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wine

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan Wines“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
C. JoyBell C

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau … because when a smooth, indulgent dessert wine arrives, you have to do something special with it. These were thoughts that ran through my head when the well packaged bottles of Bellissima and Rosa Rossa arrived from Big Banyan.With Christmas around the corner, my flavours and colours were pretty much sorted out. I knew what I wanted to bake. Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesIt was going to be a flourless fallen gateau, it was definitely going to have dessert wine, and the top would have strawberries. Well it all kind of fell into place. I had bought a ton of strawberries a few days ago and planned to make a preserve. Then along came dessert wine. Why not a strawberry wine jam? With winter here, spices are part and parcel of almost everything I do, so I settled for a spicy Strawberry Wine Jam. Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen GateauIt came out deliciously wicked. It’s great on toast and in lindzer cookies, fabulous to make dark chooclate truffles with, and makes for a much appreciated holiday gift as well. Strawberry jam is the easiest to make. You basically just cook it down to a nice chunky consistency, discard the whole spices, and bottle the jam. Dollop it over waffles, ice cream, onto parfaits, over breakfast oats … you will love it!

Spiced Strawberry Wine Jam Jam done. That was so easy. Strawberry Wine Jam Big Banyan WinesWhen the jar of wine jam says time for cake, it’s time to bake!! This is one of the simplest gateaus you can bake. Don’t get misled by the long list of ingredients. It comes together really fast and is a fuss free, chocolaty, fudgy gluten free cake. The ingredients should all be good quality because that’s what makes the cake special. Dessert wine and spiced strawberry wine jam added oodles of oomph to it. Subtle undertones of sweet strawberry and a hint of wine make this special. It’s called a fallen gateau because it rises quite normally while baking, then collapses most dramatically.

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesI love the crater the so called collapse causes because that becomes ‘ground‘ for filling. An ugly duckling, rustic cake, moorish to boot, gets a snazzy dressing up. Christmas is here so it’s red, white and green. Chocolate pairs really beautifully with wine and fruit, so this was going to be a winning combination. The almond cream added further indulgence. Then came the ruby red, bursting with flavour, spicy strawberry wine jam topping that was literally the icing on the cake.

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesDid I forget to mention the chewy meringue top studded with pistachios? Yes, you can taste that as well as you savour every rich bite of this chocolaty wine goodness. It might seem tempting to skip the step, but I urge you not to. It’s small things like this that add to the final delight. We loved every little detail of this cake so much, I am going to bake it again soon. This is my new favourite cake that was created all thanks to some fabulous wine from Big Banyan.Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen GateauI have to give the wine full marks. I’d heard the buzz about the wine here and there, and it more than lived up to my our expectations. I might not be a connoisseur, but yes, can tell a good wine. The dessert wine glowed a beautiful gold, while the Rosé  blushed a beautiful cherry pink. I am quite partial to sweet dessert wines. The Bellissima was my first love with sensual smooth hints of apricot, pears, walnuts and raisins; so exotic in my opinion. Like liquid gold.Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesThe Rosé got the better halves vote. With the acidity just right, whiffs of freshness and smooth flavour, this wine was good! I couldn’t stop clicking the wine. It added great festive cheer to my food and frame. As I have learnt, if the ingredients are good, you love the process, and then turn out amazing goodness. This is just what happened.Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan Wines

Do serve some wine with the Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau. It completes the experience!

Recipe: Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau
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A deeply indulgent, satisfying flourless {read glutenfree} dark chocolate cake that celebrates the best of the holiday season. Sweetened with dessert wine and strawberry wine jam, festival baking doesn’t get better than this Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau with a strawberry wine jam topping. A cake for Christmas! Serves 8-10

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes {plus cooling time}
Ingredients:

  • Strawberry Wine Jam
  • 400g strawberries, diced
  • 100ml Big Banyan Dessert Wine
  • 75-100g brown sugar
    Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4-5 cloves
  • Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau
  • 250g dark couverture chocolate
  • 100ml Dessert wine
  • 35g strawberry wine jam
  • 3egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 175g brown sugar {100+75g divided}
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g almond meal
  • 25g pistachios, blanched, peeled
  • Strawberry Wine Jam Topping
  • 100g cream, chilled
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 3-4 drops almond extract
  • 100gm strawberries, quartered
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 2 tsp strawberry wine jam

