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Pairings

Pairings | World food

The Cookbook Dilemma: The Food of Spain or The Food of Morocco?

The Cookbook Dilemma: The Food of Spain or The Food of Morocco?

Two ‘grandes dames’ of the food writing world, Claudia Roden and Paula Wolfert, have new books out - The Food of Spain (Roden’s first book for five years) and The Food of Morocco. So which should you buy?

Matching Korean food with wine

Matching Korean food with wine

A post from the archives, but an excellent one: food and wine writer Marc Millon, author of Flavours of Korea suggests what to pair with your favourite Korean dishes.

How the world's best sakes pair with food

How the world's best sakes pair with food

I was reminded the other night of how the average wine newbie must feel confronted with a wine list in French. The names of the wines and the grape varieties mean nothing. You have no idea what they taste like and what to order. Panic sets in.

What to drink with Middle Eastern food?

What to drink with Middle Eastern food?

With middle-eastern food still very much on-trend Dubai-based blogger Sally Prosser of mycustardpie.com tells us which drinks she thinks makes the best pairings

What makes Korean food distinctive

What makes Korean food distinctive

The first thing everyone asked me when I got back from Korea was what does the food taste like? Unless you live in London, or New Malden in Surrey, which, rather randomly, boasts the UK’s biggest concentration of Korean restaurants, then you probably won’t be familiar with Korean food.

Sake and food pairing

Sake and food pairing

What type of food is the best match for sake and why? Shirley Booth, founder of the British Sake Association comes up with a few surprises and some useful pointers on serving temperatures.

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The 10 best wines for spring and early summer drinking

The last two days have been quite, quite beautiful, starting mistily, basking midday in an unseasonally warm sun and finishing with an extended dusk that announces that spring is finally here. I immediately want to eat lighter meals: the new season’s vegetables are not quite in yet but I can at least plan for summer and that means a spring clean of the cellar, pushing the full bodied reds to the back and assessing what whites, lighter reds and rosés I still have lurking in the racks.

Can you match wine and chillies?

Can you match wine and chillies?

Who better to turn to than the Aussies for advice on pairing wines with a wide range of spicy Asian food? Here's another preview of the food and wine matching sessions at the Melbourne Food Festival - Solving the Eternal Chilli Dilemma. Answers from Neil Prentice of Moondarra Wines and chef Benjamin Cooper of Chin Chin.

Pairing whisky with Indian food

Pairing whisky with Indian food

Among the many invitations I get to food and drink matching events a recent one to attend a dinner at the Bombay Brasserie in London where each course was paired with whisky sounded the most intriguing. But pairing a high strength spirit with spicy food was surely a recipe for disaster?

Matching wine with Chinese food - time for a rethink?

Matching wine with Chinese food - time for a rethink?

A recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai opened my eyes anew to the possibilities involved in drinking wine with Chinese food. Many of the conclusions we have painstakingly arrived at in the west turn out to be less obvious when tried out in situ.

Matching sweet wine and Sichuanese food

Matching sweet wine and Sichuanese food

Can Tokaji – the great dessert wine of Hungary, and one of the sweetest wines in the world – go with Chinese food, asks Margaret Rand? And if it can, would you want it to?

Kerrrasma!

There are no less than five Greek restaurants in the small town I live in, all of them with a virtually identical menu - taramasalata, hummus and other meze, grills and kebabs. One still offers weekly plate smashing sessions.

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

A re-run of an old post following a visit to Alsace, updating my recommendations on the best pairings for the region's dry and off-dry white wines.

Why Mosel riesling matches Vietnamese food

Why Mosel riesling matches Vietnamese food

Our roving gastronaut Lucy Bridgers discovers why German Mosel riesling is the ideal wine pairing for Vietnamese food

Why Pinot Gris hits the spot with spicy food

Why Pinot Gris hits the spot with spicy food

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.

Why the Chinese prefer to drink red wine with food

Why the Chinese prefer to drink red wine with food

To most westerners the idea of drinking young red Bordeaux with Chinese food seems bizarre. Especially with delicate Cantonese dishes, the most widely available of the Chinese cuisines in the west . Clearly though the Chinese who are paying stratospheric prices for first and second growths - and presumably drinking them - think differently. They don’t turn to riesling and other aromatic and off-dry whites for a reason.

What Food, What Wine? Indian: which type of wine pairs best with a curry

What Food, What Wine? Indian: which type of wine pairs best with a curry

A lot of people still think that wine isn’t a good match with spicy food but our final session of What Food, What Wine? judging this week suggested that there’s no reason for winelovers to throw in the towel. The success (or otherwise) of the pairings did however depend on the heat of the curries and how ‘wet’ or dry they were.

