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."
Apple tarts are one of the most flattering desserts to match with sweet wines but what do you drink with other apple-based desserts?
Even if you don’t go out wassailing over the next few days there’s no reason why you can’t throw an impromptu wassail party at home if you have an apple tree in your garden. Or even if you don’t . . .
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.
Last week we had one of our periodic Cheese Schools - an event where we explore the best artisanal British cheeses and pair different drinks with them. A regular feature is a beer vs wine ‘smackdown’ but I sneaked in this amazing Blenheim Superb dessert cider* from Once Upon a Tree with the pud.
I had a reminder last week of just how good Chardonnay can be with meat given the right accompaniments.
I know Thanksgiving has past but I came across such a good pairing for pecan pie at a friend's* house the other day I had to tell you about it. Her pie by the way was quite distinctive with a thin layer of soft caramel in the centre (and, obviously, crisp pecans on the top).
Apple tart is a pretty forgiving kind of dessert but here's a brilliant new pairing I found at Casanis restaurant in Bath last week.
Yesterday finally felt as if spring had come. After weeks of unsettled and unseasonably cool weather it was warm and balmy, rich with the scent of blossom. We went out with friends to the village of Wrington just outside Bristol to follow an ‘art trail’ of exhibitions by local artists. (Yes, I bought something - a delightful picture of radishes by a talented collage artist called Anne Carpenter)
Let’s face it, I don’t get to drink Chateau d’Yquem every day so what else could last week’s match of the week be than this stellar pairing I had at Dinner at Heston Blumenthal?
It must be the unseasonally hot weather but I've been drinking a lot of soft drinks lately. There seems to be much more choice on the market, especially more sophisticated drinks that are full of flavour but not too sweet. And which go well with food.
I was overwhelmed with good wine pairings last week but given that quite a few were similar to ones I’ve written about before I’m making this my star match.
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.
Thos of you of a certain age may remember that great ‘70s favourite ham and pineapple which conisisted of a large limp gammon steak, curling at the edges and a couple of fried pineapple rings. From a tin. There was one thing that was good about the dish though and that is that ham and pineapple are great together, something we’ve rather forgotten in these more sophisticated times.
If you’re on the wagon this month, mealtimes can suddenly seem a bit drab and colourless. But if you’re missing the taste of your favourite wine try substituting a fruit juice that has similar flavours.
We automatically think of matching wine and cheese or beer and cheese but there are many drinks that work just as well and can give a real ‘wow factor’ to your cheeseboard.
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.
I’ve thought for a while that Scandinavian food is on the way up so am not surprised to find another new cookbook on the subject from Trina Hahnemann who Telegraph cookery writer Xanthe Clay dubs ‘Denmark’s answer to Nigella’ in the paper today.
Mark Hix, a great forager himself, concentrates on recipes you can make from the hedgerow this week in The Independent (now is a good time to go to his new restaurant, I suggest . . . ) so I’m thinking a little outside the box as to what to pair with them. Country wines, made with hedgerow fruits, seem the perfect answer. I don’t know why we don’t see more of them.
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
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.
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 . . .
I’ve been researching a big feature on perry over the last few days sothat's what this week's pairing had to be. And by that I don’t meanwhat is popularly called pear cider but a cider-like drink that is madewith real perry pears.
Well, I don’t know about easy but there must be some easier way to get people into German wine . . .
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.
Judging by the number of champagne offers you see around this time of year the supermarkets clearly think we’re going to on the bubbly this Easter but I’ve got a more offbeat suggestion: a cracking beer from my favourite local brewer, The Wild Beer Co.
My problem this week is that I have a terrific wine pairing but I can't tell you about it because it's the result of a tasting I was running for Decanter magazine. So you'll have to hang on till December for that. Sorry.
After last week's Muscat pairing my match of the week oddly involves Muscat again, this time a sweet Muscat Petits Grains from South Africa with the romantic name of Heaven-on-Earth. The grapes are apparently dried on a bed of straw and rooibos tea, a flavour I couldn't really pick up in the wine but it was very attractive nonetheless with an lovely quince and apricot flavour.
Traditionally it’s been difficult to find a pairing for noodle dishes, especially soup noodles which have the triple drawback of being hot, sour and wet. But the other night at Alan Yau’s new restaurant Cha Cha Moon (of which more to follow when I do my round-up of new London openings) I had a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail which really hit the spot.
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.
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.
We rarely think of tawny port as a flexible partner for food. We serve it with stilton, obviously and with hard cheeses like cheddar, with nuts and dried fruits and over Christmas with fruit cake and mince pies but that’s usually as far as it goes.
The most interesting meal I had last week was undoubtedly at Viajante, an innovative new restaurant in what used to be Bethnal Green town hall. You can see my full review on decanter.com but I just wanted to write a bit more about the pairings.
Just as last week’s match of the week was a classic - so is this week’s: the main course we had at Oliver Peyton’s National Gallery Café at a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Circle of Wine Writers.
I suppose I shouldn’t say this coming from the West Country but I often forget about cider when I’m thinking about cheese pairings. Not that I don’t enjoy it but there always seem more complex drinks with a wider range of flavours to experiment with.
It was hard to pick just one pairing from the stellar meal I had at Marcus Wareing in London last week but this combination of robustly cooked John Dory and 2005 Nuits-St-Georges from Domaine Daniel Rion was the most interesting, underlining that red wine can be just as good a partner for white fish as for meatier fish like tuna.
The first thing to bear in mind about Thanksgiving - and for that matter Christmas - is that it’s as much about mood as food. Who you’re inviting, what age they are and how big your party is are factors every bit as important as what you’re eating. I say this particularly because the main Thanksgiving meal and the meals around it are hard ones to match: what you need is a wine that is going to cope with a whole battery of delicious flavours.