Tag Archives: food and wine

When a duck meets a Riesling (an incredible love story)

It was a rainy Wednesday eve in London when both my body and my soul were calling for something filling, hearty and warming. Knowing that all I had left in the fridge was some exotic mushrooms, two duck legs and purple sprouting broccoli I first wasn’t quite what to do. Thanks to the great era of internet it didn’t take me long to find an inspiration.

But then I looked into my wine racks and faced the next problem. The few classic matches I found – a few bottles of my favorite New Zealand Pinot Noir and some Merlot based Bordeaux were waiting for a more special occasion while fuller bodied big South African and Aussie wines I had available would have put my palate on fire if combined with the rather spicy dish I had in mind. But then I noticed an old friend tucked away and almost forgotten about – a 2007 Dr. Hermann Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett from Germany. Knowing this would be at least an off-dry and very fruity wine I thought it might be a good combination with the sauce and seasoning of the dish, even if a very unusual one with the duck itself. So I decided to be brave and give it a shot, especially because my drinking window note on the bottle said 2011-2016.

duck2First to the food: I used this recipe as a rough guide but did modify it quite a lot. I used duck legs rather than breast, first browned it in a stove-to-oven frying pan without any additional oil (if you fry your duck skin side down first it will give off more than enough fat!) and put it into the oven on medium heat to finish off. Before moving the duck to the oven I put a few drops of agave sirup and a splash of soy sauce over the duck.

photo 3Also, I added garlic and purple-sprouting broccoli to the veggies. Broccoli need to go into the wok first as they take longer to cook than the mushrooms. Very unusual for me not to have fresh ginger at home but the problem was solved quickly with little leftover packs of pickled ginger from the Japanese takeaway (never despair when you’re lacking an ingredient, there is almost always a way to deal with it 🙂 )

The outcome of the adventure were delicious Asian style spicy duck legs with amazing flavors of ginger, chilli, soy and sweetness from the sirup and a wok full of vitamin-loaded joy to go with it! (click on photos above to see them full-size)

DrHerrman1Now to the wine: I like German Rieslings a lot. They are often very good value for money,  most are very good quality (like anything made in Germany really) and even if they are on the sweeter side, their mouthwatering high acidity levels make them very easy drinking wines.

TASTING NOTE:  Medium sweet on the front palate but thanks to the very high acidity level the wine has an almost dry finish. Pronounced typical petrol notes and honey on the nose, stone fruit, cooked apple and sweet spice on the palate. Frankly, the finish doesn’t last forever but the wine is very well balanced. Light bodied and very easy drinking. Now the best thing about it – only 7.5% alcohol!! It’s almost healthy! 🙂

As I mentioned before it took me courage to pair this Chinese style duck with a Riesling. I was hoping for the chilli, Chinese five spice mix, garlic and ginger to match and play well with the sweetness of the wine, and at the same time the sweetness of the wine to balance off the heat of the food. Luckily my expectations were fulfilled! I absolutely loved this food and wine pairing and it turned out to be just as I wanted! What else was amazing about it is how the sweetness from the agave sirup and the sweetness of the wine harmonized with each other, it was like a match made in heaven! It is always a such a delight to find new fantastic food and wine pairings rather than always going to the well-known classics (as e.g. Pinot Noir or Merlot with duck)!

In my opinion this wine represents an excellent value for money (I got it for under £10 at Majestic a while ago) but this vintage seems to be no longer available in the UK. However, if you got too curious about this great wine please do let me know and I will do my best to help you source it.

P.S.: btw, if you fell in love with the duck on top of the page click here 😉

A Pinot Noir for a special occasion – 2010 Cristom

Cristom pinot 2010 Cristom, Mt. Jefferson Cuvee Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley. I ordered this wine at Chez Bruce, a Michelin star restaurant tucked away in London’s borough of Wandsworth where my husband and I celebrated a special occasion. A very good quality Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley in Oregon, USA – a rising-star region gaining more and more popularity for its Pinots.

TASTING NOTE: Pale ruby with med+ flavor intensity, pronounced red fruit on the nose, especially red currant and cranberries along with floral notes (violets). Very elegant on the palate and has opened up in the bottle over a few days after opening. Smooth silky tannins, medium bodied with pleasant acidity levels making it a food friendly wine.