Top food pairings with Clare Valley and Eden Valley riesling

Top food pairings with Clare Valley and Eden Valley riesling

One of the most distinctive styles of white wine, dry rieslings from the Clare and Eden Valley in south Australia have a distinctive limey twist that makes them a particularly good match for Asian and Asian-inspired food.

How to pair wine with an authentic Indian meal

How to pair wine with an authentic Indian meal

Of all the different aspects of wine and food matching I write about, wine and Indian food is the most controversial. What type of wine works best, and indeed whether you should drink wine at all is the subject of endlessly heated exchanges. The subject has recently come up again with the introduction of a number of wines that are specifically designed to go with spicy food. Was this, at last, the solution?

The best pairings for fino and manzanilla sherry

The best pairings for fino and manzanilla sherry

Manzanilla, as you probably know, is a fino sherry made in the port of Sanlucar de Barrameda rather than in the cities of Jerez or Puerto de Santa Maria which gives it its characteristic salty tang.

Asian food isn’t the only way into German riesling

Asian food isn’t the only way into German riesling

Having spent five days in Germany this week I’ve been thinking a lot about riesling and food. And my conclusion is that the heavy focus on Chinese, Thai and Indian food may be doing German wine a disservice

Fine Wine and Fast Food

Fine Wine and Fast Food

One of the most enjoyable food and wine matches I’ve experienced was also the most serendipitous. The family were away, I was working on a book and staggered down half way through the evening to find the fridge virtually bare except for a half bottle of Krug, a half-empty packet of the kids’ fish fingers and some frozen spinach. Ten minutes later, the spinach well anointed with butter, the fish fingers grilled and the Krug poured I had the perfect supper.

Is Koshu the best match for Japanese food?

Is Koshu the best match for Japanese food?

I suspect you’ll be hearing a lot about Koshu this year. No, it’s not some unfamiliar aspect of Japanese cuisine but a white wine made from a grape of the same name. A campaign to promote it in the UK was launched at a lunch in London yesterday by a VIP line-up of Japanese goverment officials from the Yamanashi prefecture where most of the winemakers are based.

Pairing Indian food with the biodynamic wines of Bonny Doon

I have to confess I found it pretty hard to concentrate on the finer nuances of the food and wine combinations at the recent Cinnamon Club dinner. But when the speaker is the discursive Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon and you're sitting next to him that's no great surprise. Before the meal had even started we were into Kierkegaard and a vigorous discussion of terroir in the bar below over our glasses of Vin Gris de Cigare (a typically unorthodox full-bodied rosé based on Grenache, Cinsault and Roussanne).

Is this wine the perfect match for Thai food?

Is this wine the perfect match for Thai food?

Thai food is particularly difficult to match with wine. Not only do you have the heat to contend with but the tricky sweet-sour flavours and - as with many Asian cuisines - several dishes on the go at a time.

More pairings with Indian food

I spent an interesting evening this week at one of London’s leading Indian restaurants Benares. It was organised jointly by a wine events company called The Wine Nose and SOPEXA, the promotional arm of the French food and wine industry.

Asian tastes differ when it comes to matching Chinese food

The results of a unique competition in Hong Kong suggest that Asia-based judges may have a different take to Europeans on matching wine to Chinese food. The judging panel at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition awarded several medals to full-bodied reds in preference to the more common aromatic white wine styles such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

What type of wine pairs best with Vietnamese food?

Sunday marked not only the start of the Chinese New Year but the Vietnamese New Year celebrations too - known as Tet. As in China there are certain foods which are traditional to the occasion such as pickled vegetables and candied fruits, none of which are particularly wine-friendly but in general I find Vietnamese food, with its milder heat and fragrant herbal flavours easier to match than Thai (although I haven’t had such extensive experience of doing so).

Six food pairings for gin that might surprise you

Six food pairings for gin that might surprise you

Given the immense popularity of gin the chances of you sitting in a bar downing a gin-based cocktail are pretty high. But at some point you're going to need something to eat so what kind of food can you pair with it?

Matching Lebanese food and wine

Many of us are familiar with Lebanon's rich culinary heritage, courtesy of the Lebanese diaspora and food writers such as Claudia Roden and Anissa Helou. Yet the prevalence of popular Lebanese dishes such as tabbouleh and hummous in our supermarkets is not yet matched by Lebanese wines despite a long history of grape cultivation dating back to the Phoenicians.

What to drink with Turkish food

Turkish food is not traditionally accompanied by wine. And although the Turks do have a wine industry not much of it makes its way over here. But here are some thoughts on possible pairings for Mark Hix's Turkish inspired recipes in the Independent this weekend"

Wine and Indonesian food: which wine pairs best with Rijsttafel?

Wine and Indonesian food: which wine pairs best with Rijsttafel?