Method:

  1. Strawberry Wine Jam
  2. Place all ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce pan, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the strawberries are soft and the consistency is a little thick and jam like. {It will thicken a little more as it cools}
  3. Cool, discard the whole spices and transfer to a jar.
  4. Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau
  5. Preheat oven to 180C. Line the base and sides of a tall 7″ round spring form baking tin with parchment paper.
  6. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave for 1 minute on high, until the chocolate has almost melted {else melt over a double boiler} Stir until smooth, and then stir in the dessert wine and strawberry jam.
  7. Beat egg whites with 75g brown sugar and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
  8. Place egg yolks with remaining 100g brown sugar and vanilla extract and whisk to mix. Whisk n the melted chocolate-berry mix. Fold in the almond meal.
  9. Reserve 1/2 cup of the beaten egg whites for topping if desired.
  10. Add 2-3 tbsp of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture and fold in gently. Add the remaining beaten egg whites in two lots, gently folding into the batter so that the air is not released.
  11. With an offset spatula, spread the reserved beaten egg white mixture over the top of the cake. Sprinkle over the pistachios.
  12. Bake at 180C for approximately an hour, until done. The cake will fall as it cools.
  13. Cool in tin until cooled completely, then gently peel off parchment and transfer to serving platter. {I cooled it in the fridge overnight as I find the flavours mature really well. Take out of fridge half an hour before serving}
  14. Top with whipped almond cream, and strawberry wine jam topping {Recipe follows}
  15. Almond whipped cream
  16. Whip the cream with icing sugar and almond extract until medium peaks form. Fill the fallen gateau cavity with it.
  17. Strawberry Wine Jam Topping
  18. Place quartered strawberries in a heavy bottom pan with brown sugar. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the strawberries just begin to soften. Add the wine jam and stir well until the topping is nice and glossy, a minute. Cool and chill. {Can be made a day ahead}
  19. Note: Is a great on parfaits, ice cream, fresh waffles etc too

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“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”
Paulo Coelho

