I'll Get My Côtes
|Saturday Night TV... with a taste test.|
You may recall last year, a challenge was thrown down to a few bloggers to match the wines of Chablis to a few takeaway dishes. As it happened, I won that one - if you'll excuse me, I think a "woot" may be in order - and was promptly dispatched to Chablis for a couple of nights to sample more classically crisp whites and roam the vineyards. Literally, in fact: the centrepiece of the prize was to take part in the "Balade Gourmande", a roving picnic across 12km of glorious (if wet and muddy) countryside. Stupidly I didn't blog about it, partly because of work commitments but mostly because, well, nutmegsseven won the previous year and blogged about it so blooming expertly, I couldn't possibly have competed.
Regardless, the same PR contacted me again a few weeks ago. Did I fancy doing a similar challenge with Côtes du Rhône? It was much the same deal. We'll send you two bottles of wine, you see how they fare with a Chinese takeaway. No, it's not an obvious pairing. And, er, yes, that's kind of the point, CdR wanting to show that, actually, they're a lot more adaptable than you might presume.
The wines in question were a Jean-Luc Colombo La Redonne Côtes du Rhône (which you can find, as per the link, in Waitrose for £12.99) and the Côtes-du-Rhône Les Peyrouses Syrah, Domaine Voge 2011. This was available via The Wine Society at £11.50 however it appears to have sold out: had I known it was going to be that popular / that much of a bargain, I might not have done this challenge and instead have stuck my bottle on eBay. Possibly while twirling my moustache and making "bouahahaha! noises.
So, where to start with a couple of unfamiliar wines and our local takeaway's menu? Unsurprisingly, the answer was "the internet" and a look at some expert tasting notes and cross reference a few suggestions.
According to various sources, the Colombo was a light straw colour (agreed) with a floral and fruity bouquet (ditto), a crisp, fresh, food-friendly wine that's 70% Viognier, 30% Marsanne. The former was of use - Viognier's classic stone fruit / apricots thing is one of the few wine-y notes I can remember - but Marsanne? Complete mystery to me, mate. Google threw up things such as "pear" and "white peach" plus surprises like "nuts" and "honeydew melon". To be fair, I couldn't pick up much of that from my insensitive nosing but, for what my two penn'orth is worth (approximately two pennies then, I'd guess), it was a fine, crisp, refreshing drop.
|Choose your weapons|
So, with white chilling and red breathing, a call was made to Xian in Finchley. We're not short of takeaways in Finchley but 18 years of testing has put Xian top of the list for Chinese plus, while big on the stalwart dishes, there's a little creativity in the kitchen, and a couple of surprises on the menu: prawns with lily bulb and mango anyone?
The order was: a) far too large for two people ( but then what did Mrs L expect when she left me to my own devices, eh?); b) a fair old mix of things that I thought might challenge the wines and things that I thought would work. So, alongside the aromatic duck, we had Golden Sand King Prawns with Garlic, Beef Fillet with Black Pepper sauce, the Vegetable Trio (mushroom, aubergine, tofu) in Black Bean Sauce, a Special Fried Rice and the aforementioned Prawns with Lily Bulb and Mango, partly because I was thinking "flowery" re the white, but mostly because I've never eaten a lily bulb. And also partly because it reminded me of a very silly joke*
|Damned good duck, as it happens|
|If anyone needs any garlic for a week or so...|
|Prawn, lily bulb and mango. And, oddly, a single rogue pea I don't remember...|
|Some of the best beef I've ever had from a takeaway. He says,. damning Xian with the faintest of praise.|
|Not Britain's most photogenic dish. Sorry.|
All told then, a pretty interesting experiment and one that will probably kick us out of our usual Chinese food and Gewurtztraminer / Riesling / etc., predictability. Cheers then, Rhone Valley. Was a fun "assignment."
*oh, yes, nearly forgot. A man walks into the pub, looking exhausted. "Are you alright, mate?" asks the barman. "Just been a hell of a day," the man replies. "My wife was cooking herself some lunch and she reached for what she thought were onions, and it turns out they were daffodil bulbs and the daffodil bulbs are poisonous. She collapsed, my kids found her, called an ambulance and they got her to hospital." "Blimey," says the barman, "how is she?" "Well, it wasn't looking good," replies the man. "They had to pump her stomach, she's been on a drip, and we were all worried. But she's been responding to treatment and they expect her to be out in the Spring..."
Yeah. I'll get my coat.