘sirops’ which are like adult squashes.
Given that it's National Vegetarian Week I thought I'd re-run an article from Decanter on wine and vegetarian food I wrote a few years ago but still contains some useful pointers from top wine producers and sommeliers. Some of the people quoted may now be in different jobs.
A post from the archives, but an excellent one: food and wine writer Marc Millon, author of Flavours of Korea suggests what to pair with your favourite Korean dishes.
“Isn’t it time you wrote a piece on cooking with wine again?” mused my editor over lunch. “How about cooking with a bottle of first growth Bordeaux?” I gulped. “Er, I don’t think most of our readers would do that.” “Well, we should try it out for them.” he said firmly.
Look up any book or guide to food and wine matching and you’ll find a list of foods that are regarded as anathema to wine. I’ve done it myself but have come to the conclusion recently that the problems are often overstated. It may be true that most wines fall out with such ingredients as artichokes or hot curries but they may be the kind of wines you wouldn’t be inclined to drink with those dishes anyway.
An hour and a half on matching fine wine and chocolate and every pairing a winner? Impossible I would have said. But in the experienced hands of Roberto Bava, not only a winemaker but the President of the Italian chocolate society, the Compagnia del Ciccolatto, the tasting ran as smoothly as clockwork.
The last two days have been quite, quite beautiful, starting mistily, basking midday in an unseasonally warm sun and finishing with an extended dusk that announces that spring is finally here. I immediately want to eat lighter meals: the new season’s vegetables are not quite in yet but I can at least plan for summer and that means a spring clean of the cellar, pushing the full bodied reds to the back and assessing what whites, lighter reds and rosés I still have lurking in the racks.
The closest result so far from one of our polls was the recent question on what to drink with a roast rib of beef. Clearly imagining a classic English Sunday roast 33% of you opted for red Bordeaux with just under a quarter of you (24%) preferring a Rioja.
A newbie's guide to sake from wine writer Natasha Hughes.
The widely held belief that wine doesn’t pair with curry has largely been dispelled with the new and more subtly spiced curries on the market. But what of really hot curries like a Vindaloo?
One of the most enjoyable food and wine matches I’ve experienced was also the most serendipitous. The family were away, I was working on a book and staggered down half way through the evening to find the fridge virtually bare except for a half bottle of Krug, a half-empty packet of the kids’ fish fingers and some frozen spinach. Ten minutes later, the spinach well anointed with butter, the fish fingers grilled and the Krug poured I had the perfect supper.
Lunching with an MP friend the other day at The Adjournment (one of the House of Commons in house restaurants) I was amused to spot a recommended wine pairing with the daily special: a spiced potato cake with sun-dried tomatoes and soured cream with a 2001 Carmenre from Vinedos Sutil in Chile’s Colchagua Valley, a big, gutsy red which rather overwhelmed the delicate spiced potato cake which tasted a bit like a vegetarian samosa filling.
Talk to chefs and sommeliers about the wines they like to match with food and only rarely will Cabernet Sauvignon crop up. Many are, in fact, quite openly critical of today’s blockbuster styles. Even Robert Parker, when I interviewed him a few years ago, expressed a preference for simple unoaked wines from the Rhone for much of his everyday drinking. Presumably though purchasers of the new world’s top cabernets are not just buying them to lie around their cellars. Somebody out there is enjoying them - but with what?
Following Lauraine Jacobs' report earlier this week from the Pinot Noir 07 conference in Wellington here are some more timely thoughts on pairing pinot with Asian food from another attendee Ch'ng Poh Tiong.
To mark National Curry Week here's an article I wrote for Decanter a while back about Indian food and wine matching at the Cinnamon Club which still contains some useful advice about wine and spice pairing:
When you have a menu in front of you how do you decide which wine to order? Sure, you can ask the sommelier or waiter but in some restaurants the service is not as helpful or knowledgeable as it might be. But there are plenty of clues in the descriptions of the dishes themselves that point to the key ingredients and the way in which they are handled. Here are a few examples:
Frankly if you can afford white truffles (currently selling at about 2500 euros per kilo) you probably already have a substantial cellar to pick from but just so you don’t in any way detract from the pleasure of eating your investment let me tell you what the Piedmontese do.
