Match of the week
Mackerel and red gooseberry juice
Pairing food with no and lo-alcohol drinks is still in its infancy, alcohol-free drinks being pretty new on the scene themselves so it was lovely to have the opportunity to run through a series of alcohol-free pairings that were offered as an accompanying flight to the tasting menu at restaurant Hjem near Hexham in Northumberland.
The most successful combination was a dish of charred mackerel with raw cream and tomato jelly which was brilliant with the gooseberry juice I had in front of me. Stands to reason when you think about it - mackerel and gooseberries go well together on the plate - so why not take away that fruity element and serve it in a glass?
(I’d say the only problem is that it’s unlikely to go as well with the subsequent course, in our case an extraordinarily luxuriant dish of peas under a brown butter foam. The same wine (a 2016 Domaine des Ardoisières Argile Blanc from Savoie) could and did handle both though wasn't as spot on with the mackerel as the juice.)
The other really good pairing was a woodruff ice-cream (woodruff is a herb with a hay-like scent as explained here) which was served with a light strawberry juice garnished with violas. Very delicious and pretty.
I hope to get round to writing about Hjem which, since it was glowingly reviewed by the Sunday Times restaurant critic Marina O'Loughlin, is not the easiest place to get into. But worth the detour as Michelin would have it.
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