I posted this last year after trying Rijsttafel - the Indonesian speciality that’s widely available in Amsterdam. Translated literally as ‘rice table’, it’s an elaborate array of curries, salads and pickles which present a tough challenge for any wine.

The best food matches with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

The best food matches with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

The flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - and this is why it is so popular - are powerful and aromatic: citrus, gooseberry and passionfruit in spades. So you need big flavours on your plate to stand up to it.

The extraordinary food and wine of Georgia

The extraordinary food and wine of Georgia

There's no tradition of wine & food pairing in Georgia because, "we're permanently in the process of eating and drinking, so everyone is continuously matching for themselves," firmly declared Georgia's 'wine queen', Tina Kezeli, my host for a week's tour of eastern Georgia's Kakheti wine region. Georgian meals are lavish affairs with tables laden with dishes appearing in regular sequence but without regard for timing or harmonious wine pairing. Some guidance is needed.

Little Beauty Marlborough riesling and Indian or Pakistani food

Little Beauty Marlborough riesling and Indian or Pakistani food

I’ve always thought of riesling as a better match for the fresh flavours of south-east Asian-inspired food than curry but a visit to the Lahore Kebab House proved otherwise this week.

Is the sake revolution finally taking off?

Is the sake revolution finally taking off?

The sound of the temple bell reverberates in the distance. It’s midnight in Japan, and the Shinto shrine is full of people celebrating the new year. Some are drinking amazake – a cloudy unfiltered (and non-alcoholic) type of sake drunk warm; others proffer cups to be filled with cold clear sake, served from gold kettles by ceremonially-clad priests. And the gods get their share – offerings of large straw-covered sake barrels called komokaburi are placed in front of the shrine. Only sake is good enough to keep the gods happy – in the hope they'll bestow health and happiness in the coming year.

Beyond tea and biscuits

Beyond tea and biscuits

Most people wouldn’t think in terms of combining tea and food beyond the classic pairings of Indian teas with a traditional afternoon scone or sponge, or jasmine tea with Chinese food but there are many other possibilities to explore, says Signe Johansen.

Pairing wine and Indian seafood

It’s less common to come across Indian-spiced seafood dishes than it is fish and vegetable-based ones so what sort of wine works? Yesterday I had a chance to find out

The best food pairings for Lambrusco

The best food pairings for Lambrusco

If you’re wondering why I’m devoting a post to Lambrusco you obviously haven’t tasted the real thing and today, which is the 5th international Lambrusco Day is your opportunity to try it.

Wine and spice

Wine and spice

To mark National Curry Week here's an article I wrote for Decanter a while back about Indian food and wine matching at the Cinnamon Club which still contains some useful advice about wine and spice pairing:

Brazil 3 Argentina 3

Brazil 3 Argentina 3

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.

6 versatile wine pairings for a Chinese New Year feast

6 versatile wine pairings for a Chinese New Year feast

Asking which wine is the best match for Chinese food is a bit like looking for the best match for European food - it in no way reflects the diversity of Chinese cuisine.

HKK - where the drinks are as fab as the food

HKK - where the drinks are as fab as the food

Maybe Chinese restaurants are like buses. You don’t get any new openings for a while then several come along at once. So after Bo London the other day, it’s HKK, the latest project from the Hakkasan group.

Citrus fizz and Mexican food

Citrus fizz and Mexican food

If you’re not drinking for whatever reason - because you’re driving, pregnant or just taking a break - it’s sometimes difficult to find something that makes a good match for what you’re eating. Soft drinks can be sweet and sugary. Water sometimes too plain.

Chablis at Nobu

Sometimes you go to a wine dinner with some trepidation wondering if the wine will stand up to the food but I was pretty optimistic that Domaine Long-Depaquit’s Chablis would survive at Nobu (the original Metropolitan hotel restaurant in London, not LA, sadly!)

Peckham Bazaar - well worth the detour

Peckham Bazaar - well worth the detour

The thing about neighbourhood restaurants is that they’re a pain to get to if you’re not a local. In general that’s not a problem. They’re nice for those who live nearby, you tell yourself, but you don’t envy them unduly. But Peckham Bazaar is another matter ...

A beginner's guide to sake

A beginner's guide to sake

A newbie's guide to sake from wine writer Natasha Hughes.

Sake and food pairing: Chilean seabass hobayaki with warm daiginjo sake

Sake and food pairing: Chilean seabass hobayaki with warm daiginjo sake

I was always taught the best sakes were served chilled but the other evening at London's Sake no Hana I got to taste a super-premium daiginjo sake at room temperature with a dish of grilled Chilean seabass and it matched perfectly.

Chinese New Year is a celebration of feasts and family

Chinese New Year is a celebration of feasts and family

Food, drink and travel writer Qin Xie explains what the Chinese drink with the most important feast of the year and what goes down well in her own family.

