The Sherry Institute in the UK has come up with a really smart book called ‘The Perfect Marriage: The Art Of Matching Food & Sherry Wines From Jerez’ which totally dispels the idea that the only partners for sherry are nuts and olives. The book is fronted by top chef Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck who has long been a sherry fan and offers 30 sherries by the glass in his restaurant.
It also includes some very sexy (and, in some cases, dauntingly complicated) recipes from a number of celebrity chefs - try the more straightforward ones from Skye Gyngell, Fergus Henderson, Sam and Eddie Hart and Vicky Bhogal if you buy the book - but what caught my eye was Heston's top sherry and food pairings which are predictably, intriguingly off-beat. I can't wait to give them a try:
Manzanilla – Sardines
The manzanilla cuts through the oiliness of the sardines, while the slightly yeasty and green apple notes of the sherry enhance the fresh aroma of the sardines. The slightly salty taste of the manzanilla is also enhanced by the umami taste of the sardines. Try tasting with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples.
Fino – Walnuts
The tannic astringency of walnuts plays well with the dryness of fino sherry. The warm-spicy, sweet and rich tea leaf-like odour of the walnuts balances well with the balsamic and citrus overtones in the aroma of the sherry.
Amontillado – Pecorino
The mild saltiness and umami taste of pecorino balances well with amontillado. Slight straw-like and citrus-like notes provide a nice complement to the aroma of this sherry. Try a drizzle of golden syrup over the cheese.
Oloroso – Foie Gras
The acidity, and sweetness of the oloroso pairs very well with the texture of the foie gras. The slight dryness, toasted bread and roasted nut aromas of the sherry work really well with some fresh almonds and sour cherries.
Palo Cortado – Roasted Hazelnuts
The complex fatty, nutty and roasted notes reinforce the fresh toasted bread and nutty notes in the palo cortado. Try coating the nuts in fine toasted and salted breadcrumbs.
Pale Cream – Mango
The soft, creamy and buttery flesh of the mango and an aroma reminiscent of peaches and coconut pair well with the almond and biscuit notes of the pale cream sherry. A few green peppercorns will make a wonderful contrast.
Medium – Curry Leaves
The fresh and somewhat tangerine aroma of mild curry leaves can really enhance the caramel
notes of this sherry.
Cream – Hock Of Ham
The salted pork flavour of the ham cuts through the richness of the cream sherry. In addition, the aromas of ripe apricot, peach, coconut and a very slight rose-like aroma of the ham are enhanced by the toffee and candied fruit aromas of this sherry.
Moscatel – Raspberries
The very fresh, fruity, green and floral-like aroma of the raspberries pairs well with moscatel.
in particular the slightly violet-like perfume with the seedy, woody background of the raspberries balances the caramel and balsamic notes of the sherry well.
Pedro Ximnez – Bitter Chocolate
The heavy, sweet, floral and spicy aromas of the chocolate are enhanced by the deep raisin, plum and black cherry notes in the PX.
All the chef contributors to The Perfect Marriage generously agreed to donate their royalty fees to The Parkinson’s Appeal. The Perfect Marriage – The Art of Matching Food and Sherry Wines from Jerez – will be on sale at 12.99 from June 2006, and available in all good bookstores.
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