Pairings | Argentina
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.
Now that winter is firmly upon us it's time to head for the kitchen and knock up a rich beef stew or casserole and leave it simmering for hours.
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.
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.
Crossing the Andes by road puts all those words we use so freely into their proper context. Awesome, amazing, breathtaking - it is all those things and more.
The last couple of weeks have passed in a flurry of tastings marked by a number of standout (and some depressingly bad) wines.
Take 6 top international chefs and 6 Argentinian wineries determined to prove their wines outlast anyone else’s and what do you get? A fascinating dinner but some titanic struggles on the plate and in the glass.
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.
Malbec has got so popular it may have become one of your favourite red wines but what are the best kind of dishes to pair with it?
This menu was created as part of a series of pieces I wrote for Sainsbury's magazine. The idea was to invite your friends round for a wine tasting then all have a slap-up meal afterwards. This meal was based on a tasting of South American reds from Argentina and Chile but it would be just as fun to base it round Malbec (Malbec being the perfect wine for a steak).
So here’s a special for Malbec World Day - maybe a bit of a cheat as it also includes some Touriga Nacional but I quite like Malbec in a blend.
Q I am going to a dinner where we take our own wine. The starter is slices of smoked pheasant with partridge pate, followed by fillet of venison then a dessert of profiteroles with lemon cream + chocolate sauce. then a savoury of rabbit and tarragon terrine. You may now realise my problem! Any suggestions?
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.
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.