I've just spotted Marks & Spencer has another 25% off promotion across its wine range which runs until March 3rd. Here are the wines I recommended back in November which would still be a good deal if they're available.
It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with these 25% off deals but here's my pick of Sainsbury’s which started a couple of days ago and carry on until December 2nd.
Drive through the gently rolling hills of the Gers in the south west of France and you won’t go half a kilometre without spotting a sign advertising foie gras. It’s the engine of the local economy here - supplying not only France’s insatiable appetite for this most sensuous of luxury foods but the rest of the world’s too.
Last night was my first experience of Rijsttafel - the Indonesian speciality that’s widely available in Amsterdam. Translated literally as ‘rice table’, it’s an elaborate array of curries, salads and pickles which present a tough challenge for any wine.
While summer isn’t a time one feels drawn to hearty stews (except possibly an English summer) Moroccan tagines are a different matter. Exotic and aromatic, they somehow suit the heat and not being particularly spicy are relatively simple to match with wine.
Roast beef has the virtue of being one of the most uncomplicated dishes to match with wine. You can really drink any medium- to full-bodied red you enjoy. There are a couple of points to bear in mind, however, which might affect the style of bottle you choose.
It’s hard to avoid the obvious on St Paddy’s Day. Guinness (or Black Velvet) Bailey’s, Irish whiskey (most likely Jameson) or green cocktails are the usual suspects on any drinks menu. But if none of these appeal here are the sort of wines that will work with classic Irish fare.
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.
You might think it odd to pick out South African Chenin rather than Chenin Blanc in general but I do think the wines are distinctive, particularly when it comes to the crisper styles which are much zestier than they tend to be in the Loire
The classic tarte au citron is tricky with wine, particularly if it’s home made. And the sharper and more lemony (and delicious) it is, the harder it is to find a good match.
As you might imagine it doesn’t make any difference what shape of pasta you’re dealing with, what counts with wine is the flavour of the sauce. There are too many to mention, but here are the main types you’re likely to come across.
I always like to respond promptly if someone draws attention to a wine match that’s not available on the site so thanks, Nigel B of Hong Kong for pointing out there was nothing on Brunello di Montalcino.
When we talk about lasagne it’s probably the meaty version that’s uppermost in most people’s minds but these days there are many different kinds. Here are my favourite wine pairings:
Coronation chicken has been given a new lease of life by the Diamond Jubilee celebrations but what wine - or beer - should you pair with it?
There aren’t many wine pairings that form the subject of a book title but Elizabeth David’s Omelette and a Glass of Wine immortalised the combination. Unlike other egg dishes wine actually does go pretty well with omelettes but should it be red or white?
The answer to that may well be ‘whatever wine’s left over’ - if there is any, of course - but if you’re looking for a wine that will match specific dishes here are a few ideas:
People occasionally ask me my favourite cheese - an impossible question but Vacherin Mont d’Or is certainly up there in the top 5.
Since goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are such a great match it might seem redundant to think of anything else but despite its reputation for being . . . well . . . goaty, goats cheese is easy to pair with other wines.
It does of course depend on how you make your spaghetti alle vongole - the classic Italian dish of spaghetti with white wine and clams - but in my book, the answer is simple: a young, unoaked, Italian white wine.
Asking which wine to pair with salad is a bit like asking about what wine to match with meat or fish. There are so many different types, there’s no single answer. It depends on the vegetables you use, what other ingredients it contains or accompanies and, most importantly, what type of dressing it has.
Fishcakes are one of the ultimate comfort foods - I remember TV chef Antony Worrall-Thompson saying he could never take them off the menu. In general they pair well with dry white wines, however it depends a little on what fish you use and whether you’re serving a buttery sauce alongside
Although not the problem they're generally made out to be tomatoes are one of the vegetables that do have an influence on a wine pairing. Being quite acidic, especially when dressed with a vinaigrette, you want a wine that has a good level of acid too - and not too much, if any, oak.
