The challenge: bloggers had to invent a delicious dish to pour-and-pair with Sherry, and publish the recipe on their blog during Sherry Week
The method: 20 finalists were chosen from the entrants, and each was sent a bottle of Sherry to inspire them to design their pairing dish
The prize: a three-day trip for two to Sherry country, including three nights in a top Jerez hotel, a bodega visit in each of the three Sherry Triangle towns, plus a Sherry pairing dinner in Jerez’s hottest new restaurant, Lú Cocina y Alma - its chef-owner, Juan Luis Fernandez, trained under Angel Leon at three-Michelin-starred Aponiente in El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Food and/or wine bloggers who excel at entertaining their audience with innovative culinary creations, perfectly paired with complementary wines, were invited to rustle up a dish to form a match-made-in-heaven with Sherry.
The dishes didn’t have to be limited to Spanish cuisine – it could be a traditional dish celebrated in the region where they live currently, or one they remember from family meals in childhood, or from where they grew up. As all Sherry-lovers know, Sherry Wines are not just aperitifs or dessert wines, but are highly versatile and pair beautifully with the widest variety of foods, from cold meats to fish to desserts. So we were keen for the bloggers to let their imaginations run wild, and allow their creative juices to flow.
The winner was chosen by a panel of four judges from the worlds of gastronomy and enology: Juan Luis Fernandez, Chef-owner of Restaurant Lu Cocina y Alma in Jerez de la Frontera; Flannery Klette-Loton and Kerin Auth Bembry of En Rama Restaurant in New York, winners of the Most Creative Pairing award VII Copa Jerez International 2017; and Beltran Domecq, president of Sherry’s Governing Council.
As with last year’s competition, the standard of entries was extremely high, so the judges faced a very difficult decision. This year’s winner, food and lifestyle blogger Cynthia Schultz of Cynthia.nl, from the Netherlands, impressed the judges with her Toast with herring and samphire pesto with smoked bloater crème paired with Manzanilla San Leon.
The herring comes from Cynthia’s “second home”, the island of Terschelling, one of the West Frisian islands in the north of the Netherlands. The Dutch blogger decided that the salty, nutty flavour of the Manzanilla from Bodegas Argueso went perfectly with herring, along with other ingredients which she foraged in the island’s De Boschplaat nature reserve, as well as with Japanese flavour touches.
Cynthia foraged marsh samphire wild along the shore of De Boschplaat, which she made into a pesto along with almonds and local sheep’s cheese, as well as picking sea sandwort, yarrow and sea lavender to garnish her beautifully plated dish
She cooked the smoked bloater (herring) slowly in a sous-vide, made a dashi (kombu seaweed broth), and added egg whites and yogurt to make a crème.
The herring was served on toasted brioche bread dotted with a Manzanilla-and-sambai (rice vinegar) gel, and the smoked bloater crème, adorned with the pretty wild herbs.
The herring matches so well with the saltiness of this sherry. The Manzanilla aromas of almond and bread dough make a harmonious combination with the samphire pesto and the toast. Of course we also infused the Manzanilla in the sambai gel to make it totally complete. The sherry is very dry but the dish is quite rich in fat, therefore it is a superb combination and very tasty. The broth gives the toast a more saline and umami flavour.
See here for Cynthia’s full blog post with more photos and detailed step-by-step instructions.
These are some of the other finalists’ entries which caught the judges’ imaginations. (Warning: reading this may make you extremely hungry - and thirsty!
English wine blogger Coralie Strong of Everyglassmatters.com offered The perfect pairing for Oloroso Sherry: Sausage bonbons with roasted vegetables. “The dish will get you ready for an English autumn and the colours match the turning leaves,” said Coralie. Her warming autumn dish of fresh, local root vegetables with little meaty nibbles featured a rich Oloroso-based sauce. Get the complete recipe here.
From further afield, in China, Xingyu Chen of Wine-memoir.com paired Uni pasta with chanterelle mushrooms and sea urchins with Fino Inocente Valdespino. She noted that “The moment I sipped this Fino I felt like being hugged by the ocean with the little sea urchins rubbing my feet.” Her dish recalled a special meal by her favourite chef, Eric Ripert, at three-Michelin-starred Le Bernadin in New York. You can see her blog post here.
American in Spain, Lauren Aloise of Spanish Sabores proposed Poached Langoustine & Prawn Ravioli with Lemons, Capers & Manzanilla with Manzanilla Solear. Lauren said that “Manzanilla screams of the sea, and I wanted this to be front and center in the pairing. I decided on local prawns and cigalas (langoustines).” See her recipe here.
And finally, from Sebastian Schaan’s Sommelier-blog.de, we had Pink roasted beef fillet with Bota de Oloroso sauce and carrots. This German sommelier, of Le Corange restaurant in Mannheim, said “For this dish we use a fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef from Ireland. It is important that the meat is well-aged.” You can see his sophisticated recipe here.
09 November 2018