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Food

Matching wine with vegetarian food

Studies show that around one in ten Australians are now taking meat off their shopping lists. Whether you take part in ‘meat-free Mondays’ or are cutting down for health, animal welfare or environmental concerns, there are plenty of reasons to make veg the star. Your wallet will thank you too!

Matching wine with meat-free meals is no different or more difficult than any other food and wine pairing with basic rules such as ‘delicate flavours with delicate wines’ still applying.

Follow these tips for delicious vegetarian food and wine matches to impress!

  • Cooking a stir-fry or curry? Think of all the beautiful veg you can choose and remember that spicy foods can be enhanced by very fruity or even sweeter wines.
  • Fennel and asparagus risotto with Sauvignon Blanc or wild mushroom risotto with Pinot Noir is foodie perfection.
  • Thinking of a mid-week roast? Fill up your roasting tray with a selection of colourful seasonal veg and whizz up a salsa verde or pesto sauce to accompany them. You could choose any wine to match.
  • Getting together with the family for a BBQ? Think of sizzling field mushrooms with rosemary butter, onion and capsicum on the flat plate and vege and haloumi cheese skewers on the grill. Serve with a beautiful big salad and a couple of bottles of your favourite Rosé for a meal fit for a king!
  • Sauvignon Blanc and asparagus are classic partners – serve grilled with garlic butter or pan-fried and topped with poached egg and pecorino shavings for a dinner party entrée to impress your friends.
  • A Thai red curry with tofu and bok choy is fabulous with a Viognier or Chardonnay and Japanese tempura vegetables are sublime with Riesling, Semillon or Sparkling white.
  • Mild Indian curries are superb with soft reds such as Merlot as are tomato-based pastas. Swap out the mince in a lasagne for grilled eggplant and enjoy a spicy Sangiovese for a classic Italian pairing.
  • Light lunch? Enjoy crisp salads and antipasto platters with Pinot Grigio for a burst of fresh flavour or pour a glass of the slightly richer Pinot Gris with blue or washed rind cheese.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon and blends are delicious with your next aged cheddar and dried fruit plate and enjoy a mid-weight red such as Grenache or Tempranillo with vege-based tapas, home-made pizzas or mushroom burgers.
  • If you’ve never tried French onion soup with a medium sherry or Pinot Noir, then you haven’t lived!

For more great vegetarian recipes and wine matches, click here to view our full collection.

