This little recipe book will tide you over nicely for several weeks and more. Called Clair Cuisine it is a compilation of tried and tested recipes from Marlborough's Saint Clair winery owners Neal and Judy Ibbitson, their winemakers, restaurateurs and friends.
"We've have a lot of fun over many hours finding the best food combinations to match with the distinctive characters and aromas of our award winning Saint Clair wines," writes Judy in the book's introduction and I can just imagine it would have been a lot of fun too. Tasting and savouring, enthusing over a combination or rejecting it outright.
It is a flip top book that will stand on the bench without any other support as you prepare the food, with 23 recipes covering starters, mains and sweet treats. Each recipe comes with its recommended wine match. But before one gets to the nitty gritty, there are a couple of introductory pages with tips on how to get the best out of enjoying wine with food and for each wine type, e.g. sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, there are a number of food suggestions.
I had fun making several of the recipes in the book and they are really quite easy, recipes with the minimum of fuss and widely available ingredients.
Oriental Pork with Honey is a fillet of pork, marinated in soy, red wine, honey, brown sugar, with garlic, spring onions and cinnamon for a minimum of one hour but if you want, overnight, then cooked in the microwave. I had never cooked a pork fillet in the microwave before and followed the instructions with some trepidation, but it was 'no worries mate' and the meal was ready in 5 minutes. As it cooked I made the accompanying shredded lettuce salad. The recommended wine match was a Saint Clair Riesling. We had the 2003 on hand and put into the refrigerator the same time as the marinaded fillets. It was chilled down nicely and worked an absolute treat.
Also made to go with Riesling is the Chili Chicken with Basil and Coconut Cream. Another amazingly fast recipe, which is what you want in the heat of summer, the spicy flavours deliciously balanced by the cool, crisp, off dry Riesling. Chicken breast meat is cut into strips and stir-fried with onions and chilis until the chicken is tender. Then copious amounts of shredded basil with a hint of coriander leaf for additional flavour and fish sauce for a liquid infusion is added. Lastly coconut cream is stirred through. Rice with shredded carrots and bok choy topped off this yummy dish.
Pear and Pinot Gris are made to go together and Saint Clair's suggestions for their delicious, full-bodied Saint Clair Godfrey's Creek Reserve Pinot Gris 2004 is the Roasted Pear, Beetroot and Feta Salad. Fresh pear and beetroots are quartered and roasted (separately) in the oven in a little walnut oil. When cool they are mixed with baby salad leaves, crumbled Feta and a light vinaigrette. How simple could that be?
If you like mussels, as my husband does, you'll have to try the Steamed Mussels in Garlic and White Wine matched to the delicious Saint Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004. I'm not a mussel person so I went for the Salmon Mousse to match to the same wine. This is probably one of the trickier recipes in the book as it is fiddly and time consuming. Smoked salmon is used to line the bottom and sides of a loaf tin. Then half of a mousse mixture made with gently cooked fresh salmon, horseradish, mayonnaise, lemon, cream, dill and gelatine is layered in. That is topped with a layer of spring onions, a layer of roasted capsicums, a layer of avocado and the remaining mousse mixture. It is set in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. The result looks stunning and tastes even better.
I'm looking forward to winter when I'll try the Pot Roasted Lamb Shanks accompanied with the Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir while for a sweet treat, the Lemon Yoghurt Whizz Cake accompanied with the Saint Clair Doctor's Creek Noble Riesling sounds divine. It bakes in the oven for almost an hour, so that's something I'll try one cooler autumn night.
Clair Cuisine is available from the Saint Clair winery in Marlborough and costs $11.95 plus postage (90c for one copy within NZ). There's an order form on the World Wide Web at www.saintclair.co.nz. It makes a super gift with an accompanying bottle of wine. Why not give it to your partner or spouse? (hint, hint, wink, wink).
© Sue Courtney
27 February 2005