Friday, 12 February 2010

Beef and wine food matching evening.

A quick precis of the menu and wines that I was matching with them at my last Beef and Wine evening.

The goal here is to look at various ways of cooking and serving Beef and then matching these with suitable wines. But more than that, explaining the process that went behind the choice of the wines, and expounding my own personal theory of why food and wine make such intruiging partners. Possibly also meandering into my own personal views on what constitutes beauty, and why certain things taste better than others.

24 hour cold infusion of Jasmine Green tea, this is just to cleanse the palette and get one thinking about delicacy and complexity.

Carpaccio served with a Jasmine and Orange water dressing
Here I'm looking at showing the delicacy of fillet, from grass fed cattle the subtlety of perfume and flavour. The matching wine will be a Condrieu, the meat isn't cooked and is very lean so there is no need for anything big and tannic, the heady honeysuckle and ripe peach scented fruit that dominates the perfume of the condrieu is the linkage flavour with the dressing.

Veal Sweetbreads served on toast with a beurre noisette, this is matched with a 2006 Pernand Vergelesses 1er cru Ile de Vergelesses from Domaine Bonneau de Martray. Here there is an extra element of complexity due to the sweetbreads being poached in milk which is flavoured with herbs, then they're pan fried in butter and oil. The minerally nuttiness of the wine is what created the harmonics of flavour with the beurre noisette sauce.

Espresso of Beef consomme with veal and ham hock faggots, this I'm serving with Saintsbury Pinot Noir. The intense jammy fruit that is the core of the wine matches well with the rich and mouth coating beefiness of the double reduced consomme, in effect giving the wine an extra dimension.

Estouffade de Boeuf, here we start to look at the effects of Umami in a dish as there is very slowly cooked tomatoes in the sauce, also the sauce is flavoured with Lavender and made with white wine, this along with the slow cooked nature of the dish means that I can match a lighter red. My choice being either the Prats and Symington Post Scriptum Douro red as it shows beautiful flavours of perfumed cherries, dark fruits and a particular note of crushed violets. It is this slightly exotic perfume that plays with the Lavender in the sauce to consummate the marriage of wine and dish.

Roast Beef, here I'm playing a little with the possibilities inherent in the cooking process, not only is the wine marinaded for a long time in quite powerful wine, it then has the wine and cooking liquor re injected into the meat while the meat in resting. With this I have chosen to serve the Montsant Cabrida Garnatxa VV, as it's powerful licorice infused morello cherry and earth like nose make a nice complement to the marinade, also as the beef has been seared prior to roasting there is the added matter of the maillard related characters, these are interestingly matched by the effect of oak ageing, particularly when new oak has been used.

Tower of Beef cheek with truffled mash and an alsation bacon crisp, beef cheek is extremely full flavoured so I've chosen quite a full bodied rich red, as there isn't a great deal of fat in the dish, I've also gone for something with softish tannins as I don't want them to grate on the palette, however the aromatic linkage that I'm looking to capitalise on is the garnish of very smoky alsatian bacon with matches beautifully to the earthy smoky edge of the Cederberg Shiraz from Stellenbosch.

Haut Brion 2004

Wednesday afternoon - round to mr and mrs Bibendums house for a quick supping of the 2004 wines from Haut Brion.
We were attended by Jean-Philippe Delmas their wine maker.
Ch Laville Haut-Brion (£108.28) Mainly Semillon (85%) with the remainder being Sauvignon, oddly this came close on the heels of having tasted the 02 Vat 1 Semillon from Tyrells, and they both shared a lovelly earthy nuttiness, very distinct from the kind that you'd expect to see in Burgundy - some sort of banana infused honeyed character and fabulous acidity.
Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc (£397.45) - a very nice bottle of wine 50/50 Sem/Sauv, however the incredible price (related to it's scarcity more than any thing else - about 6000 bottles produced a year) rather annoyed me - White hedgerow flowers, very tight with a core of creamy lightly citrus acidity. I'm sure this will open up fabulously, but seriously nearly £400...
Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion - 95% Cab S the rest Merlot. Crushed blackcurrants, red current, very beautiful nose with cederwood and smoked spices. Quite tight with lovely acidity, though lithe.
Bahans Haut-Brion - 75% Cab S rest Merlot. Hints of roast meat and sweet raspberry coulis, some subtle green pepper and a slight pot pourris perfume. Again intense but very lithe, very elegant tannins, ripe but noticable.
Ch La Mission Haut-Brion - 60% Merlot the rest Cab S. Beautiful floral and perfumed nose, sweet red berries and a crushed minerals, some subtle spices and a taut lithe body.
Haut-Brion Rouge - 60% Merlot 20/20% Cab S/Cab F. Lovely pure dark fruits, woodland spices, a broody sort of muscular nose, some spicy licorice notes. Quite tannic but very elegant.

Over all I was quite impressed there's a definite familial relationship between the reds, however not knowing the wines well enough they were all a little on the youthful side fro me to feel confident about scoring them. Also I did feel that they could have used a little bit more flesh..

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Madeira and Cheese

So Cossart Gordon 88 Sercial with a 6 month old tonne de Savoie, pretty much perfect in all respects. Nutty slightly salty madeira with great acidity, the tonne, similarly nutty but with a sweet maltyness and a moreish sort of almond finish.

Elixir Vegetal de la Grande Chartreuse

So I arrived into work this morning to find a Chap by the name of David Cooper waiting for me. He'd been into the restaurant some time previously and had started talking about Chartreuse Elixir. I confessed that I'd never heard of it and we got talking. Over a mug of hot chocolate and green Chartreuse - which is in fact incredible - he mentioned that he used to be able to buy this elixir, that it was 70ish percent alcohol and quite wonderful, but that it had disappeared somewhat.
I mentioned that I dealt with Fells who distribute Chartreuse in the UK and that I could probably buy some. So a couple of weeks later he'd arrived to pick up his box of 10 by 10cl bottles, and a couple of bottles of the normal green for good measure.
Being a kindly sort he then left me a bottle, possibly to ensure my cooperation in future procurement..
Even more than normal green Chartreuse it really looks like poison, the acid green of later seedier hours of the belle epoque Parisien nights. The little medicine bottle has a dropper style opening, and it's recommended to be dropped onto sugar cubes to give one a lift and fight fatigue.
The nose is blisteringly complex, bitter herbs, bitter roots, something almost chocolatey, cinnamon. Then, though the alcohol is noticeable it's actually somewhat obscured by the weight of herbal extract, it's very bitter, there's noticeable sweetness and a really interesting length.
I'm certainly going to be stocking it in future.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Unnecessary packaging take 1

So all the Fiji water turned up for the Charity do on monday.
The bottles are wrapped in plastic, which is in a cardboard box, which is then wrapped in plastic.

To add to the hilarity, because the bottles are in cheap and nasty plastic, they've come with polished stainless steel sleeves, to make them look less nobbish..