Pairings | Stephen Markwick

A classic English meal with a perfectly matched French wine

People occasionally ask me what characterises British food. Unlike French or Italian food it can be hard to pin down, there are so many different ethnic influences but last night I had a meal that was quintessentially English summer food.

Scallop and crab risotto with inexpensive French Sauvignon

Scallop and crab risotto with inexpensive French Sauvignon

I know I’ve highlighted crab as a match for a number of different wines but it really is a great dish to pick if you’re drinking a serious white. This time however the wine was far from stellar: the basic house Sauvignon at Culinaria in Bristol where I was doing a photo shoot for our next book.

Mushroom 'caviar' and Californian sparkling wine

Mushroom 'caviar' and Californian sparkling wine

Every so often you come across a great little recipe than does wonders for almost any wine you pair with it. And so it is with mushroom ‘caviar’, a regular offering from the takeaway section of my favourite local restaurant Culinaria. Basically it’s a mushroom pâté but so reduced and wickedly intense it’s like pure essence of mushroom. Except for the perfect counterpoint - a tiny touch of tarragon.

Game terrine and London dry gin

Game terrine and London dry gin

I’ve already written about how well game terrine pairs with oloroso sherry. Now I’ve discovered an equally good, if not better pairing: London Dry Gin.

How to cook grouse

How to cook grouse

Although you might want to wait a couple of weeks for prices to come down today marks the beginning of the grouse season so at some point you might be tempted to bag yourself a couple of braces - it's a great treat for a small dinner party.

Lambs sweetbreads with girolles and Louis Roederer Rich Champagne

Lambs sweetbreads with girolles and Louis Roederer Rich Champagne

It’s a bit of a long story. A customer of my friends Stephen and Judy Markwick who own the Bristol restaurant Culinaria wanted to track down some Louis Roederer Rich and I helped him find it. He wanted me to share a bottle with him as a reward which was totally unnecessary but a gesture it seemed churlish to refuse. (Or that's my excuse anyway!)

La Réserve de Léoville Barton with roast lamb and salsa verde

La Réserve de Léoville Barton with roast lamb and salsa verde

We had a celebration dinner with old friends the other night at my favourite local restaurant Culinaria so cracked open a bottle of La Réserve de Léoville Barton 2004*, a St Julien and the second wine of Léoville Barton. It really was quite lovely - rich, plummy, velvety - at its peak but with a few more years to go. It was everything you want from red Bordeaux (unless you have bottomless pockets)

Game terrine and sweet oloroso sherry

Game terrine and sweet oloroso sherry

Last week I was given a couple of slices of gorgeous game terrine by Stephen Markwick of Culinaria with whom I’ve been writing a book (of which more news soon). We had it for lunch and the only wine I had open wasn’t up to the intensity of the spicing (which was dominated by allspice) and the accompanying damson chutney.

Twice-baked goats' cheese soufflés

Twice-baked goats' cheese soufflés

A classic starter from the ‘70’s but one that our customers seem to enjoy every bit as much today. This version originally came from a book called Take Twelve Cooks and was one of Pru Leith’s recipes. However Stephen Bull attributes it to Peter Kromberg of Le Soufflé at the Intercontinental who was also featured in the book . . .

Smoked eel, beetroot and Malbec

Smoked eel, beetroot and Malbec

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.

Salmon ceviche and Soave

Salmon ceviche and Soave

With its intense citrussy flavour ceviche - marinated raw fish - is a tricky dish to pair with wine.

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