Which Drink Pairings for a Mexican Buffet?

2016-03-25 18.03.382016-03-25 18.17.572016-03-25 18.22.49We 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. 2016-03-25 18.23.572016-03-25 19.15.19Those 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.

Off-Dry Whites Work Well with Thai Massaman Curry

2016-03-12 18.33.37We tried Madhur Jaffrey’s version of Beef and Potato Massaman Curry,  a Thai dish.

Pieces of beef skirt are fried with coconut cream, bay leaf and Massaman curry paste, which is made from red chillies, white peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon, shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, curry powder and shrimp paste.

Fish sauce, tamarind, palm sugar, potatoes and water are then added and the curry is simmered.  Fried shallots are sprinkled over before serving.

We attempted to pair the meal with a bottle of Villa Maria Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014, a New Zealand white from Costco.  However, more sweetness was needed, so we set it aside in favour of a bottle of Awatere Pinot Grigio 2013, an off-dry New Zealand white from Tesco.2016-03-12 18.29.26

We tasted tropical fruits with a pineapple sweetness and grapefruit sharpness. This wine was a reasonably good match with the food.

We tried a bottle of Houghton Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013, an Australian white from Costco, with the leftovers a couple of days later and thought this was also a good match.  See here for a another good food pairing for this wine.

New Zealand Sauvignon Great with Burmese Chicken Curry

We tried Burmese Chicken Curry from Madhur Jaffrey. An interesting mix of Indian and Thai flavours.

Cubes of chicken are rubbed with hot curry powder, garam masala and salt. Onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and paprika are blended into a paste and the chicken is stir-fried with the paste, tomatoes, fish sauce and lemongrass. Water is added and the chicken is then simmered.

We served the curry with boiled rice, poppadums and a side dish we found on the Saveur website called Myanmar-Style Long Bean Salad (Pei Daunt Shay Thoke). This was a tasty combination of green beans, shallots, chopped roasted peanuts, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and salt.2016-01-09 18.09.17

We opened a bottle of Mahau Sound Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013, a New Zealand white from Sunday Times Wine Club, previously enjoyed with a chicken Korma.

We detected a grassy nose and the food pairing brought to the fore intense citrus lemon, tropical fruit flavours with a tangy grapefruit finish. A very good match with the curry.

Which White Wine with Rick Stein’s Moghul Chicken Korma?

We tried Rick Stein’s Moghul Chicken Korma.

Chicken pieces are marinated in a spice paste containing ginger, garlic, water, cinnamon, cardamon, coriander, nutmeg, yoghurt and salt. The chicken is then simmered with fried onion paste, ground almonds and more water.  Green chillies, ground poppy seeds and saffron rosewater are then added and the dish is finished with double cream.  We served with pilau rice.

We opened a bottle of Mahau Sound Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013, a New Zealand white from Sunday Times Wine Club. We detected freshly-cut grass on the nose, followed by citrus, pineapple, grapefruit, gooseberry tropical fruit flavours, with a creaminess and a tangy finish.  A very good match with the Korma.

 We had the leftovers the following day and wondered whether a slightly drier wine would work even better.  We tried a bottle of Villa Maria Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014, a New Zealand white from Costco.  It was not as good with the Korma, so we set it aside in favour of an off-dry wine, Houghton Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013, an Australian white, also from Costco. We tasted zesty lemon, gooseberries and tropical fruits.  This was the best match of all three wines.

A New Zealand Sauvignon is Good with Aubergine Curry

2015-08-28 18.10.57We were looking for a recipe for some aubergines we had been given and decided on Rick Stein’s Aubergine Curry with Tomatoes, Ginger and Fennel Seeds. This dish is from Bangladesh and the aubergines are cooked in a curry made from ginger, garlic, green chillies, cumin, fennel seeds, coriander, turmeric, tomatoes, salt and pepper.  The dish is garnished with fresh coriander and mint. We served this very tasty curry with pulao rice.

We paired the curry with a bottle of Giesen The Brothers Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011, a New Zealand white from Tesco.

We thought the flavours were somewhat muted for a New Zealand Sauvignon, but we thought the pairing with the curry was good.  It brought the wine’s grapefruit and tropical fruit flavours to the fore.

A Touraine Sauvignon is Excellent with Barbecued Prawn Kebabs

2015-08-01 18.14.13We cooked a slightly modified version of Supercook’s Scampi Kebabs recipe.  We used Waitrose raw peeled king prawns marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and black pepper.

The prawns were then barbecued on skewers with green peppers, mushrooms, sage leaves and pieces of lemon.  The prawns were basted with the marinade while cooking and we served with saffron rice and an avocado and leaf salad.  Delicious.

