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Food & Wine... Launch of The Wine Club at Sol y Sombra...

An average person walking into a supermarket or an off-licence is, I think, somewhat "crushed" by the sheer amount of wine at the display... Where do I start? Which wine should I buy? White or red? Wait - there's even rose?! Maybe sparkling? Which wine will go well, compliment my dish tonight? Which one will be perfect just for sipping and chatting with a friend? How many of us were put in front of dilemma like that...? I know I was, on more than one occasion... I love wine, but I'm not, by any means, an expert in that field. But - there's always room for an improvement ;)

Photo by Bartek Witek Photography

I was very lucky to be invited and take part in a launch of newly created Wine Club - "Match made in heaven - Food & Wine event" in my local Sol y Sombra, with wine on the evening generously sponsored by Findlater.
It was one of the best events I took part in. Well organised, everyone invited had some background and/or interest in food and wine. Amazing dishes - and here KUDOS to the chefs who really pulled out all the stops (see the menu below) and wine which went amazingly well with every course. Before each course, Peter from Findlater, gave us a little background about the wine that we'll have with the dish. No, it wasn't a long and boring speech about technicality of producing each wine. It was a story, sometimes even a legend, on how each wine came to be and then, a little bit about its distinctive taste. Truly enjoyable!
I really liked the set up in the restaurant itself, the fact that we were all at one loooong table, all 30 of us attending. It became very nice, interesting social event at which we discussed wine & food extensively and had a bit of good, old laugh :)

A Match Made in Heaven MENU
27th November 2014

First Course
Mini-Hamburguesa de Langostino con Ali-Oli de Algas y Rúcola
Mini Prawn Hamburger with Seaweed Ali-Oli & Rocket
Wine Match: Lands & Legends Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

Regaña con Solomillo en Manteca y Aire de Vino
Loin of Pork cooked in Chorizo Oil on a Savoury Cracker with ‘Red Wine Air’
(served at ambient temperature)
Wine Match: Andean Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Fish Course
Tartar de Salmon Sobre Carpaccio de Vieiras con Guacamole Marino
Salmon Tartare, Carpaccio of Scallop with Sea Guacamole
Wine Match: Torres Waltraud Riesling, Penedes, Spain

Meat Course
Pato Crujiente al Mango con Su Magret
Duo of Crunchy Duck & Mango Rolls and Seared Magret Duck Breast
Wine Match: Ibericos Rioja Crianza, Spain

Dessert Course
Falso Tarta de Queso
False Cheese Cake – Matcha Tea Sponge, , White Chocolate Mousse,
topped with Strawberries in Sweet Wine
Wine Match: Torres Nectaria, Central Valley, Chile

Wine Club - what a great idea to start one! Why there isn't one in every town around Ireland...? I think that Ireland needs more events and clubs like that. Yes, it's something that might sound very "posh" and expensive thing to attend to, but if you think that yourself - you couldn't be more wrong!

Besides the brilliant "Match made in heaven" above, I already took part in the very first Wine Club meeting, with the theme perfect for this time of the year "12 Wines of Christmas". To be exact  - there were 14 wines that we've tried: 8 white ones, 4 reds and 2 dessert ones. My palate was exposed to taste sensations, to wines that I otherwise wouldn't have a chance/be able to try, some of them I literally "discovered" that evening! Cliodhna Foley (WSET Dip) from Sol y Sombra is one passionate about wine lady! :) Her enthusiasm, knowledge, interest and love for wine comes through brilliantly! There was no technical talk, no statistics, numbers of any sort (well, maybe only those "price tags" that came with each bottle, but they weren't high at all!). We were all encouraged to use our noses and taste buds - to try each wine, make our own mind about it and only then, we've learned what it was. Great company - people of all ages, from their mid twenties to their sixties - fantastic wine, delicious nibbles through out the evening and I've learned sooo much about wine!

I love wine, but until recently I always, but always bought the same one - French Bordeaux - my "safe choice". Time to change that! To broaden those horizons! ;) And a Wine Club like this one, is the prefect start!

Photos of the dishes by T.J OConnor, Head of Section, Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Department
at Institute of Technology Tralee.