Two weeks of quarantine at home was going to be hard. I ferociously drew up plans – to write, to read, to exercise. But after 10 days of being at home, it was the items that didn’t make my list that gave me the most comfort. My own sofa, bed and books became unexpected luxuries after two months of being away.
I am cooking in my own kitchen – mostly comfort foods – and reaching for wines I have known for many years. These familiar grapes, producers and aromas are softening the impact of the news and social media onslaught.
A hot bowl of dal, tempered with abundant garlic and aromatic curry leaves, is soul food. Many claim Indian foods are difficult to pair with wine, but a crisp white with herbal notes, like Grüner Veltliner from Austria, harmonises with the coriander and mint I use to garnish.
For my signature chicken curry, a Pinot Gris works beautifully. The bright acidity and ample body keep pace with the richness of the dish. A dry rosé from Provence also works extremely well with my home cuisine.
I whip up a risotto whenever I miss my mum. I introduced her to a rich wild mushroom risotto many moons ago, and she immediately took to it. My preferred version these days is a simple tomato risotto, paired with Pinot Noir. Felton Road Bannockburn from Central Otago, New Zealand, is always in my wine fridge. A Burgundy red, like Côte de Nuits-Villages by Maison Joseph Drouhin, is another good option.
A luscious roast chicken served with crisp potatoes brings back memories of Australia, where my friend Sandra at The Age newspaper taught me how to roast. My latest rendition, from Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy, involves serving the carved-up chicken over toasted sourdough bread, which soaks up all the juices from the chook and melts in the mouth. I prefer a soft-tannin red to go with it, usually a rendition of the Sangiovese grape — Chianti, Brunello or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Sangiovese, the earthy, savoury grape of Tuscany, brings sunshine and warmth to my quarantine days.
With Hong Kong’s vibrant bars out of action, the new bar is Zoom Bar. Last night, the drink of choice was the bar staple, Sauvignon Blanc. My preference has shifted to the French rendition of Sauvignon Blanc rather than New Zealand’s. Located in the Loire Valley, the Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé regions both produce herbaceous, refreshing Sauvignons Blancs labelled simply by the village name.
We caught up with our Spanish friends, locked down in Madrid, with glasses of Tempranillo from Protos in Ribera del Duero, toasting our holiday together to the region two years ago. We also have plans to catch up with some hiking friends — our drink of choice is champagne, all the way.
Before long, we will find a new normal, but for now, I will stay with my comforts – food, friends and wine.
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