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, IndiaFour Seasons flew a group of food bloggers down to Pune to experience their winery in Baramati, Western India. With the weather beginning to get warm, the vineyard was at the height of the harvest season, with crushing and fermentation underway. A short flight away from New Delhi, seamless organisation and good communication meant that the experience from word go was good.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Four Seasons produces wines from grapes grown around Sahyadri valley in Maharashtra, India and at its state-of-the-art winery near Baramati, around 65 kms from Pune. The chateau on location boasts 14 rooms, a swimming pool, a spa and a party deck and terrace which can hold a 1000 people for anyone looking for an interesting holiday.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India To further their promise of wine tourism, they’ve planned a restaurant offering wine and food pairing, a wine merchandise store, a wine boutique, tasting rooms and of course vineyard trails for wine enthusiasts.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India 26At the beautiful 14 room chateau, we were welcomed with a crisp bubbly from Bouvet-Ladubay. That brought an instant cheer. A quick freshen up and we headed for a wine and food pairing lunch put together by Indian celebrity chef Nilesh Limaye. It was a homey, comforting menu from Maharashtra, well planned and beautifully paired. It was refreshing to note how well the wines paired with regional cuisine.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India The menu was paired with their international brand of wine ‘Ritu which means ‘season‘ in sanskrit. Styled to suit the international palette, it captures the colours and moods of each years’ changing seasons. Crafted under the expertise of India’s most experienced wine maker, Abhay Kewadkar, who kept us company throughout the visit. Ritu is an award winning wine which is beginning to get noticed across the globe.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India It’s made from French varieties of grapes grown in valley in Baramati and is currently exported to the UK, France and Japan. Four Seasons does plan to introduce this gourmet wine to the Indian market in the near future. We tested it at over lunch, and it exceeded our expectations, especially the range of premium Barrique reserve wines.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India We began lunch with a cooler, Sol Kadhi, a kokum extract laced with mildly spiced coconut milk. It was brilliant. Everyone enjoyed it tremendously, and seconds were asked for! The appetiser, a Spicy Yam {Suranachi kaap} and Crispy fried Bombay Duck {Bombil Rav Fry}, was paired with a Ritu Savignon Blanc 2012.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India The main course had king prawns tossed in white and black sesame seeds in a typical Konkani coconut gravy, Tilatli Kolambi. Served over rice, mildly spiced again, it went well with the signature Ritu Viognier 2012.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India The stand out pairing was with the main course which offered a beautifully done traditional Nagpur lab curry, Mutton Saoji, the lamb sourced locally. It was well cooked, tender, dropping off the bone, and the spices quite simple. I love the play of regional flavours with wine pairing, a concept which is fast catching the imagination in India.  Paired with a ‘Ritu’ Shiraz Barrique Reserve 2010, it was quite interesting!!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Time for dessert and of course we were stuffed, yet a Rice Kheer with a black grape compote, Tandaichi Kheer, couldn’t be missed. It’s wonderful to see how creative Chef Nilesh gets with the local cuisine. Dessert was paired with Ritu Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2012, a dessert wine … deep, fruity and enticing!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India It was a packed two days with a tour of the winery, and the impressive facilities at the property. Huge crushers, fermenters, state of the art machinery with a huge capacity and well informed staff, it was a little unreal at times! Led by Abhay, it was an eye opener at each pit stop!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India We went from the tank hall to the world class barrel room, saw a interesting cross section of the soil in the valley, then to the fermentation plant. The new oak barriques that allow for a nine month maturation for the wines were beautiful. For a wine virgin like me, it was a steep learning curve, so interesting!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Of course we were on the wings of time, and soon headed for the sunset. A not to be missed affair over the valleys that lay behind the chateau, it was amazing!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India A quick shower and it was time for candlelit dinner on the terrace gardens by the pool. A beautiful setting, the barbeque laid out, anti pasti on oak barrels and a Ritu Blush that stayed with us all evening. This Blush is a deeper pink than the traditional French Rose, but I think it offered more character! Pretty!Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Dinner was however a bit haphazard and the formality of the candle lit dinner got a little lost in the meal courses getting mixed up. The soup arrived somewhere after the main course, the grills a little under spiced, yet the company good! The roof top setting by the poolside with a beautiful summery breeze more than made up for the shortcomings!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India It’s a stunning location for the chateau even though it might take a year for the region to develop. Despite hitting the sack well after 1 am, a few of us were up early to catch sunrise! Beautiful as ever, the sun rose over the chateau which faces East. Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India We grabbed a cup of tea and followed a very enthusiastic Abhay for a trek into the valley! A fast paced trot with views of deer now and then, it was a well spent hour. We got back in time for breakfast!!Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Another good meal with local cuisine like Misal Pav as well as a continental spread on offer. A few adventurous souls had a bubbly. Not me though. It was time for coffee, followed by a quick tour of the bottling and labeling facilities, all state of art stuff.

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Next was a trot down to the vineyards around to increase ‘vine and wine’ knowledge at the R & D vineyard that lies in front of the chateau. I did go to Baramati with visions of grape vines hanging heavy with bunches of picturesque grapes, yet that was not to beI

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India I think I can be forgiven for my ignorance as the harvest season is short and ends just before the heat sets in the plains. With the temperatures touching 30C during the day, there wasn’t a single bunch to be found in the vineyard.Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India

It was a wonderful experience, a steep learning curve, and a hope that I will be able to enjoy wine in a deeper sense in the future. Once the facilities and surroundings around Baramati develop, it’s a wonderful stopover for wine enthusiasts. Thank you Abhay Kewadkar, Anandita, Nilesh and all the staff at the resort that made our stay memorable. Thank you for having us over!

Thank you also Saurish, Pawan, Ekta, Rekha, Sangeeta & Hemant for for your good company!

