Whenever I find myself at a restaurant I always politely smile as the waiter hands me the menu but as soon as that menu hits my hot little hands I immediately focus my attention and flick from the food list directly to the wine list. Why? Because for me that’s where all the fun is. I mean I love cooking and I eat what I think is pretty great food at home, so I am never that overly excited about the food menu at most restaurants...HOWEVER what I don’t have at home is an enormous wine cellar with a unique array of interesting and rare wines and that my friends is what gets me excited!
I typically scan the wine list whilst asking myself the usual wine questions. Firstly, I make it my priority to narrow down the number of choices, so I begin with the usual red versus white debate whilst also contemplating whether a glass of French bubbly would hit the spot. Once I know what wine territory I am in I then focus my attention to my secret weapon, my husband. My memory is rubbish. Really rubbish. And when it comes to words in another language i.e. French, Italian, Spanish I am even worse...literally in one ear and out the other. So when drinking foreign wines I can recall as much information as ‘oh I loved that’, but ask me anything about the name, region, grape type, vintage and I am a blubbering idiot. So I am very lucky that I married a man who has one of those amazing memories, photographic even, which comes in very handy because Rob can remember each and every single wine I have ever tried, he can recall the ones I’ve loved and the ones I’ve loathed, he then couples this information with his vast knowledge of wine and voila I am there. Wine is picked and now I can decide on the dish that will accompany my
I also have to admit that my weekend home cookery is not just a reflection of my very greedy food appetite but is also a good indication of my drink appetite and affections. When it comes to the food I cook at home on the weekend my priority is to ensure the food is a perfect match for the wine I am drinking. I guess you could say I am trying to force food and wine serendipity. Don’t get me wrong, during the week food is most definitely king but when the weekend approaches and life changes gears I find myself needing to celebrate that perfect moment that can only transpire when you have that miraculous food and wine pairing. And this is exactly what I achieved with today’s lunch, zucchini fritters with whipped feta and a crisp glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. The zucchini fritters were hot, crispy, salty and zesty with so much spring herb flavour and they matched perfectly with my refreshingly crisp glass of perfectly chilled sauvignon blanc. The wine provided just enough acidity and zippy texture to cut through the slight greasiness of the fritter and allowed the mint, dill and lemon of the fritter to come through without overpowering the palate. The whipped feta was also gorgeous, it provided a creamy texture to balance the fried crunch of the fritter and by spiking the feta with lemon and garlic you also added another dimension of flavour to the fritter. I went one step further by creating a dill and mint salt, simply by combining sea salt with fresh mint and dill that had been finely sliced and by sprinkling the salt over the hot fritters the flavours were enhanced that much further making it well worth the effort.
Food and wine serendipity isn’t hard to achieve with a pretty gorgeous day outside, a chilled glass of wine in your hand and these hot little fritters. This dish is simple to prepare, makes a great tapas style lunch or snack and suits most drink choices. Enjoy. K xxx
Zucchini Fritters with Whipped Feta
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller
¼ cup buttermilk
80gm plain flour
3 zucchini, coarsely grated
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
½ cup each dill and mint, coarsely chopped
Rind of 2 lemons, finely grated
Lemon wedges, to serve
Whipped feta –
30ml lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
50ml olive oil
Dill and Mint Salt -
1 tablespoon dill, finely sliced
1 tablespoon mint, finely sliced
2 tablespoons sea salt
For whipped feta, process feta, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor until very smooth. With motor running, add oil in a thin steady stream and process until emulsified, then season to taste and set aside.
For the dill and mint salt, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or large deep saucepan to 180C. Meanwhile, whisk buttermilk and eggs in a bowl to combine, then add flour and stir until smooth. Stir in zucchini, spring onion, herbs and lemon rind, season to taste. Deep-fry tablespoons of zucchini mixture in batches, turning occasionally, until golden (2-3 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on absorbent paper, season with dill and mint salt and serve hot with whipped feta and lemon wedges.