I love food – and I love wine. But best of all I love it when the two come together in a marriage that is greater than the sum of its parts … when each lifts the other to new heights. And I love eating in restaurants where the staff know their stuff well enough to help make this happen. Here are some of my favourite wine and food matches of recent times.
Firedoor Sud de Frank white & ash-baked potato
The simple things make life wonderful. Like ash-baked potato topped with dill crème frâiche and a thick coating of grated bottarga. Bar manager Carl McHugh-Constable always manages to challenge my wine preconceptions … this time with Sud de Frank, an interesting sauv blanc/petit manseng blend.
Bennelong Jim Barry assyrtiko & yabbies
I love perching at Bennelong’s cured and cultured bar on a sunny day for a plate of Rob Cockerill’s yabbies with buckwheat pikelets, lemon jam and cultured cream – and I’m very grateful to sommelier Jeremy Croft for suggesting a glass of the unusual Greek varietal, assyrtiko, from Jim Barry.
Pilu Baretto Moscato di Cagliari & crema Catalana
Giovanni Pilu’s beachside kiosk morphs into a great little wine bar after dark. And his crema Catalana with Calasetta in Fundu Moscato di Cagliari is a killer combo (grazie Alex and Salvatore). The still, golden muscat has great burnt orange notes that echo the toffee crust on this lush custard dessert!
Cedar Bar & Kitchen Aperol spritz & homous with crisp lamb
Perhaps the only good thing about my baby sister moving to Bellingen, is eating at this great local restaurant in a converted church. Chef/owner Paul Harper makes a mean Aperol spritz – the perfect accompaniment to his homous with smoky paprika, pine nuts, crisp lamb and warm, soft flatbread.
Eleven Bridge Regente palo cortado & chicken with kombu butter – CLOSED
13 May 2017 marked the final service for the short-lived Eleven Bridge – which was still Rockpool in my mind, the restaurant that taught so many what ‘fine dining’ means. Phil Wood’s chicken wing with kombu butter & caviar and Sanchez Romate Regente Palo Cortado is one of my all time fave matches. What an umami high!