I love sherry. I also love Drakes Tabanco‘s food. The two together? Well, sherry isn’t always my first thought when food is concerned. So it was great to try Drakes’ new five course sherry pairing menu. With the exception of the Fino en Rama (from bottle) all the other sherries were from the casks at Drakes, and all were from Fernando de Castilla. How was it?
Course 1 (pictured above)
Slices of smoked scallop, blood orange jelly and mild chilli salsa
This was a brilliant dish with a lovely rich, smoky flavour. It was paired with the Fernando de Castilla Fino en Rama, which is rich style of Fino with salty, smoky flavours that really complemented the scallop dish well. A hit. Fino is generally brilliant with a wide range of foods, so no surprises here.
Deep fried artichoke, artichoke and soft boiled egg mayonnaise and dill
What a more-ish dish! Fry something and immediately it tastes great. It’s a rich dish, and it was paired with the Amontillado Viejo (20 yrs +), which is tangy, citrussy and salty with some super-complex cedar and nut notes. The acidity and richness of the sherry complemented the dish superbly. There was real synergy in this pairing: the two brought out the best in each other.
Iberico burger, sweet burnt yoghurt and crispy salsify chips
So delicious. I don’t normally like pork that’s still a bit red in the middle, but this burger was brilliant. To pair with it, we had the Oloroso Viejo (20 yrs +), which is complex and powerful with distinct nutty, cedary notes. It has good acidity, too, and with the emphasis on savoury flavours rather than sweet raisin, it’s a surprisingly versatile food wine. With the richness and decadence of the burger, it was a nice match, although perhaps not as synergistic as the previous. So far so good.
Venison haunch, garlic mash, sweet apple compote
This was quite delicious, and the mash was almost pure garlic, and all the better for it. To match? The Rare Old India, which is a sweet sherry. It’s rich, raisiny and spicy with cedar notes and quite a bit of sweetness. This sweetness makes the food pairing quite tricky for me. It’s a lovely wine, but perhaps too big for the dish.
Salted chocolate bar with creme fraiche and cocounut cream filling, walnut crunch
A delicious home-made chocolate, paired with Pedro Ximenez Extra Viejo (25 yrs+). The PX is very sweet and rounded, with soft, intense christmas cake and raisin flavours. It’s delicious and sweet enough to deal with the chocolate, but I didn’t get any synergy.
My conclusions? I loved the food, and I loved the wines. The first three dishes were genius matches, but things got a bit complex when sugar was involved. Dry sherry and food: brilliant. But this is great value and an experience I recommend.
The pairing menu is £49.50 – details here. [Disclosure: Drakes invited me and comped this meal, but at no stage discussed whether or not I would write it up.]