Sunday, June 12, 2011

Discover the Taste of Colour with Turning Leaf Wines + Colourful Recipes


I was invited to an event recently for Californian wine brand Turning Leaf, not having had many opportunities to have wines from California, I excitedly said yes.

A premium Californian wine with an affordable price tag, Turning Leaf has a range of seasonal wines which has been matched to bespoke recipes. This was based on the result of collaboration between winemaker Stephanie Edge and culinary artist Esther Roling. Previewing the recipes and the website, I loved the vibrant colours used and that is evident in the wines itself as well which draws its inspiration from the colours of nature.

The experiences that both Stephanie and Esther have under their belt are just fascinating. At the age of 18, Stephanie travelled the world that took her to 73 countries (how awesome is that?). One thing led to another and she now finds herself as a senior winemaker. Esther already had her own café in Amsterdam at the tender age of 21, came to London and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, worked in some esteemed places such as Pied a Terre and Paul A Young and now runs her own catering company.


Upon arriving, I could see Esther starting on the first recipe. The smell of grilled mackerel was wafting over and I looked over at fellow blogger and we both couldn't help salivating.


Minutes later, the first recipe was making its rounds. This was fennel salad with green apple with grilled mackerel perched on top with an olive oil drizzle.   


I love the acidity from the green apple in contrast to the rich and oily grilled mackerel. This is the recipe that was paired to the Pinot Grigio, described as a wine for summer. My impression of the Pinot Grigio was a wine that is light and crispy, followed by citrusy notes, perfect for the sunny summer weather (when we do get it in London). 

Next was the Chardonnay. This was an all round crowd pleaser. 

On first taste, the chardonnay is very light and made for easy drinking. Tasting it with my nose, I noticed that the fragrance brings out the stronger base notes. A chat with Stephanie revealed that this was coming from the wine being fermented in French oak. The Chardonnay is reminiscent of and made with the spring season in mind. The Chardonnay was paired with the following dish, Red Mullet and Moroccan spiced cous cous.


Our table couldn't get enough of this. Sipping the wine again after eating the mullet, it changes the palate and brings out the floral notes in the wine.

Next up was the Pinot Noir which was described to be more for autumn or end of summer

It was gentle and balanced and matched with the recipe of Quail with purple beetroot. Unfortunately, there probably wasn’t enough time to make all the pairing recipes and this was only described to us. 

The Zinfandel is my favourite due to its unexpectedness. Rich and perfumery that it swells and engulfs the mouth, I could taste the thickness of the grape skins. Very much hearty and full bodies in taste, I could see why it was matched with the recipe of braised veal cheeks (slow cooked) with winter vegetable puree. This was another recipe that was only described to us, it sounds and taste delicious in my head though.


The last wine to taste was the Cabernet Sauvignon which was described as ideal for winter. It was big and bold with heavy hints of berries. This was paired with the recipe of beef Carpaccio with tomatoes and rye bread crumbs. Esther told us a tip on how to use the tomatoes and these were amazing. 

It was great chatting with Stephanie and Esther after, their enthusiasm is infectious. Stephanie was a great inspiration as we hit it off immediately and talked about our lives and inspirations. 

Turning Leaf wines are available at most supermarkets; you can find the recipes on their website here. Definitely a brand of wine that I will consider drinking in the future. 

Chopstix2Steaknives was a guest of Turning Leaf Culinary Masterclass event.


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