Pairing Indian wine with Indian cheese

Pairing Indian wine with Indian cheese

Chef Shaun Kenworthy reports on what he believes to be a unique tasting of Indian wine and Indian cheese.

How Greeks celebrate Easter: the feasting after the fast

How Greeks celebrate Easter: the feasting after the fast

No-one who hasn’t experienced a Greek Easter can imagine the scale of the feasting. Wine writer Ted Lelekas tells all about "the most lavish and important meal of the year".

Balthazar, London: beautiful but curiously dated

Balthazar, London: beautiful but curiously dated

There’s no doubt about it Balthazar is drop-dead gorgeous. You only have to see the golden lights winking through the windows to be drawn through the door like a moth to a candle. But how does the food stack up?

Moqueca baiana (Bahia-style fish stew)

Moqueca baiana (Bahia-style fish stew)

If you're inspired to cook Brazilian with the Olympics kicking off this weekend try this classic fish stew from Thiago Castanho and Luciana Bianchi's Brazilian Food.

Matching wine and tapas

Matching wine and tapas

Lucy Bridgers selflessly devotes herself to finding the perfect pairing for tapas on a tapas crawl through some of London's leading tapas bars

What to pair with Beaujolais Nouveau

What to pair with Beaujolais Nouveau

With southern hemisphere wines from the 2016 vintage having been on the shelves for a few months now the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau has become less significant but you may still want to crack open a bottle today.

6 of the best drinks to pair with tacos

6 of the best drinks to pair with tacos

It’s a little ironic that just as Trump is planning a wall to keep the Mexicans OUT we cant get enough of Mexican food at the moment. Especially tacos.

Vegetable Thali and Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale

Vegetable Thali and Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale

Where I live in Bristol we’re lucky to have an unusually good Indian restaurant called Thali Café, that sells sophisticated street food which you can take away in your own tiffin box. I’m addicted to the vegetable-based ‘Dairy Free Tiffin’ which is light, fresh and aromatic and was wondering what to drink with it when I picked up a bottle of Tire Bite Golden Ale from the excellent Flying Dog brewery.

Smoking Goat ‘fish sauce wings’ and Peter Lauer 'Fass 16' Saar riesling

Smoking Goat ‘fish sauce wings’ and Peter Lauer 'Fass 16' Saar riesling

It’s well established that riesling is a good match for spicy food but you don’t often get as good a pairing as the new Soho bar Smoking Goat’s already fabled ‘fish sauce wings’ and Peter Lauer’s 2013 ‘Fass 16’ Saar riesling..

Margaritas, tacos and tostadas

Margaritas, tacos and tostadas

There are few instances where a national drink goes so well with a national cuisine as tequila and Mexican as I was reminded at the weekend when I tried out London’s latest opening Wahaca. (A deliberately easy-to-pronounce play on Mexico’s foodie mecca Oaxaca)

Lotus root stir-fry and chrysanthemum tea

Lotus root stir-fry and chrysanthemum tea

It seems invidious to pick out just one wine pairing from my visit to the Okanagan valley last week (of which more in due course) so I’m going for the first drink I had on my arrival: chrysanthemum tea at a brilliant Chinese restaurant called Chef Tony in Richmond, the town just next door to Vancouver.

Dim sum and Champagne

Dim sum and Champagne

A very Western approach to Chinese food, admittedly, but if you're celebrating Chinese New Year today with a dim sum lunch you'll find that Champagne - or other sparkling wine - makes a perfect pairing.

Pairing wine with Szechuan (or Sichuan) cuisine

Pairing wine with Szechuan (or Sichuan) cuisine

Just as you think you might have got to grips with matching wine with Chinese food along comes a regional cuisine like Szechuan which is twice as challenging, as I discovered at a wine dinner at Flinty Red in Bristol last night.

Lima, London: a splash of colour in Fitzrovia

Lima, London: a splash of colour in Fitzrovia

It’s unusual these days to come across a menu that’s totally unfamiliar. You can almost predict it. Pork belly? Check. Steak? Check. Sticky toffee pudding? Check. But the recently opened Lima, which specialises in modern Peruvian food, is so startlingly original that it feels like taking a two hour trip to Peru.

Frying pan Turkish flatbreads

Frying pan Turkish flatbreads

Today marks the start of Organic September and what better way to kick it off than this great recipe from much-acclaimed vegetarian cookery writer Anna Jones, author of A Modern Way to Cook

Andhra Curry-leaf Chicken

Andhra Curry-leaf Chicken

When I met Christine Manfield a while ago I gave her the impossible task of picking one recipe out of her stunning book Tasting India. This was the one she chose.

