Wednesday, 18 April 2012

An Australian Drink-About...

10:30pm and I just got home from my most recent in-store tasting event: "An Australian Drink-About," highlighting 9 wineries from my recent trip Down Under as paired with 4 "Aussie-inspired" tapas. Selecting the wines was the fun part much (narrowing the choices to just 9 down was the only hard part), but deciding what constituted "Australian Tapas" was, I admit, more of a challenge. Not that Australia is lacking in good cuisine (Sydney and Melbourne can take on any city in the world for foodies), but outside of shrimp-on-the-barbie, kangaroo, and pavlova (which could also be Kiwi) nothing really stands out to me as quintessentially Australian. Still, I think I managed to pull off a few fun surprises and found appropriate wine pairings for each.
First, "Savoury Pikelets." A pikelet is a mini-pancake served at tea that was brought to Australia by English immigrants. To pair with the Hunter Valley Semillon and Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc (FYI: those are regions, not brands with colourful kanagroos), I took out the sugar and added chopped zucchini, green onions, garlic, and corn to the batter, completed by a green apple and rosemary chutney (a fancy way of saying "homemade apple sauce). The vegetal notes of the zucchini and green onions are a natural pair to the naturally herbaceous tones of the wines; the racing acidity of each to match the green apple and cut through the weight of the batter; and the "waxy" texture of corn is roughly equivalent to the "waxy" notes often associated with Semillon.
Next, "Indonesion-Prawns-on-the-Barbie." It is worth noting here that no self-respecting Aussie outside of Paul Hogan would ever call these critters "shrimp;" any true bloke or sheila knows they are "prawns," and by golly do Aussies love their prawns! When I worked at the Skyline in Queenstown, you knew a large group of Aussies were in the restaurant when you had troubles keeping up on the prawns on the buffet (likewise could be said of Koreans and oysters, but no Aussie would dare take a whole platter intended for the entire restaurant to their table as the Koreans tended to do). To give it my own twist, however, I marinated the prawns in an Indonesian-inspired "Sambal Udang"; kaffir lime, lemongrass, galangal, chili, ginger, and most important, fresh lime juice. Lime-juice flavours are the trademark of Australian Riesling (especially from the Eden Valley or Clare Valley), so the Peter Lehman Wigan Reserve 2005 was the ideal match for these prawns.
Finally, I felt the evening needed a red-meat protein, but Canada is rather lacking in access to kangaroo or emu. So what to do? I dug deep in my memory bank and remembered that a friend's family not only raised dairy cattle but once had ostriches on the farm, so why not do ostrich? Pricy (C$60/kg), but incredibly fresh and tender. Marinating the loins overnight in wine vinegar, red wine, rosemary, salt, black pepper, and olive oil helped reduce the gamey-ness of the ostrich, but grilled to medium-rare helped preserve the natural flavours of the meat. As I was pairing the ostrich with a flight of Shiraz (one each from Langhorne Creek, Barossa Valley, and McLaren Vale), I made a sauce to reflect the flavours often associated with Australian Shiraz: black pepper, rosemary (a less pungent eucalypt, if you will), red wine, and smoked blueberries. Drizzle this sauce over your thinly-sliced ostrich and you will have, I promise, an awesome Aussie-inspired dinner! (well, at least from my prespective!)

1 comment:

  1. I tasted this young man's ostrich as described in his blog. My wife made me an ostrich sandwich and it was very tasty!! Even though I'm related to this young man (his father) I am not being biased. It was very good and looking forward to having some more ostrich in the future.