Hellish indulgence, but a match made in heaven!

Anna and James are the lovely owners of “And the dish ran away with the spoon”. This place is a cake and coffee’s fan heaven or a cake addict’s nightmare. It’s cute, it’s human sized, pastel blue crockery, childlike adornments come together with jars full of bonbons.

We were there for a special evening jointly organised with Reserve Wines (yep, them again) to sample some splendid cakes and pair them with fabulous dessert wines. Now when this event came up last month in my mailbox I thought I could do with slowing down with all these beer and wine tastings but Miss Mash also get these emails and there was no missing this particular one.

Greeted with a glass of Prosecco, Anna introduced herself, her business and her cakes then Marc spoke briefly about the science of matching wine with desserts… having had a brief look at the evening’s agenda, at this stage everyone had their taste buds at the ready for the kind of delights you don’t get to enjoy everyday.

IMG_1579Prosecco

First on the list was a Key Lime Pie, which I hear is made from Key Limes which are more acidic and aromatic but normally found in Florida. Not sure what type of limes Anna used but the limey flavours were fantastic, the sweet creamy texture was not too heavy and the crust delicious. We paired this cake with a Moscato d’Asti 2010 from the Piedmont in Italy.

IMG_1555Moscato

The grape is Moscato or Muscat, which is often used for sweet wines in France and Italy. This particular wine was very light in alcohol, only 5.5%, because in order to retain the sugar, about half-way through, the yeast is filtered out of the wine and the fermentation is stopped which means not all the sugars have been converted to alcohol. It has the smell of rose jam (yes it exists, had it as a kid on holiday in the south of France and it’s delish !), apple fruit and has a nice fizz to help keep it vibrant and fresh. It’s not overly complicated but it’s light fruit goes well with the cake, the fizz matches the acidic of the lime brilliantly and it help give a creamy cake a bit of a lift, it was one of my favourite pairing, straight from the outset.

Next stop was a Baked Blueberry Cheesecake, really nice stuff, similar concept with the fruit giving acidity to balance with the sweet cheesecake and a nice buttery base.

BakedBlueberryCheescakeBaumards

To wash it down we were presented with a Coteaux du Layon 2010 from Domaine des Beaumard. This is an appelation from the Loire valley in France, known for a delicate, sweet version of beautiful Chenin Blanc. Fresh apples but the sweetness brings up a hint of honey on the nose which ended up marrying with the sweet crust to perfection. Both cakes and wine were beautiful and paired well but as Miss Mash pointed out, we did not feel it achieved the same level of enhancement with the lime pie.

At this point I think it’s worth mentioning that before coming to the event, the only quick fix meal solution we were able to find was to get a chippy from Frankie’s Fish Bar (not that we looked much further *woops*) but basically I never dreamed for a minute that we would be served full on slices of cakes at the tasting and as a rule I never go to a tasting on an empty stomach. Some would say I never do anything on an empty stomach. Well…they would be right I suppose. But after a chippy and two cakes, I was definitely not hungry. My greatest regards to whoever invented gourmandise !

So…third cake…and it only get better, was a Whisky and Pear Tart. Now that is my kind of cake, even if technically it’s a tart. I love tarts and nothing beats my mum’s apple tart… apart from her clafouti maybe. Anyway, I digress. This tart was really good, the whisky was not overpowering and I had to concentrate to get the smokey, malty flavours lifting it up. Marc’s choice for this one was a white port from Niepoort, which incidentally we own a bottle (purchased at the Reserve Summer wine fair) which is sat nicely in the cellar craving some attention. Well, Christmas isn’t far away now 🙂

WhiskyPearTartNiepoort

Port belongs to the fortified category of sweet wines. Without going into details, this port is actually on the dry side and as its name indicates, is a lot clearer in colour. It has smokey aromas, which I suppose is behind the idea of pairing it with the whisky tart, but it also has nutty and spicy aromas. It is sweet but stronger than a still wine (~18% abv). A bit like with the moscato, the fermentation is stopped half-way through fermentation. But instead of getting rid of the yeast, spirit alcohol is added which makes the conditions inadequate for the yeast to ferment sugar into alcohol. This is how you obtain a sweet wine, high in abv. The phenomenon that a few noticed with this pairing is that the sweetness of the cake sort of cancelled the sweetness of the wine, bringing its alcoholic strength to the fore. Whilst 18% is not particularly strong, the taste of alcohol can put some people off and for that reason it was not chosen as the best pairing of the night.

Penultimate pairing involved a treacle tart which was on the lemony side of treacly dessert and a Rivesaltes Ambré 1999 from Cazes. I loved both. The treacle tart was sweet, caramely, nutty but the lemon citrus helped to lift it up and the wine showed rich, nutty aromas as well as some pear fruit. This wine is made with Grenache Blanc grape and has been aged 7 years in oak. It is 16.5% abv so a little lighter and softer than the port but also sweeter and thicker which was needed to go with this dessert. The nutty flavours of both the tart and the wine intertwined together beautifully, the lemon flavours kept the whole thing vibrant, with richness and lightness. Sublime.

TreacleTartRizvaltes

And finally, for the bouquet final, Chocolate Salted Caramel Pie and the classic Fernando di castilla Antique Pedro Ximenez sherry. I can’t even really describe this cake to you, there was so much going on. A nutty crusty base, topped with a caramel layer which started to ooze out of the cake because of the warm temperature, itself topped with a chocolate ganache, sprinkled with cashew nuts and….sea salt. Boy oh boy…so much richness on one plate, after all this it felt like a Panzer blasted through the door. None other than a true PX sherry could deal with this bad boy. Nuts, caramel, smoke, coffee, toffee, chocolate…it’s all there. Thick and syrupy, wraps the cake around in your mouth… Rich like hell but a match made in heaven.

ChocSaltedCaramelPiePX

I am really glad that Miss Mash insisted we went because you don’t get to do this everyday, so many flavours in one night is quite a treat that goes beyond the simple experience of drinking sweet wines and eating lovely cakes. But boy, I could barely walk through the door facing forwards after this.

And if you must know, the winner of the night by the majority of votes was the Key Lime Pie and Moscato d’Asti… all this for a winter warmer hey 😉

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