I love Christmas Eve: the hard work is over, the family is about to arrive, the fridge is well stocked, the Champagne is chilling and it’s time to start cooking.
This morning the smell of chocolate wafted through the house – we’re having chocolate pot (see below for the recipe) to go with the fantastic dessert wine Maury 1928 Solera, a dark fortified wine made from Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris and Carignan by Les Vignerons de Maury in the Roussillon.
Well before that we’ll be opening a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Ultra Brut. My boyfriend’s mother, Françoise, is a Champagne loving Parisian. She says that she’s never knowingly tried an Ultra Brut Champagne and I’m sure that she’ll like this one which is bone dry yet rich and toasty. I think that the Ultra Brut style, zero dosage (no added sugar), is the ultimate aperitif and I particularly liked Billecart-Salmon’s take on the style.
I’m cooking duck on Christmas Day and my two red wine choices for the Christmas dinner hail from Spain and Italy respectively and both are made by family producers. We’ll be opening Ochoa’s Mil Gracias Graciano (2007 vintage) which was made by Adriana Ochoa at Olite in Navarra (northern Spain). This wine is simply superb and it’s deep black inky fruit and freshness matches dark game perfectly.
Equally fine and perfect for this time of year is Allegrini’s ‘Corte Giara’ Amarone della Valpolicella 2008, a slightly richer red with enticing black cherry fruit and great length.
Between Christmas and New Year I’ll be cooking pheasant and I’ve got a rather different wine in mind to go with it: Roxanich’s Antica 2007, a Malvazija (Malvoisie in France and Malvasia in Spain). I tasted this Croatian wine at Green & Blue wine merchants in East Dulwich along with Trevor Long and Judith Burns, importers of Croatian wines (www.pactaconnect.co.uk). I was seduced by the wine’s great depth and spicy flavours as well as its beautiful texture. Pheasant or Guinea fowl will surely have the flavour profile to go with it. Happy Christmas!
150 gr dark chocolate
300 ml single cream
1 egg, beaten
A touch of vanilla essence
A drop of brandy
Melt small pieces of chocolate in the cream being careful not to overheat. Pour into a blender, start to blend and add the remaining ingredients. Pour into six pots, cool and chill. Decorate with seasonal fruit.