Have you ever eaten Mooli?
No, me neither until I attended the Cinque Ports and Chapel Down dining evening last week (February 1).
The vegetable, which comes from the radish family, was just one of the interesting foods that I tried for the first time.
Chapel Down, based in Tenterden, is one of the suppliers of wines to Number 10 Downing Street.
As well as wines and champagnes, the firm makes its own brand of Curious beers and ciders and a selection of spirits. The company can also count Turner Contemporary, chefs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver and The Royal Opera House among its clients.
The event at Margate’s Cinque Ports pub aimed to pair up food from the venues head chef with drinks from Chapel Down.
The starter was unusual -spiced squash tortillini, tomato broth, butterbeans and pumpkin seed pesto. The broth came in a little jug which you then added to the bowl. It was interesting, spicy and served with a white Bacchus wine which had a taste of fruits.
The next dish was charred mackerel, pickled mooli and cucumber. The mooli, a long white crunchy vegetable, had an interesting, peppery taste. It was paired with a crisp Curious cider created exclusively with 100% Kentish apples. I’m not a cider fan as a rule but this had a clean taste which would be perfect to cool down with on a hot Summer’s day.
The main course was slow braised brisket with parsnip puree, braised chickory, mushrooms and vegetable crisps. The meat was very tender but I could have done with double the portion size. Chapel Down paired this with a Pinot Noir which is made with English vineyard crops.
I’m not a red wine drinker so stuck with the Bacchus for this course, although my partner made swift work of his glass!
The Cinque Ports kitchen produced buttermilk panna cotta, blackberries, apple, granola and basil sorbet for the next course and it was surprisingly good, satisfying without being heavy. This was paired with a Chapel Down dessert wine which was a little sweet for my palate but the excellent Cinque Ports staff made sure my white wine was topped up even if I was defeating the food and wine pairing aim!
A selection of local cheeses, oat crackers, grapes and chutneys was paired with a really good Curious IPA. This is made with a combination of English Golding, Bramling Cross and Chinook hops to produce a pale ale with a flavour that reminded me of Belgian brews. This is a beer I would definitely buy.
It was an interesting evening, the food was creative and tasty although the servings were small, presumably because it was five courses, and the pairing of Chapel Down drinks to get the most taste from each was enjoyable even if I did skip a couple of the offerings.
At £50 a head I’d say you need to be truly interested in how the food and drinks are paired and why but overall an enjoyable evening that was in a comfortable and friendly venue with staff that were happy to make sure you had what you wanted even if it wasn’t quite what the menu said.