Monthly Archives: March 2014
A few months ago I wrote an article about what to match with KFC. I’ve been meaning to continue the theme for a while now and when James and Matt asked me to write a piece about an unusual food and wine match for their excellent blog, #WineSwap, I knew exactly what the next subject should be… Doner kebabs!
This article appeared on their blog a while back – and please take a look because the #WineSwap quest is something you should try and get involved with… I became in link in their chain last year!
For many, the doner is only associated with forgotten memories after 10 pints on a Saturday night but I kid you not, I bloody love them. Sober! If you break a doner kebab down there are a few main ingredients to focus on in order to come up with a successful wine match…
Firstly, what is the mystery meat? Well, it’s not the offcuts and bits that no one really wants to think about, like most people assume. Good doner kebabs are (generally) made from slices of lamb leg and shoulder, which is seasoned with various spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric etc.) before being ground then compressed together with lamb fat to keep the whole thing moist. Yum!
Then there’s the salad and the accompaniments, namely the hot chilli and creamy garlic sauces. Some useful guidelines for food and wine pairing are to match the flavour intensity of the food and the flavour intensity of the wine, and to pair fatty foods with high acid wines. So for our kebab companion we’re looking for big flavours and high acid.
Straight away I’m drawn to The Rhone – the high acid Syrah of the North and the bold spiciness of Grenache of the South. But don’t just limit yourself to the Rhone; consider the fab Shiraz of Australia and the wonderful Garnacha -based wines of Priorat in Spain (same grape, different name). But what about the sauces? I’m not so worried about the garlic but if spicy chilli sauce is your thing then remember to avoid high tannin wines; if you’re a heat hound maybe Syrah isn’t the choice for you but Genache still fits the bill nicely.
There is another option. A bit controversial maybe, but what about considering a white wine? With lamb, I hear you ask? Well, if you think about the fattiness and the heat, your dirty dinner could be screaming out for the razor sharp acidity of a Riesling or a Chenin Blanc. So there we are, four wines I think will work really well with your doner kebab – drunk or sober! Or you could just stick to 10 pints of lager!
M&S Hunter Valley Shiraz 2011, NSW, Australia (M&S £9.99)
Huge ripe fruit, a hint of smoke and a touch of bacon fat. A big wine with good acidity and juicy ripe black, almost blue fruits and a delicious smoky flavour. (91 points)
E Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2010, Southern Rhone (Majestic & Waitrose £10.99 but look out for promotions)
Black cherry and dark plums with a beautiful waft of herbs de Provence on the nose – quite a bit of anise. This follows through onto the palate, where the spice and fennel come first, followed by very black cherries and very fine tannins. This is robust and delicious. (90 points)
Plantagenet Riesling 2011, Mount Barker, Wastern Australia (Whole Foods £14.99)
The label says lemon but this is pure lime juice. It’s so fresh and zesty, almost glacial in texture and bone dry, mouth puckeringly so! But then the acidity kicks in and the flavour goes on and on and on. I could drink this with a straw. Quite magnificent and great value for a wine of this quality. (92 points)
Domaine Vincent Careme Spring Sec, Vouvray 2010 (The Wine Society £9.95)
Honeyed nose with baked, even dried fruit. Some fig, spice and just a hint of oxidisation. Stewed apples on the palate, almost savoury note which reminds me a bit if scrumpy cider with a sprightly acidity. For under £10 the complexity is quite amazing. (90 points)
And now for something a little bit different…
A few weeks ago I got an email from a beer fan in New York asking if he could write an article about beer and food pairing for the blog; I had no hesitation in saying yes. i rarely write about beer but I’m a big real ale fan (I’ve even got the beard!) so over to Blake and some very interesting and unusual combinations…
My wife refers to me as a beer snob but I prefer the term enthusiast. I love everything about beer and the culture associated with it. Over the past few years craft beer has been exploding all over the United States and I could not be happier. More people than ever are interested in trying new beer and I love being able to give them recommendations. Lately I have been very interested in pairing beer with food. Finding the right dish to complement a certain style of beer can be tricky. However when you discover the perfect pairing and all of the flavors marry well with each other, it makes for a truly memorable meal. Here are a couple of interesting pairings I have been playing with lately:
Peanut butter & Porter
I am a huge fan of dark beers, like stouts and porters. I love their chocolate and coffee-like aroma and full bodied mouthfeel. A porter that I cannot get enough of lately is Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, especially this time of year. It’s a robust beer and is perfect for sipping while starting out the window on a snowy winter day. I actually stumbled onto my favorite porter pairing of the moment thanks to my kids. They left a package of peanut butter crackers in the kitchen one day and I happened to be drinking an Edmund Fitzgerald. While it may seem a bit unconventional, there’s just something about the combination of toasty crackers, rich peanut butter and roasty porter that works. Use it to break the ice at your next party, you’ll be sure to surprise your guests and introduce them to what could be their new favorite flavor combination.
Spicy Chicken Curry and IPA
It would probably shock most of my beer drinking friends to know this, but IPAs weren’t my first love when I started getting serious about beer. The hoppy bitterness they showcase was just too much for me early on, but now I’m a fully converted hop-head. I continue to be amazed by the seemingly endless variety of hop flavors and aromas out there. When it comes to the food side of things, something I love about IPAs is the fact that they pair well with hot and spicy dishes. Luckily my wife has a taste for spicy foods as well, and a go-to favorite in our house is Spicy Chicken Curry. Most IPAs have plenty of bitterness and enough alcohol to stand up to the heat that chili peppers bring to the curry. To me, there is nothing better than chasing down a spoonful of curry with a floral, citrusy India Pale Ale.
Chocolate Strawberry Cake and Imperial Stout
As I said before, I’m a fan of dark beers and it does not get any darker than Imperial Stout. This style of beer takes roasted, chocolate and coffee malt flavors and cranks them up to 11. These beers are big, boozy and can finish dry with notes of baker’s chocolate or sweet with hints of toffee. When I’m pairing this style with a dessert, I tend to go for those that finish dry so that I’m not overwhelmed by sweetness. The inspiration for this particular pairing was a bit unconventional, but I’m a big fan. My wife mentioned that someone she works with got a package of Shari’s Berries for Valentine’s Day, which got me thinking about the combination of chocolate and berries. I found an easy recipe for a Chocolate Strawberry Cake and once it was done, I poured myself a glass of what my wife calls “motor oil”. The chocolate in the stout amplifies the cake and before it becomes too much, the strawberries cut through all of those rich flavors for a great change of pace for your palate.
When it comes to pairing beer and food the options are truly endless. Allow your creativity to shine through and remember that no pairing is too strange. If you think it could work give it a shot and you may be pleasantly surprised. I can’t even count how many of my friends have turned into craft beer enthusiasts over the last two years. So go to your nearest beer store, pick out a few brews that you have never tried before and start experimenting!
Blake Daniels is a stay at home dad living with his wife and two sons in upstate New York. Blake is an amateur brewer and craft beer enthusiast. When Blake isn’t blogging or brewing you can find him taking care of his lawn, spending time with his sons, or working on various projects around the house. If anyone has any questions for Blake feel free to email him at email@example.com