9 June 2008
By Douglas Blyde
I RECENTLY tasted the best beef in my life. Two friends and I shared a 1kg Porterhouse, toastily sealed on the outside and almost juicily blue within.
Deliciously mature, the dark ruddy meat parted easily from the Flintstone sized bone. Dabbed with a little melting shallot butter, each morsel luxuriously dissolved after only a few cursory chews. The venue: Mark Hix's Oyster and Chop House, Farringdon, an unambigously titled, newly opened culinary recreation of an eighteenth century capital bastion. In those times such eateries could be boisterously found in every borough. I am happy to see a return.
Such a tremendously flavoursome, dense dish requires a substantial, elegantly bolshy bottle to balance. The black tea like tannins of sturdy, youthful red wine become less tangible when partnered with proper meaty cuts. Similarly, the enzymes found in protein are effectively broken down by wine, aiding digestion. It is perhaps worth noting that alcohol is also an antiseptic, althogh it is a fact more relevant to the pre-refrigeration days of Samuel Johnson rather than current super hygiene conscious times.
An obvious and proven vinous pairing comes from the fifth largest wine producing country, Argentina. Here meat is mantra and the average Argentine is thought to consume a whopping 68kg of it each year, naturally washed down medicinally by plenty of local vino tinto. Gaucho cowboys maintain substantial Pampas pasture grazing beef herds to keep pace with both the healthy domestic desire and a burgeoning export market.
Argentina is one of the most attractive terrains to ambitious international winemakers. The resources available include a diverse terrain, from arid to antarctic. It is blessed with a huge variety of gnarled old vines which grow high in pure, cooler conditions, These have ample access to melt water running from the Andes in ancient canals. This means that it is also one of the least likely countries to be affected by drought (unlike Australia) as the world warms.
From the bright plateau of Mendoza, Argentina's premier wine growing area, I recommend a beautifully creamy, soft fudge, courgette flower and fire-stick scented Malbec from Doña Paula (£9.99, Oddbins). This grape originally came from France's south west, where it is known as 'Cot', although a lack of sunshine in its homeland frequently leads to leather tough, fruit-lacking renditions considered at best 'minor' wines.
By contrast, Paula's version is lush, suggesting melted chocolate but is simulatenously complex with a savoury, even hempy finish. A product of carefully hand harvested vines nearly forty years old and farmed well over 3000 feet above sea level where air is cooler, it is utterly, exceptionally, succulently and mesmerisingly delicious. The perfect collaborator to tame a juicy joint…
* Missionary priests brought the grapevine to Argentina in 1556 to make communion wine
* There are approximately 26,000 vineyards in Argentina
* More than half of Argentina's vines are over 25 years old
No comments have been posted.
RAILTON ROAD SE24,
Leasehold, For Sale
TEA TRADE WHARF SE1, £1,295,000 , For Sale
TOWER BRIDGE WHARF E1W, £550 , per week, For Sale
PROVIDENCE SQUARE SE1, £1,600,000 , For Sale