Match of the week
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.
Octopus seems an unlikely ingredient to be on trend but you’ll find it on a lot of restaurant menus at the moment. It’s far from an easy creature to cook (like squid it’s classified as a cephalopod rather than a fish) and it’s a measure of the kitchen’s skill as to whether it turns out tough or not.
I’ve got a bit obsessed with Virgin Marys (alcohol-free Bloody Marys) over the last few days.
If you don’t like fish don’t go to Olhao! Restaurants in this bustling fishing port on the Algarve serve almost nothing else which is fine with me but less good for people, like my friend J, who has a real phobia about fishbones.
One of the many appealing things about Birch in Bristol is that they have an extensive list of artisanal ciders. Which is maybe not so surprising given that they are intending to sell the restaurant and concentrate on making cider themselves.
As those of you who follow me on instagram (@food_writer) will know I’ve been in Venice for the past few days - and if I could would still be there!
Last Thursday’s dinner to celebrate Decanter’s 2018 Man of the Year, Eduardo Chadwick of Viña Errazuriz was a treat - a line-up of the winery’s very best wines. It was obviously sound thinking to pair two of his top reds, the Don Maximiliano Founder’s Reserve 2014 and Kai 2005 with fillet of beef but I thought the more intriguing match was the first course of langoustine ravioli with their 2015 Las Pizarras chardonnay.
“Tender little dumplings, as fragile as a pasta filling” is how Diana Henry describes gnudi in her fabulous new book How to Eat a Peach. (The word, which is pronounced new-dee means naked)
Although I’ve visited posh St James’s wine club 67 Pall Mall several times for tastings I hadn't ever had lunch there until last week. I don’t know quite what I expected - perhaps the sort of roast and overcooked veg you’d find in a gentleman’s club but certainly not a rare burger in an airy brioche bun with perfectly cooked onion rings on the side.
Most pairings focus on alcoholic drinks but it’s equally intriguing to see how a similar synergy can be achieved with an alcohol-free one.
Sometimes it’s worth revisiting your prejudices. I’ve never been a huge fan of gewürztraminer with Indian food although it’s an established pairing. It always seems to me slightly jarring, especially with tomato-based curry sauces. But this week I changed my mind.
Red wine is such an established go to with steak that it’s hard to consider anything else as a pairing but it struck me this week after a few days tasting rum with Philippines producer Don Papa (yes, it’s a hard life … ) that dark rum might also be an interesting match.
This isn’t the first time I’ve remarked how well Beaujolais pairs with a terrine but sometimes it’s worth being reminded what really, really works. And both were particularly good in this case - as indeed you’d expect at one of London’s best wine bars, Noble Rot.
I do love a tried and tested terroir-based wine match and there’s nothing better to pair with a dish of choucroute (almost Alsace’s national dish*) than a glass of the local riesling
It’s a pretty safe bet that if you have a wine-based sauce that an accompanying glass of the same type of wine will pair well with it so I was confident of ordering a glass of cava to go with a hake dish cooked with a cream, cava and anchovy sauce last week.