Match of the week
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.
This time of year is full of pre-Christmas get-togethers which means a higher than usual number of meals out and an above average number of interesting wine pairings.
It’s rare that you keep on coming across a wine pairing that impresses you but my 10 days in Chile over the past couple of weeks have finally convinced me that sauvignon blanc is the perfect match for ceviche which seems to have become Chile’s national dish.
Although I think the difficulty of matching troublesome ingredients with wine is overrated that’s not true in the case of chilli which is an integral part of many Szechuan dishes. The tofu noodle hotpot I had at my local Chilli Daddy in Bristol at the weekend was definitely a case in point.
Last week I went to a wine dinner hosted by the Sicilian wine producer Donnafugata at Luca in London. They’re best known for their fabulous passito di Pantelleria dessert wine, Ben Ryé, but in fact it was the cleverly partnered dry wines that stole the show.
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.
Octopus is a bit of a cult ingredient on restaurant menus at the moment. I’ve already noted two good wine pairings for it - with Baga and orange wine but this weekend I found another at the Sabor pop-up Polperia at the Dartmouth Food Festival.
As last week was Sherry Week and I’m a MASSIVE fan my match of the week clearly had to involve sherry. But which to choose? It was hard given the number of standout pairings at the sherry dinner my local tapas bar, Bar 44 in Clifton put on but I’m going for the sherry by which I was most blown away - a limited edition of Gonzalez Byass Alfonso oloroso, one of six rare casks that are being bottled by the bodega under the name ‘Vinos Finitos’ (finite wines)
Last week’s standout pairings were all about cocktails - first at a dinner at Avenue to celebrate the World’s 50 Best awards taking place in Singapore next year and then a meal at the newly launched Kym’s the latest restaurant from the much-fêted Andrew Wong about which more in due course.
I’ve always thought of gewürztraminer as a bit of an inflexible wine - brilliant with spicy food. rich patés and pongy cheese but not much else. However it went brilliantly with several dishes at my local, Bellita in Bristol the other day including a classic Italian dish of pumpkin gnocchi with sage and brown butter.
Given that wine dinners are all about combining food and wine it’s not that often that the resulting pairings blow you away but I was hard pushed to pick just one out of the four brilliant matches at last week’s Autumn Delights dinner at Adelina Yard in Bristol.
Last week I was in northern Portugal where I think it's fair to say a fair bit of port was consumed. There was one striking finding from a food and wine pairing point of view: that toffee- or caramel-flavoured desserts are a perfect match for tawny port.
I have to thank my colleague drinks writer, wine guru and good time pal Kate Hawkings for this week's pairing. Once she squealed excitedly about it on Twitter I knew I had to drop by her restaurant (Bellita) and give it a try.
This week I’ve been celebrating a big birthday with some extravagant feasting including a sublime dinner on the night at my son’s restaurant Hawksmoor Borough. (Well, you might as well keep it in the family!)
Last week’s ‘Girls can Grill’ event at Jinjuu in Soho provided plenty of inspiration as you may have already seen from the kimchi fried rice recipe I posted but there was also a cracking drinks match of the introductory cocktail with Korean fried chicken.
It was a bumper week for wine pairings with some classic favourites such as pork and Beaujolais (an excellent Fleurie at Cora Pearl) and oysters and muscadel (at the new Hawksmoor in Edinburgh) but I’m going for this riesling pairing as it solves the thorny problem of what to drink with laksa.
There were so many outstanding pairings in the meal I had at the Michelin-starred Casamia in Bristol last week I don’t know quite where to start.
Cider isn’t, I admit, the first drink I’d pair with tapas but when I spotted on the menu of newly opened Bar 44 in Bristol that they had Spanish ‘sidra’ on tap - the first, they claimed, in the country - I had to try it.
Champagne, we all know, goes with practically everything but PIG TAILS? Surely not.
It’s partly because not enough restaurants offer the option but I don’t drink sake often enough in Asian restaurants. (And yes, I know Asian is an imprecise term but that’s how many describe the food they offer)