Just as with every other ingredient the ideal pairing for mussels depends how you cook them.
Caerphilly - or, to be more precise - Gorwydd Caerphilly which is made by my mates Jess and Todd Trethowan of Trethowan's Dairy - is probably the cheese I know best. And there’s one absolutely outstanding match for it . . .
Like many popular dishes chili con carne (aka chilli con carne) has many different versions - some mild and child-friendly, others much more spicy and assertive and often a little smokey. Beer in many way seems the best option but a big hearty red will see you right too:
Apple tarts are one of the most flattering desserts to match with sweet wines but what do you drink with other apple-based desserts?
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?
Sherry gets a bad rap for being granny’s tipple of choice but if you’ve never tried an authentic Spanish style sweet sherry you haven’t lived.
To mark the first ever World Sherry Day I’m running a new series of posts on the best food matches for different styles of sherry, starting with fino and manzanilla.
Amontillado sherry has richer, nuttier flavours than a classic fino or manzanilla sherry and calls for different food matches. Think more in terms of cured meat, game and cheese than seafood and richer, meatier tapas.
Pinot noir is one of the most versatile red wines to match with food and a great option in a restaurant when one of you is eating meat and the other fish.
The Spanish are more adventurous than us when it comes to matching sherry and food. I remember drinking a dry oloroso with roast partridge a few years back in Jerez. But what else could you pair with it?
One of the world’s most underrated grapes yet capable of making some of its most delicious dry whites, Sémillon isn’t on the radar for many. So if you get hold of a bottle what should you pair with it?
Real perry - as opposed to the often confected and artificially flavoured pear cider - has a different taste from cider. It’s more delicate, more fragrant, a better match for fish. You can treat drier styles like a dry white wine, sweeter ones almost like a dessert wine. And sparkling perries like champagne. But cheaper. Good news all round!
Unusually for this mini-series on British cheeses, I’ve had a recent chance to taste through a range of wines and beers with Cheshire - Appleby’s Cheshire to be exact - so the hits and misses are fresh in my mind. As you probably know it’s a British territorial cheese with a crumbly texture and mellow flavour but quite a firm bite.
As with most cheeses the ideal pairing for cheddar depends how mature it is. A mild to medium block cheddar is going to be a lot easier to match (and in most cheeselovers’ eyes a lot less interesting) than a tangy cloth-bound cheddar of 18 months or more.
If your Easter roast is a ham or gammon you need a more substantial wine with it than when you serve ham as a cold cut. Which one depends on the glaze.
We Brits don’t have a long tradition of washed-rind cheeses but we have a true champion in the aptly named Stinking Bishop, which shot to worldwide fame when it was featured in the film Wallace and Gromit and the Were-Rabbit. But can any wine (or other drink) stand up to it? Read on . . .
One of the all-time favourite British desserts sticky toffee pudding is super-sweet so will overwhelm most wines you might think of pairing with it so what should you choose?
Beer blogger Steve Lamond has been matching beer and cheese for the past seven years and has compiled an invaluable guide on his blog Beers I’ve Known. Hare are his 5 all-time favourites which include some cracking combinations.
There’s one wine that’s invariably recommended as a pairing for duck and that is Pinot Noir but of course duck, like any other meat, can be cooked in different ways. How does that affect the match?
No Christmas would be complete without a slice of Stilton or its unpasteurised cousin Stitchelton. But what to drink with it? The usual answer is port - and that of course is classic - but here are some other drinks that make great pairings
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 . . .
Roast chicken. Possibly everyone’s favourite Sunday roast. Certainly the childrens’ though they’re not going to be wondering which wine to pair with it.( I hope! I can recommend apple juice for non-drinkers.)
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
Given there are so many arguments about how to make a bolognese sauce it’s hardly surprising there should be a difference of opinion about what to drink with spaghetti bolognese but here’s what I would go for
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?
