Thursday’s Rambling Restaurant was a boozy festival of wine tasting and matching canapes – so many glasses of alcohol that I’m amazed I could stand up straight long enough to take any of these photos. We partnered with the lovely and charming Dan of Bibendum Wines to do a casual and relaxed evening event in our usual secret location. Dan ‘liberated’ a serious stock of bottles from the Bibendum stores for us – Champagne, Riesling, Chardonnay, Malbec, Chianti, and an excellent dessert wine – all matched with bite-size hor d’oeuvres such as the Zamorano cheese with quince jelly and persimmon, above. Below, tasting notes with parmesan crisps awaiting their toppings for the first round of canapes.
The full line-up of booze and bites below…
Dan started us off with a delightfully fizzy champagne and Chef foodrambler baked some golden parmesan biscuits topped with caramelized red onion chutney and a sliver of orange zest:
Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV: A wonderful, elegant Champagne with delicate freshly baked bread and citrus aromas. The palate is crisp, fresh and complex with grapefruit, lime and subtle red berry fruit.
We then moved on to two white wines, served with the Spanish cheese canape at the top and a round of mini Vietnamese summer rolls:
Riesling Kabinett Rheingau Prinz von Hessen 2008: Every drop of this explodes with citrus fireworks & mineral verve. Luscious mouthfuls of lemon ice, freshly cut green apples & delicate quince. Fruity, but not sweet; refreshing, but not tart.
Laroche Punto Alto Chardonnay 2008: Elegant aromas of lime, white peach and melon. Crisp, fresh acidity underlying a rich but classy palate bursting with citrus and green apple fruit.
Moving on to the red wines, Chef foodrambler had baked a tray of fabulous beef empanadas according to Michelle’s mother’s traditional Argentine recipe as a perfect local accompaniment to an excellent and very affordable Malbec:
Argento Malbec Tempranillo 2009:This exquisite blend of Malbec and Tempranillo is intense red in colour with deep indigo hues. Enticing aromas of red cherries and fresh violets accompany flavours of ripe plum and chocolate with subtle smoky notes. The finish is persistent with sweet tannins and balanced acidity.
I spent a week in Buenos Aires about 7 years ago during my semester in Santiago, Chile. I spent a laughable amount of that week on the hunt for the best empanadas in the city (asking cab drivers and strangers on the street for their opinion and eventually purchasing so many empanadas that we resorted to trying to give them away to people at the airport who mostly gave us bizarre looks and turned away) so I feel fairly qualified to say that these empanadas were fantastic.
The second red wine was a bolder and more complex Chianti, so foodrambler devised a black pudding/pea puree/crispy bacon bite of intense meaty flavor as a counterpoint:
Campomaggio Chianti Classico 2005: Smooth, ripe Chianti Classico in a modern style; juicy black cherries, blackberries, cinnamon spice, vanilla and chocolate abound. The ripe, bold tannins and crisp Sangiovese acidity add the all important backbone.
I loved all the bursts of color throughout the meal – the warm sunshine brightness of the persimmon against the dark ruby hues of the quince jelly, the fresh green grass feeling exuding from the pea puree next to the meaty red slivers of streaky bacon. I also love this photo, which captures the essence of the pork celebration occuring that night: a pan of bacon, a pan of black pudding, and a tray of slow-roasted pork shoulder about to be whacked back in the oven to toast up some crackling.
This pork shoulder, roasting in the oven for about nine hours, was reprised from the previous evening due to popular demand. Even after sending out 22 plates of the pork, pulled and drenched with a soy-hoisin-chili-roast-drippings gravy, we had so much leftover that I went around with a overflowing plate o’meat and offered seconds to everyone to absolute rave reviews. Honestly, you can’t ever go wrong with a good piece of meat in the oven for hours and hours to cook in its own fat. Mmmm…
The meal ended with a beautifully rich tarte tatin, sort of like an upside-down caramelized apple pie, and a scoop of homemade vanilla bean ice cream. As always, we got so caught up in plating and snacking on the dessert that I didn’t take any pictures, but trust me, it was fabulous. The caramelly sweetness of the apples matched the deliciously complex dessert wine to perfection:
Els Pyreneus Rivesaltes Ambre NV (solera aged):Rich, golden hue, with a nose of honey, roast coffee, apricots and hazelnuts. Beautifully balanced palate bursting with candied fruit and brioche flavours.
Six wines down (not to mention the bottles we broke open to sip on behind the scenes during the cooking) and it was all a wrap, folks. Add in seven different dishes and it was quite an evening to remember. Thankfully the photographic evidence helps with the resulting fuzziness of the brain…