Pairing rosé champagne and dim sum

Pairing rosé champagne and dim sum

Is rosé champagne a good match with dim sum? Our roving correspondent Lucy Bridgers retains admirable control of her critical faculties while being plied with successive vintages of Bollinger's Grande Année . . .

Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings and tamarind whiskey sour

Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings and tamarind whiskey sour

It might seem perverse to pick out a cocktail match during a week of drinking stellar wines in Oregon wine country but I’m saving my new thoughts on wine pairing with Pinot Noir for a more wide-ranging piece. And this is a great cocktail pairing

Sparkling wine and spicy snacks

Sparkling wine and spicy snacks

The idea of drinking sparkling wine with Indian street food might seem crazy but it’s a really good pairing as I was reminded last night when I dined at Masala Zone just off Carnaby Street with Warren Edwardes, the CEO of a company called Wine for Spice.

Lamb mechoui and 2007 Chateau Musar

Lamb mechoui and 2007 Chateau Musar

This, I think, was the standout pairing from our Honey & Co wine club on Sunday and a great illustration of the difference a dish can make to the way a wine tastes.

Goat biryani and natural wine

Goat biryani and natural wine

I subjected myself to a somewhat daunting experience last Thursday trying to persuade a largely sceptical audience of journalists and bloggers of the virtues of natural wine. I think/hope I made some modest headway, helped by the fantastic feast laid on by chef Stevie Parle and his team at Dock Kitchen.

Chicken korma and viognier

Chicken korma and viognier

I spent last week on the road in Ireland with wine importer Febvre hosting food and wine matching events for some of their restaurant customers. We covered a lot of ground from Enniskillen to Cork taking in Belfast, Galway and Dublin on the way and enjoyed a lot of amazing food matches.

A Viognier-dominated Languedoc white and a Chinese/Thai takeaway

A Viognier-dominated Languedoc white and a Chinese/Thai takeaway

The first thing we do when we get back from France is to eat some kind of spicy food. It’s not impossible to eat ethnic down in the Languedoc (there are a couple of Vietnamese restaurants locally) but it’s not good.

The Barbary, Covent Garden

The Barbary, Covent Garden

There are two good reasons for eating at The Barbary. One is the Jerusalem bagel, a wondrous piece of baking. Served warm from the oven, encrusted in spicy sesame seeds it must be the best bread roll in town.

Thomasina Miers' Mole Amarillo

Thomasina Miers' Mole Amarillo

To celebrate Day of the Dead - or maybe even Bonfire Night - here's a fabulous warming spicy Mexican stew for 10 from Thomasina Miers' Wahaca: Mexican food at Home.

 Harak Osbao (lentils and pasta with tamarind, sumac and pomegranate)

Harak Osbao (lentils and pasta with tamarind, sumac and pomegranate)

This is one of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's contributions to Cook for Syria a brilliant fund-raising book of middle-eastern inspired recipes from top food writers which was conceived and curated by instagrammer Clerkenwell Boy*.

Here's to Clean Monday!

Here's to Clean Monday!

The start of Lent is cause for gloom for many people faced with the prospect of giving up something pleasurable like wine or chocolate Not for the Greeks however who kick off their fasting with a splendid celebration called Kathara Defter or ‘Clean Monday’.

What wine to drink with curry - my top 5 picks

What wine to drink with curry - my top 5 picks

If you’re wondering which wine to pair with curry, you’re not alone. There are probably more opinions about the matter than there are types of curry from “wine is never a good idea* to *any wine you like*.

Life after Lager

Life after Lager

Coincidentally I have had invitations to two Indian dinners in two weeks - one accompanied by beer and one with wine which makes for some interesting comparisons.

5 great matches for IPA

5 great matches for IPA

Of course it depends what type of IPA you're talking about. A relatively light style will lead you in a different direction from a huge, hoppy double IPA, but these I think would be my top five . . .

Tuna Tataki and Grenache Blanc

Tuna Tataki and Grenache Blanc

Perfectly prepared Japanese food is not what you expect to find in the gastronomic desert of the Languedoc but this superb dish of rare tuna was a brilliant match for the richly textured white wine I drank at Côté Mas the other day.

Tandoori salmon and fino sherry

Tandoori salmon and fino sherry

One of the more successful pairings from the otherwise rather challenging sherry lunch I attended at the Cinnamon Club last week was a dish of tandoori salmon with a Valdespino Innocente fino. I tend to overlook fino in favour of manzanilla but I’m not sure it’s not a more flexible match with food.

Tandoori grouse and an Indian ‘SuperTuscan’

Tandoori grouse and an Indian ‘SuperTuscan’

If you’d asked me a week ago whether I thought it was a good idea to cook grouse in a tandoor oven and then to serve it with a full-bodied red I’d have said no, and no. Which shows how you can continually be surprised by this food and wine pairing lark.