Although chocolate mousse is usually made from dark chocolate it's quite a light dessert as chocolate puddings go because of its airy texture - lighter than petits pots au chocolat, for example.
Aubergine - or eggplant as it’s called in the US - doesn’t have a strong flavour of its own but tends to enrich any dish in which it’s included especially when baked with tomatoes and cheese. The best wine pairing I think is a hearty dry red with some acidity unless you’re serving it cold as in a baba ganoush or spicy aubergine salad.
With Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday here are some great pairings for pumpkin pie which I’ve updated from my previous article here.
Spaghetti carbonara - spaghetti with a creamy bacon and egg sauce - is one of my all-time favourite pasta dishes but what’s the best wine pairing for it?
You’ll always find people argue about shepherd’s pie but in my view it should be made with lamb rather than beef (that’s cottage pie) and with very little, if any tomato - apart from maybe a dash of ketchup for sweetness.
One of the world's most popular cheeses Brie can be mild and slightly chalky or decadently gooey and quite strong in flavour. Try one of these top wine and other matches:
Pork belly has become one of the most popular main courses on restaurant menus so what should you drink with it?
Even those who normally drink beer feel the need to put a bottle of red wine on the table at Christmas* but beer is actually just as good, if not a better accompaniment for turkey.
Assuming it’s made conventionally with a white sauce and mashed potato topping fish pie is a relatively straightforward dish to match. Almost any smooth dry white wine will do.
I’d been aware that cheese was a good match for whisky but it was good to have the opportunity to try several different styles and cheeses at a tasting this week
Following my trip to Islay last year I drew up some pairings for its extraordinary peaty whiskies. I’m not a great one for whisky dinners but I like the idea of serving tapa-sized dishes with a dram.
If you’re used to choosing wine - or other drinks - to match with meat or fish you may be flummoxed when it comes to chosing one for vegetarian friends. But as I explain in my Guardian column today it’s a question of finding out how the wine is made - and in particular whether any animal-based products have been used in the fining process.
To mark our first beer competition I thought I'd post my top matches with what I think is probably my favourite style of beer (though I'm always changing my mind depending on what I'm eating!) For more features on beer and food pairing check out the beer and cider section in Food with Drink (see menu on left).
Having just got back from Alsace I thought I’d update my recommendations on the best matches for Alsace dry and off-dry white wines. What struck me particularly on this visit is how key sweetness is to the success of a match - something that will often be more marked in a younger wine than an older vintage.
After my recent visit to the Jura I’ve rethought my ideas about which wines make the best wine pairings for Comté cheese.
Thanks to the Argentinians, everyone associates Malbec with steak and that’s a great pairing but with Malbec World Day coming up this Wednesday maybe it’s time to stretch your wings and give some other dishes a try. Here are a few ideas:
This week is National Pie Week in the UK - not that we Brits need much encouragement to eat pies. It’s also been seized on by an enterprising PR agency as an opportunity to explore wine and pie pairing but to be honest I’m not convinced that beer isn’t the better drink - with the majority of British pies at least.
The sharp-eyed among you will notice that my recommendations have changed since I posted this article earlier today. I've revised my opinion since retasting Cornish Blue which I found in my local deli - Arch House Deli.
Today is the third International Grenache Day, a celebration of a grape which is (often anonymously) responsible for some of the most generous and appealing reds in the wine world.
Should it be wine or beer - or even a cocktail? Last year I asked the Twitter community what their favourite barbecue bevvy was and this is what they came up with . . .
With the World Cup in full swing you might be thinking about cracking open a bottle of South Africa’s own red, Pinotage. But what to eat with it? Here are a few ideas based on my trip earlier this year.
This month I asked my fellow Tweeters to tackle the subject of wine with asparagus - supposed to be a tricky combination, but as @cuvee_corner put it “Maybe it's just me, but I don't see the difficulty.” (It isn't just you. There are plenty of options!)
I lobbed a question about unusual Champagne pairings into the Twittersphere yesterday and got the most amazing response. It prompted the idea of having a monthly Twitter matching session - Twitmatching - the results of which I’ll post on this site.
