Nick Adams, MW
What with increasing lifestyle and dietary pressures – and not least the recent concerns raised about excessive consumption of sugar – where might this leave the future of the great British pudding? And purely anecdotally I often notice that people in restaurants will stop after 2 courses and skip the pudding. I know that a number of restaurants now offer 2 or 3 course packages, so maybe this is inadvertently encouraging this exodus?
Let us know how you feel – are you saying “No” when the dessert menu comes round? Are you making/eating less puddings at home?
Is there anything more satisfying though than a fine pudding – that is if you have room for it? And this is maybe one of the problems. If your starter and main courses are big then you simply have no room! A friend recently recounted an experience at a pub restaurant when after an enormous bowl of soup with an iceberg sized piece of bread to accompany, he then faced a plate of curry on a dune of rice, where any movement of the food saw the meal pouring over the side of the plate. Imagine his amazement when the waitress then brought him a bowl of chips to accompany the curry!
Maybe an exception I accept, but after doing his best (he did say he was hungry, but was beaten back in the end) the waitress re-appeared with the dessert menu – at which point he gave up.
An important factor though is how sweet and what is the sugar in the food and wine which might accompany it. One of the main sugars in ripe grapes is called fructose – please stay with me – and this sugar happens to be the sweetest and most digestible of all the carbohydrates –and that paradoxically means it is potentially better for you than other sugars.
To put this into context fructose is 2 ½ times sweeter than glucose and almost double the sweetness of your average jar of honey! So if you need a blood sugar burst this is the one to take – no wonder people have historically taken grapes into hospital for sick relatives. In fact, I understand, that apart from dried figs grapes are the richest source (pro rata to weight) of fructose than any other fruit on the planet.
In fact the concentrated levels of sugar in grapes provide the fuel for the yeast to ferment and convert grape juice into wine (flavours), including the production of alcohol as a bi-product!
And when it comes to matching sweet wines with puddings the one big rule is to try and make sure the sweet wine is at least as sweet as the pudding, better still sweeter. But this is not easy unless you know the pudding and the wine, or have cooked the dessert yourself and chosen the wine. This is where I would ask the wine waiter (if they have one).
And finally ….as they say …. good sweet wines are a joy own their own, or “contemplative wines” as the French so wonderfully call them. A real alternative after dinner drink to be recommended. And so to my recipe offering – when properly ripe soft fruits are hard to find I think Pineapples are just great at this time of year – and full of the Sucrose sugar (à la granulated sugar). So here goes with a twist on a classic recipe for roasted pineapple.
RUM ROASTED PINEAPPLE WITH VANILLA
Prep time: 15 mins
Final cooking and serving about 60 minutes
INGREDIENTS – for four
· I large pineapple Suggest you keep it for about 2 days after the date on the tag so it gets really ripe
· 1 x vanilla pod Recently found that Australian ones are every bit as good as classic Madagascan (and cheaper)
· 1 x tbs Demerara sugar
· 1 x ladle of Rum
· Crème Fraiche
· Strip the hard skin off the pineapple in stages – start by top and tailing then do the sides. With each segment of skin squeeze all the juice you can into a glass Pyrex jar and reserve
· When pineapple is peeled take an apple decorer and remove the hard pithy centre out and discard. Then wrap in cling film and reserve
· To pineapple juice add the sugar
· Slice the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds and add to juice as well. ¼ the pod and add pieces into the juice
· Take a metal ladle (with a plastic handle) and heat the rum (fill to about 2/3rds full) – slowly increase the heat until the liquor boils and then catches fire – and turn up heat to set the flambé going. Remove from stove and pour into glass jug with juice and sugar – it should continue to flame (this is OK)
· Once flames have died out stir everything together
· Unwrap the pineapple and place in a deep sided oven proof tin (ideally a bread tin with deep sides). Add all the liquor and turn the pineapple so all sides get a good soaking
· Cover the top of the tin in aluminium sheet (shiny side down on the fruit)
· Heat in oven for about a 45 minutes at 175⁰C – scewer the fruit to check it has gone soft and cooked through
· For final 10-15 minutes take aluminium cover off and roast, turning the frit and reducing the sauce – but don’t let it dry out. If worried add a little water to keep lubricated
· Take out and put on warmed serving flat plate and carve into measured slices. Pour over juices (via a porous sieve to remove the vanilla pod bits) and serve with the crème fraiche
WINE TRUST 100 WINES TO PARTNER
This dish is nicely sweet but not too sweet, so would go for the following;
· Andrew Quady Essencia Muscat – just about sweet enough to partner
· Château Laville Sauternes – a classic option
But ideally money no object:
· Ben Rye Passito de Pantelleria – hedonistic
· Vin de Constance Klein Constantia (my personal choice!)
Please remember, although classic pudding wines are expensive a ½, or 50cl, bottle will serve 4 people comfortably!
Here is to our just desserts!
Nick Adams, MW