Saturday Kitchen 21 May 11

(by peter)

Pottery, spring-time recipes and great value wines were high on our agenda when filming the wine bits in Stoke-on-Trent for last weekend’s Saturday Kitchen.

(The location was a coincidence. It had nothing to do with the recent FA Cup final or my beer bit on ESPN, which featured local Stoke ales. But it did make for a great overview, having now looked into both wines and beers in Stoke in some detail…)

First up was Michelin-starred chef Mark Jordan, who heads up the kitchen at The Atlantic Hotel in Jersey. Mark’s recipe was resolutely regional and seasonal – dover sole with crab-crushed Jersey royals and sauce Grenoble.

After rustling it up at home (thanks, chef Susie) and trying it with a range of wines, we can confirm it’s one of those classic dishes that does with a whole range of whites – Sancerre being a particularly good pairing. But, in the interests of value (our maximum budget on Saturday Kitchen being £9) I went for the brilliant Castillo de Molina Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (£7.99, Sainsburys) – the bolder flavour profile working equally well with this flavoursome dish.

James quite rightly observed that the wine ‘packs a punch’, while Mark described it as, ‘fantastic: citrusy, beautiful with the sole – good job’. All in all, a very favourable reception for what is a delicious wine – paired with a beautiful dish.

The other chef on the show was Cyrus Todiwala OBE – who is shortly opening a new restaurant in Heathrow’s Terminal 5 – and who was cooking the wonderfully byzantine concoction which went by the title of, ‘Spiced cannon of salt marsh lamb with chicken liver masala and asparagus and spinach porial’.

(And that wasn’t all: he somehow managed to sneak a fried egg and a buttered white bread roll in there too…)

I considered a rosé but went instead for the excellent value Frontera Merlot (£5.99, Tesco). While it says Merlot on the label, its character is more in keeping with the spicy, peppery, juicy Carmenère grape variety – which goes beautifully well with spicy cuisine and lamb in particular. (Many wines labelled as ‘Merlot’ from Chile are dominated by Carmenère character, principally because most vineyard plantings officially declared as Merlot in Chile are actually Carmenère…it’s a quirk of Chile’s winemaking history, and one that is being rectified, albeit very slowly.)

It went down very well in studio. Cyrus – never one short for words – declared it, ‘Perfect. I love a Merlot, nice soft well rounded. It’s beautiful: it allows the spices to shine through but at the same time cleanses your palate. Fantastic.’

James commented that it had ‘lots of flavour’, while Mark deemd it ‘fantastic: a great combination’.

For the final dish – the singer Stacey Solomon’s food heaven (pan-fried duck breast with squash pickle and peach purée) – I went for a pink wine, Jacob’s Creek Shiraz rosé (£7.48, Asda)

Predictably, this roused James’ masculine hackles, as he commented, ‘I don’t know why Peter bothers to be honest. I keep lecturing him…but we’ve got a rosé again.’

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me that almost sounded like a challenge to recommend more wonderful rosé…

The show is available via BBC iplayer until 28.5.11. Wine bits at 17:43 and 56:14.