We opened a bottle of Touraine Sauvignon Blanc “Les Hauts Lieux”, Bougrier 2013, a French white from the Wine Society.  We previously enjoyed this wine with barbecued salmon with dill.

We tasted lemon, tropical fruits and a fresh, clean finish.  Pairing with these superb barbecued prawn kebabs really brought out the best in this wine.

A French Sauvignon is Good with Barbecued Salmon with Dill and Lemon

2015-06-26 17.55.09We tried Grilled Salmon with Dill and Lemon from bbq.about.com  The salmon is marinated in lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, oil and dill and then barbecued.  We served the salmon with baked potato wedges, mushrooms and tomatoes.

To go with the salmon we decided on a bottle of Touraine Sauvignon Blanc “Les Hauts Lieux”, Bougrier 2013, a French white from the Wine Society.

We thought the nose was slightly grassy and the taste was fresh and lemony with some tropical fruits.  The finish was crisp.  A good match with the barbecued salmon.

New World Whites Work Well with Peanut Butter Chicken Stew

Last month we cooked Caribbean Peanut Chicken and particularly enjoyed the peanut butter flavours.  We were entertaining guests and fancied trying another recipe with similar ingredients and chose Peanut Butter Chicken Stew from Supercook.

This is a West African dish that we served with boiled rice and sweet potato.  Chicken pieces are cooked with onion and a paste made from chicken stock, salt, pepper, turmeric, coriander, cumin and chilli powder.  Tomatoes are added later and the dish is garnished with parsley. Delicious and even better than the previous recipe.

We opened a couple of wines to pair with the meal – Lions Gate Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2011, a South African white blend from Tesco and Wairau Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2013, a New Zealand white also from Tesco. Both these wines went well with the meal, with the New Zealand wine having the edge.

We had the leftovers with a bottle of Bleasdale Langhorne Crossing Verdelho/Sauvignon Blanc 2014, an Australian white blend from the Wine Society.

This was crisp, fresh, slightly off-dry with grapefruit and tropical fruit flavours.  The wine was a good match with the chicken.2015-06-14 19.11.01

A South African White Blend is Good with Barbecued Chilli Chicken

I have recently rediscovered Steven Raichlen’s Barbecue Bible website and there’s a good selection of interesting recipes on there. We decided to do a barbie at short notice to take advantage of a rare sunny day in a dreadful English May. We decided on Green Chile (Chilli) Chicken Under Bricks. Chicken breasts are marinated in a mixture of salt, black peppercorns, cumin, garlic, green chilli (we only had red ones), chopped cilantro (coriander), lime juice and olive oil.  We didn’t use the bricks as recommended in the recipe, but the chicken was deliciously succulent.

We served the chicken with Delia’s Anya Potato Salad with Shallots and Vinaigrette and mixed leaves with a vinaigrette dressing.  An excellent al fresco meal.2015-05-30 14.51.42

We paired the meal with a bottle of Lion’s Gate Sauvignon blanc Semillon 2014, a South African white from Tesco.

The nose was grassy and the palate started slightly sweet, followed by tropical fruit flavours, with a drier finish.  The wine was a good match with the barbecued chilli chicken.

German Rieslings Work Well with Sri Lankan Cashew-Coconut Chicken Curry

We cooked Chicken Curry with a Cashew-Coconut Sauce, a Sri Lankan dish from Madhur Jaffrey.

Chicken pieces are rubbed with coriander, cumin, fennel, cayenne pepper and salt.  A little rice is fried with coconut and then ground with cardamon pods, cloves and cashew nuts.  Water is then added to make a paste.

The chicken pieces are cooked with cinnamon, fenugreek, shallots, garlic, tomatoes, water and pandanus leaf. (We cannot buy this locally, so we used a bay leaf and some dried basil). The spice paste is added and also coconut milk towards the end of cooking. We served the curry with rice.

We decided on a bottle of Peter & Peter Riesling 2013, a German white wine from Tesco.2015-04-11 18.47.31

This was slightly off-dry, with creamy, tangy lemon and melon flavours and was a good match.

The following day we had the leftovers and tried a bottle of Hunter’s Sauvignon Blanc, a New Zealand white from Sunday Times Wine Club.  A superb wine, but it didn’t work with the food, so we set it aside.

We returned to a Riesling and this time opened a bottle of Ruppertsburger 2012 Riesling Kabinett, a German white from the Wine Society.  There was some sweetness, a creamy smoothness, with citrus fruit flavours, minerality and a slightly tangy, but sweet finish with pineapple hints.  A very good wine and a much better match than the Peter & Peter Riesling.2015-04-12 18.42.15