Tacos and tamarind agua fresca

Tacos and tamarind agua fresca

It’s always good to come across a soft drink that pairs as well with food as an alcoholic one and the Mexicans have a particularly refreshing one in agua fresca.

Sukiyaki Wagyu and red burgundy

Sukiyaki Wagyu and red burgundy

I’d have been hard pushed to explain exactly what sukiyaki was before I had it this week at Jason Atherton’s swish new restaurant Sosharu in Clerkenwell.

Moqueca and Caiprinhas

Moqueca and Caiprinhas

Last week our local tapas bar, Ocean, held a Brazilian evening with a talented local Bristol singer Frances Butt who is really into Latin music. (So much so that she has issued an album called The Girl from Wolverhampton - where she grew up though obviously not where her soul lies . . .)

Mezze and apple, mint and ginger lemonade

Mezze and apple, mint and ginger lemonade

It must be the unseasonally hot weather but I've been drinking a lot of soft drinks lately. There seems to be much more choice on the market, especially more sophisticated drinks that are full of flavour but not too sweet. And which go well with food.

Kibbeh and Domaine des Tourelles red

Kibbeh and Domaine des Tourelles red

I agonised over whether this should be the standout pairing from this marvellous Lebanese meal at Arabica last week but it won by just a whisker.

Cold sesame noodles and weissbier

Cold sesame noodles and weissbier

Thanks to my friend Signe Johansen of Scandilicious I finally got to Koya in Frith Street the other day - London’s food bloggers most popular noodle haunt and the winner of last year’s Observer Food Monthly’s Best Cheap Eats award.

Chicken with pomegranate molasses and orange iced tea

Chicken with pomegranate molasses and orange iced tea

One of the areas of food and drink pairing I’m always trying to crack is soft drinks - so it’s good to find an inspired match that really hits the spot - not too sweet as most soft drinks are for me.

Chicken, lemon and olive tagine with Rioja reserva

Chicken, lemon and olive tagine with Rioja reserva

Friends came round the other night and I cooked one of my favourite new recipes - a chicken, lemon and olive tagine (which appears in my forthcoming book Food, Wine and Friends, she adds, unable to resist a cheap plug!). One of the reasons it’s slightly different from the authentic Moroccan version is that I remove the chicken skin which makes the dish a lot lighter.

Albarino with arroz negro (rice with squid ink)

Albarino with arroz negro (rice with squid ink)

If you’re an albarino fan I’m sure you know it pairs brilliantly with seafood but here’s a twist to take the experience to another level.

Portuguese wine paired with the experimental cuisine at Viajante

Portuguese wine paired with the experimental cuisine at Viajante

Our roving gastronome Lucy Bridgers puts Portuguese wine through its paces with a succession of small plates from the inventive Nuno Mendes.

Spicy chicken salad

Spicy chicken salad

We normally think of lunchboxes in terms of kids' packed lunches but James Ramsden has come up with this a brilliant book of imaginative dishes you can take to work. Called - appropriately enough - Love your Lunchbox.

Omelette baguette (bánh mì trứng ốp lết)

Omelette baguette (bánh mì trứng ốp lết)

One of the cuisines I've always wanted to get to grips with is Vietnamese, not least because we don't have a good Vietnamese restaurant nearby so I welcomed Uyen Luu's beautifully illustrated My Vietnamese Kitchen with open arms.

Japanese ginger and garlic chicken with smashed cucumber

Japanese ginger and garlic chicken with smashed cucumber

A simple but spectacular Japanese-style dish from Diana Henry's marvellous new book A Change of Appetite which I've also reviewed on the site here.

Hiyajiru (chilled miso soup) with cucumber ice cubes

Hiyajiru (chilled miso soup) with cucumber ice cubes

I was pretty excited about chef Tim Anderson's new book Nanban anyway but when I saw that this recipe included cucumber ice cubes I was sold!

Gizzi's Thai Roast Duck & Watermelon Salad

Gizzi's Thai Roast Duck & Watermelon Salad

If you want to make just one dish to celebrate the Thai new year try Gizzi Erskine's fabulous Thai-style duck and watermelon salad from her most recent book Gizzi's Healthy Appetite.

The best wine matches for a Chinese stir-fry

The best wine matches for a Chinese stir-fry

With Chinese New Year being celebrated next week the shelves are full of stir-fries so what are the best wine pairings?

Toulouse sausage and prawn dumplings with sweet chilli sauce and Thierry Puzelat gamay

Toulouse sausage and prawn dumplings with sweet chilli sauce and Thierry Puzelat gamay

A pretty wild combination this week at a lovely wine bar, Magnum, we went to in Toulouse on Saturday night. The owner Jérôme’s wife, who originally came from Réunion, had made Chinese-style dumplings with the local Toulouse sausage and prawns served with a sweet chili sauce. Not the kind of thing I would normally go for but he sold it so persuasively we had to give it a go and it was fantastic.

