A voyage of discovery : a journey into the unknown

Posted on September 20th, 2012 by Robin Goldsmith in Drink, Food, Wine

Via Nova wines

Via Nova ‘Mencia’ and ‘Godello’ wines from Galicia in North West Spain.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games are over. Inspiration for some, annoyance for others, for many they represented a journey into unknown territory – sports that people had never heard of, watched or tried before. So perhaps now is the time to build on this spirit of adventure and try new types of food and drink. In this article, I will be looking at expanding our taste sensations with products you may never have previously considered or discovered. Come with me on a voyage of discovery…

Galicia is an area of Spain that many people in the UK may not know much about. This is partly because perhaps the region has not marketed itself as aggressively as other regions in terms of its tourism and food and drink industries. Also, being in the North West of the country, just like North West France, England and Scotland, it is not as dry or indeed always as hot as the well-known “costas” in the South. However, it is a beautiful area with fantastic food and drink, especially wine.

Some of the best white wines in Spain are made here, in particular from two grape varieties – albariño and godello. The first of these is becoming better known in the UK and produces very aromatic, flavoursome dry wines – definitely worth getting to know if you have never tried them before. However, the godello grape is less well known, even within Spain, yet many wine experts would say that this is indeed Spain’s finest white grape variety. One example of a wine made from this grape is Via Nova Godello 2011, available from Iberiandrinks http://www.iberiandrinks.co.uk. Intensely aromatic with notes of ripe pear, melon and tropical fruit characteristics on the nose, the palate offers matching flavours, with a slightly nutty aftertaste. With well balanced alcohol (13%) and acidity, this wine would go perfectly with all types of fish dishes (you could even try it with fish ‘n’ chips!), but also chicken and risotto. This is a good example of an inexpensive godello and makes an interesting alternative to chardonnays and other well-known wine styles.

Galicia also produces fine red wine and one interesting native variety is mencia. Via Nova Mencia 2011, made from 100% mencia, is a good example of what this grape variety can offer. Again the nose is aromatic and fruity with notes of plum and chocolate. The palate does not disappoint with plenty of red and black fruits plus a velvety smooth chocolate aftertaste softening the elegant tannins and well-balanced acidity: a bit like eating a plum liqueur chocolate without the extra sugar. A good food pairing to match the fruitiness of this wine would be a meat stew or casserole, particularly lamb or venison.

So now you’re ready for a light dessert – perhaps Simply Ice Cream’s Dreamy Vanilla? Simply Ice Cream http://www.simplyicecream.co.uk from Kent make some of the best ice cream around – proof that good quality ice cream can be made in this country. However, why not pour something decadent on top of this, instead of boring old chocolate sprinkles! Dulce de leche is a traditional South American sweet made from slowly heating milk and sugar, the latter caramelising to produce a thick toffee-like jam, ideal for spreading on toast or drizzling on top of ice cream. Casa Argentina http://www.casaargentina.co.uk have delicious examples of dulce de leche, including some mixed with chocolate. Do give this a try, but don’t tell your dentist!

Further interesting discoveries can also be found close to home. For example, the award-winning Fivemiletown Creamery http://www.fivemiletown.com from the Clogher Valley in Northern Ireland, produces some of the best cheese I have eaten in a long time. Their smoked brie is utterly fantastic and makes an unusual addition to any cheeseboard. However, check out their Boilié cheese pearls from cow’s or goats’ milk for a brilliantly original texture and taste sensation.

My last recommendation is something completely different with a great story behind it. Norfolk Punch http://www.norfolkpunch.com is a 700-year old non-alcoholic herbal drink, recently rediscovered and brought back to England via Australia. Originally made by Benedictine monks, it is reputed to have beneficial effects on energy levels and other malaises. Drunk hot or cold, it has a unique taste derived from the 33 raw ingredients – a traditional liquid gem revived from our past and a healthy alternative to an alcoholic fruit punch, mulled wine or cider.

So there we are then – a brief journey of discovery. Do let me know if you try any of these products or anything else new you find. After all, the only way to really expand our taste buds and to reliably judge the quality of our food and drink is to have a varied diet ourselves. It also makes our eating and drinking experiences a little bit more interesting. Bon appétit!

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