Posted on | October 5, 2008 | No Comments
About a month ago, whilst on my way to a dinner that featured amongst other dishes, a Century Egg Salad, I decided to make a detour into a wine shop to pick up a couple of bottles of wine to try with dinner.
Knowing what the menu was, I decided to look for wines, which I thought, would match nicely with the other dishes, whilst totally ignoring the Century Egg dish.
Now why would I ignore the Century Eggs and not attempt to match any wine with them?
Well, this decision goes back to the time when I was a student at Hotel School a little more than 20 years ago. At Hotel School, we were introduced to the principles of food & wine matching, and amongst those principles expounded, was a list of food items that were deemed to be “unmatchable” with wine. Amongst the food items mentioned, were, artichokes, asparagus, and eggs.
Thus, was this the reason why I had totally ignored to attempt matching the Century Eggs with wine? Perhaps so, as I had been programmed earlier in life to avoid matching eggs with wine…
Anyway, it happened that one of the bottles I brought for the dinner was opened first, and was sipped as the apéritif.
This bottle was the 2002 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe “Telegramme” Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a once-off release of the famous Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which was declassified due to the washed out 2002 vintage.
Grape varieties used for the wine included mainly Grenache and Mourvédre, and may have included Syrah and Cinsault in the blend.
The wine had quite intense sweet red fruit flavours, with hints of white pepper spice, and exotic ginger blossoms, a moderately fresh acidity, a medium to full-body, really soft, silky tannins and quite a long dry finish.
It wasn’t particularly complex, but very pleasant, and enjoyable at that moment, when served at a cool 16ºC.
When the first course of Century Egg Salad, which consisted of Century Eggs from the famous “Yung Kee” shop in Hong Kong, and pickled ginger from China, was served, I decided (for academic reasons) to try the wine with the Century Eggs to see if there would be any reaction worth noting.
To my surprise, there wasn’t an unpleasant reaction, and the wine actually went quite nicely with the Century Eggs, with the sweet red fruits, freshness and soft, silky tannins complementing the custard-like texture and mild flavour of the Yung Kee Century Egg.
Another foodie CL, who was seated at the same table was surprised at my reaction, and tried the pairing as well, and agreed that it was quite a pleasant and interesting match.
However, however pleasant and interesting the match was, it still wasn’t quite the “marriage made in heaven”…
At this point, before anyone starts crying foul, I must state that not all Century Eggs are the same. Century Eggs do come in all sorts of colours and degrees of flavour, depending on where they come from, and how old they are.
Characteristics do range from those with amber gold whites with rather delicate flavours, to darkly coloured ones with oozing yolk, emitting ammonia fumes that can bring tears to your eyes.
The version from Hong Kong’s “Yung Kee”, is on the delicate side of the scale, and thus, would be more amenable to matching with wine.
So, after reading this, should you start to burn all your books on food & wine matching?
I think not, as most theories and principles of food & wine matching are quite general at best, and you might have to read into the context of where, and when the book you refer to was written.
To me, one should not to state categorically that all Century Eggs are quite impossible to match with any wine, it is just that a perfect match hasn’t been found yet…
On an end note, I’ve taken a look into both the 1986 and 2002 Editions of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, (the 1986 I bought many years ago, and the 2002 was a gift from someone for Christmas some years ago…) . The venerable 1986 edition states: “Eggs: These present difficulties: they clash with most wines and spoil good ones.”, whereas, the 2002 edition’s comment on eggs with wine is quite different; “Eggs: Not exactly flattering for white wines, but try soft, unoaked Chardonnay, subtle white Burgundy, or California Chardonnay with omelettes, quiches, etc. Reds clash bitterly with the yolk, especially hard-boiled. Beaujolais or other Gamay may cope. Other ingredients may be the things to match.”
I’ve basically picked up two differing editions of the same author’s work from differing decades to show you that principles or theories regarding food & wine matching do change with time.
Therefore, I encourage readers to try anything and everything with wine, even food items that are seemingly “impossible” to match.Copyright © MM - MMXII Daniel CHIA. All rights reserved.