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“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.”
W.C. Fields

Basque Lamb Stew Hello November. Here already? ALREADY?? With winter almost here, the Basque Lamb Stew is a good way to warm up … robust, hearty, full of flavour. It’s the time of the year when comfort food tops the list. Apple crumbles, mushroom soup, lamb and chicken curries, warm chocolate puddings, risottos, brownies, creamy cheesy pasta, ratatouille,  fresh bread, stew …

Basque Lamb Stew The lamb was meant for an Indian Lamb Stew or Gosht do Piaza, a hearty traditional Indian main. Yet some sour dough meant a loaf of fresh baked bread. The lamb thus headed for a continental makeover. Two recently gifted  bottles of wine from Four Seasons had me wanting to further my culinary skills. Google took me to Simply Recipes which had an interesting lamb stew recipe.

Basque Lamb Stew My knowledge of wine is pretty limited. A wine tasting session with a wine connoisseur some time back was enlightening. I  would like to cook with wine but am an under-confident ‘wine’ cook! I do however find wine glasses and goblets romantic, pretty too! 

Basque Lamb Stew Basque Lamb Stew was in the oven soon. Experimental cooking is always fun, and has been on the mind even more after our recent Ozzie MasterChef meeting. That rejuvenated us to think differently, creatively, out of the box, locally, internationally, responsibly … every virtual thought led to food!

Basque Lamb Stew Sangeeta’s Dark Chocolate Mousse, Parul’s Merluza en Salsa de Pinones, Ruchira’s Thai Eggplant Salad and Rekha’s Fresh Waterchestnuts, Arugula and Peach Salad reminded me of the lamb stew that was waiting in the wings! All these have the wine in common.

Basque Lamb StewThe Basque Lamb Stew was a huge step for someone like me who has always cooked traditional Indian lamb dishes. Making this dish, I thought often about the very talented Basque ex-pat Aran Goyoaga who writes on Basque country and her childhood. I heard of this beautiful region while reading her posts.

Basque Lamb StewThe stew was delicious, hearty, and an enticing red. There was something inspiring about it. Despite being cooked in a completely different manner, it still had slight undertones of my Indian stew or ‘ishtoo‘ as it is often called! Amazing! The wines gave very gentle flavour to the dish, while the roasted red peppers added most of the brilliant colour! {The sour dough bread is a tomato basil  one the recipe scraps of which I sadly misplaced!}

What keeps you warm in winter, dear reader? What is your favourite comfort food?

[print_this]Recipe: Basque Lamb Stew
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Summary: With winter almost here, this Basque Lamb Stew seems like a good way to warm up … robust, hearty, full of flavour. It’s the time of the year when comfort food tops the list. Adapted minimally from Simple Recipes. Serves 4-6.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours {plus marinating}
Ingredients:

  • 750gm lamb shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces {I used on the bone pieces}
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 1 tbs dried rosemary {or sprig fresh rosemary}
  • 1/2 cup white wine {Four Seasons Pinot}
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 3 roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 1 large ripe tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry, full-bodied red wine {Four Seasons Barouque Reserve}
  • 1 cup vegetable stock 
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Combine the lamb, half of the garlic cloves, rosemary, and white wine in a medium bowl. I marinated this overnight though Elise calles for 2-3 hours.
  2. Drain the meat, discard the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. {I reduced the remaining marinade while basting the second batch}
  3. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan with lid, over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Salt the meat as it browns. Remove the meat from the pan and add the onions to the pan. 
  4. Cook, scraping browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the onions are light brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  5. Return the meat to the pan with the onions and garlic. Stir in red chili flakes, roasted peppers, tomatoes, coriander, bay leaf, and red wine. 
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, allowing the liquids to reduce a bit. Then add the vegetable stock. {Either bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours}.
  7. OR transfer to an oven safe deep dish, cover tightly with foil and bake at 150C for 1 1/2 hours. 
  8. Add freshly ground black pepper and more salt to taste.
  9. Serve with rustic bread. 
  10. If you want, try garnishing with fresh mint leaves {as Elise says, “though I have no idea how “Basque” that is, it just tastes good.”

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