Pairings | L

Which wine pairs best with salad?

Which wine pairs best with salad?

Asking which wine to pair with salad is a bit like asking about what wine to match with meat or fish. There's no single answer. It depends on the vegetables you use, what other ingredients it contains and what type of dressing you use.

The best food pairings for Pinot Noir

The best food pairings for Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is one of the most versatile red wines to match with food and a great option in a restaurant when one of you is eating meat and the other fish.

What's the best wine match for tuna?

What's the best wine match for tuna?

If you want a simple guideline as to which wine to pair with tuna think first about the way that it’s cooked - is it rare, seared or preserved (canned or bottled)? Then think of the style of the dish. Does it incorporate Japanese flavours? Are there other ingredients on the plate that might influence the match such as a citrussy glaze or salsa?

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

A re-run of an old post following a visit to Alsace, updating my recommendations on the best pairings for the region's dry and off-dry white wines.

Five great cheese and wine pairings

Five great cheese and wine pairings

You know how difficult it is to find a good wine and cheese match? Well here are five I’ve recently tasted that hit the spot perfectly. Four were at a tasting at the recent Bristol Wine Fair that was conducted by the food and wine writer Andrea Leeman. The other was a serendipitous one I came across the other night when we were eating with friends.

Clever pairings for rare sherries

Clever pairings for rare sherries

I don’t think I ever go to a sherry tasting without coming away renewed in my conviction about what a marvellous match it is for food and the one I attended yesterday was no exception. It was organised by the enterprising Les Caves de Pyrne who are importing for the first time into the UK some rare sherries from Emilio Hidalgo and took place at Dehesa, the sister (if that’s the appropriate word) restaurant of the better known Salt Yard.

The tricky task of pairing wine and citrus

This is the perfect time of year for buying oranges and lemons but what effect do they have on the recipes you’re making? Quite a marked one, if truth be told. Lemons in particular have a high level of acidity which will make any wine you drink with them taste sweeter. If that’s counterbalanced in the recipe by sugar as in a lemon tart or lemon meringue pie, for example, the result is a dish that’s really quite hard to match.

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

Sunday marked not only the start of the Chinese New Year but the Vietnamese New Year celebrations too - known as Tet. As in China there are certain foods which are traditional to the occasion such as pickled vegetables and candied fruits, none of which are particularly wine-friendly but in general I find Vietnamese food, with its milder heat and fragrant herbal flavours easier to match than Thai (although I haven’t had such extensive experience of doing so).

Wine with lobster: 6 of the best pairings

Wine with lobster: 6 of the best pairings

There’s such an obvious wine match for lobster (great chardonnay) that you might wonder if it was worth considering anything else but there are other interesting alternatives.

Which whisky pairs best with haggis?

Which whisky pairs best with haggis?

Given that whisky is generally considered the most appropriate match for haggis I thought it would be interesting to check out what Britain’s top whisky experts have to recommend for Burns Night:

6 of the best pairings for chilli con carne

6 of the best pairings for chilli con carne

Like many popular dishes chilli con carne has many different versions - some mild and child-friendly, others much more spicy and assertive and often a little smokey.

Wines to pair with fennel

Wines to pair with fennel

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.

Which foods pair best with high alcohol red wines?

Which foods pair best with high alcohol red wines?

Despite the growing concern about alcohol levels in wine many reds still clock in at 14.5% or more, a level at which they can become an unbalanced pairing for traditional European food. Many traditionalist would say that they are therefore not ‘food wines’ but as with other types of wine it depends how well they’re made and whether overall the wine is in balance. Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe for example rarely hits the shelves at under 14% but wears its alcohol lightly.

What impact does garlic have on wine pairing?

What impact does garlic have on wine pairing?

If you’re the kind of person (like me) who puts garlic into practically everything you cook you may regard this question as an irrelevance but some dishes are much more garlicky than others.

Which wines to pair with calamari/squid

Which wines to pair with calamari/squid

“Can you come up with a tastier, more satisfying, more consensual dish than calamari fritti?” asks restaurateur and Guardian columnist Yotam Ottolenghi in the paper today. Well, it’s a tough call but his other mouthwatering recipes would certainly run it close. Ottolenghi’s food is full of flavour and therefore quite a challenge for any accompanying wine but here’s what I would choose.

What wine to pair with cherry desserts

What wine to pair with cherry desserts

Cherry is one of the fruit flavours most often found in wine and liqueurs so does that make them a good pairing for cherry desserts? It depends how intense the cherry flavour is.

 The best food pairings with white burgundy

The best food pairings with white burgundy

White burgundy includes a multitude of wines from generic bourgogne blanc to the grandeur of a Bâtard-Montrachet or Corton-Charlemagne. But it’s the affordable wines that I’m focussing on in this post. What type of food do they pair with best?

Wine and Appetizer Pairings: a quick guide

Wine and Appetizer Pairings: a quick guide

The best wine to pair with appetizers and hors d'oeuvres rather depends on whether they precede a meal, as is traditional, or, as is the way now, actually ARE the meal. We all seem to enjoy grazing these days.

The best food pairings for Pinotage

The best food pairings for Pinotage

Like any other red South Africa's Pinotage comes in different styles - some lighter and fruitier than others. When you're matching it with food you take a cue from the sort of ingredients and dishes that go with its two ancestors - Pinot Noir and Cinsault.

Wine and Indonesian food: which wine pairs best with Rijsttafel?

Wine and Indonesian food: which wine pairs best with Rijsttafel?

I posted this last year after trying Rijsttafel - the Indonesian speciality that’s widely available in Amsterdam. Translated literally as ‘rice table’, it’s an elaborate array of curries, salads and pickles which present a tough challenge for any wine.

The best wine pairings for vitello tonnato

The best wine pairings for vitello tonnato

One of the best hot weather dishes, this piquant dish of cold poached or roast veal with a tuna, anchovy and caper mayonnaise invariably pops up on menus at this time of year. But what to pair with it?

Which foods pair best with whisky?

Which foods pair best with whisky?

I’ve been a bit of a sceptic in the past about pairing food with whisky. Not that there aren’t some great combinations but I find it hard to sustain for more than one dish.

The best food pairings for Lambrusco

The best food pairings for Lambrusco

If you’re wondering why I’m devoting a post to Lambrusco you obviously haven’t tasted the real thing and today, Lambrusco Day, is your ideal opportunity to try it.

The best food pairings for Barolo and Barbaresco

The best food pairings for Barolo and Barbaresco

The food of Piedmont in north-west Italy is as highly regarded as its wines so it makes sense to make the local dishes your first choice if you’re looking for a match for a bottle of Barolo or Barbaresco.

What food to pair with mature Margaux

The other night I was lucky enough to go out with a wineloving friend of mine and his wife who brought along a bottle of Château Palmer 1990 with them. It was a lovely wine but, as any 20 year old vintage would be, quite delicate so immediately created the dilemma of what to eat.

The best food to pair with vodka

The best food to pair with vodka

Vodka may be primarily thought of as a base for cocktails but in vodka-loving countries like Russia and Poland it’s always accompanied by food. Basically anything smoked, pickled or cured works well. Here are some ideas:

What food to pair with red Bordeaux

What food to pair with red Bordeaux

Although Bordeaux produces some of the most expensive wines in the world it also produces bottles that are great for everyday drinking. So what kind of food pairs best with them?

Top wine pairings with goat cheese (chèvre)

Top wine pairings with goat cheese (chèvre)

Since goats cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are such a great match it might seem redundant to think of anything else but despite its reputation for being . . . well . . . goaty, goats cheese is easy to pair with other wines.

The best food pairings for white rioja

The best food pairings for white rioja

White rioja is tricky when it comes to wine pairing as it comes in such contrasting styles. There are the crisp fresh unoaked white riojas which behave much like a sauvignon blanc and much richer barrel-fermented ones which can tackle more intensely-flavoured fish and meat dishes

Six of the best wine pairings for Christmas ham

Six of the best wine pairings for Christmas ham

If you're serving a ham or gammon as a roast this Christmas you need a more substantial wine with it than when you serve ham as a cold cut. Which one depends on the glaze.

Six of the best pairings for a burger

Six of the best pairings for a burger

It might surprise you to hear it - and maybe you’ve never tried it - but a serious red wine is a really good match for a burger. Not a Maccy D, maybe but a big lush gourmet burger. And why not?

6 good wine pairings for aubergine/eggplant

6 good wine pairings for aubergine/eggplant

Aubergine - or eggplant as it’s called in the US - doesn’t have a strong flavour of its own but tends to enrich any dish in which it’s included especially when baked with tomatoes and cheese.

Wine pairings for pumpkin pie

Wine pairings for pumpkin pie

I have a bit of a problem with pumpkin pie. I'm not a big fan of pumpkin and I don't have a massively sweet tooth which makes the thought of partnering it with a sweet wine a bit of a killer. But I know I'm in a minority and with Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday here are my top picks:

10 good wine pairings with paté

10 good wine pairings with paté

By paté I’m thinking of what wines to drink with rough country patés and terrines like a paté de campagne rather than fish patés or vegetarian patés which I’ll tackle separately. The sort that you might take on a picnic or eat in a wine bar.

10 offbeat Christmas wine pairings to suggest to your customers

10 offbeat Christmas wine pairings to suggest to your customers

One of the reasons people most appreciate independent wine merchants is that they can talk to them about the kind of wine that will suit the meals or occasions they're planning.

The best wine pairings with Caesar salad

The best wine pairings with Caesar salad

As with most salads Caesar salad is all about the dressing which on the face of it sounds tricky, anchovies being notoriously difficult to match with wine.

The best wine pairings for spaghetti puttanesca

The best wine pairings for spaghetti puttanesca

Spaghetti puttanesca - or 'whore’s spaghetti' to translate it literally - is a full-flavoured pasta dish with strong, punchy flavours but which wine should you pair with it?

Dry or fruity? Which style of white wine pairs best with simply grilled fish?

Dry or fruity? Which style of white wine pairs best with simply grilled fish?

About the last place I’d have expected to have an enlightening discussion about food and wine matching is in a fisherman’s shack called Chez Loulou down on the Languedoc coast. Actually I do it an injustice. It’s a restaurant - just - but one that relies for its appeal on fabulously fresh fish rather than fantastically skilled cooking.

 The best wine pairings with Beef Wellington

The best wine pairings with Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington is real treat and deserves an equally indulgent wine to set it off. It is however less robustly flavoured than a steak or rib roast of beef with other key ingredients such as mushrooms and pastry which offset the flavour of the meat. For me that tends to indicate pinot rather than cabernet but take your pick

What wine to pair with a custard tart

What wine to pair with a custard tart

My assertion that custard tarts are the new cupcakes provoked such a heated exchange that I thought I’d stoke the fire by suggesting what you drink with ‘em.

Cocktail and food pairing

Cocktail and food pairing

Olive, the UK-based food magazine, has identified cocktail and food pairing as a coming trend in 2009. It's possible but I'm a little sceptical nowadays when it comes to initiatives involving spirits and food. There have been so many false dawns over the last few years (remember cocktail dessert menus?) and I would have thought the current economic climate was the least propitious period to get the idea off the ground. But I could be wrong.

What wine (or other drinks) should you pair with herbs?

What wine (or other drinks) should you pair with herbs?

Do herbs ever have a strong enough influence on a dish to determine your wine pairing? Relatively rarely in my view. Only very herby sauces like pesto or salsa verde dominate a dish to such an extent that you need to choose a wine to accommodate them.

The best wine pairings with monkfish

The best wine pairings with monkfish

Monkfish (or lotte, as the French call it) is a meaty fish that is often roasted so pairs equally well with red wine as with white. In fact a lightly chilled red wine would generally be my preferred match, particularly if it’s wrapped in pancetta or bacon

Some great new ideas for pairing madeira

Some great new ideas for pairing madeira

Lucy Bridgers discovers some stunning matches with madeira and gets some inspiration for Christmas entertaining.

Wine (and other) pairings for Welsh recipes

Wine (and other) pairings for Welsh recipes

Tomorrow is St David’s Day - cue for the media to roll out its annual selection of Welsh recipes. Wales produces its own wine, beer and even whisky so what should you drink?

Beer - and whiskey - pairing at L Mulligan Grocer

Beer - and whiskey - pairing at L Mulligan Grocer

When I was in Dublin a few weeks ago I ate at a pub called L Mulligan Grocer which had been recommended on Twitter by a number of locals. I expected it to be a great hangout - most Dublin pubs are - but not that it would have a strikingly original approach to food and drink pairing

Which wine to pair with Texas BBQ

Which wine to pair with Texas BBQ

US-based wine writer and educator David Furer reports on an epic tasting in the homeland of American barbeque, Austin, Texas pairing a selection of international and home-grown reds with different meats.

6 of the best pairings for spaghetti bolognese

6 of the best pairings for spaghetti bolognese

Given the arguments about how to make a bolognese sauce it’s hardly surprising there should be a difference of opinion about what wine to serve with spaghetti bolognese but here’s what I would go for:

6 of the best drinks to pair with tacos

6 of the best drinks to pair with tacos

Mexican restaurants have been on a roll lately so tacos are much more widely available than they used to be in the UK.

The best wines to pair with haggis

The best wines to pair with haggis

I’ve argued before that whisky and beer are the best match for haggis but what if you prefer a wine? What colour and style work best?

The best wine pairings for steak tartare

The best wine pairings for steak tartare

Should you drink the same sort of full-bodied red wine with steak tartare - raw chopped beef - as you would with a grilled steak?

Dessert wine pairing: ‘Sweet Thai Green Curry’ with Lapeyre Jurancon

Dessert wine pairing: ‘Sweet Thai Green Curry’ with Lapeyre Jurancon

This wine pairing may sound difficult to get your head round - let’s face it, it is! - but it was a very clever dessert at the 3 star De Librije in Zwolle, Holland last week

What to pair with new-wave Portuguese wines

The new generation of Portuguese wines deserves greater attention from consumers and restaurant buyers alike. While successive waves of wine commentators have celebrated the broad spectrum of original flavours and styles the country’s renascent industry is producing, they remain too little explored. What’s more, compared to the big, clunking fist of much Australian Shiraz, or the twacky, juicy-fruit quality of many a New Zealand Sauvignon, they are demonstrably food-friendly wines.

What type of food pairs with orange wine?

What type of food pairs with orange wine?

Donald Edwards finds a clue in the traditional Georgian food that was served at a dinner at the Notting Hill restaurant Colchis recently.

Pairing food and Chablis

Pairing food and Chablis

Despite the emphasis that winemakers place on the different crus 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.

