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Matching cold cuts, cheese and chutney
A couple of years ago I went to a chutney-making demonstration and tasting. No, not at the WI - it was held by the family owned company Tracklements at leading London cheesemonger La Fromagerie which has recently expanded its empire into the neighbouring shop and now has a fancy new tasting room.
Guy Tullberg of Tracklements gave a fascinating account of how pickles differed from chutneys and relishes (in essence you cook the former and simply boil boiling liquid over the latter. Pickles are veg-based, chutneys can include fruit) but the highlight of the event was a tasting of different styles of relish with cold meats and cheeses.
It was an interesting reminder of the important role these traditional preserves play in livening up a simple meal but also forcibly reminded me of the problem that pickles and chutneys pose for wine - I could only think of a couple of pairings where I’d wouldn’t have preferred a beer or a cider.
Here were the combinations and my suggested pairings:
Classic English Pork Pie and Piccalilli
English pork pies, for those of you who are not familiar with them are classic pub fare with a hot water crust and faintly peppery filling. The sharp mustardy piccalilli which contains tumeric and other spices cut perfectly through the heavy pastry and fattiness of the meat.
Suggested match: a strong English ale such as Timothy Taylor Landlord
Cold ham and Farmhouse pickle
A sweet, fruity Branston-style pickle made with carrot, courgette, turnip and onion with dark muscovado sugar, tamarind and dates which added a nice edge to some smoky, thick-cut ham.
Suggested match: Maybe because of the smoky note in the ham but I liked the idea of a porter with this.
Curried fruit chutney and chicken
A spicy but not overly hot chutney based on tomatoes, apples and dates spiced with fenugreek, coriander, cumin and cardamom. Sweet and rich. Slightly overwhelmed the accompanying chicken but apparently makes a great Coronation Chicken.
Suggested drink match: With these spices I’d enjoy an Indian Pale Ale. Also quite good with the Breton farmhouse cider that was laid on.
Apricot and ginger chutney with farmhouse Cheshire
A mild crumbly cheese with a mellow, sweet chutney. The chutney enlivens what would otherwise be a slightly bland taste experience
Suggested drink match: one of the only chutneys that wouldn’t have overwhelmed an accompanying wine. A Spanish tempranillo or garnacha, I thought
Apple and Cider Brandy chutney with Camembert
I didn’t think this combination worked. The chutney with its spicy mince-pie like flavours was too powerful for the cheese. It would have been better with a strong cheddar and I'd have preferred the Camembert with some kind of berry compote.
Suggested drink match: The accompanying cider was stripped of flavour by the chutney. You really needed something like an apple aperitif or digestif such as Somerset Pomona or Pommeau
Fig Relish and Goats Cheese
Guy Tullberg said that this combination was well received by people who didn’t like goats cheese. I can see why - with its powerful cinnamon, clove and allspice notes it cancels out the taste. I think it might work in a hot tartlet though using fig relish as a base and a slice of goats cheese on top. Apparently this is their most successful product.
Suggested drink match: Guy suggested Pedro Ximenez but for me that’s too powerful for goats’ cheese. A sweet oloroso maybe.
Montgomery’s cheddar with organic plum chutney
This combination of award-winning artisanal cheese and a sharp, zesty plum chutney with a touch of orange was perfect - but lethal to wine!
Suggested drink match: A strong British ale such as Adnams Broadside
Sausage roll and onion marmalade
Sausages and caramelised onions are a match made in heaven. This was an unusually sweet, concentrated version that would go as well with hot sausages as cold.
Suggested drink match: an English bitter or could possibly take a gutsy southern French red such as a Cotes du Rhone Villages
Wholemeal bread and butter with cucumber pickle
A very mild sweet cucumber pickle - like an old-fashioned sandwich spread. Nice but not spectacular with the bread and butter. Would be better with a burger - it makes a fantastic barbecue relish
Suggested drink match: Again not too powerful to accompany wine - I’d suggested a ripe soft red like a Merlot or, possibly even better, a fruity New World rosé. Cider would be good too.
The important point to bear in mind is that sharp pickles will make an accompanying drink taste sweeter and less bitter and a sweet one will make it sharper. It's the combination of sweet and sour that's the problem
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