We enjoyed a family holiday on the Riviera Maya in February and decided to get together with our family and some friends who had also been to the same resort to enjoy a photo evening. We thought a Mexican buffet would be a good idea. Our son contributed his own delicious version of chicken enchiladas and one of our friends supplied a chilli con carne with dark chocolate in the sauce. Our daughter and son-in-law provided a spectacular nachos, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo and salad. We did Justine Patisson’s pulled pork tacos from the BBC Good Food website.
What to drink with such a variety of flavours? A couple of different Shirazes were on offer, including Blaxland Estate 2015, from Tesco. Those preferring white wine, enjoyed Louis Felipe Edwards Sauvignon Blanc, supplied by our son because it was one of the house whites from our Mexican hotel. There was also Guinness West Indies Porter available as an alternative to wine.
With such a variety of flavours it was impossible to find something that paired well with everything, especially with dishes like the pork tacos that contained marked sweetness. My preference was Shiraz, but the porter was also popular. Overall, a buffet with such diverse flavours is probably not the best occasion to bring out the fine wines.
We cooked an Indian prawn curry recipe from Supercook.
The sauce contained onions, garlic, ginger, chopped chillies, turmeric, coriander, paprika, fennel seeds, aubergines, canned tomatoes, creamed cocomut, lemon juice and water. The prawns and more sliced chillies were added towards the end of the cooking. We served the curry with raita, a sambal and chapattis.
We opened a bottle of Corte Ignacio Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from the Wine Society.
We detected fresh tropical fruits on the nose and these, particularly grapefruit, followed through on the palate.
We cooked Smoked Haddock Baked with Mushrooms from Supercook. The smoked haddock fillets are poached with mushrooms, Béchamel sauce, double cream, Emmenthal cheese, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. We served the fish with mashed potatoes and carrot and swede mash.
To accompany the meal we chose a bottle of Luis Felipe Edwards Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva Leyda Valley 2012, a Chilean white from Tesco.
We tasted zesty grapefruits, an earthy minerality and a clean spicy finish, which had some affinity with the spice from the cayenne pepper. A very good match with the fish.
For a change we decided to cook something from Caribbean Food Made Easy from Levi Roots. We chose Lamb Carry, which is cubed lamb cooked with onion, garlic, canned tomatoes, thyme, basil, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, chicken stock, coconut milk, cream and lime juice.
We served the meal with Levi’s rice and peas, which contains basmati rice, spring onion, garlic, thyme, allspice berries and red chilli. However, we substituted dessicated coconut instead of fresh and we omitted the black beans. Appropriately we enjoyed some Reggae in the background.
If the meal sounds like a wine pairing challenge, you’d be right. Red or white? We tried a red first off and opened a bottle of The Hundred Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Sunday Times Wine Club. Nice wine, but not with this dish, so we set it aside.
We switched to white and opened a bottle of Concha y Toro Corte Ignacio Riesling 2012, a Chilean white from the Wine Society. This had a grassy aroma and we tasted zesty tropical fruits and a lemony finish with some minerality. This was a good match, especially with the sauce.
A couple of days later we tried the leftovers with a bottle of Brancott Sauvignon Blanc, a New Zealand white from Costco. This didn’t work at all and we went back to red and tried a bottle of Luis Felipe Edwards Merlot Reserva 2013, a full-bodied Chilean red from Asda. The plum and cherry fruits with chocolatey sweetness from oak worked well with the meal. A good match.
We have cooked Supercook’s Champagne Chicken before and it is delicious. Supercook say it is a dish for that extra special occasion and is chicken pieces casseroled with onions, brandy, chicken stock, Champagne, thyme, mace, bay leaf, mushrooms and double cream. They describe it as rich, yet subtle, light yet filling. If preferred, a dry white wine can be used instead of champagne and that’s what we used.
They suggest serving it with rice and salade de tomates, but on this occasion we enjoyed it with croquette potatoes and asparagus.
This dish deserves a decent wine pairing and we chose a bottle of the Society’s Exhibition Limari Chardonnay 2010, a Chilean white from the Wine Society.
The wine was fresh, with a smooth creaminess and a slightly tangy finish. We tasted tropical fruits and possibly gooseberries. This was an excellent wine and a brilliant match with the food.
We tried Lemon and Garlic Prawns from the All recipes UK website. The prawns are sautéed with parsley, garlic, lemon juice and white wine. We served this over fresh linguine.
We paired the meal with a bottle of Kadun Vineyard Leyda Sauvignon Gris 2011, a Chilean white from the Wine Society. This was fresh with lemon, tropical fruits and creaminess on the finish. A good match.
We found this interesting recipe on the Guardian website – the Perfect Fish Pie. It includes fish stock, white wine, parsley, white fish or salmon, smoked white fish, prawns, anchovies and double cream. A very tasty recipe and highly recommended.
Could we achieve the perfect wine match with it though? We opened a bottle of Doña Paulina Chardonnay 2012, a Chilean white from the Wine Society. we tasted melon, citrus, tropical fruits and it had a beautiful creaminess that complemented the food. The wine was indeed the perfect match for the “perfect fish pie”.
We cooked one of our favourite fish recipes – Plaice Baked with Mushrooms, from Supercook. As well as mushrooms, the fish is baked with cream, lemon juice, white wine, black peppercorns, chervil, cayenne pepper and is topped with melted cheddar cheese. As recommended, we served it with croquette potatoes. Delicious.
We accompanied the meal with a bottle of the Society’s Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 2011, from the Wine Society. This white was crisp, intensely fruity, with hints of pineapple and was a good match with the plaice.
We cooked this dish again a few months later, but this time we tried a bottle of Blind Spot Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2012, an Australian white, also from the Wine Society.
We found this crisp, lemony with hints of apple and minerality. The wine had an affinity with the lemon in the sauce. Another good match.
Winter time is good for enjoying a Swiss Cheese Fondue. We cooked the Supercook version with a blend of Emmenthal & Gruyere, Kirsch, white wine and lemon juice.
We opened our third bottle of Sibaris Undurraga Sauvignon Blanc 2011, a Chilean white from the Wine Society. We again tasted grapefruit, intense fresh limes, with minerality and a long finish. The fondue was the best match we have had with this particular wine.
Dipping the crusty bread into the fondue, eating it and then sipping a good white wine is one of life’s pleasures.
We tried Jean-Christophe Novelli’s Thai Style Chicken Curry recipe from BBC Food. It was OK, but we have tasted better.
We opened a bottle of Sibaris Undurraga Sauvignon Blanc 2011, a Chilean white from The Wine Society. There was citrus on the nose and complex flavours of lemons, grapefruit, gooseberries, with minerality. The wine was alright with the meal, but it was more enjoyable on its own.