Sometimes even I think my life is just too much! And if ever I seemed just too darned lucky, it was when faced with the five course Mauritian food extravaganza paired with Old and New World wines at the Four Seasons Resort in Mauritius last week.
I was at the resort to teach ten of the staff the finer points of international wines and styles on a WSET wine course (interested in an internationally-recognised wine course yourself? Check out www.thewinecentre.co.za for more details) and whilst there, was invited to take part in a special food and wine matching event.
Mauritian food is a fusion of different cultures, reflecting the people of this Indian Ocean island. So there are French influences, Creole influences, Indian, Chinese, African – you name it, they’ve adapted it to their own tastes and made it truly theirs.
The idea behind their ‘Food for Thought’ menu is to showcase some of the finest local cuisine and match each course to two different wines from the same grape variety – one from the Old World of Europe and one from the New Worlds of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and North and South America.
Generally speaking – and this is very general indeed – Old World wines are regarded as better food partners because of their restrained, elegant style whilst New World wines are often too full of upfront, ripe fruit to go successfully with most foods.
But if that’s the general rule – was it the case here? Chef Patrick Soochit compiled a very typical Mauritian menu including classic local accompaniments such as rougaille salsa (a ‘catch-all’ sauce of tomatoes, onion, garlic and coriander which is served with lots of different foods), kalia dressing ( a delicious combination of coriander, mint, saffron, cinnamon and ground cloves all bound together with yoghurt) and green papaya (somewhat like a fruity cucumber!), all complementing locally-caught fish and meltingly-soft Australian lamb. If you want to see pictures and a full menu, check out the gallery here.
The man with the wine matches was sommelier Thomas Moreno who had stuck to his French roots for all the Old World wines, with SA, NZ, Oz and Chile flying the flag for the New. It was interesting to see the differences and similarities between each pair of wines and also to note that the one which I preferred simply for drinking was often not the one which went best with the food.
Favourite dish of the night was the Seared Tuna with Coriander seeds, Green Papaya Salad and Lime Chutney – a tangy combination which brought out the best in the Reuilly Sauvignon Blanc from Domaine Jannin. In fact, for me – it was pretty much Old World all the way, winning three out of the four matches but not everyone on the table agreed, which is, of course, the beauty of an evening such as this. And indeed food and wine matching in general – the Grape Debate is always part of the pleasure!
Cathy was a guest of the Four Seasons Resort, Anahita. For more details on the resort go to www.fourseasons.com/Mauritius