Thai fishcakes and witbier

Thai fishcakes and witbier

Although I'm not one of those who is resolutely against pairing wine with spicy food there are definitely occasions when beer goes at least as well, if not better and this is one of them.

Thai beef salad and off-dry Riesling

Thai beef salad and off-dry Riesling

It’s easy to get stuck in the trap of thinking red wine is the only accompaniment for meat, especially red meat but in these days of multi-cultural eating that’s not necessarily true. And a good case in point is a Thai beef salad with its zingy, hot/sour flavours which influence the match much more than the beef does.

Sushi and an oaked Luis Pato white

Sushi and an oaked Luis Pato white

About the last thing you’d think I’d be recommending after 4 days in Portugal last week would be a wine pairing for sushi - but that was the outstanding match.

Root vegetables in dashi with junmai sake

Root vegetables in dashi with junmai sake

A terrific pairing which was part of a fascinating tasting I went to last week of sakes from the Tohoku region of Japan, the area most affected by last year's earthquake and tsumani. It was organised jointly by the British Sake Association and events company Tengu Sake (@tengusake on Twitter) and took place at Tombo, a Japanese cafe in South Kensington which laid on some particularly delicious food.

Prawn curry and saffron lassi

Prawn curry and saffron lassi

I’m always on the lookout for interesting alcohol-free drinks to pair with food so was pleased to see that Asma Khan had listed some really interesting options at her Darjeeling Express residency at The Sun and 13 Cantons pub in Soho the other day.

Panko-fried yellowtail with truffle honey and sparkling sake

Panko-fried yellowtail with truffle honey and sparkling sake

I honestly didn't know which dish to pick out of this extraordinary pop-up at The Dead Doll’s House Islington last week, hosted by wine importer Bibendum PLB who now also bring in a wide range of sakes. So I’m going for this one because it was the first and one of the simplest.

Grosset off-dry riesling with a Chinese New Year’s Eve feast

Grosset off-dry riesling with a Chinese New Year’s Eve feast

We had a great feast with friends on Saturday night to celebrate the Chinese New Year, cooking a range of dishes from Fuchsia Dunlop’s fabulous Every Grain of Rice about which I was raving last week.

Clams with rice and Verd Albera

Clams with rice and Verd Albera

What do you drink with tapas? My immediate go-to is sherry but having indulged that whim the other day in the form of a glass of tangy manzanilla amontillada from Lustau’s almacenista collection I unusually followed it up with a glass of white.

An alternative New Year's Eve menu for four

An alternative New Year's Eve menu for four

Tired of turkey? Bored with goose? Try Signe Johansen's fresh-tasting suggestions for a simple New Year's supper with friends.

Yoghurt-baked fish with walnut-herb crumbs

Yoghurt-baked fish with walnut-herb crumbs

This recipe came from a fascinating dinner at which chef Greg Malouf cooked a selection of Iranian dishes from his book Saraban which he wrote with his former wife Lucy with whom he still collaborates. This unusual and simple fish dish in yoghurt particularly appealed to me and I thought it would to you too.

Vivek Singh's butter chicken

Vivek Singh's butter chicken

In the run-up to National Curry Week TV chef Vivek Singh shares his favourite recipe for Old Delhi-style butter chicken from his enticing new book Spice at Home.

Shanghai red-braised pork with eggs

Shanghai red-braised pork with eggs

If you're looking for something to make for the Chinese New Year try this marvellous recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Fish & Rice which has deservedly won this year's Andre Simon award.

Maria Elia's carrot keftedes

Maria Elia's carrot keftedes

If you're giving up meat for Lent try these delicious carrot keftedes from Maria Elia's excellent book Smashing Plates, one of the cookbooks that impressed me most last year.

Can any wine survive a Vindaloo?

Can any wine survive a Vindaloo?

The widely held belief that wine doesn’t pair with curry has largely been dispelled with the new and more subtly spiced curries on the market. But what of really hot curries like a Vindaloo?

Which wine to pair with a Moroccan tagine?

Which wine to pair with a Moroccan tagine?

While summer isn’t a time one feels drawn to hearty stews Moroccan tagines are a different matter. Exotic and aromatic, they somehow suit the heat and not being particularly spicy are relatively simple to match with wine.

Spanish wine matches for Moro recipes

Spanish wine matches for Moro recipes

For the last couple of weeks The Telegraph has been running recipes from two of my favourite chefs, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro, the iconic Moorish recipe in Exmouth Market in London that I discover, to my amazement, is now 11 years old. Sam (the husband) is very into his wines, particularly sherry, so I'm suggesting Spanish wines for the pairings.

