Match of the week
Coming home to the UK after 10 days in the Caribbean was a bit of a shock to the system especially when we were snowed in on Friday so I leapt at a neighbour’s invitation to come round for a hearty beef stew.
As I remarked last week it’s been rum with practically everything since we’ve been in Barbados - or if not rum, Banks beer - so I nearly went for a rare wine pairing - Provencal rosé with tuna poke - as my match of the week.
This week's match of the week is a bit random, admittedly, because everything goes with rum punch in Barbados but I wanted to single out these delicious croquettes we bought in the Holders Hill farmer's market.
Although I’m not doing Dry January I am trying to take a break from booze on at least a couple of days a week so when I went to Romy Gill’s pop-up at Carousel last week I opted for the alcohol free options.
Occasionally you come across a pairing so brilliant, so simple that you wonder why you’ve never thought of it before and so it was on Saturday evening.
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.
No earth-shattering revelations this week, just a reminder that mature red burgundy is a brilliant match for game.
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.