One of the few food and drink combinations I don’t feel that happy about is wine and soup. Not all soups, obviously, but many of them.
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.
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.
The other day I enjoyed a surprisingly good pairing of a beetroot soup with an English blend of Pinot Noir and Rondo from Kent winery Chapel Down at the London restaurant Roast. I say surprising a) because soup is difficult to pair and b) because the two are so similar in colour that you’d think the wine wouldn’t be a sufficient contrast to the soup. In fact its fruitiness and crisp acidity (the Rondo making it taste more like a mid-weight Italian red) was just the right counterpoint to the earthy rich character of the beetroot.
It's always difficult to decide what to drink with soup - one liquid with another never seems quite right as I've remarked before - but the thicker the soup is the easier it is.
Before we finally plunge into winter here's a late autumn supper menu from my book Food, Wine and Friends that combines the best of autumn’s produce with a couple of convenience products. Ready rolled pastry has made it wonderfully easy to knock up a quick, impressive tart while a simple dessert of grilled fruit dresses up a bought carton of ice cream. The soup can even be made ahead and frozen if you like.
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.
Last week I was on an assignment in Tuscany for a couple of days. It was pretty hot but that didn’t discourage the Tuscans from serving the kind of food they enjoy all the year round - namely substantial bean and chickpea soups.
The idea of matching a soup with a full-bodied south-western French red wine might seem bizarre but it proved a surprisingly good pairing.
We’re down in the Languedoc for a few days and ended up at one of our favourite fish restaurant Le Glacier at Marseillan.
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.
With Hallowe'en just over a week away here's a sophisticated supper for those of you who don't have to go out trick or treating . . .
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.
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.
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.
Tomatoes are generally held to be a problem for wine but as Jane McQuitty robustly puts it in The Times today - nonsense!
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.
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?
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.
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!
Despite the emphasis that winemakers place on the different appellations or terroirs of Chablis three factors seem to me to influence a food match more than any other for most of the Chablis you’ll taste - the age of the wine, the vintage and the degree of oak influence, if any. There are exceptions to this - Chablis styles that are particularly fruity or ones that have more vegetal notes but in general I think you’ll find most wines fall into one of the following five groups.
Laksa is one of those dishes you hesitate to pair with wine being both a soup and really spicy but the pairing I came across at the Pegasus Bay wine dinner at The Providores the other night was spot on.
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.
With the Thai New Year celebrations coming up you may well be planning to eat in a Thai restaurant or host a Thai meal at home. But which drinks are the best to serve?
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).
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 . . .
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.
A general idea has got about that Chardonnay is for chavs but as anyone who has a taste for top white burgundy or other premium new world Chardonnays will know it’s a spectacular food wine.
It's been a while since I've posted about soup - it's notoriously tricky to match with wine - but this weekend I came across a great combination at a new restaurant in Bath, the oddly named Menu Gordon Jones*
Heston Blumenthal’s Jubilee picnic hamper was unveiled yesterday - to be served at Buckingham Palace before an open-air concert on June 4th. The picnic is being funded by Waitrose who must be pleased as punch to have the Palace’s endorsement in this video. The guests will also apparently be given vouchers for a glass of Moët or a bottle of Cobra beer (the other sponsors of the event).
If you’re trying to get ahead for Easter here are some suggestions to match Angela Hartnett’s menu in the Daily Telegraph today.
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.