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Food
Are we addicted to sugar?
Words by Sherry Strong on 8 Jul 2016
Nutritionist Sherry Strong looks at how sugar has become such an ingrained part of our diet and the challenges to both body and mind of trying to eliminate it. Less than 100 years ago, sugar was consumed primarily by the wealthy, while everyone else rationed portions to sweeten tea. As it became cheaper to produce, sugar made its way into everything. It was deemed the darling of the food world once people realised how useful it was in food processing and preservation. But how sugar became an ingredient of nearly every product on the supermarket shelf is an interesting story. In 1980, after consulting a host of highly regarded nutrition scientists, the US government issued its first Dietary Guidelines to cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol, as these were thought to be contributors to ailments such as heart disease and cancer. Food companies saw a new market and low-fat products began flooding the shelves. The problem is, fat equals flavour, so to bring back flavour the food producers added – you guessed it – sugar. The effect was immediate and severe. Obesity rates in Amercia trebled within the next 20 years. Heroin of the food world If you look at sugar’s addictive properties, it’s no wonder we keep coming back for more. Many types of sugar are found in nature, but by the time these are turned into white sugar, the result is essentially a drug. In fact, sugar in the form we know it is created using similar processes used to turn opium sap into heroin and coca leaves into cocaine. Heat is applied to denature the plant and toxic chemicals help remove nutrients. Brain scans reveal that refined sugar lights up dopamine receptor sites (the neurotransmitter response for perceiving ‘pleasure’) eight times more potently than does cocaine. For some, giving up sugar is harder than getting off recreational and prescription drugs. In my work as a nutritionist, I’ve had alcoholic clients who found it tougher to give up sugar than alcohol. The body has a strong physiological desire for sugar. In nature, this is no big deal because nature makes sugar less available and harder work to obtain (i.e. fruit growing up high in trees). The opposite is true in the supermarket. The average teenager consumes 45-68 kilograms of refined sugars each year, and it’s not just soft drinks. As Damon Gameau discovered in his documentary That Sugar Film, sugar is found in 80-90% of food in your typical supermarket, which means even savvy shoppers struggle to avoid it. Lethal love Up until recent times, sugar has been the cheapest, most socially acceptable drug on the market – no prescription required, legal dealers on every corner. I even found a local bank raising money for the pink ribbon campaign by selling candy, chock full of the stuff now conclusively linked to all types of cancer, including breast cancer. Indulging in sugar is what I refer to in my book Return to Food, as the ‘Lethal Recipe’. Lethal may seem like a strong word, but the increased deaths from lifestyle diseases in countries that consume large amounts of sugar suggest how deadly it is. Science is providing proof to the dangers of sugar and, slowly but surely, consumers are taking note. We’ve always had a hunch, but now we are paying more attention. Over a 100 years ago, Canadian dentist Weston A. Price linked poor dental health with diet and found that cavities were more about nutritional deficiencies than dental hygiene because refined sugar strips nutrients from the body. William Duffy pointed out in his book Sugar Blues, that Sir Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin, noted in 1929 that plantation owners who ate refined sugar were rife with diabetes, while cane cutters who chewed on raw cane had none. As we appreciate a better understanding of our health, we know that all refined foods contribute to health issues, but sugar is the gang leader. Knock sugar out of your diet and you’ll also find yourself eating a lot less refined oils, salts, grains and chemicals. They tend to travel together. To tax or not to tax? Implementing a sugar tax is currently a hotly debated topic. Jamie Oliver successfully spearheaded the movement in the UK and Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar fame is following suit, petitioning to implement a sugar tax in Australia. David Gillespie, author of the ground-breaking book Sweet Poison, thinks a sugar tax is unlikely to work because people will find ways to offset the cost of the tax by buying in bulk, choosing generic brands or finding alternative sources. The fact is addicts will always find ways to get their sugar fix. If money is an issue, they forgo other things, most likely vegetables. He posits rewarding companies that make foods with less added sugar is the solution to decreasing sugar consumption. “Force supermarkets to show the lowest sugar choice in any food category with shelf labels,” he says. “Allow customers to vote with their wallet by buying the product that has the least sugar. Companies who want part of that action will ‘reformulate’ quickly and this should drive down the sugar content of food.” But can our generation live without sugar? The horrific fact is, we are basically weened onto sugar from birth. Millions of people have increased susceptibility to sugar addiction due to poor infant nutrition, starting with baby formulas and baby foods, many of which are rife with refined sugars. More than knowing It isn’t just the poor and uneducated affected by sugar. At a recent nutrition professionals conference in Vancouver, a woman in the audience got up and confessed, ‘I’m a nutritionist and I’m addicted to sugar’. She was not only well informed, but she had the means to buy good food. Information alone is not enough to beat this kind of addiction. Addiction is not just physiological. The latest research is showing that lack of connection is a bigger predictor than physiology for addiction. That is why I’ve been training my food coaches to treat their clients’ whole lives, not just what they are eating. Help them look for opportunities to bring sweetness into their life that isn’t in the form of food and drink. To lick our global sugar habit, we need to be looking at the deeper human drivers that entice people to self medicate with sugar. I know this intimately from working with hundreds of clients over the years and, even more intimately, as at one time in my life I started the day with half a litre of chocolate ice-cream and went from one sugar fix to another until my head hit the pillow in a drug-like haze. What I found is that if I didn’t have rules around sugar, sugar ended up ruling my life. The solution starts at the table with food choices and conversations that build us up, strengthening us to make more nourishing choices. Tips for giving up sugar Firstly, you have to admit you have a problem and in my experience, there are less than 1% of the western population who aren’t addicted to sugar. • Do a kitchen audit and pull everything out of your cupboards and fridge that contains sugar. Get rid of it if you’re brave enough and at the very least replace it. • Start to replace all refined sugar with natural sugars; unsweetened fruits and honey are my go-to sweeteners. • Curb sugar cravings with supplements like chromium and magnesium. • Go to a farmers market and bring more vegetables into your home. Learn how to prepare them simply and deliciously.
Food
More pork on your fork
Words by Mark Hughes on 10 Aug 2015
One of my favourite scenes in the TV show, The Simpsons, is when Lisa is telling her dad Homer that she is no longer going to eat meat.

“What about bacon?” asks Homer.

“No,” replies Lisa.

