One of the most exciting things for me about the Autumn pop-up run has been the prospect of finally being able to serve wine to my guests.
I love paired wines, especially when they have the ability to reveal or bring out something about the food that you would not otherwise have tasted. But a whole flight of paired wines is something that most restaurants only offer with their tasting menus. I wanted every dish on my menu to have a wine to go with it, and for them all to be available by the glass so that people can order matching drinks with every course of their meal.
Majestic is my go-to in Oxford for wine, mainly for a personal connection but also because are reliable, affordable and willing to deliver. I asked Graeme, the manager at the Summertown branch, to come up with some pairings for my September menu, and then spent a very enjoyable hour being whisked round the shop as he talked about the potential virtues of various bottles in their range for pairing purposes.
I ended up locking in a Madiera (Henriques and Henriques 10 years old) to go with my salt caramel brownies and the La Toledana Gavi di Gavi to go with the bacon-wrapped scallops – as well as a promise for a training and tasting session in the near future to work out the rest of the recommendations.
Tap Social is a craft brewery in Botley with a social mission and a passion for unique, small batch beers. As well as their laudable efforts in rehabilitating people serving prison sentences, they also have one of the coolest new venues in Oxford, a warehouse brewery-come-music-venue/coffee shop. I went over there to talk about some pairings for some of our dishes that might go better with beers than with wines.
Tap Social gave me a taste of a fantastic beer called Get Your Hops Off with some really tropical fruity notes, suggesting it might be a really great pairing for some of the Indian-themed dishes on my menu, especially the pumpkin curry I have coming up in October. But the standout beer pairing from the session was an American Pale Ale called Goodsize Eh? that had notes of sweet maple syrup – the PERFECT match for my Southern-style fried chicken.
For the Smoke and Thyme Autumn Pop-Up run, every dish on the menu has a matched wine or beer available by the glass. Prices are £6 for one or £5 per glass when matching wines for 3 or more courses.
September dates are filling up fast – book now!