Tags: ham with parsley mature wine mature Chablis old Chablis grand cru pork chops premier cru white burgundy burgundy Chardonnay Chablis andouillette drink:white wine jambon persillé charcuterie food:pork rabbit rabbit with mustard ham with parsley mature Chablis lapin à la moutarde ham mature wine old Chablis grand cru pork chops premier cru white burgundy burgundy Chardonnay Chablis drink:white wine andouillette jambon persillé charcuterie food:pork rabbit rabbit with mustard lapin à la moutarde old Gouda Vieux Comté ceps Soumaintrain Epoisses washed-rind cheese pheasant guinea fowl chicken roast chicken halibut Dover sole turbot crab scallops Chaource goats cheese sashimi sushi seafood risotto fish stew mayonnaise oeufs en meurette fish pie salmon grilled fish poached fish puréed vegetable soup vegetable soup garlic butter prawns snails fried fish gougons chips fish mussels fish and chips moules marinières clams spaghetti alla vongole food:pasta, rice & noodles seafood oysters shellfish cheese gougères cheesy nibbles food:fish & shellfish food:chicken & poultry ham with parsley ham food:soups & starters mature wine mature Chablis old Chablis pork chops grand cru old Gouda Vieux Comté ceps Soumaintrain Epoisses washed-rind cheese pheasant guinea fowl chicken roast chicken halibut Dover sole turbot crab scallops Chaource goats cheese sashimi sushi seafood risotto fish stew fish pie oeufs en meurette mayonnaise salmon grilled fish poached fish puréed vegetable soup vegetable soup garlic butter prawns snails fried fish gougons chips mussels fish and chips fish spaghetti alla vongole clams moules marinières food:pasta, rice & noodles seafood shellfish oysters cheesy nibbles food:fish & shellfish cheese gougères food:chicken & poultry food:soups & starters ham ham with parsley mature wine mature Chablis old Chablis pork chops grand cru premier cru white burgundy burgundy Chardonnay Chablis andouillette drink:white wine jambon persillé charcuterie premier cru white burgundy burgundy Chardonnay Chablis drink:white wine andouillette jambon persillé charcuterie food:pork food:pork rabbit rabbit rabbit with mustard rabbit with mustard lapin à la moutarde lapin à la moutarde old Gouda old Gouda Vieux Comté Vieux Comté ceps ceps Soumaintrain Soumaintrain Epoisses Epoisses washed-rind cheese washed-rind cheese pheasant pheasant guinea fowl guinea fowl chicken roast chicken chicken roast chicken halibut halibut Dover sole Dover sole turbot turbot crab crab scallops scallops Chaource Chaource goats cheese goats cheese sashimi sashimi sushi sushi seafood risotto seafood risotto fish stew fish stew fish pie fish pie oeufs en meurette oeufs en meurette mayonnaise mayonnaise salmon salmon grilled fish grilled fish poached fish poached fish puréed vegetable soup puréed vegetable soup vegetable soup vegetable soup garlic butter garlic butter prawns prawns snails snails fried fish fried fish gougons gougons chips chips fish fish fish and chips fish and chips mussels mussels moules marinières moules marinières clams clams spaghetti alla vongole spaghetti alla vongole food:pasta, rice & noodles food:pasta, rice & noodles seafood shellfish seafood shellfish oysters oysters cheesy nibbles cheesy nibbles gougères gougères cheese cheese food:fish & shellfish food:fish & shellfish food:chicken & poultry food:chicken & poultry food:soups & starters food:soups & starters ham
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The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The last two days have been quite, quite beautiful, starting mistily, basking midday in an unseasonally warm sun and finishing with an extended dusk that announces that spring is finally here. I immediately want to eat lighter meals: the new season’s vegetables are not quite in yet but I can at least plan for summer and that means a spring clean of the cellar, pushing the full bodied reds to the back and assessing what whites, lighter reds and rosés I still have lurking in the racks.

What to drink with cake

What to drink with cake

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.

Wines - and other drinks - to match recipes from the Ottolenghi Cookbook

Wines - and other drinks - to match recipes from the Ottolenghi Cookbook

The book I’ve been looking forward to most so far this year has just started being serialised in the Guardian today. It’s by Yotam Ottolenghi who founded two exceptional London restaurants and is simply called Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. l love Ottolenghi's food - it’s so generous and big-flavoured, piled high on bright, colourful platters - you can't fail to be tempted by it. It also lends itself perfectly to entertaining for large numbers at home.

What to drink with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie recipes

What to drink with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie recipes

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.

Top wine and beer matches for game

Top wine and beer matches for game

We Brits have always had a reputation for liking our wines old and our game high but times have changed. Today the key factor in matching game tends to be not how ‘gamey’ it is but how it’s cooked and what is served with it.

Possibly the best truffle dinner ever

Possibly the best truffle dinner ever

Did I want to go on a truffle trip to Spain at the end of January? Balmy Barbados seemed like a better option but since that wasn’t on the cards and the enquiry came from an old friend I said yes. The 2 day visit - the annual Viñas del Vero ‘Days of Wine and Truffles’ in Somontano would include an outdoor picnic in the foothills of the Pyrenees (eek), a truffle hunt and - the clincher - a multi-course truffle menu by one of the region’s most talented chefs followed by a gastronomic brunch. “Bring the Gaviscon”. my friend sagely advised.

On the road in the Pacific North West: Day 1

On the road in the Pacific North West: Day 1

For the next 10 days I’m going to be visiting the vineyards of Oregon and Washington State so the site will turn into more of a blog. Our first day yesterday included lunch at Chateau Ste Michelle, by far Washington’s largest wine producer.

Wine and pepper

Like salt, pepper has a pronounced effect on wine, often making reds taste softer and lusher than they otherwise would. Unlike salt though, you also find peppery flavours in wines such as Northern Rhône Syrah and Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

A Champagne dinner fit for sommeliers

A Champagne dinner fit for sommeliers

One of the aspects of the World’s Best Sommelier competition I hadn’t really thought about is how on earth you create a menu for a roomful of sommeliers. And choose wine pairings they won’t be sniffy about. One way is to impress them with large format bottles and old vintages which is the route competition sponsor Moët et Chandon took . . .

Why Pinot Gris hits the spot with spicy food

Why Pinot Gris hits the spot with spicy food

You may think tasting wine sounds arduous but a major wine and food tasting, I assure you, is a much greater assault on the system as I was reminded the other day when Victoria Moore of The Guardian and I ran 14 Pinot Gris through their paces with foods that ranged from smoked eel to chicken tikka masala. Neither of us was able to eat much for several days.

The best food matches with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

The best food matches with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

The flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - and this is why it is so popular - are powerful and aromatic: citrus, gooseberry and passionfruit in spades. So you if you're looking for a food match need big flavours on your plate to stand up to it.

A spring lunch for 4

A spring lunch for 4

Although it's still a bit nippy at night, the blossom is out, it feels like spring and the clocks are going forward in the UK this weekend. So here's a light lunch to enjoy with a couple of friends that has a touch of spring about it but still includes a warming stew.

Yoghurt-baked fish with walnut-herb crumbs

Yoghurt-baked fish with walnut-herb crumbs

This recipe came from a fascinating dinner at which chef Greg Malouf cooked a selection of Iranian dishes from his book Saraban which he wrote with his former wife Lucy with whom he still collaborates. This unusual and simple fish dish in yoghurt particularly appealed to me and I thought it would to you too.

Cru classé Bordeaux and rack of lamb

Cru classé Bordeaux and rack of lamb

Just as last week’s match of the week was a classic - so is this week’s: the main course we had at Oliver Peyton’s National Gallery Café at a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Circle of Wine Writers.

Chicken caesar salad and blonde ale

Chicken caesar salad and blonde ale

It’s so automatic to think of a wine match these days that one sometimes overlooks the fact that a beer will work just as well, if not better. So it is with that great restaurant favourite, chicken caesar salad.

Pairing Pinot Noir and lamb

Pairing Pinot Noir and lamb

A report on the fascinating food and wine matching workshop that was held at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon last month which showed that you can find a pinot pairing for almost any kind of lamb dish.

Spanish wine matches for Moro recipes

Spanish wine matches for Moro recipes

For the last couple of weeks The Telegraph has been running recipes from two of my favourite chefs, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro, the iconic Moorish recipe in Exmouth Market in London that I discover, to my amazement, is now 11 years old. Sam (the husband) is very into his wines, particularly sherry, so I'm suggesting Spanish wines for the pairings.

Matching fish soup

Matching fish soup

I’m a huge fan of Nigel Slater’s. I buy the Observer every week just to read his recipes. Yes, I know I could read them online (as you can here) but you don’t get the luscious Jonathan Lovekin photographs. Not that you need them. Slater’s prose is so evocative you can taste the recipe as you read.

Cauliflower tortellini with hazelnuts and 10 year old Muscadet

Cauliflower tortellini with hazelnuts and 10 year old Muscadet

I agonised over which match to highlight this week - there were so many good ones, especially from my trip to the Jura which I’ll report on in the next couple of days but I’ve gone for this intriguing and off the wall pairing from a seasonal wine dinner at Lido in Bristol on Saturday night.

Pairing Indian food with the biodynamic wines of Bonny Doon

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).

Sweet Bordeaux and savoury food

Sweet Bordeaux and savoury food

Last week, the Union des Grands Vins Liquoureux de Bordeaux, the body that represents Bordeaux sweet wine producers, hosted a tasting of wines from six of the appellations they represent to partner savoury and sweet dishes at a lunch at le Cercle restaurant in Chelsea.

Pairing tea and chocolate

Pairing tea and chocolate

Signe Johansen selflessly reports back from two tea and chocolate matching events during London's recent National Chocolate Week.

Pasta with pesto and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

Pasta with pesto and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

This past week has reminded me yet again what a great match Italian whites are for food. Their lack of obvious character means they tend not to stand out in a tasting but they explode into life with a dish.

What to drink with foraged food?

What to drink with foraged food?

Mark Hix, a great forager himself, concentrates on recipes you can make from the hedgerow this week in The Independent (now is a good time to go to his new restaurant, I suggest . . . ) so I’m thinking a little outside the box as to what to pair with them. Country wines, made with hedgerow fruits, seem the perfect answer. I don’t know why we don’t see more of them.

Chicken salad and real apple juice

Chicken salad and real apple juice

Yesterday finally felt as if spring had come. After weeks of unsettled and unseasonably cool weather it was warm and balmy, rich with the scent of blossom. We went out with friends to the village of Wrington just outside Bristol to follow an ‘art trail’ of exhibitions by local artists. (Yes, I bought something - a delightful picture of radishes by a talented collage artist called Anne Carpenter)

How to drink vodka like a Russian

How to drink vodka like a Russian

I have to admit I accepted Leonid Shutov’s invitation to taste vodka with some trepidation having heard tales of the hangovers that some of my colleagues had suffered as a result of their visits to his Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard.

Top wine matches for Cornish Blue

Top wine matches for Cornish Blue

The sharp-eyed among you will notice that my recommendations have changed since I posted this article earlier today. I've revised my opinion since retasting Cornish Blue which I found in my local deli - Arch House Deli.

San Pellegrino and seafood

San Pellegrino and seafood

Like most wine-lovers, I suspect, I’ve made a new year’s resolution to drink rather less after the excesses of Christmas and the New Year. I’m not a big fan of sweetened fruit juices so my drink of choice at the moment, with meals and in between, is sparkling mineral water.

Palais Royal and Roquefort

Palais Royal and Roquefort

We’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week, revisiting some of the winemakers we haven’t seen for a while. They included Domaine de l’Arjolle, one of the first wineries we bought from when we bought a holiday home down here in the early 1990s.

Oxtail cooked in Priorat with prunes matched with 2004 Vall Llach Priorat

Oxtail cooked in Priorat with prunes matched with 2004 Vall Llach Priorat

The highlight of last week was my trip to Priorat so this week’s pairing has to be one of the wines I tasted. Oddly it wasn’t one of the wines I enjoyed most although it was in the upper echelons of what the region has to offer : a Vall Llach 2004, a blend of 65% Cariñena (old vine Carignan), 20% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

What to drink with Heston’s Diamond Jubilee picnic

What to drink with Heston’s Diamond Jubilee picnic

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).

A Valentine's dinner for lazy lovers

A Valentine's dinner for lazy lovers

Whatever you get up to on Valentine’s night (and truly, I’d rather not know) my guess is you’ve got better things to do than spend it slaving over a hot stove. So this is an unashamed cheat’s menu for you to romance your loved one with the absolute minimum of effort. Needless to say, buy only the very best ingredients.

9 great wine matches for duck

9 great wine matches for duck

There’s one wine that’s invariably recommended as a pairing for duck and that is Pinot Noir but of course duck, like any other meat, can be cooked in different ways. How does that affect the match?

5 great matches for IPA

5 great matches for IPA

Of course it depends what type of IPA you're talking about. A relatively light style will lead you in a different direction from a huge, hoppy double IPA, but these I think would be my top five . . .

New season's olive oil and vino novo

New season's olive oil and vino novo

Last week I went on a flying visit to Tuscany to take part in the olive oil harvest and had the rare treat of being able to sample oil that has just been pressed. As you can see from the picture, it’s an incredible colour - literally deep olive green and has the most fantastic grassy flavour.

Bacchus and cucumber

Bacchus and cucumber

Hot on the heels of its best ever medal tally in the International Wine Challenge, English wine is under the spotlight again this week which has been designated English Wine Week. It was sparkling wines that did particularly well in the Challenge but I have a soft spot for a variety called Bacchus, a white wine with a refreshing, sappy hedgerow freshness, not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc. Camel Valley in Cornwall makes a particularly good version.

Which wine to choose for Thanksgiving

Which wine to choose for Thanksgiving

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.

Warm smoked eel with carrots, marjoram and apple sauce

Smoked eel is not so difficult to find but most retailers sell it vacuum packed*: the problem with this technique, whilst keeping the fish admirably, is that it tends to express the oil from the meat. It is worth drying the fillets on kitchen paper before slicing. Most people don’t peel young baby carrots: I prefer to because I like to see them look smooth and glossy but I see the point of those who don’t.

A perfect wine for cheese. A perfect cheese for wine

A perfect wine for cheese. A perfect cheese for wine

While I can usually find a great match for an individual cheese or for a careful selection it’s always a struggle to find a wine - particularly a red - that will take on all-comers. But I was reminded this weekend just how good a candidate mature Zinfandel is for this job. We found a bin end of Ridge’s Geyserville 2000 on the wine list of one of our favourite local restaurants at such a good price that we couldn’t resist it.

What to drink with chicken wings (and your other Superbowl snacks)

What to drink with chicken wings (and your other Superbowl snacks)

Let’s face it a well-honed wine pairing probably isn’t top priority on Superbowl night but there’s no reason why you can’t sip something delicious as you’re nervously nibbling your chicken wings (or your nails).

Provençal-style fish soup and Picpoul de Pinet

Provençal-style fish soup and Picpoul de Pinet

We’re down in the Languedoc for a few days and ended up at one of our favourite fish restaurant Le Glacier at Marseillan.

Pigeon 'tagine' with Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle 1994

Pigeon 'tagine' with Jaboulet Ainé Hermitage La Chapelle 1994

I came across this pairing at Chris and Jeff Galvin’s newly opened Galvin La Chapelle in Spitalfields in the City where they have a vertical of vintages, some of which are available by the glass. As I observed in my review on decanter.com it’s not a cheap option but if you’ve never tasted an old vintage of Hermitage la Chapelle here’s a chance to do so.