“Ham?”

“No.”

“Pork chops?”

“Dad, those all come from the same animal.”

“Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.”

It might have been a great punchline on TV, but in reality Homer was pretty spot on. The varied cuts of pork and the vast ways to cook them has seen pork become very popular with Australians. But it hasn’t always been this way. Statistics show that 50 years ago it was beef and lamb that dominated the dinner plate; pork, and chicken for that matter, were barely a blip on the radar. One of the key reasons why this has changed is also the same reason why we are drinking table wine instead of fortifieds, and that is immigration. Our once predominant English-inspired dinner of meat and three veg has thankfully been complemented by a succulent array of delicious dishes. Think spaghetti Bolognese, pasta carbonara, chorizo paella, char siu – all of which, incidentally, feature pork; and that is not even thinking about breakfast (bacon and eggs) or, for that matter, lunch; ham and salad sandwich, anyone? Kitchen tradition Peter Haydon, marketing manager for Australian Pork , says tradition has played a huge role in shaping our food preferences and hindered his job in promoting pork. “People grow up to cook the meals their parents cooked,” he says “That was steak and veg, lamb chops, roast beef.” Decades ago Australian Pork had great success with the ‘get some pork on your fork’ campaign – many of you reading this will still have that phrase indelibly inked on your memory, and while that brought attention to the ‘other white meat’, it only did some of the job. “The next challenge was teaching them how to cook it,” says Peter. For the past decade, Australian Pork have marketed PorkStars – a collection of well-known chefs such as Manu Feildel , Giovanni Pilu , Alessandro Pavoni , Dan Hong, Chui Lee Luk – all of whom have shown Australians how to cook pork via events and recipes. Manu explains that pork played a huge role in his upbringing in France, learning different cuts and the many ways to prepare them. It is this knowledge that he hopes to pass on through his recipes.   “Food has always played a big part in our lives, my dad was a chef, so was his dad,” says Manu. “One of my uncles is a ‘charcutier’, so he’s an expert with pork and making pork products, such as salamis, pâtès, rillettes, and his own specialities, so pork has always been part of my diet. “I believe that pork is more versatile than any other animal,” states Manu. “You can eat everything from ‘nose to tail’. Roasts, stews, pan fried, deep fried, confit. Charcuterie, and things you not think about, like intestine for sausage skin, blood for black pudding, head for terrines, trotters, tail, ears, and more. “Creating recipes with pork is endless and it is a great match with other ingredients. It pairs beautifully with fruits such as apple, prunes, apricots, so as a chef, you can let your imagination run wild.” The science of eating Manu is also brand ambassador for Murray Valley Pork , part of the Rivalea group and Australia’s largest pork producer. They sell their extensive range of pork products exclusively through butchers and see the affable chef as a great way to promote their brand and also to continue to educate Australians on how to cook pork. “Manu’s reputation as an acclaimed chef has been instrumental in growing awareness of the brand,” says Sean Barrett, marketing manager with Murray Valley Pork. “We work together to communicate the same message: the best quality taste and experience when it comes to pork.” To this end, over the past 15 years Murray Valley Pork have invested heavily in addressing many concerns of consumers, from animal welfare to issues such as dryness, colour and pork taint, to create a better quality product. “There’s a cultural misconception that pork needs to be served well done, however more consumers are understanding this is not the case,” says Sean, who explains that they use a number of techniques including moisture infusion to ensure their pork doesn’t dry out from cooking. “It is easy to cook, which means everyone can produce a great result This guarantee of a soft, tender and delicious meal every time significantly increases consumer confidence in cooking pork.” Well-fed welfare Dr Rebecca Morrison, animal welfare programs manager at Rivalea, details how the company has also set the benchmark in providing the best care of their stock. “Rivalea commits to ‘care for every pig, every day’,” she says. “For instance, instead of pregnant sow stalls, our pregnant sows are now housed in social groups. This ensures that the sow is able to move freely within group housing and is able to perform natural social behaviours. More than half of our pigs are reared in straw-bedded housing systems. “Other programs include loose farrowing systems, group weaning of sows and environmental enrichment for animals. This humane treatment ensures the end product is of the highest quality.” It is these points that Manu believes will see pork continue to grow in the market and is the reason why he chose to work with the brand. “Murray Valley Pork produces the highest quality of meat,” he says. “They do this ethically and responsibly. And I love the consistency, sweetness and tenderness across all of their cuts.” Check out Manu's delicious pork recipes with our wine matching suggestions Pork, peas and asparagus risotto
