Match of the week
Octopus is a bit of a cult ingredient on restaurant menus at the moment. I’ve already noted two good wine pairings for it - with Baga and orange wine but this weekend I found another at the Sabor pop-up Polperia at the Dartmouth Food Festival.
As last week was Sherry Week and I’m a MASSIVE fan my match of the week clearly had to involve sherry. But which to choose? It was hard given the number of standout pairings at the sherry dinner my local tapas bar, Bar 44 in Clifton put on but I’m going for the sherry by which I was most blown away - a limited edition of Gonzalez Byass Alfonso oloroso, one of six rare casks that are being bottled by the bodega under the name ‘Vinos Finitos’ (finite wines)
Last week’s standout pairings were all about cocktails - first at a dinner at Avenue to celebrate the World’s 50 Best awards taking place in Singapore next year and then a meal at the newly launched Kym’s the latest restaurant from the much-fêted Andrew Wong about which more in due course.
I’ve always thought of gewürztraminer as a bit of an inflexible wine - brilliant with spicy food. rich patés and pongy cheese but not much else. However it went brilliantly with several dishes at my local, Bellita in Bristol the other day including a classic Italian dish of pumpkin gnocchi with sage and brown butter.
Given that wine dinners are all about combining food and wine it’s not that often that the resulting pairings blow you away but I was hard pushed to pick just one out of the four brilliant matches at last week’s Autumn Delights dinner at Adelina Yard in Bristol.
Last week I was in northern Portugal where I think it's fair to say a fair bit of port was consumed. There was one striking finding from a food and wine pairing point of view: that toffee- or caramel-flavoured desserts are a perfect match for tawny port.
I have to thank my colleague drinks writer, wine guru and good time pal Kate Hawkings for this week's pairing. Once she squealed excitedly about it on Twitter I knew I had to drop by her restaurant (Bellita) and give it a try.
This week I’ve been celebrating a big birthday with some extravagant feasting including a sublime dinner on the night at my son’s restaurant Hawksmoor Borough. (Well, you might as well keep it in the family!)
Last week’s ‘Girls can Grill’ event at Jinjuu in Soho provided plenty of inspiration as you may have already seen from the kimchi fried rice recipe I posted but there was also a cracking drinks match of the introductory cocktail with Korean fried chicken.
It was a bumper week for wine pairings with some classic favourites such as pork and Beaujolais (an excellent Fleurie at Cora Pearl) and oysters and muscadel (at the new Hawksmoor in Edinburgh) but I’m going for this riesling pairing as it solves the thorny problem of what to drink with laksa.
There were so many outstanding pairings in the meal I had at the Michelin-starred Casamia in Bristol last week I don’t know quite where to start.
Cider isn’t, I admit, the first drink I’d pair with tapas but when I spotted on the menu of newly opened Bar 44 in Bristol that they had Spanish ‘sidra’ on tap - the first, they claimed, in the country - I had to try it.
Champagne, we all know, goes with practically everything but PIG TAILS? Surely not.
It’s partly because not enough restaurants offer the option but I don’t drink sake often enough in Asian restaurants. (And yes, I know Asian is an imprecise term but that’s how many describe the food they offer)
Last week I hosted a fabulous wine dinner at my local Indian restaurant Nutmeg in Bristol. We’d had the opportunity to have a run through beforehand and I was really happy with all the wines which were chosen in conjunction with their supplier Talking Wines.
It’s hard to pick out one pairing out of the multitude of dishes we were served with amber or orange wine during my first visit to Georgia last week but I’m going for one we barely ever failed to find on the table - grilled aubergine with walnut sauce.
I dithered between two brilliant beer pairings at the British Guild of Beer Writers Beer Meets Food event at the Wild Beer Co, Wapping Wharf last week, both of which involved citrus.
There’s a certain repertoire of ingredients and dishes that are regularly paired with vintage champagnes and other sparkling wines - luxury foods like lobster, turbot, sweetbreads and even roast chicken but until last week’s trip to the Cava region I would never have thought of pairing them with a casserole
I don’t often go to wine lunches or dinners, preferring to experiment with a range of wines from more than one country and producer with the food I’m eating but I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying New Zealand producer Astrolabe’s wine with the food at Sake No Hana in London's St James's.
Last week I was in Piemonte exploring the world of vermouth with Roberto Bava of Cocchi. I discovered many startlingly good pairings about which more about in due course but the one I was most intrigued by was their Alta Langa sparkling wine with pizza, not a combination I would have expected at all.