Last night was really exciting in my adventures as a cook. M. Sebastien had been after me for some time to create some food pairings for his monthly wine tastings at O’Gourmet Food Hall. It was a tasting of Spanish reds … and M. Sebastien was intrigued by the notion that vegetarian food could be paired well with such bold strong wines. When people think of red wine, they almost immediately think of red meats – robust, dark and complex flavours.
M. Sebastien challenged me to think up a menu that would complement his red wines which steadily built in terms of taste and complexity. We went through the list together, and he told me the spices, notes, flavours and depth of each wine. I came up with a food pairing that I felt would match and bring out the unique attributes of the wine. Together, we refined the flavours, and discussed the cheese I would cook with (three of the courses had cheese in the recipe).
In my life as a cook, this was a daunting, and yet ultimately satisfying project. I had 24 hours to cook for 20 people, I helped to serve all the courses, and enjoyed the positive feedback and interaction. I never would have imagined I could do something like this a mere six months ago, but I have been stretched to challenge myself – by good friends and loved ones – and it has paid off.
I will post the recipes for all five courses in the coming few days, but I thought you might like to take a glance at the menu from last night.
O’Gourmet does wine tastings every month. Please contact them here to be put on the mailing list for further events. Who knows, I might be cooking again!
Santonegro Syrah 2008 – A light wine, simple and fresh.
Paired with tapenade on crusty french bread toasts. I brushed the sliced french bread with a mixture of Maldon salt, garlic and organic olive oil and baked it in the oven. The tapenade was a gorgeous mixture of black olives, green olives, organic olive oil, caper berries, a touch of garlic, and grated lemon peel. The lemon peel elevated the flavour and made the tapenade sparkle.
Gotes 2009 – interesting palette, contrasting flavours.
Paired with red peppers and goat’s cheese feta with smoked paprika. The red peppers were marinated overnight in herbs, garlic, olive oil and a touch of old balsamic. They were then enriched by the deep dark notes of smoked paprika.
Luberri 2009 – a unique open taste – people have strong opinions about this wine as it stands up to you.
Paired with Turkish figs poached in red wine and baked with fourme d’ambert. These gorgeous dried figs were poached until they were velvety and succulent, split open and baked with a beautiful french blue cheese. The taste was a fascinating melding of sweet and salty, sticky and sensuous.
QV Crianza 2005 – a fantastic wine, organic, deeply lush and beautiful.
Paired with a caramelised garlic and raclette tart baked with a light custard. The caramelised onions were cooked for four and half hours, in a bottle of the QV Crianza, until they were dark and sticky, almost an onion jam. They were then baked in a butter puff pastry shell, with a light kiss of savoury custard and some smooth raclette to finish.
Humiliat 2008 – a wine that starts out closed, but opens up into complex and deep flavours.
Paired with a chili chocolate mousse with vanilla whipped cream. The chocolate mousse was made with pure bittersweet chocolate, and I made sure not to add too much sugar. However, the whipped cream gave it balance, adding sweetness and creaminess to the final taste. The chili brought everything alive, and added fire and passion.