Eight great drink pairings for sushi

Eight great drink pairings for sushi

You might think sushi would be tricky to match with wine but surprisingly that’s not the case. And there are other drinks that work too . . .

Wagyu beef tataki and ginjo sake

Wagyu beef tataki and ginjo sake

We get so used to thinking of red wine as the only pairing for beef that it’s good to be reminded there are other options. Especially when it comes to Japan’s fabled Wagyu beef which is all about subtle tastes and textures.

Tantamen ramen and Asahi Super Creamy Head

Tantamen ramen and Asahi Super Creamy Head

I’m beginning to get Christmassed-out already so this week’s pairing is not the very old madeira and Comté I had last night, amazing though that was, but a steaming, spicy bowl of ramen and an Asahi Super Creamy Head beer I enjoyed at Bone Daddies Ramen earlier in the week.

Dessert wine pairing: ‘Sweet Thai Green Curry’ with Lapeyre Jurancon

Dessert wine pairing: ‘Sweet Thai Green Curry’ with Lapeyre Jurancon

This wine pairing may sound difficult to get your head round - let’s face it, it is! - but it was a very clever dessert at the 3 star De Librije in Zwolle, Holland last week

Sushi and Genmaicha (Japanese green tea with roasted rice)

Sushi and Genmaicha (Japanese green tea with roasted rice)

To the incomprehension of my husband who can’t see the point in raw fish, I adore sushi and try to eat it at least once a week - usually with one of my daughters who are both big sushi fans.

Soft shell crab tempura maki and ‘Misty Mountain’ sake

Soft shell crab tempura maki and ‘Misty Mountain’ sake

I don’t that often order sake in a restaurant but when I do I wonder why I don’t drink it more often.

Sashimi and Koshu

Sashimi and Koshu

This week’s match had to involve the extraordinary Kaiseki meal I had at Umu. I wrote it up extensively a few days ago so I won’t dwell on it again but rather focus on the pairing that I think would work best in a less rarified contest. And that’s sashimi and unoaked koshu.

Mango shrikhand with Floris mango beer

Mango shrikhand with Floris mango beer

Last week I did another pop-up with Bristol chef Romy Gill - this time at the Butlers Arms in Sutton Coldfield which is owned by Twitter friend Chris Giles and his wife Paula.

Lamb curry and Luigi Bosca De Sangre 2011

Lamb curry and Luigi Bosca De Sangre 2011

A cabernet would have been the last wine I would have thought of drinking with a curry but as happens from time to time you come across an unexpected wine match that really works.

Kylie Kwong's roasted beef fillet with Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot

Kylie Kwong's roasted beef fillet with Cape Mentelle Cabernet Merlot

Celebrations come thick and fast at this time of the year - first Burns' Night, and now Chinese New Year and Australia Day. Since both fall on the same day this year I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone (terrible expression but you know what I mean) and mark the Year of the Ox with a beef recipe matched with an Australian wine.

Guava Collins and Singapore Noodles

Guava Collins and Singapore Noodles

Traditionally it’s been difficult to find a pairing for noodle dishes, especially soup noodles which have the triple drawback of being hot, sour and wet. But the other night at Alan Yau’s new restaurant Cha Cha Moon (of which more to follow when I do my round-up of new London openings) I had a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail which really hit the spot.

Guacamole, salsa and a citrussy pale ale

Guacamole, salsa and a citrussy pale ale

Last Friday night Helen, our designer, and I had a bit of a works outing to our colleague Monica Shaw's who works on the nuts and bolts of the website. She cooked up an amazing Mexican feast of which this was just one element but it was striking how much better the whole meal went with beer than with wine.

Couscous royale and 2011 Chateau Romanin Les Baux de Provence

Couscous royale and 2011 Chateau Romanin Les Baux de Provence

Last week we returned to one of our much-loved haunts, Arles, and ate our way round some of our favourite restaurants (the ones that weren’t closed as a number mysteriously seemed to be at what you’d think was still peak holiday season).

Contemporary sushi and Sancerre rouge

Contemporary sushi and Sancerre rouge

The best meal on my whirlwind tour of the Centre Loire* last week - and there was stiff competition - was a Japanese meal prepared by sommelier Juli Nakata-Roumet, the Japanese wife of the local promotional body’s director of communication Benoit Roumet

What to drink for Diwali

What to drink for Diwali

If you’re planning a meal to celebrate Diwali this week here are two traditional drinks to accompany the feast.

Fresquito Vino Nuevo de Tinaja

Fresquito Vino Nuevo de Tinaja

If you want proof of how adventurous a wine retailer Marks & Spencer has become you only have to try this unusual Spanish white made from Pedro Ximenez, which is more usually used to make a sweet syrupy style of sherry.

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