How do you choose the perfect food and wine match? Do you want to serve flavours that wow the palate so much that your guests wonder whether you’ve done a Cordon Bleu course? Or is your approach more laid back than that?
This week MiNDFOOD and Jo Malone in Auckland collaborated on three entertaining events, the last of which focused on the perfect entrée and wine matches.
Like a main or dessert, an appetizer and wine match begins in one place: with the wine. It goes against instinct, but if you work on this philosophy, you’ll tap into the heart of great flavour.
Four bite-sized rather than over-sized nibbles were the order of the evening.
Here, by popular demand, are the wine and food matches served on Thursday August 14, 2008, presented by MiNDFOOD Wine Editor Joelle Thomson.
The Greeting Wine:
Monmousseau Cuvee JM Brut de Blancs Methode Traditionelle
Fennel seed allumettes – the Parmesan, cheddar and fennel seeds picked up on the refined savoury flavours in the wine – and the slight hint of sweetness at the end of each mouthful adds a great flavour contrast.
First Wine and Food Match
2007 Felton Road Central Otago Riesling $29
Thai fish cakes, bite sized and importantly containing almond flour (available in small packs in supermarkets) rather than actual flour. The inclusion of lemon grass and a little basil is essential to make these nibbles taste great with riesling – and this was the favourite wine and foot match of everyone there.
Second Wine and Food Match
2007 Awatere Vavasour Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $20
Goat’s cheese tarts served on thin crusted, buttery home-made short pastry, no onion please (it confuses the flavours and dominates something terrible), but do use some finely chopped chives or fresh Italian parsley, which picks up on the intensity of the wine.
Another absolute winner, this match is a classic in Sancerre, France; home to many of the world’s best sauvignon blancs and great goat’s cheese.
It also works brilliantly with the fresh zingy flavours of stellar Marlborough sauvignon blancs, like this consistently outstanding wine from Vavasour in the Awatere Valley, just south of Marlborough’s massive Wairau Plains vineyards.
Third Wine and Food Match
2007 Villa Maria Marlborough Private Bin Pinot Noir $24
Pecking duck cones served in soft pancake wraps with a hint of hoisen or plum sauce, tied with a fresh chive.
Fourth Wine and Food Match
And last but not least, the bone dry flavours of one of the world’s most overlooked, least appreciated and outstandingly consistently delicious wines: sherry – the Real McCoy, that is, from the south of Spain.
Tio Pepe Fino Muy Seco Palomino Fino $30
Pan-fried chorizo. A simple, easy match that you could begin or end your entrée platter with. Serve with toothpicks and a sauce if you desire, but we served this dish at the MiNDFOOD and Jo Malone event minus any accompaniments. It doesn’t need them. It works brilliantly on its own.
All wines served at the MiNDFOOD and Jo Malone events were served in Riedel glassware, which is available from The Urban Loft, Glengarry stores, the Studio of Tableware, Smith & Caughey and Sabato in Auckland and in specialist kitchen stores nationwide.
1 packet of med sized smoked chorizo
Packet of party tooth picks
1 Cut each sausage in to bite sized pieces – cut on an angle.Heat a little amount of vegetable oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the chorizo until golden. Serve on a large platter with toothpicks
Fennel seed allumettes
Makes approx. 30
125g plain flour
90g cold unsalted butter, chopped
3 teaspoons fennel seeds
50g finely grated parmesan
50g finely grated cheddar
2 egg yolks
Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling
1 Process flour, butter, fennel seeds, cheeses, 1 egg yolk and a pinch of sea salt in a food processor until mixture just comes together. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, knead briefly until smooth, then shape into a flat rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2 Cool out pastry on a lightly floured surface to 1a 20 x 30 cm rectangle, then, using a large sharp knife, trim edges and cut pastry widthways into 5mm thick strips, then carefully transfer to baking paper-lined oven trays. Combine remaining egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water, brush strips with egg mixture and sprinkle lightly with flaked sea salt.
3 Bake at 180C for 15 minutes or until pale golden.
4 Cool on oven trays for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
Fennel seed allumettes will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Peking duck cones
1 Chinese barbecue duck
15 Peking duck pancakes, warmed
150g hoisin sauce
125g mustard cress ( or any type of small leaves or cress)
1 Using a sharp knife, remove meat from duck keeping as much skin on as possible, then cut into strips.
2 Cut each warmed pancake in half or quarter depending on size, place a piece of duck in the centre at a 90 degree angle, spoon on a little hoisin sauce and top with the cress. Roll pancake into a cone shape, place on a platter join side down.
N.B. pancakes can be bought from some Asian shops but if unable to source them, any fine crepe recipe preferably using rice flour can be used.
Thai fish cakes
500 grams firm or medium textured fish fillets
Two tablespoons chopped lemon grass
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
1 tsp grated fresh root ginger
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 table chopped fresh coriander leaved
2 tablespoons coconut cream
2 limes or lemon leaves
1 tablespoon of finely chopped Thai mint leaves
2 Tablespoons clarified butter for pan frying
1 Cut the fish into 5 cm cubes and place in a food processor with all the ingredients except the butter and pulse until the fish mixture is well chopped together being very careful not too process too much, you do not want the mixture to become a paste.
2 Mould the mixture into small fish cakes.
3 Heat the butter in a frying pan and cook the fish cakes for about 3 minutes on each side. Drain on absorbent paper before serving.
Warm Goat’s Curd and gremolata tartlets
Makes about 48
½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
280g packet tortillas
1 cup melted butter
300g soft fresh goats cheese
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 180-. Mix the parsley, garlic and lemon together until well combined to make a gremolata. Lay the tortillas flat and using a 5cm round cutter, cut out the rounds. Brush both sides with butter and press down firmly into small muffin or tartlet tins. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly coloured. Allow to cool. Place a spoonful of the goats cheese in each shell, top with the gremolata and drizzle with a little olive oil.
2 Season to taste return briefly to the oven just melting the cheese slightly. Serve immediately.