Showing posts from April, 2021

Matching chocolate with wines (and other drinks)

Chocolate has a reputation for being difficult to match with wine. It is sweet, rich in fat and has a distinctive taste that is hard to pin down exactly - sort of fruity, sort of spicy, a bit toasty, sometimes even vaguely meaty. On top of all that, virtually all chocolate contains a hint of vanilla. However, it has many special qualities that make it a favourite of chefs and diners alike. It melts at a temperature just below that of a healthy human body, for instance, which means you will always taste it at its best if you hold it in your mouth for a few seconds. For me, chocolate's reputation for being hard to match is undeserved; it's just a matter of remembering those features that make you want to eat it in the first place. Let's start with its sweetness. Forget Champagne & chocolate truffles. The chocolate is so sweet that it'll make the Champagne taste drier and more acidic, and battery acid isn't the most romantic of drinks! Whenever you serve a wine wit

Something to fall back on

We all have dishes we return to regularly. Perhaps they are ones you know so well that their preparation is relatively easy to you, or perhaps you simply love the flavour combinations involved. We have a friend who, when I first met him, would always start a formal dinner with a feuilleté of Bavarian ham and Gruyère cheese. It was delicious. He made it so often that he knew all the pitfalls, all the little tricks and techniques to get the texture of the pastry right, the seasoning properly balanced and could change its entire character by simply adjusting the dressing on the salad garnish. He hasn't done it for a while because he feared he was getting boring, which is a shame. While we might sometimes worry about repeating dishes and menus, I think it's good to have a repertoire of dishes that are reliable and familiar; it takes a lot of stress out of feeding guests.  I think the starters that I use most often are soups. They make everything so easy, because they can be prepare