Grüner Veltliner and salt cod

Grüner Veltliner and salt cod

I came across this unlikely combination while I was flying back from Argentina with the Brazilian airline TAM* who have this year decided to inaugurate a Brazilian menu in business class devised by a woman chef called Ana Luisa Trajano. And quite right too.

Foie gras and Sauternes

Foie gras and Sauternes

While I no longer eat foie gras myself (as explained here) for the French there is no other way to celebrate the réveillon, or New Year’s Eve.

Braised saltmarsh lamb at Langford Fivehead

Braised saltmarsh lamb at Langford Fivehead

I’ve just had a sneak preview of a very lush new B & B Langford Fivehead which opens next week (March 1st) in the Somerset Levels just outside Taunton. The building dates back to 1453 and is owned and run by former BBC Good Food editor Orlando Murrin and his partner Peter Steggall

Ideas for a beer and game menu

I've been invited to a game dinner at Brown's hotel in Mayfair next week at which every course is matched with a beer or a perry. I can't make it but thought you'd be interested in the pairings (my notes in italics):

Matching port and chocolate

Matching port and chocolate

Former sommelier and wine consultant David Furer writes about a tasting at leading London chocolatier William Curley

Twice-baked goats' cheese soufflés

Twice-baked goats' cheese soufflés

A classic starter from the ‘70’s but one that our customers seem to enjoy every bit as much today. This version originally came from a book called Take Twelve Cooks and was one of Pru Leith’s recipes. However Stephen Bull attributes it to Peter Kromberg of Le Soufflé at the Intercontinental who was also featured in the book . . .

Pairing wine and cheese with Max McCalman

Pairing wine and cheese with Max McCalman

An archive post from a fascinating tasting with maître fromager, educator and author Max McCalman, one of the US's foremost cheese experts, back in 2009.

Must grouse wine matches be classic?

Must grouse wine matches be classic?

I’m always in two minds about whether to write about the beginning of the grouse season. After all only a tiny number of people will be sufficiently interested - or well-heeled - to bag the first birds that arrive on restaurant tables this evening.

Matching wine with Chinese food - time for a rethink?

Matching wine with Chinese food - time for a rethink?

A recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai opened my eyes anew to the possibilities involved in drinking wine with Chinese food. Many of the conclusions we have painstakingly arrived at in the west turn out to be less obvious when tried out in situ.

What to drink with dal

What to drink with dal

This week the UK’s first ever dal festival is taking place in my home town of Bristol and to celebrate I thought I’d explore what drinks pair best with dal.

6 of the best matches for chocolate mousse

6 of the best matches for chocolate mousse

Although chocolate mousse is usually made from dark chocolate it's quite a light dessert as chocolate puddings go because of its airy texture - lighter than petits pots au chocolat, for example.

What wine to drink with cuttlefish

What wine to drink with cuttlefish

Cuttlefish is a pain to prepare as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall points out in the Guardian today but it is particularly delicious to eat. It’s often partnered with robust flavours so you need to think in terms of equally intense flavoured wines.

Steak pie and strong ale

Steak pie and strong ale

There’s a distinct nip in the air this week that makes makes me suddenly feel much less like eating summery food. Last night we went round to friends and shared some absolutely awesome steak pies they’d brought back from a butcher called Murray Mitchell in St Andrews in Scotland (they will send them by mail order in the UK apparently if you ring them on 01334 474465).

Smoked haddock and apple salad with New Zealand Riesling

Smoked haddock and apple salad with New Zealand Riesling

I was overwhelmed with good wine pairings last week but given that quite a few were similar to ones I’ve written about before I’m making this my star match.

Roast lamb with a Douro red

Roast lamb with a Douro red

Yesterday we had the family round for lunch and served a 2002 Douro red from Portugal with the main course of spice-crusted roast lamb with garlic and rosemary, roast potatoes (my youngest son managed to put away 15 but remains, annoyingly, as skinny as a rake) and in-season purple sprouting broccoli.

Red wine and peaches

Red wine and peaches

The peaches are so fabulous here in Arles, so gorged with sweet, ripe juice that we’re eating them almost daily. One great way to serve them which I was reminded about the other night when we dined at a local restaurant, Le Corazon is with red wine - just as good as the better-known pears in red wine.

Guava Collins and Singapore Noodles

Guava Collins and Singapore Noodles

Traditionally it’s been difficult to find a pairing for noodle dishes, especially soup noodles which have the triple drawback of being hot, sour and wet. But the other night at Alan Yau’s new restaurant Cha Cha Moon (of which more to follow when I do my round-up of new London openings) I had a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail which really hit the spot.

Fillet of beef with 2009 Pio Cesare Barolo

Fillet of beef with 2009 Pio Cesare Barolo

Beef and red wine is a blindingly obvious match but it gets more interesting once you think about the cut and the way that it's cooked.

Duck paté, rillettes and red Anjou

Duck paté, rillettes and red Anjou

Last week we spent 24 hours in Cheltenham, mainly to eat at Le Champignon Sauvage about which I’ll be posting a review tomorrow. We also had lunch at a pub/bistro I’d heard good things about called the Royal Well Tavern which has this year been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand and recently picked up a glowing review from the Observer’s restaurant critic, Jay Rayner

Chilli con carne and American brown ale

Chilli con carne and American brown ale

If you’re lighting a few fireworks for the kids (or yourselves, of course . . . ) tonight and hanging round in the cold you’ll need some warming food and a good chilli hits the spot perfectly

Carrot and basil-infused slugs and Saumur Blanc

Carrot and basil-infused slugs and Saumur Blanc

For the first time my match of the week is not one I’ve experienced myself but was reported by Ron Zimmerman of The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington on Twitter (where he tweets as Herbguy - and I tweet as winematcher)

Calves' liver and Marcillac

Calves' liver and Marcillac

One of the pleasures of the huge clearing and putting away operation at our new French home is the discovery of forgotten bottles. The other day it was a Marcillac from Domaine Laurens which went incredibly well with that night’s supper of seared calves’ liver.

How to create a dish to match a wine

How to create a dish to match a wine

Signe Johansen recently competed in - and won - a food bloggers challenge to come up with the perfect dish for a Casillero del Diablo Chilean Cabernet. Here’s how she went about it. (You can find the recipe for the winning dish, Pigeon breast and chocolate mole with redcurrants and parmesan mash here.)

Asian food isn’t the only way into German riesling

Asian food isn’t the only way into German riesling

Having spent five days in Germany this week I’ve been thinking a lot about riesling and food. And my conclusion is that the heavy focus on Chinese, Thai and Indian food may be doing German wine a disservice

Celery, tomato and echalion sauce - a simple way of serving fish

Celery, tomato and echalion sauce - a simple way of serving fish

My friend cookery writer Andrea Leeman is one of the best home cooks I know with a knack of making even the simplest food taste utterly delicious.

Witbier and asparagus

Witbier and asparagus

There’s still a couple of weeks more to enjoy the British asparagus season so here’s an interesting beer pairing to try as a change fromwine. Belgian witbier or bière blanche like Hoegaarden is just perfect with green asparagus, especially when served with goats’ cheese.

Smoked eel, beetroot and Malbec

Smoked eel, beetroot and Malbec

This pretty dish was served the other night at what is still our favourite Bristol restaurant, Culinaria, even if we now live over the other side of town. It provided everything you want from a starter - light, appealing, appetite-stimulating.

Roast suckling pig and amber ale

Roast suckling pig and amber ale

I realise this is not the first time I’ve written about the virtues of roast pork and beer but it’s such a great match (and such an underrated one) that I keep on coming back to it. This time I came across it in a splendid northern French tavern called Le Bruegel in Bergues, the highlight of what was otherwise a rather cold, miserable journey on our way back to England last week.

'Meat fruit' with Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Larmes Célestes 2004

'Meat fruit' with Pacherenc du Vic Bilh Larmes Célestes 2004

I know I’ve already raved about this stunning combination at Heston’s new restaurant Dinner but it's already a candidate for one of my top 10 pairings of 2011, never mind my match of the week.

Faggots with onion gravy and Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan

Faggots with onion gravy and Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan

Faggots, which are basically a rather gamey British meatball made with pork belly and offal, are a bit of an acquired taste along the lines of the French sausage andouillette but well made, as they are when supplied by our local butcher, they can be very tasty. They need to be accompanied by onion gravy which normally leads one in the direction of a robust ale but the other night we had them with a bottle of Mas Belles Eaux Vieux Carignan 2006 which actually worked very well.

Cold roast veal with herbs and St Chinian rosé

Cold roast veal with herbs and St Chinian rosé

It’s been so hot over the last couple of days here in the Languedoc I haven’t felt much like cooking so we raided the very good local traiteur (takeaway) in Murviel yesterday for our weekend’s eating. The highlight was some beautifully cooked rare roast veal with herbs - in the style of Italian porchetta.

Ceviche and Susana Balbo Torrontes

Ceviche and Susana Balbo Torrontes

I’m currently away in Priorato in Spain (of which more later this week) but this was a great combination I came across last week at the Gaucho Grill in Swallow Street, London.

Catalan sausage and beans with southern French Syrah/Grenache

Catalan sausage and beans with southern French Syrah/Grenache

Last week’s highlight without a doubt was the meal I had with my Guardian colleagues at Brawn, Ed Wilson’s new restaurant in Columbia Road. As you may know it’s the new City outpost of the hugely popular wine bar Terroirs with a similar natural wine list which you can read about on my natural wine blog here.

7 hour leg of lamb with Cot (Malbec)

7 hour leg of lamb with Cot (Malbec)

When you’re roasting lamb you’re almost spoilt for choice. Almost any red you enjoy will go with this most wine-friendly of dishes but my pick of Thierry Puzelat’s quirky KO In Cot we Trust (2005) proved a winner

Valpolicella Ripasso 2013 Cantina Valpantena

Valpolicella Ripasso 2013 Cantina Valpantena

If you’re on holiday in the wilds of nowhere chances are your only shop - in the UK at least - is a Spar. I would at one point have said that spelled death to the chance of a decent bottle of wine but was recently sent a selection which really wasn’t half bad.

Braucol, Gringet, Mondeuse and Frappato . . .

What do you give the winelover who has everything? Dinner at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe looks like the answer. A recent dinner to launch their laudably adventurous new wine list revealed a whole bunch of grapes that I’d never heard of including Braucol (an alternative name in Gaillac for Fer and Mansois - pretty obscure in themselves), Gringet, a crisp white from Haut-Savoie (described as ‘glacial as a Hitchcock heroine’), Mondeuse (another wine from Savoie, this time a red) and Frappato, a 'rarely encountered' Sicilian red.

So what IS a food-friendly wine?

People in the wine trade often talk about ‘food friendly wines’, a term so vague you might wonder what on earth it means. Surely all wines are designed to go with food? Is it supposed to be a criticism or a compliment?

A classic English meal with a perfectly matched French wine

People occasionally ask me what characterises British food. Unlike French or Italian food it can be hard to pin down, there are so many different ethnic influences but last night I had a meal that was quintessentially English summer food.

Pairing champagne and summer food

Pairing champagne and summer food

How can champagne be used to create a summer tasting menu? Seafood is an obvious candidate but as food and wine writer Lucy Bridgers found at a Billecart-Salmon event at the Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar in London last year you need to choose your flavours carefully.

A Krug champagne lunch at Murano: a perfect 10

A Krug champagne lunch at Murano: a perfect 10

It’s rare to go to a wine event and be blown away by the matches at every course but my recent lunch at Murano devised by Angela Hartnett and her sommelier Marc-Andréa Lévy was as close to perfection as it gets.

Two classic meals in Chablis

Two classic meals in Chablis

I came across this article the other day which I wrote 4 years ago after a visit to Chablis. We attended two great dinners organised by Daniel Defaix and Herv Tucki of La Chablisienne which were an object lesson in how to pair Chablis with food. I thought it deserved a re-run.

What's the best wine to drink with Christmas pudding?

What's the best wine to drink with Christmas pudding?

There is an argument that you don't need anything to drink with the classic Christmas pudding*, especially if you've sloshed brandy all over it but if you're pairing other courses of the Christmas meal you might fancy a small glass of something sweet.

Wild boar and Monty's French Red

Wild boar and Monty's French Red

If you've been following the new alternative lifestyle programme Château Monty on Channel 4 you’ll know that ‘Monty’ is wine writer Monty Waldin who set out to make his own biodynamic wine in the Roussillon down in the far corner of south-west France

Tuscan-style sausages and beans with Montepulciano

Tuscan-style sausages and beans with Montepulciano

It’s been so busy the last few weeks that good pairings have been coming thick and fast but this was a great match I enjoyed at an offbeat new occasional restaurant which was launched by food and wine writer Marc Millon in Topsham, Devon the other day. (He’s also contributed a couple of pieces to this site including this wonderful piece about Bagna Cauda)

Tiramisu and oxidised sweet wines

Tiramisu and oxidised sweet wines

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.

Smoked eel with crab remoulade and Slovakian Müller-Thurgau

Smoked eel with crab remoulade and Slovakian Müller-Thurgau

A good obscure pairing to kick off the week from the newly opened Vinoteca wine bar at Seymour Place.

Salade Niçoise and Rosé

Salade Niçoise and Rosé

The weather has been so unseasonally hot over the last couple of days - well into the 20s (or the late 70s for those of you who prefer to think in Fahrenheit) - that I’m suddenly fast-forwarding to summer and one of my favourite meals, Salade Niçoise.

Roast lamb with wild garlic risotto, asparagus and feta with a chilled Languedoc red

Roast lamb with wild garlic risotto, asparagus and feta with a chilled Languedoc red

This match, which I enjoyed at Plateau wine bar in Brighton last week, breaks a couple of wine pairing conventions. Firstly that you match red meat with a full bodied red. And secondly that you don’t drink red wine with asparagus.

Perry and a Ploughman's

Perry and a Ploughman's

I’ve been researching a big feature on perry over the last few days sothat's what this week's pairing had to be. And by that I don’t meanwhat is popularly called pear cider but a cider-like drink that is madewith real perry pears.

Lambs sweetbreads with girolles and Louis Roederer Rich Champagne

Lambs sweetbreads with girolles and Louis Roederer Rich Champagne

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!)

John Dory poached in red wine with Daniel Rion Nuits-St-Georges

John Dory poached in red wine with Daniel Rion Nuits-St-Georges

It was hard to pick just one pairing from the stellar meal I had at Marcus Wareing in London last week but this combination of robustly cooked John Dory and 2005 Nuits-St-Georges from Domaine Daniel Rion was the most interesting, underlining that red wine can be just as good a partner for white fish as for meatier fish like tuna.

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and Thierry Puzelat Pinot Noir

Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and Thierry Puzelat Pinot Noir

Last week’s highlight was a trip to the newly opened downstairs restaurant at Terroirs, a restaurant of which regular readers will know I’m a huge fan (along with the rest of the UK’s wine-writing fraternity).

Calf's kidney and Côte Rôtie

Calf's kidney and Côte Rôtie

My match of the week for last week has to come from the sublime WIMPS lunch I had at the Ledbury which members can read about here. It was hard to decide which the best pairing was but I think the calf’s kidney and 1998 Gilles Barge Côte Rôtie just shaved it.

