As of last month we’ve been in ‘Straya for 4 years. A few days after we moved into our new house, a friend of mine came to visit for a week on his way around the country.
Whilst I was still reeling from leaving my job, family and friends, moving house, moving continent, shipping my cats across the planet, finding a new house, moving into that, and trying to find another job, he was in full tourist mode and had done stacks of research.
Oh, and he’s a bit of a foodie.
So one day we ended up at the Richmond Hill Larder. I love that place! They have a proper cheese room – the kind where, when you walk in, you’re hit with the smell of a thousand fusty gym socks. It’s amazing!
They stock a massive range of cheese, a great deal of it from Europe. Which is just as well. ‘Straya has, er, not historically had a great reputation for cheese. Things are getting better in that department though: Milawa Cheese Company, Red Hill Cheese, Blue Bay Cheese and Main Ridge Dairy to name a few.
Anyway, this wasn’t supposed to be a post about cheese. Although I’m sure you can understand why I got a little side-tracked 😀
Richmond Hill Larder does a wine and cheese matched tasting plate that my friend and I shared. There was one combo that blew my mind: goats cheese and champagne. It was freakin’ phenomenal. The cheese elevated the wine to new heights; the wine made the cheese into something new.
That’s when I started thinking about flavour matching, but was interested in it from a scientific point of view – why is it that aspects of some food match so well, or contrast so perfectly? I read Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor by Hervé This. Ok, so that was a bit too much science and not enough food.
But then I found this site:
You pick an ingredient and the site will identify which ingredients combine well based on their aromas, on the principle that ingredients match when they have aromas in common.
But it turns out this principle only really address half the topic. It works on the basis of European cooking where like goes with like, but in Asian cooking, ingredients are matched on the basis that they contrast: the old yin and yang
I did NOT know that – how interesting!
Matching ingredients on the basis that they contrast is not my cultural background, but I try to give the salt/sweet/hot/sour some consideration when dreaming up my week’s menu. There are some flavour matches that I’ve bumped into along the way that have blown my mind. And they look so inconspicuous:
- Goats’ cheese and champagne – just go to the Richmond Hill Larder, just go. You can thank me later
- Mushroom and truffle – keep it simple with a heavily mushroomed risotto liberally doused with truffle oil
- Rhubarb and orange – get the orange into a rhubarb crumble wherever you can: a little juice and zest on the fruit, perhaps some Cointreau, or mixed peel in the crumble mix
- Coffee and maple syrup – coffee crème brûlée topped with a maple syrup crack
I was thinking about the coffee maple syrup crème brûlée the other day. I’ve never made it and I’m not likely too. We just don’t ever have puddings. I realised that I’d rather have a drink than a pudding. Actually I’d rather have a cocktail. Oooo! A coffee and maple syrup cocktail – now you’re talking.
Will report back on Friday!