Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Curry Experience

Pairing wine with food is sometimes personal...and as I have aged...the barriers of youth have fallen. Red with meat, white with fish...was...to the young wine drinker...the Holy Grail. Spending a holiday with elder daughter some 20 years ago changed the Fishy part...she drank red with anything....and even though some were extreme....others were eye-openers. It depends as well on the style it is cooked. All of which is just an opener to this post...but it leads us to the world of finding wines with curry. Chinese and Thai...I find that a soft Pinot Noir / Spätburgunder 'warm' to the challenge. I remember vividly a Chinese Chicken Curry at a very good restaurant...I knew the owner well...and had taken along a red Burgundy..1966 Nuits St Georges if I remember...another eye-opening to all who would cringe at the thought. If the wine is good enough...and it was...it will cope.
Indian Curries however...
well...let me memorize here....
Back in the Swinging Sixties... after a bout in the pub...the choice for me was a female or a curry.
Yes...I know there seems a big difference...but if you use your imagination...and the word 'hot' you can see that the gap is not that large! The Indian restaurants in Bristol were usually packed at 11pm of an evening...this is back in the days when UK pubs closed at 10.30pm. The state of their customers was generally not a good one...and the manners not much better. I look back and think that many of the dishes of curry that left the kitchens had more than just food on the plate. A waiter can get his revenge in many ways! The order was usually a Madras Curry...and...depending on your taste for heat...is a medium curry. No problem for me to eat. The next one up is a Vindaloo...which we never touched. We had a saying...Skip to the Loo with Vindaloo!
Moving on to about 1968...and I had had an interview with a large company called Heinz...in London. I got the job (I was convinced a week later to go to another company Bird's Eye...but that is another story). After this interview in London...being alone...and hungry...I went to the nearest Indian Restaurant. The waiter handed me the menu...and...feeling good after the job success...I decided to try a Vindaloo. The conversation went so...
Barry: 'I'd like a Beef Vindaloo please'

Waiter: 'Oh...No No No Si
r' (I do the accent well don't you think?)
Barry: 'Please...bring me a Beef Vindaloo!'
Waiter: 'On, No No No Sir...very hot'..his eyes showing the pain...

Barry: 'Yes..I know...but I eat Curries regularly...a Beef Vindaloo please'

The waiter retreated...glancing back to see if I would cancel. I was off in dreamland...thinking about some girl back
in Bristol. Ten minutes later...my 'friend' returned with a fiery coloured plate and placed it before me. He stepped back a few yards....I glanced at him...and he retreated a few more paces to the safety of his counter. Now...picture this...I picked up my fork...find a piece of beef, some rice...and that fiery red stuff...and place a portion in my mouth. Now...anyone who has tried any type of spice will know...sometimes the initial impression is 'this is not hot'. Same here...and I sat back and swallowed...glancing at my Delhi friend...his eyes not leaving me. After about 20 seconds...like an erupting volcano...it was payback time. The burning sensation...I gasped...went to my glass of water...which was empty...in my dreamland I had forgotten to re-order. Not trusting that I would be served too quickly...and remembering a milk machine outside the restaurant door...I ran out...struggled to find the appropriate coinage...and thrust it into the machine. The carton of milk fell into the opening...I tore open the top...placed it to my lips...head back...and gulped...and gulped...and gulped. When finally the 'fire' had died...I stopped drinking...my head came down...and through the glass window of the restaurant saw my 'buddy'...his head going up and down. No words were needed...the nodding head was a rough translation. 'I TOLD YOU SO!' I sheepishly returned...ordered a LARGE bottle of water...and finished the meal.

Fast forward to today...we have an Indian Restaurant where we go to bring food home. I have often eaten Madras...asking them occasionally to do it the Indian way...as they tend to 'soften' it for Europeans...and once in a while will try a Vindaloo. But...I am wine-drinking today...and ordered the 'normal' Madras. What to drink?...well.. I was tempted to try a young Spätburgunder from a recent trip...but decided to try two whites.

Yves Cuilleron Condrieu
La Petite Côte 2008

Rhône, France

Wow...absolutely perfect with the food. The nose of honey and exotic fruit...just perfect...but the perfection really is the bouncy minerals...that parry the spice of the curry. Aromatic...just a delight to drink...and a glass the next evening...without the curry...was just as pleasurable. The is the 'minor' wine from Cuilleron...and definitely worth searching for.

Points 16.75






Weingut Knoll Loibner Smaragd
Vinothekfüllung Grüner Veltliner 2007

Wachau, Austria

Smaragd are rarely 'shy' wines..this has a yeasty nose...baby fat smell...much 'fuller' than the Condrieu...still youthful...spicy fruit...next day...yellow apples...the usual white pepper...managed the curry well...but at the moment missing a 'spark'.

Points 16.5

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