Sunday, May 14, 2006

Food and Wine Matching

Sat 13 May 2006

Andrew over at Spittoon is hosting a food and wine matching event. Since this combines two of my favourite things (OK, he could have gone one better and chosen a dish which contained beer!) I had to join in!

I was also intrigued by Andrew's choice of dish - Austrian dumplings with a green tomato compote. Green tomatoes proved to be fabulously difficult to locate, so I exercised (as always) a bit of creativity when it came to the actual execution of the dish ... I'm not an experienced dumpling eater (let alone maker) and to be honest, had it not been for the blogging event, this is the type of dish I would NEVER have made!

First - I made the dumplings. I did actually follow the recipe for this bit, as I was a bit scared of the semolina (I almost used polenta instead!). I was absolutely horrified when I poured in the semolina as the whole mixture went horribly lumpy. I suspect I was meant to add the semolina gradually, rather than just dump it all in. After a lot of shouting (it doesn't help with the lumps - actually, it doesn't help with much really), I ended up with about half the amount of mixture I started with (I resorted to sieving). However, it was really tasty (which is quite an admission, not being a huge orange fan, either!), and I thought that things were decidedly looking up for this dish.

Next - the compote. As green tomatoes were unavailable, I got Andrew's permission for a bit of a substitution, and instead used one Granny Smith (peeled and sliced), a punnet of blackberries, a couple of tablespoons of soft brown sugar, the juice of a lemon and the juice of an orange. I cooked this a little (to dissolve the sugar) before leaving it to cool.

The recipe called for rolling the dumplings in 'crushed nuts'. I opted for a combination of ground almonds, some brown sugar and some cinnamon.

When it came to dumpling cooking time it all looked reasonably promising. Everything tasted delicious, and I put the compote on to warm through. The water was boiling to poach the dumplings ... but no! What's this?! The little dumplings are collapsing! There is no way that they will be rolled in anything!

Anyway, not to be put off, I salvaged bits of dumpling from the pan (hooray for slotted spoons!) and served on top of my compote, with a sprinkling of my nut mixture and a spoonful of sour cream.

Not quite a masterpiece in terms of looks, but it was actually very tasty (and also incredibly rich).

So ... the wine ... I chose Brown Brothers Orange Flora and Muscat 2005. Why? I've had this wine many times before and knew that it wouldn't be overpoweringly sweet (important as Andy is not so keen on pudding wines). This turned out to be quite crucial, as overall (sweet compote, sweet dumpling, sweet nut mixture) the dish was very sweet, so it was nice to have something with a bit of a tart backbone to act as a foil. I also thought that the citrus overtones of the wine should go quite nicely with the citrus in the dish.

And I was right (I can't make dumplings, but I can choose wine - hooray!). The sweetness of the wine didn't interfere with the sweetness of the dish, but did leave you with a hint of honey at the end of the palate. Personally, I think I may have served the wine a little on the cold side (especially as dessert was hot), but it still smelled delicious, and, the lovely floral wine mixed with the really heady blackberry and apple compote smell was just great.

I doubt I'll be making the dumplings again. However, I would have another stab at a blackberry and apple compote (but with less sugar) and I think I'd opt for cream rather than sour cream - it was a tad too tart and acidic and I think was overcomplicated, especially with all the other flavours going on.

I have also learnt that when cooking in someone else's kitchen it is not the stove's fault that your semolina goes lumpy. It is also not the pot's fault, the spoon's fault, and it's not even the bin's fault!

A big thank you to Andy for coping with the semolina induced tantrum and the good people at the North Bar for providing the Schneider Weisse!
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Blogger Andrew said...

I have not made mine yet; I am to pick up some green tomatoes from a restaurnat in London next Monday but following your experience with the dumplings I will be extra careful when I come to construct mine.

Many thanks for taking part.

1:39 pm  

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