Match of the week

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.

Chaource cheese paired with vermouth

Chaource cheese paired with vermouth

I have to thank my colleague drinks writer, wine guru and good time pal Kate Hawkings for this week's pairing. Once she squealed excitedly about it on Twitter I knew I had to drop by her restaurant (Bellita) and give it a try.

Turbot paired with white Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Turbot paired with white Chateauneuf-du-Pape

This week I’ve been celebrating a big birthday with some extravagant feasting including a sublime dinner on the night at my son’s restaurant Hawksmoor Borough. (Well, you might as well keep it in the family!)

Korean fried chicken paired with a soju cocktail

Korean fried chicken paired with a soju cocktail

Last week’s ‘Girls can Grill’ event at Jinjuu in Soho provided plenty of inspiration as you may have already seen from the kimchi fried rice recipe I posted but there was also a cracking drinks match of the introductory cocktail with Korean fried chicken.

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.

Passionfruit and tarragon with Jurancon

Passionfruit and tarragon with Jurancon

There were so many outstanding pairings in the meal I had at the Michelin-starred Casamia in Bristol last week I don’t know quite where to start.

Cider and tapas

Cider and tapas

Cider isn’t, I admit, the first drink I’d pair with tapas but when I spotted on the menu of newly opened Bar 44 in Bristol that they had Spanish ‘sidra’ on tap - the first, they claimed, in the country - I had to try it.

Champagne and pigs tails

Champagne and pigs tails

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

Junmai sake with cheung fun, asparagus and shiitake mushrooms

Junmai sake with cheung fun, asparagus and shiitake mushrooms

It’s partly because not enough restaurants offer the option but I don’t drink sake often enough in Asian restaurants. (And yes, I know Asian is an imprecise term but that’s how many describe the food they offer)

Spicy prawns and Chilean riesling

Spicy prawns and Chilean riesling

Last week I hosted a fabulous wine dinner at my local Indian restaurant Nutmeg in Bristol. We’d had the opportunity to have a run through beforehand and I was really happy with all the wines which were chosen in conjunction with their supplier Talking Wines.

Aubergines with walnut sauce and amber wine

Aubergines with walnut sauce and amber wine

It’s hard to pick out one pairing out of the multitude of dishes we were served with amber or orange wine during my first visit to Georgia last week but I’m going for one we barely ever failed to find on the table - grilled aubergine with walnut sauce.

Slow-cooked salmon with a yuzu-flavoured beer

Slow-cooked salmon with a yuzu-flavoured beer

I dithered between two brilliant beer pairings at the British Guild of Beer Writers Beer Meets Food event at the Wild Beer Co, Wapping Wharf last week, both of which involved citrus.

Duck casserole with Vilarnau Els Capricis Cava

Duck casserole with Vilarnau Els Capricis Cava

There’s a certain repertoire of ingredients and dishes that are regularly paired with vintage champagnes and other sparkling wines - luxury foods like lobster, turbot, sweetbreads and even roast chicken but until last week’s trip to the Cava region I would never have thought of pairing them with a casserole

Mature Marlborough chardonnay with modern Japanese food

Mature Marlborough chardonnay with modern Japanese food

I don’t often go to wine lunches or dinners, preferring to experiment with a range of wines from more than one country and producer with the food I’m eating but I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying New Zealand producer Astrolabe’s wine with the food at Sake No Hana in London's St James's.

Alta Langa spumante and pizza

Alta Langa spumante and pizza

Last week I was in Piemonte exploring the world of vermouth with Roberto Bava of Cocchi. I discovered many startlingly good pairings about which more about in due course but the one I was most intrigued by was their Alta Langa sparkling wine with pizza, not a combination I would have expected at all.

Grilled octopus and Baga

Grilled octopus and Baga

Octopus seems an unlikely ingredient to be on trend but you’ll find it on a lot of restaurant menus at the moment. It’s far from an easy creature to cook (like squid it’s classified as a cephalopod rather than a fish) and it’s a measure of the kitchen’s skill as to whether it turns out tough or not.

Roast beef sandwich and a Virgin Mary

Roast beef sandwich and a Virgin Mary

I’ve got a bit obsessed with Virgin Marys (alcohol-free Bloody Marys) over the last few days.

Anchovies and alvarinho

Anchovies and alvarinho

If you don’t like fish don’t go to Olhao! Restaurants in this bustling fishing port on the Algarve serve almost nothing else which is fine with me but less good for people, like my friend J, who has a real phobia about fishbones.

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.

Vignole and Friulano

Vignole and Friulano

As those of you who follow me on instagram (@food_writer) will know I’ve been in Venice for the past few days - and if I could would still be there!

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