Brill with oxtail and Domaine Tempier Bandol

Brill with oxtail and Domaine Tempier Bandol

About the most unlikely wine match you could imagine - a delicate fish with a 19 year old red wine - but it worked! Which shows you can always be surprised by food and wine pairing.

Braised ox cheek and Lalande de Pomerol

Braised ox cheek and Lalande de Pomerol

As is often the way Christmas wasn’t a time for any startling food and wine discoveries, rather for celebrating favourite combinations but I realise I forgot to mention one pairing just before Christmas at Angelus restaurant in Lancaster Gate.

Artichoke barigoule and grüner veltliner

Artichoke barigoule and grüner veltliner

So maybe Austria’s signature grape grüner veltliner is the perfect pairing for tricky-to-match artichokes?

The Hole in the Wall, Little Wilbraham: not your average country pub

The Hole in the Wall, Little Wilbraham: not your average country pub

The Hole in the Wall at Little Wilbraham near Cambridge sounded like the sort of twee country pub that I hate. Discovering it had a celebrity chef and a tasting menu made it appeal even less but on my visit last week I was bowled over

Cured brill with mint and peas

Cured brill with mint and peas

Chefs' recipes are often complicated but you couldn't ask for a simpler, more summery dish than this fabulous fish recipe from Nathan Outlaw's Fish Kitchen*.

Banoffee martinis and other cocktail desserts

Banoffee martinis and other cocktail desserts

If you’re looking for something a little different to serve for dessert on Saturday (which in case you’ve forgotten, guys, is Valentine’s Day) how about a dessert martini?

Why mineral waters taste different

Why mineral waters taste different

Twelve months is a long time in a recession. This time last year we were all writing about 30 bottle water lists and 50 bottles of water. In 2009 all the talk is about tap. The unease we may have felt at flying bottles half way round the globe and lack of political correctness in drinking designer water while many have none has been superceded by the the more prosaic necessity to cut down our personal spending.

A zany day in Alsace

A zany day in Alsace

Today, I’m told (though I’m not sure if this isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke) is the culmination of the festival Après l’Hiver, l’Envers in Alsace which roughly translates as ‘after winter, the reverse’. Apparently the people of Alsace are turning their day upside down, starting with hot chocolate or cocoa in the morning, eating dinner backwards and ending the day with breakfast.

Sweet herring and mackerel rillettes with an aromatic Greek white

Sweet herring and mackerel rillettes with an aromatic Greek white

Paris isn’t the obvious place you’d think of drinking Greek wine - in fact it’s a rare sighting in a city whose wine lists are almost 100% French. So when I came across one in a hip little bar called Clamato I was intrigued

Strawberries and elderflower cordial

Strawberries and elderflower cordial

I’m really spoilt for choice for my match of the week - there were so many good ones last week. As you may have picked up if you follow me on Twitter (where I tweet as winematcher and food_writer) I was in Copenhagen eating at the world’s best restaurant, Noma (according to the 800 food writers, chefs and critics that judge the ‘World's 50 Best Awards) and also at Herman whose sommelier Jacob Kocemba came up with some excellent pairings.

Piggie burger and Pinot Noir

Piggie burger and Pinot Noir

Pigs and Pinot is a well established combination that is the focus of an annual celebration at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen at the Hotel Healdsburg and after reminding myself of the combination last week at Daniel Boulud’s new London outpost Bar Boulud I can see why.

Olive oil vanilla and pistachio cake with Muscat de Rivesaltes

Olive oil vanilla and pistachio cake with Muscat de Rivesaltes

It was a tough call to single out the best pairing from my meal at Galoupet in Knightsbridge last week but as I haven't featured a dessert for a while this just shaded it.

Moqueca and Caiprinhas

Moqueca and Caiprinhas

Last week our local tapas bar, Ocean, held a Brazilian evening with a talented local Bristol singer Frances Butt who is really into Latin music. (So much so that she has issued an album called The Girl from Wolverhampton - where she grew up though obviously not where her soul lies . . .)

Middle eastern-style lamb with grilled vegetables and a natural red wine

Middle eastern-style lamb with grilled vegetables and a natural red wine

We all know that roast lamb is a great pairing with red wines but the assumption is often that it’s prepared in a classic French way so it was interesting to note over the weekend that if you give it a middle-eastern spin exactly the same applies

Mackerel pasty and Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2006

Mackerel pasty and Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2006

This actually wasn't the dish with which I drank this brilliant new sparkling wine at Rocksalt in Folkestone last week - I'd unfortunately finished my glass by then - but it would certainly have been a knockout wine pairing.

Lobster burger and Kumeu River Chardonnay

Lobster burger and Kumeu River Chardonnay

I’m conscious there’s a marked French bias in the pairings on this site so I’m going to go not for the excellent Alsace riesling and choucroute combo I had last week - or the many amazing wine matches at the Szechuan dinner which I’ve written up here but a very flashy lobster ‘burger’ and chardonnay I had at the Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard

Game terrine and London dry gin

Game terrine and London dry gin

I’ve already written about how well game terrine pairs with oloroso sherry. Now I’ve discovered an equally good, if not better pairing: London Dry Gin.

Crayfish and Crab Cocktail with Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling

Crayfish and Crab Cocktail with Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Riesling

I have to admit there's an element of nepotism about this pairing which I enjoyed the other day at my son’s award-winning steakhouse Hawksmoor where we were shooting new photography for the site (an exciting development about which more news shortly!)

Couscous and Languedoc rosé

Couscous and Languedoc rosé

It's funny how your attitude to food and wine matching changes when you visit a wine-producing area like the Languedoc which is where I've been for the past few days. You tend to drink the local wine because it's what the locals drink. It may not be the best match but it doesn't really matter, particularly at lunchtime when you want something light.

Chilled cucumber and garlic soup and Chenin Blanc

Chilled cucumber and garlic soup and Chenin Blanc

On Saturday, as I mentioned in my blog, I was at a food and wine festival in Constantia, where we wandered round the impossibly beautiful Buitenverwachting estate sipping wine and grazing on upmarket canapés devised by a selection of the area's best local chefs. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon ....

Braised brill with truffles and La Rocca Soave

Braised brill with truffles and La Rocca Soave

I’ve already mentioned this wine pairing as part of my write-up of the Action Against Hunger pop-up with Rick Stein but it was the outstanding match of last week.

10 year old tawny with bitter chocolate and malt tart with salted caramel ice cream

10 year old tawny with bitter chocolate and malt tart with salted caramel ice cream

I was hoping for an interesting pairing from the last meal of the year and wasn't disappointed. Like last year we went to a New Year's Eve dinner at Montpelier Basement supper club where we were treated to an amazing 8 course feast which lasted into the early hours of the morning.

Good bottles to celebrate Hallowe'en

Good bottles to celebrate Hallowe'en

If you’re looking for a bottle to celebrate Hallowe’en on Tuesday here’s couple that hit the spot perfectly.

My tasting at the Wine & Culinary Forum, Barcelona

My tasting at the Wine & Culinary Forum, Barcelona

I’ve been having some fresh thoughts about food and wine matching since I was asked to participate in the Wine & Culinary International Forum in Barcelona this past weekend and come up with pairings for the bottles submitted by the Primum Familiae Vini, 11 of the world's most famous family-owned wineries

The best food matches for Amarone

The best food matches for Amarone

A recent lunch* and discussion hosted by Masi at Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner gave a revealing glimpse of what the best food pairings for amarone might be.

Hiyajiru (chilled miso soup) with cucumber ice cubes

Hiyajiru (chilled miso soup) with cucumber ice cubes

I was pretty excited about chef Tim Anderson's new book Nanban anyway but when I saw that this recipe included cucumber ice cubes I was sold!

Food and Bordeaux: What they served at the gala dinner at Mouton Rothschild

Food and Bordeaux: What they served at the gala dinner at Mouton Rothschild

I make a point of not going to Vinexpo, the biennial wine fair in Bordeaux (too hectic, too noisy) but it does mean you miss out on the occasional treat like the gala dinner that was held at Château Mouton Rothschild to celebrate the opening of their new chai.

What wine to drink with gazpacho

What wine to drink with gazpacho

If there’s one dish more difficult to pair with wine than already tricky tomatoes it’s gazpacho, the chilled Spanish summer soup that includes raw onion and peppers as well. So what wine should you match with it?

Vietnamese chicken salad and ginger and lemongrass cordial

Vietnamese chicken salad and ginger and lemongrass cordial

One of the encouraging things going on in restaurants now is the increasing number of interesting alcohol-free drinks on offer which I find particularly welcome at lunchtime when I don’t particularly want to drink.

Veal ravioli with barolo

Veal ravioli with barolo

This wasn’t the most innovative wine pairing I came across in the last 7 days but it was such a classic I couldn’t fail to make it my match of the week.

Soft shell crab tempura maki and ‘Misty Mountain’ sake

Soft shell crab tempura maki and ‘Misty Mountain’ sake

I don’t that often order sake in a restaurant but when I do I wonder why I don’t drink it more often.

Slow roast pork belly with a ‘Gardener’s Old Fashioned’

Slow roast pork belly with a ‘Gardener’s Old Fashioned’

Pork and apple is, of course, a match made in heaven but the pairing was taken to new heights for me by mixologist Jack Adair Bevan of The Ethicurean who invented an Old Fashioned cocktail with a twist to go with a dish of slow roast pork.

Seabass crudo, Felsina olive oil and Meriggio sauvignon blanc

Seabass crudo, Felsina olive oil and Meriggio sauvignon blanc

Given that I’m not a massive sauvignon fan it might surprise you that it features as my match of the week for the second successive week but it’s a question of quality. With the right dish good sauvignon is a joy.

Scallops and Muscat

Scallops and Muscat

A clever combination I had last week at a French restaurant called Larcen.

Roast turkey and 2009 Beaujolais

Roast turkey and 2009 Beaujolais

We decided some time ago we were going to drink Beaujolais with our turkey in memory of the late Marcel Lapierre who very sadly died back in September. I thought his vibrant fruity 2009 Morgon would be ideal with the classic Christmas feast and so it proved to be, mirroring the tartness and fruitiness of the cranberry sauce.

Pasta with Stilton and onion sauce and a new wave Spanish red

Pasta with Stilton and onion sauce and a new wave Spanish red

When I’m not writing about food and wine matching I’m writing a book - and a blog - about budget eating called The Frugal Cook. So this week’s match is a chance discovery with a scratch supper I knocked up last night (for which you can find the recipe on the blog)

Montlouis Sec and crab

Montlouis Sec and crab

This great pairing arose as a result of a new interest my husband has in natural wines. Actually no-one has come up with a watertight definition of ‘natural’ but it’s generally agreed that the vines are treated organically and/or biodynamically and the wines made with as little sulphur and chemical additives as possible (in some cases none).

Mackerel and artichokes with Mademoiselle rosé

Mackerel and artichokes with Mademoiselle rosé

As I’ve been down in the Languedoc for the past week most of my food and wine combinations have been classic. Picpoul and oysters (always great), a rich grenache/syrah/mourvedre blend called Cascaillou* with a beef daube (spot on) and my wine of the week, Mas des Chimères Oeillade (a cinsault) with grilled lamb and herbs.

Lamb tagine with dates, prunes and apricots and a very good Beaujolais

Lamb tagine with dates, prunes and apricots and a very good Beaujolais

Now here’s an unexpected match. I would be wary of pairing a Beaujolais - even a Morgon - with something as sweet as a lamb tagine with dried fruits thinking it would make the wine taste slightly sharp but the combination worked perfectly.

Grilled aubergine, red pepper and goats cheese baguette and Le Fruit Défendu rosé

Grilled aubergine, red pepper and goats cheese baguette and Le Fruit Défendu rosé

It’s been so steamingly hot this past week down in the Languedoc (sorry to rub it in, rain-sodden folks back home) that there isn’t any alternative to rosé for my match of the week. That’s what I’ve been drinking (albeit from different producers) with everything.

Grilled sardines and - eeek! - Sir Cliff's Onda Nova Verdelho

Grilled sardines and - eeek! - Sir Cliff's Onda Nova Verdelho

As the best summer for a barbeque for some years it’s been a frustrating time for us flat-dwellers but when I was sent some fresh sardines* the other day I knew I was going to have to find some way to grill them outside if the flat wasn’t going to smell of fish for days.

Grey mullet, fennel and muscadet

Grey mullet, fennel and muscadet

This isn’t the first time I’ve made muscadet my match of the week but it’s a wine that’s great value, constantly improving in quality and unbelievably versatile with food.

Fonduta with truffles and Nebbiolo

Fonduta with truffles and Nebbiolo

The last few days I’ve been eating and drinking my way around Piedmont - the perfect time of year as the region’s fabled white truffles are in season.

Cozido and Cortello

Cozido and Cortello

We went to a Portuguese evening at a local cafe, Tart in Bristol last week, which does a monthly supper club. The food was great, especially a main course of cozido, a substantial, saffron-laced stew of chicken, pork, chorizo and beans that would have actually made a meal in itself.

Cicheti and an Aperol Spritz

Cicheti and an Aperol Spritz

If anyone can make Aperol - the Venetian Campari drinkalike - fashionable it's Russell Norman of Polpo, Polpetto, Spuntino and now Da Polpo - four of the coolest (and smallest) restaurants in London. Admittedly bitters are not to everyone's taste - they are...well...bitter but I find Aperol fruitier and easier to drink than Campari. The traditional way to serve it as as an Aperol spritz topped up with Prosecco and a whoosh of soda water - the perfect way to recover when the Tube is at its hellish steamy worst.

Chocolate and Cognac

Chocolate and Cognac

I’m not a great spirits drinker but last night after a day sorting out dusty bookshelves we just fancied indulging ourselves in a small glass of Cognac as a nightcap. It was admittedly a good one - a Hine Antique Cognac which has all the hallmark rich vanilla and spicy notes you look for in a top quality brandy.

Brown shrimps and cucumber with Corail Ros 2010

Brown shrimps and cucumber with Corail Ros 2010

I could have made almost any of the pairings in the Restaurants in Residence pop-up supper in Docklands last Tuesday my match of the week but I think this one just inches it, mainly because I absolutely loved the wine, Corail Rosé.

Bakewell tart and Liefmans Kriek

Bakewell tart and Liefmans Kriek

It’s been hard to pick a single pairing from the beer and food matching dinner I attended at the Anchor in Walberswick last week but I reckon it’s got to be the perfect pairing of Bakewell tart and Liefmans Kriek.

What to drink for Diwali

What to drink for Diwali

If you’re planning a meal to celebrate Diwali this week here are two traditional drinks to accompany the feast.

How to celebrate wassail at home

How to celebrate wassail at home

Even if you don’t go out wassailing over the next couple of weeks there’s no reason why you can’t throw an impromptu wassail party at home if you have an apple tree in your garden. Or even if you don’t . . .

Big Drop Brewing 0.5% Pale Ale

Big Drop Brewing 0.5% Pale Ale

I’ve been focussing quite a lot on alcohol-free drinks recently so I headed along to the Mindful Drinking festival in Spitalfields yesterday where I discovered this brilliant range of low alcohol (0.5%) beers.