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.
I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot about Koshu this year. No, it’s not some unfamiliar aspect of Japanese cuisine but a white wine made from a grape of the same name. A campaign to promote it in the UK was launched at a lunch in London yesterday by a VIP line-up of Japanese goverment officials from the Yamanashi prefecture where most of the winemakers are based.
No visit to Tuscany is complete without a glass of Vin Santo or ‘holy wine’, a (usually) sweet wine that is served at the end of the meal, almost always with hard little ‘cantucci’ biscuits.
As it’s both Bonfire Night and British Sausage Week this week there’s a fair chance that you’ll be eating bangers of some kind, so what’s the best pairing? As always it depends on the sausage but I personally find that beer and cider are often just as good partners as wine.
If culture and ‘terroir’ are a basis for deciding which drinks bestmatch a particular cuisine then beer must have a strong claim to bepaired with Scandinavian food.
Like other dishes the perfect wine match for risotto depends on the flavourings for the risotto rather than the rice itself - the lighter the dish, the ligher and fresher the wine.
One of the welcome reminders of this long hot summer (in the Languedoc at least) is just how well dry wines go with fresh fruit. I’ve been happily drinking whites, ross and even reds with fruit such as peaches, apricots, melons and figs. Sweet wines, of course, go well with all of these but sometimes sweet wines seem too intense, particularly if, like me, you don’t have a very sweet tooth.
Natasha Hughes re-orders her hit list of wine matches for pinot following her visit to the International Pinot Noir Celebration.
Cider seems to be on the verge of going through the same quality revolution as beer did a few years ago. In the last 12 months I’ve tasted more interesting ciders than I have in the last 12 years. There are many different styles, obviously but here are the type of foods I think suit cider best and some avenues that I think might be worth pursuing:
If you were going to introduce someone to beer the last course you’d probably think of would be a dessert but as I discovered at a beer and pudding matching session at Brown’s Hotel in London this week it can be a surprisingly successful combination.
The perfect match for lamb is red wine, right? Well, mostly but not always as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes in the Guardian this weekend and my own recent experience have demonstrated
Provence rosé has a particular character. It’s much crisper and drier than most rosés on the market, more like a white wine than a rosé - though within this style there are variations between the lighter, less expensive wines or ‘vins de soif’ and the more structured ones, which the local refer to as ‘vins de gastronomie’.
I was reminded about my trip to Priorat almost exactly two years ago by my recent visit to the Roussillon which has a similar terroir. And I think the wines would go with similar kinds of food. These were my suggested pairings at the time . . .
Just as with any other grape variety Sauvignon Blanc varies markedly from one part of the world to the other - from the crisp minerally wines of the Loire to the exuberant grassy herbaceous Sauvignons of the Marlborough region of New Zealand.
Given that whisky is generally considered the most appropriate match for haggis I thought it would be interesting to check out what Britain’s top whisky experts have to recommend for Burns Night:
What type of food is the best match for sake and why? Shirley Booth, founder of the British Sake Association comes up with a few surprises and some useful pointers on serving temperatures.
You may well know what you’re going to drink with the turkey by now but here are some ideas for what to match with your Christmas starters, paired with recipes from some of Britain’s favourite chefs and cookery writers.
Vegetarians often get overlooked at this time of year so if you’re vegetarian yourself or cooking for one here are some perfect pairings for some delicious festive recipes from the web.
I have a bit of a problem with pumpkin pie. I'm not a big fan of pumpkin and I don't have a massively sweet tooth which makes the thought of partnering it with a sweet wine a bit of a killer. But I know I'm in a minority and with Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday here are my top picks:
Signe Johansen selflessly reports back from two tea and chocolate matching events during London's recent National Chocolate Week.
I always think it’s misleading to describe pork as a ‘white meat’. Strictly that's accurate, I suppose, but ‘whiteness’ somehow seems to suggest lack of flavour. Although that’s still true of much mass-produced pork there’s far more rare breed pork around these days which has a great deal of character.