Adventures in Pudding

Earlier this month Chris and I teamed up with our good friends at the Pudding Pantry to put on an evening of food and wine matching with a difference. This was a dessert afficionado’s dream and had sweet tooth’s tingling all over the East Midlands as we paired lusciously sweet fine wines from around the world with the Pudding Pantry’s unique take on some classic desserts and a couple that I must admit were new even to me!

The first dish on the menu was the French classic Tart Tatin which depending on who you believe was invented completely by accident. The story goes that in the 1880’s  Stéphanie Tatin, proprietor of Hotel Tatin, over cooked the apples for a traditional apple pie in sugar and butter. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. Fast forward 130 years and Anthony Quinn of the Pudding Pantry has decided to swap the apples for pears and replaced the the pastry base with a firmer one constructed from biscuit.

This, we decided to pair with another French classic, Suaternes. Hailing from the left bank of Bordeaux this luscious white wine achieves its sweetness through the cultivation of a special kind of rot called botrytis. This ‘Noble Rot’ works by concentrating the sugars in the grapes and cultivating notes of apricot, honey, and peaches which beautifully complimented the fruit topping of the tart, and a distinct nutty quality which coupled elegantly yet confidently with the robustly textured base.

Next up was a dessert which will forever be close to my heart, Crema Catalan. Having spent time working the vineyards of North Eastern Spain where this variation of the crème brûlée was conceived we spent many a grape pickers lunch feasting upon these delightful treats as well as a number of other local delicacies. In fact, head wine maker Joan would often arrive, picnic basket in hand, just after noon in order to ease the aches and pains of the mornings hard work through the medium of the gastronomic delights of the Basque country. Just in time for siesta!

To find the perfect match for this wonderous dessert we had to look the North East and to Hungary. Hungary is famed for its impeccable wines from the Tokaji region, with the ‘sweet nectar’ of the syrup like Eszencia even featuring in the National Anthem. We opted to match the Crema Catalan with Tokaji 5 Puttonyos Aszu, another botrytis affected wine, as its balanced acidity and notes of ginger, saffron and beeswax subtly entwined with the burned cream of the dish to create a seductive cacophony of taste and aroma which penetrated to the depths of  every sensory receptacle of the palate and nose.

Having first been wowed by the expressive fruit flavours of the tart and then by the luxurious texture of the Crema Catalan it was time to take a different tack with pairing number 3. For this we matched Matcha Dorayaki, a type of Japanese pancake, with Siraume Umeshu, a sweet plum infused sake. Whilst the first two pairings were essentially demonstrations of how a wine can play a supporting role to a dish this time the roles were reversed. The pancakes in themselves make for elegant yet quite simple fare and you could notice a look of meagre disappointment on the faces of our fellow adventurers when asked them to try the dish in isolation. It wasn’t until the two components of the pairing were sampled in unison that the looks of rapturous ecstasy returned, as the Matcha Dorayaki acts as the perfect canvas upon which the sake may paint its olfactory masterpiece.

Whilst every pairing that we endulged in over the course of the evening was an undoubted delight the piece de resistance, the Baked Alaska paired with the Maury Mudigliza was saved until last. This consisted of an incredibly rich chocolate cake entombed in a light yet delicious meringue casing which was then set ablaze to caramelize and harden the outer shell. Usually you would be wary of pairing a light fluffy meringue with the rich, red, full bodied fortified wine that is Maury. In this case, however, the Baked Alaskas defence of richly intense cocoa and brooding dark berries met the wines robust onslaught of candied cherries, fresh figs and stewed fruit, with the result being a truce based upon balanced sweetness, a cleansing finish, and a rich bouquet of dark forest fruit.

I think its fair to say that all in attendance agreed that the night was a roaring success and each of us went home with taste buds and stomachs fully satisfied. If you should have any questions relating to dessert wine or food matching please don’t hesitate to either pop into the shop for a chat or give us a call and we would be more than happy to help.



Comments are closed.