From the archives: Does Bordeaux need butter?

From the archives: Does Bordeaux need butter?

Italian wines with olive oil-based dishes, Bordeaux with butter-based ones. Sound like a no-brainer? Well, yes, if you happen to be in either region: you obviously drink the local wine with the local food. But just think for a moment about today’s top international restaurants.

Hedonism, Mayfair: a winelovers' playground

Hedonism, Mayfair: a winelovers' playground

London's most luxurious wine shop by far Hedonism looks as if it's the kind of place you'd need to take out a mortgage to buy a case. Fortunately appearances deceive . . .

The Barbary, Covent Garden

The Barbary, Covent Garden

There are two good reasons for eating at The Barbary. One is the Jerusalem bagel, a wondrous piece of baking. Served warm from the oven, encrusted in spicy sesame seeds it must be the best bread roll in town.

Smoked trout with griddled lemon, cucumber & sourdough croutons

Smoked trout with griddled lemon, cucumber & sourdough croutons

A fresh, simple, clever recipe for two from one of the most charming of last year's cookery books, Rosie Birkett's A Lot on her Plate

Rigatoni with aubergine (eggplant), sausage and Zinfandel sauce

Rigatoni with aubergine (eggplant), sausage and Zinfandel sauce

A really robust pasta dish from my book Cooking with Wine - perfect for cold weather eating. The wine gives a richer, more warming flavour than the usual tomato-based sauce.

Menestra

Menestra

I first had this wonderful vegetable stew - a northern Spanish equivalent of a spring vegetable minestrone - in a restaurant in Pamplona and dreamed about it for several years before managing to recreate it.

Can Can chicken

Can Can chicken

Continuing with our series of South African Braai recipes to celebrate the World Cup, here’s winemaker Paul Cluver’s version of beer-can chicken made with apple juice rather than beer.

Will Studd's tips for matching cheese and wine

Will Studd's tips for matching cheese and wine

Those of you who are lucky enough to live in Oz have the enticing prospect of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival coming up next month - a two week extravaganza of feasts, workshops and tastings with some of the country's top foodies and wine experts.

Is cider more food-friendly than wine?

Is cider more food-friendly than wine?

Susanna Forbes of Drink Britain reports on a vigorously fought contest over dinner at The Thatchers Arms near Colchester last month

10 food-friendly wines from The Beautiful South

10 food-friendly wines from The Beautiful South

Wine writer Matt Walls picks out his favourite wines from Chile, Argentina and South Africa from last week's Beautiful South tasting

What to eat with old Côte Rôtie

What to eat with old Côte Rôtie

An irresistible dinner invitation came my way a few weeks ago, to attend a game dinner and tasting of René Rostaing’s Côte Rôties at Emanuel College, Cambridge. Cambridge colleges are famous for their wine cellars but these wines came from the personal wine cellar of its ‘wine steward’ Dr Jonathan Aldred, the fortunate fellow (in both senses of the word) who buys all the wine for the college.

Young red rioja and menestra (Spanish vegetable stew)

Young red rioja and menestra (Spanish vegetable stew)

Of all the great food and wine pairings I experienced in Rioja last week this was the most unexpected.

Whisky tangerine cocktail and buttered toast

Whisky tangerine cocktail and buttered toast

This might sound a wacky pairing (OK, it is) but it’s sooo good I had to pass it on. One for Christmas morning, even.

Teroldego and Tapas

Teroldego and Tapas

Sometimes you get in a rut with a particular food and wine combination - maybe on a ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it? basis. Such is the case for me with tapas which I tend to recommend pairing with something Spanish - usually manzanilla sherry or - depending on the amount of seafood - a crisp Rueda, dry Spanish rosado or a young Rioja or similar Spanish red.

Sushi and an oaked Luis Pato white

Sushi and an oaked Luis Pato white

About the last thing you’d think I’d be recommending after 4 days in Portugal last week would be a wine pairing for sushi - but that was the outstanding match.

Savoury pancakes and sparkling cider

Savoury pancakes and sparkling cider

The English - and very delicious - way with pancakes is to serve them with granulated sugar and lemon (a dessert that pairs well with gently sparkling, sweet Asti or Moscato d’Asti). But an even better match is the French - or more specifically Breton - tradition of serving savoury pancakes with sparkling cider, a vastly underrated drink.

Prawn laksa and dry German riesling

Prawn laksa and dry German riesling

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.

Pot roast pheasant with St-Chinian

Pot roast pheasant with St-Chinian

Once the game season starts to get into full swing my husband ventures into the kitchen. Pheasant, of course, doesn’t come into season until the 1st of October but our local butcher was obviously clearing out last year’s stocks and we picked one up for a song.

Pecan pie and Kingston Black apple aperitif

Pecan pie and Kingston Black apple aperitif

I know Thanksgiving has past but I came across such a good pairing for pecan pie at a friend's* house the other day I had to tell you about it. Her pie by the way was quite distinctive with a thin layer of soft caramel in the centre (and, obviously, crisp pecans on the top).

Panko-fried yellowtail with truffle honey and sparkling sake

Panko-fried yellowtail with truffle honey and sparkling sake

I honestly didn't know which dish to pick out of this extraordinary pop-up at The Dead Doll’s House Islington last week, hosted by wine importer Bibendum PLB who now also bring in a wide range of sakes. So I’m going for this one because it was the first and one of the simplest.

Mini Yorkshire puddings with rare fillet of beef and Central Otago Pinot Noir

Mini Yorkshire puddings with rare fillet of beef and Central Otago Pinot Noir

A student gathering is not the first place you’d think of finding a good wine pairing or, indeed, a drinkable wine at all but the talk I gave last week at the University of Bristol Wine Circle produced some great combinations.

Mackerel en escabeche with manzanilla sherry

Mackerel en escabeche with manzanilla sherry

No apologies for returning to one of my favourite drinks, manzanilla sherry, as it’s such a versatile food wine. This time I found a felicitous match with a dish of mackerel en escabeche which was served at one of my regular hangouts in Bristol, Quartier Vert.

Lemon and poppy seed cake with Tippy Yunan tea with ginger root

Lemon and poppy seed cake with Tippy Yunan tea with ginger root

There’s an improbably good tea shop and café near where I live which is as good as any I’ve been to. I say improbable not because it’s in Bristol but because it’s in a far-from-smart shopping parade in one of the less cultish areas of the city. It also has a brilliantly clever name - ATTIC - which stands for All The Tea In China.

Herring and aquavit

Herring and aquavit

This week’s match of the week - herring and aquavit - was paired for me - appropriately enough - by the restaurant Aquavit which has just opened an outpost in London.

Haggis and Westmalle Dubbel

Haggis and Westmalle Dubbel

If you’re going to or hosting a Burns’ Night dinner tonight and want to create a bit of a stir, crack open a bottle of Westmalle Dubbel, a classic Belgian Trappist ale that is still made by monks at the monastery of Westmalle. You could of course drink a Scottish beer - there are plenty of good ones - but haggis to my mind needs a bit of roundness, sweetness and strength, qualities you find more often in Belgian than British beers.

Guineafowl with cherries and Beaujolais

Guineafowl with cherries and Beaujolais

I’ve been so busy catching up after my Alsace trip that I haven’t had much time for new food and wine discoveries but here’s one we had at Les Temps Changent in Chalons-en-Champagne, a hotel we frequently stop at to break the journey through France.

Goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc

Goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc

Despite the freak flurries of snow and sub arctic temperatures last week spring has officially arrived and with it longer daylight hours and a switch to lighter eating. For me there’s no combination that reflects the season better than goats' cheese and Sauvignon Blanc, one of the great classic food and wine pairings.

Galette des Rois and Muscat de St-Jean-de-Minervois

Galette des Rois and Muscat de St-Jean-de-Minervois

As the kids were off home straight after the New Year we jumped the gun by a few days with the last of the seasonal treats, a celebratory galette des rois. Traditionally eaten in France on the 6th of January (Twelfth Night) it celebrates the arrival of the three kings to visit the infant Jesus.

Fresh clementines and Jorge Ordonez Malaga Seleccion Especial

Fresh clementines and Jorge Ordonez Malaga Seleccion Especial

No Christmas goes by without some wine pairing discovery and this year it was the delicious Jorge Ordonez Malaga Seleccion Especial no. 1 2007 with some simple fresh clementines we had at the end of a post-Christmas meal with friends.

Dorset Blue Vinney and Bristol Supreme Sweet Sherry

Dorset Blue Vinney and Bristol Supreme Sweet Sherry

This is the most interesting and original wine and cheese pairing of the four* I devised for my talks at the Bristol Wine and Food Fair over the weekend. I wanted to come up with a variation on the usual port and Stilton combo and this was it.

Aubergine (eggplant) and Zinfandel

Aubergine (eggplant) and Zinfandel

This coming weekend sees the 16th annual festival of the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) in San Francisco. I went one year and it was an absolute blast - two great sheds filled with hundreds of enthusiasts enjoying this great belter of a red.

Apple tart and orange wine

Apple tart and orange wine

Apple tart is a pretty forgiving kind of dessert but here's a brilliant new pairing I found at Casanis restaurant in Bath last week.

Wine of the week: Casal de Ventozela Alvarinho 2015

Wine of the week: Casal de Ventozela Alvarinho 2015

If you’re a fan of Spain’s fashionable white wine albarino you’ll almost certainly like its Portuguese cousin alvarinho which is made just over the border.

Mas de Libian Bout d’Zan, Côtes du Rhône 2012

Mas de Libian Bout d’Zan, Côtes du Rhône 2012

If you’re after a bright, fruity, sunshine-filled red to carry you through the dark, dreary days of winter you couldn't do better than this delicious Côtes du Rhône.

Gathering rosebuds at Sally Clarke’s

Gathering rosebuds at Sally Clarke’s

When I was young I remember my grandmother endlessly telling me ‘Do all you can while you can’ or - even more irritatingly - ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’. At the time I found it hugely annoying but as I get older I can see the point.

So what's Heston Blumenthal REALLY like?

With two TV series and a blockbuster book in the pipeline Heston’s set to be the chef we’re all going to be talking about this autumn. Matching Food & Wine contributor Signe Johansen, who spent three months working at the Fat Duck, gives an exclusive insight into what goes in Heston’s lab and the team who bring his off-the-wall ideas to fruition.

Why Vinho Verde won't be the new Grüner Veltliner (or the new Albarino, come to that)

Now that Grner Veltliner has become a fixture on fashionable restaurant wine lists (along with Albarino and Picpoul de Pinet) there are signs that sommeliers are looking for the Next Big Thing. And the most likely candidate looks to be Vinho Verde.

Why Mosel riesling matches Vietnamese food

Why Mosel riesling matches Vietnamese food

Our roving gastronaut Lucy Bridgers discovers why German Mosel riesling is the ideal wine pairing for Vietnamese food

Veal chops with oysters

Veal chops with oysters

If you're not one for hearts and flowers but still feel like cooking up a special meal for Valentine's night this recipe from Will Beckett, Huw Gott and Richard Turner's Hawksmoor at Home* would fit the bill perfectly.

Soup for Syria: spiced red lentil soup

Soup for Syria: spiced red lentil soup

I don't often post commercial recipes but this delicious soup from London restaurant Arabica Bar & Kitchen is being promoted in a very good cause.

Mushroom and Mustard soup

Mushroom and Mustard soup

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.

Fridge- or freezer-foraged cheese, onion and parsley pie

Fridge- or freezer-foraged cheese, onion and parsley pie

This is the kind of recipe (or rather idea) that I used to put on my old blog The Frugal Cook. But as I’ve given up on it (I know - I shouldn’t have done) I’m posting it here.

Clams Stir-fried with Roasted Chilli Paste

Clams Stir-fried with Roasted Chilli Paste

Though I long to recreate its singing flavours I've always been slightly daunted by Thai food. The recipes always seem so long and complex and contain so many ingredients.

Veal chop with sage and Eben Sadie Sequillo Red

Veal chop with sage and Eben Sadie Sequillo Red

I had lunch for the first time for a while at Hix’s Oyster and Chop House in Farringdon last week where I ordered - appropriately enough - a chop. In this instance a veal chop with sage butter.

Oysters and oyster stout

Oysters and oyster stout

I was at the opening of TV chef Mitch Tonks' new fish restaurant in Bristol last week, Rockfish Grill. Normally they serve you bubbly on these occasions and there was some - an appealing Prosecco - but what caught my eye was an oyster stout that Mitch and a mate who owns the Albert Inn at Bridgetown, near Totnes had brewed up between them.

Oysters and La Amistad 2013 - a young fresh red from Alicante

Oysters and La Amistad 2013 - a young fresh red from Alicante

It’s generally held that red wine doesn’t pair with oysters unless they’re served, as in Bordeaux, with little crepinettes (pork patties) or spicy sausages but I found a wine last week that suited them perfectly.

Macaroni cheese and Alsace Riesling

Macaroni cheese and Alsace Riesling

As those of you who follow me on Twitter (as winematcher) will know I’ve been in New York this week and have a huge number of interesting wine and other matches to tell you about but the most unexpectedly successful - and therefore my pairing of the week - was a match of macaroni cheese and Alsace Riesling.

Joue de boeuf and a rich Roussillon red

Joue de boeuf and a rich Roussillon red

I've been in Paris for the last few days so this week's pairing had to be from here. There are so many possibilities but as I haven't written about a meat match for a while I'm going to pick the braised beef cheek and vegetables we had with a quirky wine called KM31 from the Roussillon.

Guineafowl and Oolong tea

Guineafowl and Oolong tea

Chinese meals apart it’s not often I get to match tea with savoury dishes but importer Lalani’s tea pairing lunch at Gauthier, Soho this week showed just how exciting the combination can be

Grilled ox tongue with radishes and Mr Thirsty vin de soif

Grilled ox tongue with radishes and Mr Thirsty vin de soif

As soon as I heard Will Lander of The Quality Chop House and Portland had opened a new restaurant, Clipstone, I couldn’t wait to check it out - and I wasn’t disappointed.

Gorwydd Caerphilly and white burgundy

Gorwydd Caerphilly and white burgundy

Cheese and wine is always a bit of a minefield so it’s good to find a partnership that works really well. This was one of six pairings laid on for the launch of the Bristol Wine and Food Fair which takes place next month (and at which I’m holding a number of Cheese and Wine Masterclasses, so do come along).

Gin and tonic with peppered smoked mackerel

Gin and tonic with peppered smoked mackerel

Gin isn’t just an aperitif, it’s also a surprisingly good match for food as I’ve already suggested in this post. Last week I discovered yet another way to enjoy it - with peppered smoked mackerel.

Epoisses and marc de Bourgogne

Epoisses and marc de Bourgogne

Epoisses has to be one of the most difficult cheeses to match, not least when it gets to the almost liquid stage shown in this photo (a stage too far IMHO)

Chicken with peanut sauce and Faugères rosé

Chicken with peanut sauce and Faugères rosé

We liked Larcen, the restaurant that was the inspiration for two of the Clever Food Ideas last week, so much that we managed to fit in another visit before we left France. I had the plat du jour (dish of the day) - a brilliant combination of chicken in a rich peanut sauce and a 2007 Faugères rosé from H Bouchard called Abbaye Sylva Plana.

