You may well have given a fair amount of thought by now to what you’ll be drinking with your turkey or goose and have set treasured bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy aside for the main Christmas meal. But what about all the other occasions over the festive period which these days tends to stretch a good 10 days into the early New Year?
Lucy Bridgers discovers some stunning matches with madeira and gets some inspiration for Christmas entertaining.
Toasted hay tart might not sound particularly appealing but you’ll have to trust me, it was delicious! It was the spectacular finale to a meal to celebrate 36 years of the iconic Bristol restaurant Bell’s Diner at the Eat, Drink Bristol Fashion festival in Bristol last week. The current chef Chris Wicks who cooked the meal has been in place for the last 12 or so.
A recent email from a reader asked me to suggest a wine to go with “a triple coconut cake with a tangy pineapple icing served with fresh fruit salsa that has kiwi, strawberry, madarine oranges, blueberries and fresh pineapple in it”. Quite a challenge (I suggested demi-sec Champagne or a peach-flavoured liqueur topped up with fizz) but it got me thinking that there are many possible matches for cake beyond a cup of tea or coffee, particularly if you're serving it as a dessert.
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
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.
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?
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.
Chocolate is generally considered a tricky ingredient to match but it's not that hard - unless it's a hot fondant pudding.
It’s a bit of a long story. A customer of my friends Stephen and Judy Markwick who own the Bristol restaurant Culinaria wanted to track down some Louis Roederer Rich and I helped him find it. He wanted me to share a bottle with him as a reward which was totally unnecessary but a gesture it seemed churlish to refuse. (Or that's my excuse anyway!)
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.
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?
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.
The type of artisanal cheddar I was writing about yesterday - mature, full-flavoured, unpasteurised - isn’t the easiest cheese to match with wine.
Last week I was given a couple of slices of gorgeous game terrine by Stephen Markwick of Culinaria with whom I’ve been writing a book (of which more news soon). We had it for lunch and the only wine I had open wasn’t up to the intensity of the spicing (which was dominated by allspice) and the accompanying damson chutney.
This doesn’t, I admit, sound a particularly tempting proposition so let me explain. By oxidised sweet wines I mean dessert wines which have been deliberately exposed to air through extended barrel ageing, giving them a complex nutty, treacley flavour.
Simnel cake, for those of you who are not familiar with it, is the traditional British Easter cake (although at one time it was baked to celebrate Mother’s Day).