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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Cloudy Bay Shack featuring Tom Aikens – 24 and 25th July 2010

Not so long ago, I was one of the lucky food and wine bloggers to be invited for an evening of Cloudy Bay wine tasting and food matching at Tom’s Kitchen. The event was organised so that we could help the good people of Mission with the arduous task of selecting the best 5 dishes to be served at The Cloudy Bay Shack, in Parson’s Green on the 24th and 25th July.

Each tasting dish was specially created by Tom Aikens for the event to showcase the versatile portfolio of Cloudy Bay, as well as being a perfect match for the full flavours and vibrant aromatics of the wines. Better known for their famous Sauvignon Blanc (reputedly one the most sought after white wines in the UK), I was also delighted to have the opportunity to try their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling at the tasting.

The winery was founded as recently as 1985 in Marlborough (NZ), but has become one of the great wine marketing success stories of recent times. Whether this is due to their restrictive allocation policies from NZ, their brilliant marketing or the exceptional quality of their wines, Cloudy Bay produces the type of wine that will certainly not leave you indifferent.

Of the eight dishes we tried, five were chosen - each dish will be accompanied by a pre-selected glass of Cloudy Bay wine and will be priced at £8.50 (for both food and wine). The five best dishes were:

“Tomato salad with basil, watermelon, mint and crayfish tails”, paired with a classic 09 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. I enjoyed the combination of tropical fruit and herbal notes of the sauvignon with the tomato, watermelon and basil flavours in the salad, and felt these worked perfectly together.

“Deep fried paprika squid with lime”, paired with the 06 Cloudy Bay Te Koko. This dish was in my opinion the “weakest link” despite being served with a delicious aioli. There is only so much excitement I can feel over deep fried squid (as delicious as it may be – and this one certainly was). The Te Koko (another Sauvignon Blanc), had more intense floral and spicy undertones of orange blossom and ginger and was robust enough to stand up to the garlic and paprika aioli.

The “Dorset crab with chilli and ginger” was paired with the 06 Cloudy Bay Riesling. Riesling is one of my favourite white grape varietals and Cloudy Bay’s showed great depth of fruit and with a classic petroleum nose reminiscent of an aged Alsatian Riesling. It married well with the crab, ginger and chilli and was one of the best combinations of the evening.

The “Spicy crab cakes with tomato salsa or guacamole”, paired with Cloudy Bay Chardonnay, was another hit. The crab was fresh and delicately spiced and was a great match to the heady Chardonnay. The wine had citric characteristics with a touch of oak balancing the spiciness of the crab meat.

One of my favourite dishes was the “Seven hour lamb” which luckily made it to the final and was matched with Cloudy Bay’s Pinot Noir. The meat had been braised for 7 hours - it was sweet and melting in the mouth, and served with fluffy mashed potatoes. It was also an excellent partner to the delicately flavoured Pinot - showing characteristic red berry fruit flavours on the palate, with long but very soft tannins.

Other equally delicious dishes which did not quite make the mark were “Tomato gaspacho with crab” (my favourite). It was as creamy as bisque, and had a lovely sweetness from the basil.

“Salmon with chilli and lime, peanut crumbs and pickled radish” – I enjoyed the oriental flavours in this dish (peanuts, chilli and lime) and felt it went well with the fatty salmon and Chardonnay it was paired with.

“Marinated hand dived scallops with chilli, mint and lemon grass dressing”. I also greatly enjoyed this dish (similar to a “ceviche”) - the scallops had been seasoned in a delicious, tangy dressing with fresh vanilla seeds.

I can think of few more enjoyable ways of spending a weekend than picnicking with Tom Aiken’s delicious food, washed down by glasses of Cloudy Bay wine, with a live Jazz band in the background, and hopefully some sun! This should be an amazing event and one I will make sure to attend.

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  1. Ah! All this looks really delicious! Esp the scallops. I didn't know you knew so much about wine! *Envy*

  2. I have blogger envy, what a great event to be invited to. Cloudy Bay is one of my favourites, I haven't tried the Te Koko but I certainly will be now!
    Your photography is absolutely stunning too.
    Great blog Luiz and it was lovely meeting and cooking with you at Angela Malik last week.

  3. I have still never been to an Aiken's resturant or tried his food (apart from his entry level offshoot) and am quite jealous!

  4. Cloudy Bay reminds me of 90's excessiveness.Its really over priced now because of the demand, there are other equally as good or better NZ Sauvignons at keener prices.

  5. Great post Luiz, and I hadn't heard about the Tom Aitkin's Shack. I'll make sure I'll go too and maybe we'll meet there!

    Also very impressed by your wine notes - although Cloudy Bay Sauv Blanc is overpromoted in my opinion, I hadn't heard of their other wines, and the Te Koko sounds worthwhile to track down. I look forward to trying it at the Shack...
    Mr Truffle

  6. How exciting! Looking forward to the 24/25th now!

  7. Such a great night Luiz - we were very lucky to get to go

  8. @ Fernandez and Leluu - thanks Uyen, I know a little about wine as I took tasting classes for a few years, but it is Dr G who is the real connoisseur of the two of us.

    @ Rebecca - thank you for the kind words Rebecca, your blog is so lovely too and I have added it to my blog list. Cooking with you at Angela Malik was the best part of the cookery class, we made some mean dim sum didn't we?

    @ Tom - Tom Aiken's food at Tom's Kitchen was superb although his Tom's Terrace fair was a little hit and miss. I would love to go back to his Chelsea restaurant. He is also opening a new place where The Admiralty used to me in Somerset House.

    @ Northern Snippet - thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog! I have to disagree with you on that - I think there is also an "inversed" prejudice against Cloudy Bay when in fact their wine is pretty good. It is not the cheapest NZ wine out there but neither is the most expensive.

    @ Mr Truffle - thank you for your kind words, and I am glad to be starting to write a little more about wine.

    @ Keston Kids - Hope you had a good time there, I certainly did! Thanks for your comment.

    @ Gourmet Chick - I know, and I think we did a good job picking the dishes we did.


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