Braised short ribs and Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre)

Braised short ribs and Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre)

One of the tricky decisions to make when you’re serving a rich, winey stew is whether to go for a wine of equal weight or a lighter medium-bodied wine as a refreshing contrast.

Beetroot soup and English Pinot Noir

Beetroot soup and English Pinot Noir

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.

How to make the perfect caipirinha

How to make the perfect caipirinha

With the World Cup in full swing it's essential to know how to make the Brazilian national drink, caipirinha. Top chef Alex Atala reveals all you need to know . . .

Wine of the week: Virgile Joly Bourret Pays d’Oc 2014

Wine of the week: Virgile Joly Bourret Pays d’Oc 2014

Those of you who have followed me for a while will know I’m not a great fan of Naked Wines but occasionally they come up with a corker that almost tempts me to sign up as an ‘Angel'.

Le Chiassaie 2013 vino spumante

Le Chiassaie 2013 vino spumante

You have to feel sympathy for Italian sparkling wine producers who don’t happen to make prosecco (except possibly those from Franciacorta who manage to charge much the same as champagne).

How to host a Bordeaux dinner

On Saturday night I went to a splendid dinner at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol hosted jointly by a group of Bordeaux producers in conjunction with the city’s best-known chef Jean-Pierre Xiradakis of La Tupina and Barny Haughton of BQ, as it’s known locally.

Matching everyday wines with special occasion food

When I received an invitation to a lunch that would see a range of wines from giant Australian wine producer Hardys paired with food prepared by Pied--Terre’s Shane Osborne, I have to admit that my inner wine snob rather expected the stuff in the glasses to be outclassed by the stuff on the plates.

Wines to match Skye Gyngell's al fresco menu

The problem with the old media is that their lead times are too long. Skye Gyngell, the Independent on Sunday’s food writer and chef at the heavenly Petersham Nurseries Cafe in Richmond probably wrote her al fresco menu in today’s edition a couple of weeks ago when the sun was blazing. Today the wind is howling and the rain lashing against the windows.No matter. It’s only May and summer will (hopefully) return. Here’s what I would suggest drinking with it.

Matching food and wine at Le Gavroche

If I told you we’d kicked off a tasting menu with a dish of barely seared, pepper-crusted tuna, with a punchy sesame and ginger dressing paired with a chilled cherry beer you’d probably think we’d dined at one of London’s cutting edge Asian restaurants rather than one of its most venerable institutions, the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche. But its chef-patron Michel Roux Jr is quite prepared to challenge his well-heeled Mayfair clientele. In fact I suspect that if he felt he could get away with it his whole menu would be packed with similarly bold combinations.

A beer dinner in the heart of Paris shows how the French are taking to craft beer

A beer dinner in the heart of Paris shows how the French are taking to craft beer

Lotte Peplow sees American craft brewers persuade the French that wine is not the only thing to drink with a meal ....

The Swan at Lavenham

The Swan at Lavenham

We Londoners are spoiled for choice when it comes to weekend breaks. A lot of people are drawn west to the Cotswolds or south to Sussex, Hampshire and the New Forest. For me, though, East Anglia takes some beating.

How to get the best last minute hotel deal on New Year’s Eve - or any other night

How to get the best last minute hotel deal on New Year’s Eve - or any other night

Is it ever worth leaving your hotel booking until the very last minute? Here's how i fared a couple of years ago trying to bag a bargain for New Year's Eve.

Hotel TerraVina: what it's like staying with the World's Best Sommelier

Hotel TerraVina: what it's like staying with the World's Best Sommelier

You might think an establishment run by the world’s best sommelier would be intimidating. After all if anyone knows what wine to choose and the right way to serve it it would be Gerard Basset, who scooped the title back in April (right). But happily Basset is a modest man who puts the comfort of his customers above any desire to flaunt his credentials.

Enfin! French wine tourism moves into the 21st century

Enfin! French wine tourism moves into the 21st century

A few weeks ago I was invited to try out the menu at the Hotel du Vieux Moulin, Domaine Laroche’s wine bar and restaurant in a converted water mill in Chablis. What they didn’t mention was that they’d just opened a cutting edge boutique hotel.

4 good restaurants in Oxford

4 good restaurants in Oxford

Oxford is a place that doesn’t have a great reputation for food but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the restaurants we ate in last weekend.

Where to eat in Bristol in 2014

Where to eat in Bristol in 2014

Many of these recommendations are now out of date. There is a more recent post of where I recommend to eat in Bristol here.

The Colony Grill Room at the Beaumont: pure old-fashioned glamour

The Colony Grill Room at the Beaumont: pure old-fashioned glamour

It has to be said that no-one knows how to do glamour like Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, the founders of the Ivy and the Caprice and, more recently, the Wolseley, the Delaunay and my current favourite, Fischer’s

River Cottage Canteen, Bristol: a good place for families

River Cottage Canteen, Bristol: a good place for families

I've never managed to get to one of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage Canteens so was intrigued to find one was opening on our doorstep on Bristol's Whiteladies Road

Aron's Jewish Delicatessen - Brooklyn comes to Bristol

Aron's Jewish Delicatessen - Brooklyn comes to Bristol

So it’s not Aaron with two ‘a’s and it’s not a deli but this small, modestly furnished American/Jewish/Hungarian-inspired neighbourhood restaurant is a great addition to the Bristol eating-out scene.

Rustle up a Red Nose Pudding!

Rustle up a Red Nose Pudding!

If you’re organising a Red Nose Day tasting tonight here’s a zany idea for a pudding that I devised for a Sainsbury’s magazine feature a couple of years ago when I interviewed TV presenter Phillip Schofield for Comic Relief.

Regula Ysewijn's Bakewell pudding

Regula Ysewijn's Bakewell pudding

A sample recipe from food writer and photographer Regula Ysewijn's Pride and Pudding which I really hope will make you want to buy this brilliant new book.

Pumpkin, coconut and lentil soup

Pumpkin, coconut and lentil soup

If you're carving a pumpkin for Hallowe'en this weekend here's a gorgeous spicy soup from Jenny Chandler's excellent book Pulse to make with the discarded pulp.

How to use your smartphone to take great restaurant shots

How to use your smartphone to take great restaurant shots

Jeanne Horak-Druiff aka Cooksister, no mean photographer herself, picks up some tips from top photographer Paul Winch-Furness at a recent Errasuriz wine pairing dinner at Pollen Street Social

Pairing beer with dessert

Pairing beer with dessert

If you were going to introduce someone to beer the last course you’d probably think of would be a dessert but as I discovered at a beer and pudding matching session at Brown’s Hotel in London this week it can be a surprisingly successful combination.

Matching wine and soup

Matching wine and soup

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.

Truffled egg toast and Bianco di Custoza

Truffled egg toast and Bianco di Custoza

I was sure I was going to be featuring the splendidly retro Brown Windsor Soup and Madeira as my match of the week this week - a combination suggested by Ben Austin of number1wino for the underground supper club I went to on Friday - but sadly I left the Madeira at home by mistake. (Ben, who went the following night, said it was a treat.)

Singaporean food and cocktails

Singaporean food and cocktails

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.

Seared cod with red wine sauce and Premier Cru Santenay

Seared cod with red wine sauce and Premier Cru Santenay

There’s still a bit of resistance to drinking red wine with fish, let alone with a white fish like cod but last week I had the perfect dish to combine with a good red burgundy.

Salt cod, oxtail and Ferñao Pires

Salt cod, oxtail and Ferñao Pires

It’s not often you have a wine flight with a tasting menu in which every pairing is so perfectly constructed that it’s almost impossible to say which was the best. Every match at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw deserved to be a match of the week but if pushed I’m going to go for this one because it was so unexpected.

Oxtail and oloroso

Oxtail and oloroso

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)

Mushroom risotto with Barbera

Mushroom risotto with Barbera

I went to a Piemontese wine dinner last week at a local Italian restaurant in Bristol, Prosecco about which I’ve written before. There were some very good matches - along with a couple of off-key ones, one of which involved a faulty bottle which the wine merchant introducing the event seemed determined to disregard despite grumblings from the floor.

Miso-marinated pork belly and Karasi Sour cocktail

Miso-marinated pork belly and Karasi Sour cocktail

Sometimes I wonder what pork belly doesn’t pair with. It seems to be delicious with so many drinks but even so It’s always intriguing to find a new match.

Leeks and Skyborry perry

Leeks and Skyborry perry

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.

Lamb biryani and grand cru gewurztraminer

Lamb biryani and grand cru gewurztraminer

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.

Gooseberry and saffron crème brûlée with a southern French Muscat

Gooseberry and saffron crème brûlée with a southern French Muscat

Once you get a feel for food and wine matching you don’t always need to taste a wine with a dish to know what will work. So it was with a simple, seasonal dessert I had last week at my favourite local, Culinaria.

Fruit kebabs and Moët Ice Imperial

Fruit kebabs and Moët Ice Imperial

A combination I came across at the launch of Moët’s new Ice Imperial Champagne last week - a Champagne that’s designed to be served over ice (yes, that’s right - with the ice actually in it)

Charcuterie and young Syrah

Charcuterie and young Syrah

Last week I had lunch at my new favourite London hangout, the wine bar Terroirs which is run by a partnership including the quirky and original Caves de Pyrène. It's a place that you'll absolutely love if you're a Francophile: it feels just like a Parisien wine bar - without the surly service. The food is also cracking but as we'd resolved to kick off the new year by splitting a Vacherin Mont d'Or, as you can read on my cheese blog The Cheeselover, we didn't get a chance this time to sample chef Ed Wilson's robust bistro food.

Roasted asparagus and Jersey royal salad with herb mayonnaise and a 2012 Saumur Champigny

Roasted asparagus and Jersey royal salad with herb mayonnaise and a 2012 Saumur Champigny

Asparagus, it’s often said, is tough to match with wine, let alone a red, but this combination with a light, chilled Saumur Champigny at the re-opened Bell’s Diner in Bristol was a perfect pairing.

An Irish cheeseboard for St Patrick’s Day

An Irish cheeseboard for St Patrick’s Day

With all the fuss about oysters and Guinness and boiled bacon and cabbage you may overlook what must be one of the best ways of celebrating St Patrick’s Day: an Irish cheeseboard.

An alternative New Year's Eve menu for four

An alternative New Year's Eve menu for four

Tired of turkey? Bored with goose? Try Signe Johansen's fresh-tasting suggestions for a simple New Year's supper with friends.

Velvet Haiku, a delicious sake cocktail from Sake no Hana

Velvet Haiku, a delicious sake cocktail from Sake no Hana

This is, without a doubt, the most refreshing cocktail I've tasted so far this summer - an incredibly thirstquenching mix of sake, jasmine tea, cucumber and prosecco - perfect for this hot, steamy weather we've been having.

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Natural Brut 2013

Tantalus Old Vines Riesling Natural Brut 2013

I don’t often pick a wine you can’t buy in the UK for my wine of the week but as it’s Canada Day I’m making an exception. (Plus there are regular Canadian visitors to the site who may be able to get their hands on it. Lucky them!)

Polgoon raspberry Aval

Polgoon raspberry Aval

Giving your mum a bottle of cider for mother’s day might seem like being a bit of a skinflint but this award-winning product from Cornwall is something entirely different.

Off the shelf: Domaine Grangette La Saignée de Rose Piquepoul Noir 2012

Off the shelf: Domaine Grangette La Saignée de Rose Piquepoul Noir 2012

As I mentioned in my Guardian column this week I’m slightly disenchanted with the Languedoc’s signature grape variety Picpoul which isn’t nearly the good value it once was but Grangette’s is one I rather like.

Macedonio Finca del Regajo Monastrell Joven 2012

Macedonio Finca del Regajo Monastrell Joven 2012

Those of you who read the Guardian will have spotted that I’ve devoted this week’s column to independent wine merchants but here’s a slightly different business model from a firm called Dashing Wines which bills itself as offering ‘estate wines at everyday prices’.

Wine of the week: Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2010

Wine of the week: Daniel-Etienne Defaix Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2010

If you’re a fan of mature Chablis - or are looking for a special white for Christmas - this is a marvellous bottle from one of Chablis’ most idiosyncractic and interesting winemakers

 Morrisons The Best Marques de Los Rios Rioja Blanco Reserva 2011

Morrisons The Best Marques de Los Rios Rioja Blanco Reserva 2011

I’m flagging this up not because I think you’re all going to love it - mature white wines are not for everyone* - but because I think it’s a fantastic achievement for a supermarket to stock a six year old wine of such quality in its own label range.

The Fast Diet by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer

The Fast Diet by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer

It’s a measure of how frantic we are to lose weight that Dr Michael Mosley’s diet book The Fast Diet shot straight to number 1 on Amazon yesterday. But is it worth buying?

Why Bristol Food Connections isn't just another food festival

Why Bristol Food Connections isn't just another food festival

The news that Bristol was to stage its own food festival may have struck you as a bit of a yawn. After all every self-respecting city has a food festival these days, peppered with visiting celebrity chefs and food personalities.

The joys of open-top motoring - and headscarves ...

The joys of open-top motoring - and headscarves ...

This week I have been mainly driving around the south of England in a large open-top Beemer. No, it’s not our car, we were offered it by the nice people at BMW who obviously got me confused with the Guardian motoring correspondent. But who was I to disillusion them?

Tasting London

If you’re in London this weekend don’t miss the city’s big annual open-air food festival Taste of London which is supported by the city’s best-known chefs. The Big Idea is to give you an opportunity to sample the food at their restaurants. Last night big stars such as Giorgio Locatelli, Gary Rhodes, Angela Hartnett and Michel Roux were all on hand to chat about their food.

How to buy wine in the sales

Just as in every other kind of store, specialist wine shops have sales at this time of year largely to clear stocks that have been slow to sell through and make way for new vintages they've ordered. But is wine the sort of product you should be buying in a sale? Well it depends . . .

How do you tell when a wine is ready to drink?

When asked at a tutored tasting when his Grand Cru Chablis would be ready to drink, the maverick Burgundy and Luberon producer Jean-Marie Guffens replied in his usual opaque way "It's not a question of when the wine is ready, it's a question of when you are ready". Guffens was, I think, attempting to get away from what he saw as the tyranny of 'the perfect moment', the year, the month, the day even, when a wine is 'at its best'.

Cooking with beer

Good to see Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall giving some recipes that use beer in the Guardian today. As I discovered when my son Will and I wrote our book An Appetite for Ale last year, beer makes a great addition to many recipes and is often just as good a match for a meal as wine.

Should you use fine wine in cocktails?

Should you use fine wine in cocktails?

The answer most people would give to the question ‘should you use wine to make cocktails?’ is ‘Why ever not?” Yet there is a general feeling, of which I must confess I’m occasionally guilty, that it’s a waste of a wine that may be perfectly well balanced in itself.

Move over sommeliers, hello wine concierges (and curators)!

Move over sommeliers, hello wine concierges (and curators)!

