What research tastes like
Susie starts stockpiling obscure ingredients. Then she busies herself around the kitchen, murmuring incantations. Occasionally, a sotto voce (and mostly relatively mild) profanity emanates from her general direction, usually in the direction of the chef and author of the recipe lined up for the show. (But sometimes towards me; I maintain a low profile just in case.)
At the same time a mini profusion of wine bottles is readied for the challenge. The final quantity depends on how tricky the dish is to match – this is rarely a predictable science – and can vary from the usual two or three to, on one memorable occasion, double figures…but Bill Grainger’s Moroccan chicken was worth it.
And then we eat like gastronomic royalty.
Such was the scene in our house just last weekend. Without giving too many details away, we enjoyed two quite different dishes on subsequent evenings, as well as the charms of several wines, including:
• The reliably savoury and classy Mattmann Churer Rheintal Pinot Noir (13.5%) from Switzerland, as covered before on this site – though this time the succulent 2008 vintage. Not easy to get hold of, but well worth a try.
• Benchmark Valpolicella Ripasso 2006 from Waitrose, 14% – perfumed and rounded
• Revising a Dubai theme, the crunchy pea-pod scented Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Marlborough, 13.5% – which seems agreeable tighter and zippier than previous vintages
• A subtle but versatile Pinot Gris Reserve 2008, Cave de Beblenheim, 12.5%
• Another staple from a large New Zealand producer, this time Montana’s South Island Pinot Noir 2008, 13.5%, an entirely sensible blend of Marlborough, Waipara and Otago fruit, making for a smoky, creamy and savoury mouthful – not the most complex but excellent at the level. (currently £6.99 down from £9.99, Waitrose)
The first dish involved wood pigeon with a red wine reduction and a somewhat unexpected (but delicious) element of mangos. The preparation of this dish caused much muttering. But it was worth it. And not just for the delightful flavours, but for the lessons it taught us on the wine front.
The second dish featured crispy noodles and chicken. There were rumours of oyster sauce.
As for the results, tune in to Saturday Kitchen, BBC1 at 10am on Saturday 13th Feb.
I can’t promise all will be revealed – certainly not the profanities – but you’ll get the gist.