Cristom pairingIt paired very nicely with venison tartar and côte de boeuf (cooked medium) in the restaurant as well as with homemade pan-fried chicken liver three days later. (To take an unfinished bottle of wine home from a restaurant is a very SweervyWiney thing to do! Always ask the sommelier to keep the cork 😉 ) The wine is ready to enjoy now but will last for another 1-2 years.

However this is a wine that can easily be enjoyed on its own – it will pair wonderfully with a round of good friends and maybe a few light snacks or neutral cheeses (e.g. Emmental or light-medium strength cheddar).

If you are interested in purchasing this wine drop me a line and I will be happy to help you source it.

First to beat the French – Chateau Montelena

If you haven’t had a chance to taste wines of Chateau Montelena of Napa, California, you might still have heard about it. Montelena was featured in the movie called “Bottle shock”, where it was THE new world producer to beat French wines in a blind tasting referred to as “The judgement of Paris” in 1976, held by the British wine expert Steven Spurrier. The movie is based on real events although there has been some criticism in regards to the accuracy of the script. This film is certainly not a masterpiece but still quite entertaining and a must-see for all wine lovers.

But back to the wine! I discovered the 2010 Montelena Cabernet on the wine list at the CUT – a fantastic steak restaurant on London’s Park Lane – and looked no longer, I knew I had to try it! I apologize for the very brief wine description as it was rather difficult to focus on producing a full tasting note being in a big group of friends in a very lively environment.

montelenaTASTING NOTE: smooth tannins, pronounced cassis notes; smoke/tar and floral aromas somewhat reminded me a bit of Barolo, although it was more violets rather that roses. Very good quality easy drinking wine that will develop further. Decanting recommended.

The wine is a blend is 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc and retails for an average of £30 per bottle; considering its quality, fame and ageing potential I find this a good value. It matched perfectly with a medium cooked USDA beef fillet mignon and was an excellent and more elegant alternative to my usual choice of Malbec to go with steaks.

If you are interested in purchasing the wine drop me a line and I will be happy to help you source it.

Azerbaijani Meat Kutab amateur style

The only way I can ever make this dish myself is when I have access to ready made lavash, a very thin flatbread from Azerbaijan (think 1/3 thickness of a Mexican tortilla). Luckily, my family brought me a few dozens recently and I needed to act quickly as lavash perishes fast.

Frankly speaking, using lavash to make kutab (or qutab) is a plain cheating. The traditional way involves preparing dough, rolling it out to 1 mm thin sheets and cutting round shapes. And only then you fill it with either meat, herbs or squash.

But back to my cheating/amateur method. All I needed to do is prepare the filling, which consisted of organic lamb mince, finely chopped onions and seasoning of salt and pepper. I added a tsp of dried oregano for a personal twist. 😉

Then you (traditionally) fry your kutab on a convex iron griddle stalled saj. My kutabs had to settle for a ceramic frying pan. I first tried to fry them without any fat like my mom normally does, but it didn’t go well with the first batch, so I lightly brushed the remaining kutabs with sunflower oil before putting them in the pan. I will spare you the details of how my two(!) ceramic pans looked afterwards, but all I say is that it was absolutely worth the trouble and the overall kitchen damage!

photo 2

Meat kutabs are traditionally served with sumac, a dark red lemony flavoured spice made from crushed sumac berries. (I like mines with ketchup) If you are curious about the real thing, this link will give you a bit more insight: traditional kutab

Surrau IGTLast but not least, the wine. I had an open bottle of 2012 Vigne Surrau Isola dei Nuraghi IGT from Sardinia (Cannonau, Carignano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muristellu blend) in the fridge. You would be surprised how well it paired with kutab! I believe this is mostly due to the high acidity level of the wine playing well with the sumac spice and its overall Mediterranean character matching the dish. 

Tasting note: medium ruby, med. flavor intensity, high acidity levels, soft tannins, med+ body; red berries, sweet spice, hint of leather, very food friendly wine. Would keep for another year or two but ready to enjoy now, not designed for long-term ageing.