Posted on Monday, 26th October 2015
Krista from Passportdelicious.com and I recently took a tour through the world of muscadet magic. We began our trip bright and early one Saturday morning, meeting at Billingsgate market at 6am! It was a bloggers event and the objective was to discover the delights of matching muscadet with seafood. But there was a competitive element to the event as well. Working in pairs (me with Krista), we were all given a budget and tasked with purchasing some seafood with which to create a dish that would best work with muscadet. The winning dish – which was judged by Jon Massey of The Wharf newspaper and Douglas Blythe (writer, consultant, presenter, high-society sommelier and enthusiastic cook) – not only brought with it the honour of the number one spot, but six bottles of muscadet as well.
To set us up on our day, we feasted on some scallop and bacon baps from the legendary breakfast haunt at Billingsgate, Piggy’s Café. Bellies full, we ventured out into the heart and sole of the bustling market in search of our ingredients before making our way up to the Billingsgate Seafood School. Here, CJ Jackson, the CEO of the school and author of Leith’s Fish Bible took us on a guided journey into the secrets of scaling, gutting, filleting, and prepping seafood. It was an eye opener, very informational and wonderfully educational. And then we were ready! Ready to step it up another gear and begin cooking. For this, we made our way to the Central Street Cookery School where a plentiful larder had been laid out for us, and some cold and crispy Muscadet awaited us.
We were given 50 minutes to prepare our dishes and Krista and I prepared an ‘Aussie (me) / American (her)’ seafood stew of razor clams, scallops, prawns and chorizo. After time was up, we all sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labour, concluding with a wine tasting of some icy, mineral-laden and citrusy muscadet.
First was the Côtes de Grandlieu, a wine brimming with a floral and fruity nose and an occasional mineral note (Waitrose, £7.99). Next, we tasted La Nantaise Réserve 2014 from Laithwaites (£9.99), an ivory, intricate and citrusy wine with hints of lemon, grapefruit and apple. We followed this with Les Gras Moutons 2013 from Domaine de la Haute Févrie that had been sourced from the UK’s oldest (1698) wine and spirits merchant, Berry Bros & Rudd (£11.95), a muscadet known for being richly fragrant and aromatic, structured and tightly textured.
Finally, we enjoyed some ripe ‘cru’ quality Le Pallet 2010 – Les Dix du Pallet (£14.99). A wine matured in oak barrels, this was a high-quality example of a mature Muscadet that presented an aroma of butterscotch and pears notes with the typical Muscadet’s usual citrus and mineral backdrop.
We all wanted to win and the competition was fierce with many delicious dishes, but ultimately the judges found a worthy winner in a beautiful dish of monkfish, mussels and samphire. But the key was that we had lots of delicious muscadet wines, perfect for drinking with seafood.