The news that London’s latest impossibly glitzy Russian-owned wine shop Hedonism aims to offer a ‘personal, concierge-like approach‘ according to an interview its CEO Tatiana Fokina gave the wine magazine Decanter, doesn’t come as a total surprise. The C-word has been creeping into the wine world for a while.

Does craft beer suit posh food?

Does craft beer suit posh food?

Despite many attempts to introduce beer lists in Michelin-starred restaurants, customers still don’t seem to want to drink it on a special occasion. Are they misguided or are restaurateurs wimping out?

From the archives: Can water assist your appreciation of food and wine?

From the archives: Can water assist your appreciation of food and wine?

"Apart from it being the basis for all known life, I have long harboured an interest in the nuances of H2O, visiting Buxton and Vittel’s bottling plants and Bath’s Roman Spa" writes Douglas Blyde. "I was thirsty, therefore, to see what the ‘Best Sommelier in the World’, Andreas Larsson had to say on the subject at his presentation at the recent Identita conference at London’s liquid theme park Vinopolis. (This post was first published in 2009)

Brazil 3 Argentina 3

Brazil 3 Argentina 3

Another fascinating meal in the Masters of Food and Wine programme was my first encounter with high end Brazilian food. It was an impressive one. The chef was Alex Atala from D.O.M. restaurant in Sao Paolo which has been listed by Restaurant Magazine among the top 50 restaurants in the world. Sao Paolo is generally considered to be the culinary capital of Brazil and judging by this light, colourful, creative meal has a lot to offer.

How to eat like the Veronese

How to eat like the Veronese

As you walk through the door of Al Pompiere in Verona you could easily be back in the '70s. A timbered ceiling, checked table cloths, walls lined with pictures of guests through the ages, it’s every inch the traditional trat. In one corner where hams line the shelves and hang from the ceiling an elderly chef in a toque is slicing ham and other salumi to order with a large, impressively flashy machine. If you think it’s old-fashioned though take a look at their website - the retro feel is deliberate but they’re linked to all the social media.

5 ways to eat cheaply - and well - in Paris

5 ways to eat cheaply - and well - in Paris

Having recently had a whole week in Paris during which we ate out every day we obviously had to watch what we spent. Had we gone to one of the three star temples of gastronomy we could have easily blown our budget in a night.

Spring, Somerset House - the return of Skye Gyngell

Spring, Somerset House - the return of Skye Gyngell

No restaurant in London can have been more visited or commented on its first couple of weeks than Spring. Everyone seemingly has been there and has a view - not always complimentary - of the merits of chef Skye Gyngell’s return to London.

Shop Eight Food and Wine, Christchurch, New Zealand

Shop Eight Food and Wine, Christchurch, New Zealand

It must take guts to open a restaurant in Christchurch. Four years after the devastating earthquake that demolished much of the historic city centre it still looks like a war zone in places with yawning gaps where local landmarks once were.

First impressions: Merchants Tavern, Shoreditch

First impressions: Merchants Tavern, Shoreditch

It’s hard to talk about Merchants Tavern without telling the story behind it. Which is that it’s a joint collaboration between Britain’s most famous female chef Angela Hartnett and her boyfriend Neil Borthwick.

Cell, Berlin

Cell, Berlin

The entrance to Cell looks like something from The Man from U.N.C.L.E, which is funny really as Berlin’s latest hot restaurant opening was conceived by a Russian chef, Evgeny Vikentev. The inspiration, we find out moments later, is not the Cold War, but the Bauhaus.

Supreme of guinea fowl with broad beans, fresh morels and herb gnocchi

Supreme of guinea fowl with broad beans, fresh morels and herb gnocchi

A smashing recipe from Chris and Jeff Galvin's Galvin: a Cookbook de Luxe which you could make to impress on Father's Day. It's one of those books that teaches you to cook like a Michelin-starred chef - so also a great present for any Dad who fancies himself in the kitchen.

Honey pastries with baked figs

Honey pastries with baked figs

I love this Spanish twist on baklava from José Pizarro's gorgeous new book Andalucia - it would make the perfect end to a summer meal.

Courgette and feta fritters with yogurt

Courgette and feta fritters with yogurt

For those whose courgettes (zucchini) just won't stop producing here's the perfect way to use them from Tom Hunt's lovely book The Natural Cook.

Butternut squash with pistachio pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds

Butternut squash with pistachio pesto, feta and pomegranate seeds

Finding a special occasion vegetarian dish is tough if you're not a veggie yourself but try this show-stopping recipe from Sabrina Ghayour's Persiana which won best new cookbook at this week's Observer Food Monthly awards.

Which beer to drink on New Year’s Eve?

Which beer to drink on New Year’s Eve?

If you’re planning to toast the new year with a beer rather than a glass of champagne which one should it be? A quick Twitter survey revealed a whole raft of interesting options

Is Aldi or Lidl better value for your Christmas wine?

Is Aldi or Lidl better value for your Christmas wine?

Just as UKIP has shaken up the political landscape so Aldi and Lidl have changed the face of retailing in the UK. You might not have considered buying your wine there before but you certainly should this Christmas.

Graze: food and wine matching at the London Restaurant Festival

Graze: food and wine matching at the London Restaurant Festival

If you’re the sort who likes to nick food off your partner’s plate - and even off friends' on the other side of the table (mea culpa) - you’ll love the idea of Graze, this year’s new feature at the London Restaurant Festival this autumn which features six of London’s most foodie streets including Exmouth Market, Bermondsey Street, Brixton Village and Marylebone High Street.

All you need to know about hangovers

All you need to know about hangovers

In his latest guest post GP Jonathan Tricker explains why we get hangovers, how to avoid them and how to get over them.

Sticky toffee pudding and 20 year old tawny port

Sticky toffee pudding and 20 year old tawny port

One of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on this year is to collaborate on the wine list at Gridiron, a new restaurant from my pal Richard Turner of Hawksmoor, Meatopia and Pitt Cue fame.

Steak and ale pie and horseradish mash with Domaine Tempier Bandol 1994

Steak and ale pie and horseradish mash with Domaine Tempier Bandol 1994

The great thing about going to old country pubs is that they tend to have wines you can’t find anywhere else - or certainly not at the price. Like the bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol 1994 we found at the Nobody Inn in Doddiscombleigh in Devon at the weekend.

Soft cheese and onion spread and a natural sparkling Vouvray

Soft cheese and onion spread and a natural sparkling Vouvray

This week’s pairing is a short (and I imagine welcome) respite from Christmas fare - a wine we enjoyed with a number of small dishes yesterday lunchtime at a natural wine bar, Toast in East Dulwich.

Simnel cake and Orange Pekoe tea

Simnel cake and Orange Pekoe tea

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).

Seafood pizza and medium-dry cider

Seafood pizza and medium-dry cider

The cider revival continues to gather momentum - and this time it’s with food. Of course cider has always been popular in summer but this year there seem to be many more well-made 'craft' ciders around - not just the latest raft of fruit flavoured fizzy drinks.

Roast turkey and zinfandel

Roast turkey and zinfandel

This last fortnight, you won’t be surprised to hear, has been all about festive food particularly The Bird which we’ve finally despatched but before we move on to healthier fare I wanted to give a shout out to my top pairing for turkey this year which wasn’t even on my hitlist.

Roast suckling pig with Casa de Saima Bairrada Tinto

Roast suckling pig with Casa de Saima Bairrada Tinto

I recently went to a Portuguese food and wine evening in Bristol hosted by an enterprising wine merchant called Corks of Cotham. It featured the wines of a producer called Casa de Saima, the ports of Niepoort and an intriguing Barbeito Single Harvest Madeira which went exceptionally well with some classic Portuguese custard tarts.

Hawksmoor hot dog and Seven Barrels Red Rye IPA

Hawksmoor hot dog and Seven Barrels Red Rye IPA

I know I said I was going to make a Riesling my match of the week but given that I've already written about it and that it's the Great British Beer Festival this week I'm going for this great combo at my son's restaurant, Hawksmoor. (Blatantly nepotistic, I know. Apologies)

Gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce and Barbera d'Asti

Gnocchi with fresh tomato sauce and Barbera d'Asti

A surprisingly good pairing I came across in a local Italian restaurant on Saturday night. The (admirably light) home-made gnocchi were dressed with a fresh tomato sauce with basil which I would have thought would have been overwhelmed by the firm, well-structured 13.5% Barbera the boys had ordered with it - a Ca’ del Matt 2002. (For preference I’d have drunk a dry Italian white such as a Soave.) But it was spot on - even better than it was with my main course of slow roast pork belly.

Duck tagine and Moscatel

Duck tagine and Moscatel

I certainly feel duck’s status as one of the best ingredients to pair with wine has been enhanced by this week’s match of the week

Duck a l’orange and Gramenon Poignée de Raisins 2011

Duck a l’orange and Gramenon Poignée de Raisins 2011

It’s such a long time since I’ve eaten duck à l’orange that I’ve rather lost track of the best match for it but the vivid, joyous Gramenon Poignée de Raisins I was offered last week by the sommelier at Brasserie Chavot proved the perfect pairing.

Cheese fondue and Chasselas

Cheese fondue and Chasselas

I was beginning to think we’d managed to skip winter this year before last week’s icy blasts and snow came as a timely reminder we’ve got a good few weeks to go yet. So there’s still time to enjoy one of winter’s great favourites - a Swiss cheese fondue.

Champagne and pigs tails

Champagne and pigs tails

Champagne, we all know, goes with practically everything but PIG TAILS? Surely not.

Chambolle-Musigny and game

Chambolle-Musigny and game

No earth-shattering revelations this week, just a reminder that mature red burgundy is a brilliant match for game.

Burrata and watermelon with Montej rosé

Burrata and watermelon with Montej rosé

It’s not often that you come across a wine match that’s as successful as it’s unexpected but sommelier Ruth Spivey’s pairing of a fruity Monferrato chiaretto rosato (aka rosé) from Piedmont with a dish of burrata, pressed watermelon and pickled fennel at Arbutus the other night was spot on - and all the more impressive given that she hadn’t had a chance to taste the combination beforehand.

The best cocktail bars in Paris - according to the city's bartenders

The best cocktail bars in Paris - according to the city's bartenders

Paris: the city of lights at the centre of a culture embedded in cheese, revolution and alcohol. We know that some of the world’s best restaurants and wines can be found in these 105km, but where should you go for the best cocktails in Paris? I ventured out and asked bartenders where they drink to discover the city's best bars.

Hawksmoor's Marmalade Cocktail

Hawksmoor's Marmalade Cocktail

Unless you've been living in outer Mongolia you can't fail to be aware that the Paddington movie goes on release today. Cue for a marmalade cocktail!

Zünftler Black Forest Cherry Schnapps

Zünftler Black Forest Cherry Schnapps

If you’re planning to celebrate the start of Oktoberfest this weekend (yes, in September - I *know*) snap up this full-size bottle of Zünftler cherry schnapps from Lidl for just £14.99

What champagne to buy (and what not to buy) for Valentine's Day

What champagne to buy (and what not to buy) for Valentine's Day

Do you need to splash out on champagne for Valentine’s Day - and if so how much do you need to pay for it? You may not realise quite what pressure you’re under to spend over the odds

Off the Shelf: Desconocido 2013

Off the Shelf: Desconocido 2013

The first of my random wine finds in this new series* is a young Spanish red called Desconocido #1 Tinto Joven 2013 from Alicante which is made from bush-vine Monastrell (or Mourvèdre as they call it in France).

Why I drink wine. A guest post from a doctor who knows the risks

Why I drink wine. A guest post from a doctor who knows the risks

I'm handing over my blog this week to Dr Jonathan Tricker, a practising GP. We were discussing the UK Government latest guidelines on alcohol on the train a while back and he offered to share his perspective as a doctor who is also a winelover.

Why Fairtrade wine could be better

Why Fairtrade wine could be better

As those of you who read my Guardian column will know I had a big rant about the quality of Fairtrade wine at the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight. Now on the last day it seems like a good opportunity to explore how it might be improved

The truth about millennial wine drinkers

The truth about millennial wine drinkers

Do millennials really scorn wine? Or only pour it to take pictures of it on instagram? Nathalie Gardiner, a member of Generation Y herself, examines a few prejudices

New voices in food

New voices in food

As little as a year ago - can it be that short a time? - it felt as if food writing was in terminal decline. Newspapers and food magazines were dominated by the same old names, generally fostered by a restaurant or TV connection. Some, it was rumoured (choosing my words carefully), didn’t even write their own columns or books.

My big Greek adventure

My big Greek adventure

I first went to Greece when I was 17 as a treat for passing my A levels (not with great distinction I have to confess). My mother and I went on a cruise round the islands about which I can’t remember a great deal apart from having a crush on one of the cabin stewards who bore an uncanny resemblance to Sean Connery in his James Bond heyday. And was probably my mother’s age. Nothing came of it I'm sorry to say although mother, of course, was profoundly relieved.

Eureka! A red wine match for artichokes

Eureka! A red wine match for artichokes

Everyone knows that artichokes are one of the most difficult ingredients to match with wine - especially with red wine. Only last weekend we struggled to find a pairing at the food matching forum I was taking part in.

5 of the world’s sexiest cheeses

5 of the world’s sexiest cheeses

Cheese is possibly not the first ingredient that comes to mind in terms of a Valentine’s Night celebration but think again and you realise there's no shortage of suitable candidates.

The new wines of Malaga

Malaga has more to offer than its fortified wines as wine educator and consultant David Furer found on a recent visit.

A natural wine dinner at Murano

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I’m an enthusiast about natural wine so I was particularly interested to go to a couple of natural wine dinners this last week at Artisan and Vine and Angela Hartnett’s Murano

A week’s eating in Paris

A week’s eating in Paris

Spending a whole week in Paris is any foodie’s idea of heaven but how do you choose from the vast amount of restaurants on offer without breaking the bank? If you’ve read about how we planned our recent Paris trip I thought you might like to know where we ended up eating . . .

A great base to explore Beaujolais

A great base to explore Beaujolais

I’m embarrassed to admit that until last week I’d never been to Beaujolais - it was the one French wine region that had passed me by. I’d heard it was attractive and even on a bleak early March day it was - the famous villages are clustered improbably closely together in the middle of pretty, rolling countryside, spiked by soaring church towers.

6 places to stop overnight on your way through France

6 places to stop overnight on your way through France

Every summer we used to drive down to our house in Languedoc in the south of France stopping off a couple of nights on the way. This post on our favourite hotels and chambres d’hotes was written back in 2014 so some of the prices will be out of date.

Vinoteca: Soho’s newest wine bar

Vinoteca: Soho’s newest wine bar

Even casual restaurants tend to have such good winelists these days that you might wonder whether there’s much of a market for wine bars. But from the heaving crowd at the newly opened branch of Vinoteca in Beak Street this week it looks like they’re on to a winner.

Root, Wapping Wharf, Bristol

Root, Wapping Wharf, Bristol

Veg is the new chicken - or so it seems from the overnight reincarnation of Bristol chef Josh Eggleton’s fried chicken shack Chicken Shed into a largely vegetarian restaurant called Root.

