Sometimes, as part of this blog, I get invited to places which completely blow me away and one such event was a special food and wine matching last week.
The event, which took place in the stunning venue of Ulster Museum, was dinner cooked by none other than John Torode from Masterchef (yes, really!) with wines to compliment the delicious food from McGuigan Wines.
Australian celebrity chef John Torode has presented Masterchef since 2005 so it really was a delight to have been invited along. McGuigan Wines, also a famous Aussie export, is one of the most successful wineries in the county.
The evening was a celebration of a new range of wines called the Founders’ series. McGuigans has just launched Founders Chardonnay, Founders Cabernet Sauvignon and Founders Shiraz which will be available in the UK at the end of June.
Myself and my husband went along last Thursday evening and were treated to a sparkling wine reception outside (McGuigan Frizzante) as we mingled with other guests and listened to a wonderful harpist. The Frizzante, which was only launched last year, was refreshing with tones of lemon and apple.
We then made our way inside and were thrilled to see a live cooking station where, for the rest of the night, John was to show us how quick and easy it was to make the dishes which were about to be served.
As the food was being cooked, chief winemaker Neil McGuigan talked through the different wines and why they complimented the food so much. It was a great learning experience for me, both in terms of the cooking and the knowledge about wine matching.
The first course was Grilled Duck Salad which was large pieces of duck served with crushed peas, mint, watercress, parsley, pecorino and bacon with Sherry & Vinegar Dressing. The mint worked really well with the Duck and the crispy bacon added another strong flavour. The first course was served with the new Founders Chardonnay.
The second course was Grilled Squid which was served with lemon and rocket and matched with MT Pinot Noir Rose. The Rose, which also isn’t available to purchase until June, is a special collaboration between McGuigan Wines and John Torode. The idea behind the Rose is that they wanted to create a light, summer wine which is very easy to drink.This was my favourite wine of the evening.
The third course was roast fish (sea bass) served with champ and capers. I’m not a huge fan of fish but this didn’t have an overly strong “fishy” taste and I devoured the whole thing. The sea bass was paired with the new Founders Cabernet Sauvingnon which left a long taste on the palette and had an obvious tannin but not a hard tannin.
The fourth course (getting greedy now, aren’t we?!) was grilled lamb cutlets with gremolata, radishes, fresh mint and ricotta. The dish was simple but the lamb was deliciously juicy. This course was matched with Founders Shiraz which was a rich and intense wine with an incredibly dry tannin. (My husband’s favourite of the night!)
The final course of the evening was a selection of cheeses, crackers and grapes. It was a lovely way to finish what was a spectacular evening. I enjoyed every dish and every wine and cannot wait to get my hands on the Pinot Noir Rose again!