Thursday, 15 April 2010

A reinterpretation of Port & Stilton: Grappa & Stichelton

I recently had a yearning for something sweet and savoury after a lazy Sunday graze on something unsatisfactory and raided the cupboards and 'fridge to assemble the above feast: pickled walnuts (a first for me), buttery langue de chat biscuits, blue Stichelton cheese, and fiery grappa made from Nebbiolo grapes in Piedmont and aged and rounded out in old port casks.  

Port and Stilton is a well known and successful wine and cheese match and is often accompanied by sweet digestive biscuits, and occasionally chutney.  Here, the grappa provided the strong, sweet, fruity taste of port to match the salty blue cheese (a superior, unpasteurized version of Stilton), the pickled walnuts contributed to this, rather like a chutney would, and the langue de chat biscuits soaked up some of the fire, salt and sharp fruit of the mix and added their own buttery richness.  

The combination was so successfully balanced I devoured the whole lot.

Food and wine matches are not set in stone but some of the established ones are worth trying even if it means reinterpreting them with the ingredients at hand.  


  1. Have you ever read Dahl's (Roald not Sophie) 'My Uncle Oswald'? It's one of his grown up books and is absolutely superb. Anyway, he is rather disparaging of the port/stilton pairing, saying you ruin the port and the stilton. Not sure I agree on that front but I certainly think port and cigars an abomination. Destroys the port absolutely.

    Pickled walnuts, now there's a fine preserve. We had a walnut tree at my childhood home and Dad used to pickle the young walnuts every year. At their best with a pork pie.

    Will try stichelton/grappa as soon as Patrick. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Thanks James, I must have read Roald Dahl's Uncle Oswald book eons ago (I do remember collections of grown up short stories called Over to You, Someone like You etc and one particularly harrowing story called Pig). I guess with port it would be a shame to subject a fine mature vintage to an OTT ripe Stilton but a younger, spirity one, perhaps LBV, would be good. I imagine Roald would have drunk the finest ports (he was mates with Kingsley Amis, after all), hence his comments. And generally, if you have very fine wine I think the food should be really simple and play second fiddle; equally, if the food is exquisite, and elaborate, the wine should only play a background role. The one drink I enjoy with cigars is Vieille Prune; otherwise, I agree, cigars steamroller anything liquid put before them. (But having reread that, I wonder if I shouldn't experiment with aged rum)

  3. PS James, my sister pointed out that the Roald Dahl story "Pig" is in a collection called "Kiss Kiss"