My two favourite restaurants in Paris

My two favourite restaurants in Paris

Whenever we come to Paris, whatever new places we book, we still always make time to see two old favourites, Le Baratin and Bistrot Paul Bert.

Birch restaurant, Bristol - just simple, lovely food

Birch restaurant, Bristol - just simple, lovely food

From the minimalist decor to the simple seasonal food Bristol’s latest restaurant opening, Birch, will seem instantly familiar to anyone who’s eaten at St John.

Auberge de Combes: a real taste of the Languedoc

Auberge de Combes: a real taste of the Languedoc

Over the past few years we’ve become so disillusioned with restaurants in the Languedoc that we almost invariably end up eating at home.

 Jikoni: modern Indian home cooking in the heart of Marylebone

Jikoni: modern Indian home cooking in the heart of Marylebone

What makes you want to go back to a restaurant? It may be because it’s convenient for where you live or work. The food certainly has to be good but I think the most important factor is the warmth of the welcome - whether you feel at home there.

Tom Parker-Bowles Neapolitan Ragù

Tom Parker-Bowles Neapolitan Ragù

If you think you have the ultimate bolognese recipe, think again. Try this fantastic version from Tom Parker-Bowles book Let's Eat Meat. I love Tom's style of writing - do read the great introduction:

Roast supreme of guinea fowl with sherry and grapes

Roast supreme of guinea fowl with sherry and grapes

A perfect autumnal dinner party recipe from James Ramsden's lovely book Do Ahead Dinners.

Rhubarb & strawberry crumble sundae

Rhubarb & strawberry crumble sundae

It was the savoury dishes that initially attracted me to Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter’s excellent Leon: Fast Vegetarian but this is a cracking dessert with in-season rhubarb.

How to make the perfect Caipirinha

How to make the perfect Caipirinha

A smart new Brazilian restaurant and cocktail bar, Mocoto, has opened in Knightsbridge, so I thought I’d go down and check out their Caipirinhas, which is to Brazil what the Margarita is to Mexico. And one of my very favourite cocktails.

A foolproof cheese fondue

A foolproof cheese fondue

If you’re making a dish as simple as fondue you need to use top quality cheese. Emmental and Gruyère are traditional but once you’ve got the hang of it you can play around with other alternatives.

 Classic cheese ball

Classic cheese ball

The cheese ball is an American party food classic. It's a little retro, but retro food is fun, and a cheese ball is the kind of thing you can easily posh up and adapt to use your favourite cheeses, herbs, and seasonings.

What sort of wine to buy in a bin end sale: 12 tips to help you bag a bargain

What sort of wine to buy in a bin end sale: 12 tips to help you bag a bargain

If friends and family have drunk you out of house and home over the holiday you may be looking to top up your stocks at this time of year, especially as many merchants have bin end or clearance sales. But is buying wine that way a good idea?

What makes the BBC Food & Farming Awards special

What makes the BBC Food & Farming Awards special

Today (January 5th) nominations open for the 2014 BBC Food & Farming awards which celebrate the best producers, shops and food and drink businesses in the UK.

More wines under 12.5%

More wines under 12.5%

As I mentioned in my Guardian column this week the Government has been putting pressure on the drinks industry to reduce the strength of house wines to below 12.5%. Frankly I think that’s more likely to make people spend more on their wine rather than drink less but it’s true that wines have got progressively higher in alcohol particularly from regions like Bordeaux where reds now regularly clock in at 14%. I certainly prefer to drink wines below that myself.

More French wine bargains from Lidl

More French wine bargains from Lidl

I’ve already made my selection of Bordeaux from Lidl’s heavily promoted new French wine offer on the Guardian website today. Here’s what else I’d pick up when the wines go on sale this Thursday September 4th. (Note they're NOT available before then.)

How to eat - and drink - like a Tuscan

How to eat - and drink - like a Tuscan

A re-run of a piece I wrote a few years ago following a trip to Tuscany which reminded me how differently Italians approach food and wine from how we would eat and drink in an Italian restaurant here or at home.

10 things you possibly didn’t know about champagne

10 things you possibly didn’t know about champagne

We are all familiar with the pop of the cork, the seductive stream of bubbles and the heady sensation as you take your first sip, but how much do you really know about the world’s most romantic drink ?

Pairing wine with vegan food

Pairing wine with vegan food

With media interest in vegan food at an unprecedented high you might wonder which wines vegans can drink. Quite a lot as it happens ...

Tea-smoked duck with beetroot jelly and Bandol

Tea-smoked duck with beetroot jelly and Bandol

We may have got rid of the old convention of white wine with fish and red wine with meat but you’d still expect to drink a light wine with a starter and a more robust wine with your main course, non? Well not when it’s tea-smoked duck as I discovered at a great meal at one of our local Bristol restaurants, Riverstation in Bristol last week.

Sweetbreads, morels and madeira

Sweetbreads, morels and madeira

Lots of good food and wine combinations this week but I’m picking out the one with the most unusual wine: Barbeito's Rainwater 5 year old reserva medium-dry madeira which I had at Bell’s Diner in Bristol on Friday night

Soft boiled eggs with anchoiade and radicchio and Bourgueil

Soft boiled eggs with anchoiade and radicchio and Bourgueil

Last week’s best pairing was at a fascinating meal I had at Les 110 de Taillevent in Paris which I’ll be writing up in more detail so here’s an off-the-wall match from last night’s feast at The Unfiltered Dog - a pop up restaurant at the Real Wine Fair run by the team from Terroirs.

Raspberry cranachan and Black Tokyo Horizon

Raspberry cranachan and Black Tokyo Horizon

As it turned out the star pairing of my bizarre Brewdog Burns night was not the haggis spring rolls and Punk IPA but an equally off the wall pairing of raspberry cranachan and Black Tokyo Horizon, a 15% Imperial stout.

Prosecco and panettone

Prosecco and panettone

The soft creamy fizz of Italy's famous sparkling wine Prosecco makes it a marvellous match for Italian panettone which is not too rich or too sweet to overwhelm it. I discovered the combination a couple of years ago when I tried the celebratory Easter dove-shaped Colomba Pasquale which is topped with crystallised sugar with a glass of Bisol’s elegant Cartizze Prosecco de Valdobbiadene which sells in the UK for roughly 16 a bottle (check out wine-searcher.com for stockists)

Goat biryani and natural wine

Goat biryani and natural wine

I subjected myself to a somewhat daunting experience last Thursday trying to persuade a largely sceptical audience of journalists and bloggers of the virtues of natural wine. I think/hope I made some modest headway, helped by the fantastic feast laid on by chef Stevie Parle and his team at Dock Kitchen.

Chicken pot pie and perry

Chicken pot pie and perry

In the wake of the great cider boom that has gripped the UK over the past year or so perry - which is cider made from pears - is also undergoing a renaissance. Typically drier than cider it goes well with the sort of dishes with which you’d drink a light dry white wine like a Chenin Blanc or a Chardonnay.

Cramele Recas Orange Wine

Cramele Recas Orange Wine

If you thought orange wine was the exclusive province of hipster natural wine bars, think again - one has just gone on sale in Aldi. And while most cost nearer £20 than £10 this one is on sale at a very affordable £5.99.

6 wines to buy from Lidl’s Spring Wine Tour 2019

6 wines to buy from Lidl’s Spring Wine Tour 2019

You might wonder why I so regularly flag up Lidl’s season ‘wine tours’. (No, I’m not paid to do so in case you were wondering, it’s just that it’s hard to find decent wines under £7 these days and these limited edition offers are well worth snapping up.

3 good white wine buys from Lidl

3 good white wine buys from Lidl

Yesterday saw Lidl release the latest tranche of the limited edition wines it adds to its range every couple of months.

4 good red wine buys from Lidl

4 good red wine buys from Lidl

Lidl’s limited edition releases which come out every couple of months are always worth looking out for - and considerably more interesting than their basic range. Here are four that caught my eye at their recent tasting and which have just gone on sale.

10 good wine buys from Lidl

10 good wine buys from Lidl

Lidl has released its latest limited edition batch of wines including 2 at under £5 - if you can still find them on the shelves. Here are the 10 I think represent best value.

 Three chocolatey beers for Easter

Three chocolatey beers for Easter

As you can see from the new chocolate e-book I’ve been doing quite a lot of *research* into chocolate and chocolate-flavoured drinks and beer is no exception.

Wine for Foodies pop-up wine school at Honey & Co

Wine for Foodies pop-up wine school at Honey & Co

I’m really excited to let you all know about a series of pop-up wine classes I’m doing at the wonderful Honey & Co in London

Three things I’ve learnt this weekend

Three things I’ve learnt this weekend

This weekend I’ve been away at Mawgan Porth in north Cornwall attending a champagne dinner (yes, tough) and chilling out by a beautiful beach. Actually the best thing has been just having 24 hours to draw breath in the hectic run-up to Christmas. And three things have particularly struck me:

Should wine writers cover supermarket promotions?

Should wine writers cover supermarket promotions?

As some of you may have spotted I’ve just uploaded a couple of posts* with my recommended buys from Tesco which, like many supermarkets these days, has week-long promotions where it knocks 25% off the cost of six bottles.

New Christmas traditions: my 24 hour post-Christmas break

New Christmas traditions: my 24 hour post-Christmas break

It’s the evening of December 27th and my daughter and I are holed up in the luxurious Rosewood hotel in London tucking into a club sandwich (her) and a lobster macaroni cheese (me) on room service.

Living like a local in Athens

Living like a local in Athens

I’ve been thinking this past couple of days that I’ve been getting it all wrong about travelling. The frantic search for the best hotel, the hottest restaurants, the relentless attempt to tick the *must see* boxes. But I’m going to have to admit after two days in Athens I didn’t even make it to the centre.

Bar Buvette: Bristol’s first natural wine bar

Bar Buvette: Bristol’s first natural wine bar

This week Bristol finally has its own natural wine bar*, Bar Buvette which has been opened by a local chef, Peter Taylor who runs one of my favourite places in France, the Auberge de Chassignolles.

Venice restaurants - the big hitters

Eating out in Venice is not cheap, as we’ve discovered, but there are ways of mitigating the cost (essential if you’re spending a fortnight in the city!) Here are five of the more classic Venetian restaurants we’ve been to. Some less expensive and off the beaten track options over the next few days.

Paris tips and trends

Last post (for the moment) from Paris! A quick run-down of the most interesting food and wine ideas I picked up for those of you who haven’t time to read the full reviews:Sardines - cheap, sustainable - this summer’s must-eat fish, it seems. Grilled (Le Temps au Temps), served with red peppers and black-eye beans (La Gazzetta) served whole in a tin with seaweed butter (Cristal de Sel)

Biodynamic food and wine matching

Does biodynamic wine make a difference to food pairing. Wine writer and educator David Furer investigates:

Two more tips for successful food and wine matching

Two more tips for successful food and wine matching

Advice on food and wine matching tends to focus on such issues as flavour intensity and finding a wine to complement or contrast with the dish in question (not an approach, I admit, of which I’m overly fond) but a meal I had the other day reminded me of a couple of other factors that it’s worth bearing in mind.

Can you learn to use Twitter?

Can you learn to use Twitter?

Yesterday I took part in a panel discussion organised by We are Like Minds as part of London’s social media week on how food businesses can more effectively use different platforms. The irony was that, apart from the fact that I was an early adopter and use it a lot I don’t consider myself in any way a social media expert.

Where Bristol foodies eat

Where Bristol foodies eat

Bristol has more than its fair share of cookery writers (including yours truly) so who better to ask where to eat in the city - and what to order? (Well, local chefs, maybe, but I’ll come on to that …)

Where - and what - Bristol chefs eat

Where - and what - Bristol chefs eat

As there was so much interest in the post on where my fellow food writers eat out in Bristol I thought I'd do a follow-up with chefs.

China's glitzy new gastronomy

China's glitzy new gastronomy

In the second of his features on his recent trip to China, food writer and restaurant guide inspector Stuart Walton examines the burgeoning restaurant scene in Beijing and Shanghai

Wallfish Bistro, Clifton - Bristol’s new culinary hotspot

Wallfish Bistro, Clifton - Bristol’s new culinary hotspot

It’s hard to write a dispassionate account of a restaurant that’s five minutes walk away unless it’s a total car crash and you never want to go there again.

Da Cesare al Casaletto, Rome - the perfect neighbourhood trat

Da Cesare al Casaletto, Rome - the perfect neighbourhood trat

With trattorias on every street corner you might wonder why you need to jump on a number 8 tram and go to the end of the line to eat but Da Cesare is well worth the detour, as Michelin famously puts it.

10 of the best Bristol restaurants

10 of the best Bristol restaurants

The last time I did a round up of the best places to eat in Bristol was back in 2014. Since then the food scene has exploded to such an extent that I hardly recognise my original list.

Rabbit stifado

Rabbit stifado

A robust, winey stew from Rebecca Seal's mouthwatering new book, The Islands of Greece which immediately makes you want to jump on a plane and fly off there. Top tip about cooking rabbit too.

Six good wine buys from Sainsbury’s

Six good wine buys from Sainsbury’s

Two months to Christmas and the supermarkets are already into the swing of their 25%-off offers if you buy six bottles. I know a lot of people in the wine trade feel these sell themselves and it’s a disservice to independent wine merchants to flag them up.

New #vinematching videos on Vine and where else you’ll find Matching Food & Wine online

New #vinematching videos on Vine and where else you’ll find Matching Food & Wine online

I’ve been thinking for a while about adding some video content to the site and have now found the perfect way to do it: six second videos on Vine, the video world’s equivalent of Twitter.

Kate Goodman: the new Jilly Goolden

Kate Goodman: the new Jilly Goolden

The reaction of many people to the news that the new BBC Food & Drink show was to be co-hosted by Kate Goodman would have been Kate who? I confess it was mine.

Good wine buys from Waitrose

Good wine buys from Waitrose

Yesterday was a bit of a marathon on the wine-tasting circuit with a huge tasting at Waitrose and a slightly more manageable one at the Co-op but the Waitrose tasting produced this gem which I’d urge you to snap up before the current offer expires on May 29th.

What to drink with your favourite Christmas snacks

What to drink with your favourite Christmas snacks

You may think it’s utterly pointless to waste time wondering what would be the best match for Christmas snacks. For most people the answer would be prosecco.

White peaches and Muscat de Frontignan

White peaches and Muscat de Frontignan

Last week we were in the south of France where, bizarrely, it wasn't as hot as it's been in England the past couple of days. One night we went round for supper at a neighbour's who served the simplest and most delicious dessert of white pèches de vigne with chilled Muscat de Frontignan splashed over them.

Cured and smoked pig jowl with Partizan IPA

Cured and smoked pig jowl with Partizan IPA

I’ve highlighted the affinity of pork and IPA before but it’s good to be reminded just what a brilliant pairing it is.

Caramel-flavoured desserts and tawny port

Caramel-flavoured desserts and tawny port

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.

Wise Owl Cider

Wise Owl Cider

So many bottles arrive at the door (no, I don’t expect you to sympathise) that it sometimes takes me a while to get round to tasting them but this week I finally got to try Wise Owl’s sparkling cider which they’d been patiently nudging me about.