Celebrations of International Sherry Week 2018 have begun. As in 2017, I’m joining the challenge of “pour and pair” this year. For the challenge, Sherry Wines sends me a bottle of wine – it could be any type of Sherry, and I design a food pairing that would go well with that bottle.
Last year, I was the winner of this challenge with my Manzanilla and Nova Scotia lobster pairing and won a dinner at El Celler de Can Roca as a prize.
Manzanilla is a dry wine and it’s one of the most food friendly Sherry together with Fino. But, this year I received a bottle of Medium, which challenged me in a different way and led me in another direction which is sweeter.
As with all the types of Sherry wines, a huge effort goes into putting a bottle of Medium on the table. Medium is produced by the must of the authorized grapes in the region (mainly Palomino and Pedro Ximenez) which are then fortified until fifteen percent and aged in the barrels in the soleras y criaderas system. After this biological aging, it’s fortified again until seventeen percent and aged oxidatively. These different types of aging and a touch of Pedro Ximenez wine which is added at the end of the process give Medium the complexity, characteristics and sweetness that it has.
Medium is the type of Sherry wine that has the widest range of residual sugar. It can have from five to hundred fifteen grams per litre of residual sugar. To make the selection easier for the consumers, Medium is divided into two types: “Medium dry” when sugar content is between five to forty-five grams per litre, “Medium sweet” when between forty-five to hundred fifteen grams per litre.
The bottle I received is Pemartin Medium, from Bodegas y Viñedos Diez Mérito S.L. It’s made with 85% Palomino and fifteen percent Pedro Ximenez grapes. It has seventeen percent alcohol and almost sixty grams per litre of residual sugar, which puts it to “Medium sweet” category.
As soon as I received it, I tasted it: It has a mahogany colour and, in the nose, impressively complex aromas; hazelnuts, roasted almonds, a touch of coconut, butterscotch, fig jam and even some candied orange notes. On the palate it has medium sweetness and a very good acidity which balances it out. Roasted nuts and candied fruit aromas are also present on the palate.
Then I took a sip of it, I closed my eyes, and imagined the first pairing that came to my mind. Was it a tapa? Was it a samosa? Was it a spicy chicken? No! It was pumpkin spice! Cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice… Then the alcohol and the sweetness touched my tongue and I said OK, let’s make a plated dessert which won’t be so sweet and pair perfectly with this Medium.
The main ingredients for this dessert are wild blueberries, pumpkin and pumpkin spice. Let’s give a closer look to those ingredients one by one before passing on to the recipe.
Wild blueberries are the emblematic fruit of Nova Scotia. In this province they are literally everywhere: they cannot be planted but grow naturally – that’s why they are called “wild”. They are smaller compared to planted blueberries. Their color is darker, and they have a more intense flavor.
When October arrives, we are surrounded by pumpkins– basically there are pumpkins everywhere. Pumpkins are great for autumn cooking, they give inspiration to cook, both sweet and savoury. There are many different shapes and colors of pumpkin grown in Nova Scotia. For this recipe I chose the “classical” pumpkin, also called “pie pumpkin”.
For this recipe, I used cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. I opted out ginger as it could overpower the flavours. These four of the pumpkin spices will give the complexity to my dessert to be able to accompany the roundness of Medium.
For the mille-feuille:
- 1 cup of unbleached white flour
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup butter
- ½ of cup of cold water
- ½ teaspoon of lemon juice
For pumpkin cream:
- 1 small size pie pumpkin
- ½ cups of granulated white sugar
- 2 tablespoons unflavoured gelatin
For wild blueberry jam:
- 1 cup of wild blueberries
- 1 cup of sugar
For wild blueberry-crème chantilly:
- 2 cups of Whipping Cream 35%
- ½ of icing sugar
- 2 spoons of wild blueberry jam
- 2 tablespoons unflavoured gelatin
1- Prepare the mille-feuille dough from the day before because it has a lot of chilling time. Mix the flour, salt and two spoons of the butter in a bowl. Add water and lemon juice in the middle, incorporate gradually with a fork and knead until it’s a semi smooth dough. Pat the dough into a flat shape, wrap it in plastic to refrigerate for two hours. Beat the rest of the butter until it’s soft, form it into a square smaller than the dough, and place it in the refrigerator.
2- Take out the dough and butter from the fridge and start to work on a floured surface. Place the butter in the middle of the dough and wrap it. Roll it into a rectangle and start folding each side to the centre and roll again. Wrap it again in plastic to refrigerate for two hours. Repeat this sequence of folding and refrigeration for three times.
3- For pumpkin cream, cut the pumpkin into two, scrap out the seeds and pulp from inside. Cut into smaller pieces so they can cook easier. Place the pieces on baking paper and bake for 45 minutes at a 350°F (180°C) oven until they are fork-tender. When they are cooled down, carve it out from the skin and mash them roughly with a fork and pass them from a colander. Add the sugar and pumpkin spices and let it cool for a while. Finally, add the dissolved gelatin.
4- For wild blueberry jam, place the washed wild blueberries and sugar in a saucepan and cook it in medium heat until it boils. Leave it to cool down.
5- Whip the whipping cream, add the icing sugar, wild blueberry jam and gelatin into the whipped cream. After mixing it all, put it in the refrigerator.
6- Cut round pieces from the mille-feuille dough and make some holes with a fork. Bake them for 15 minutes in a 375°F (190°C) oven.
7- When everything cooled down, use a disposable decorating bag to fill the pastry with cream. Fill one side with spicy pumpkin cream, the other side with wild blueberry cream.
8- Place the mille-feuille with wild blueberry jam on the serving plate and decorate with some walnuts.
9- Pour yourself a glass of Medium and enjoy it with this delightful plated dessert.
This pairing is a harmonious assemblage of flavors and colours which happened to be at the same place at the same time… Carefully chosen ingredients first passed through my imagination and then through my palate. The result is a Sherry & dessert pairing that is appetizing for both eyes and palate.
All images © 2018 by Wines of Nesli. All rights reserved.