Food
Christmas food and wine matching guide
Planning your Christmas Day feast shouldn’t be a chore, so to make it a breeze we’ve put together this easy to follow Christmas food and wine matching guide. Matching wine and food is as much about personal taste as anything else, and you may have your own family traditions, however some tried and tested pairings can be a good way to ensure your Christmas Day is one to remember. Read below for our tips and start planning your most delicious Christmas yet! Poultry Turkey If you were enjoying it entirely on its own, roast turkey would be one of the easiest ingredients in the world to match. You could drink your favourite white, red, rosé or even sparkling wine with it and it would work fine. When turkey is served with a number of different accompaniments it can be a little complex to match wines to. With full-flavoured, fruity, spicy stuffing, tart cranberry sauce and an array of vegetables there are a lot of different flavours to take in, so choose something full and fruity that can stand up to so many flavours. Turkey is medium weight so any white wine needs to have the body to match and this is why Chardonnay , Viognier and Pinot Gris are a great – all three are fuller-bodied dry whites with richer flavours. Turkey is also lower in fat (hence why it needs basting), so it needs a wine with bright fruit and low level of tannin. Smooth, fresh and juicy wines like Grenache, Shiraz Viognier and Pinot Noir make great partners or if you’re in the mood for bubbles try a Sparkling red! Chicken Oaked Chardonnay is a blissful match with a simple roast chicken and also a good choice if the chicken is seasoned with tarragon or served with a creamy sauce. If you have a slightly spicy stuffing or one with fruit like apricots in it, a rich white wine like Viognier is a good choice. As for reds, Pinot Noir is a good choice for chicken served with its own juices or with truffles, and the generous sweetness of a Grenache is perfect if the chicken is accompanied with a traditional meaty gravy. Goose If you’ve decided to serve goose rather than turkey this Christmas you’ve already decided to be adventurous. So you could arguably be adventurous with your choice of drink too. Goose is more strongly flavoured than turkey and is more like game but quite a bit fattier which means it’s essential to look for a wine that has a fair level of acidity. Pinot Noir offers a fantastic pairing, but select one with some sweet, silky fruit. Baked glazed ham Baked glazed ham has three things to contend with – the saltiness, the spice of the glaze, and the fat content. A sweet glaze needs a ripe and fruity wine with juicy fruit flavours to offset the saltiness of the ham.   Riesling with its lime cordial flavours, Rose´ with raspberry nuances or the lemon curd flavours of Semillon all work well (think of the classic ham and pineapple combination – salty and sweet). If you prefer reds choose wines with a lot of fruit and not too much tannin. Ripe reds like Merlot and Shiraz are plump and rich with red and black fruits that compliment the spice of the glaze and offset the salt. Seafood Citrus fruits are a natural accompaniment to seafood – the acidity offsets the richness of seafood and the sweetness compliments their delicate flavours. White wines such as Riesling , Semillon and Vermentino are all perfect matches because of their citrus flavours, mouth-watering and energetic acidity. Fresh prawns have a delicate flavour so the wine should simply act like a squeeze of lemon hence Semillon with its fine, piercing acidity and lemon flavour, is the perfect accompaniment. Young, crisp Vermentino goes well with so many fish dishes, as well as oysters, raw shellfish and cold, seafood antipasti. Dry Rieslings from the Clare and Eden Valley have a distinctive limey twist that makes them a particularly good match for spicy seafood dishes. Or why not serve an entrée of smoked salmon with Champagne or Sauvignon Blanc for a match made in heaven. Dessert Christmas pudding There is an argument that you don't need anything to drink with the classic Christmas pudding, especially if you've flamed it with brandy or served it with a brandy sauce, but if you fancy a small glass of something sweet and delicious, a dessert wine with a touch of orange or apricot such as late harvest or botrytis-affected wine make the perfect match. Mince pies Mince pies are very much like Christmas pudding and Christmas cake so you could drink much the same sort of wine with them. But tradition obviously plays a part in terms of what most people expect and they do pair particularly well with fortified wines like Tokay, sweet Sherry or Madeira. Trifle For a trifle with jelly, custard and cream, a sweeter style, spritzy wine perfect. If it is a classic Sherry trifle, depending on how much is already added to it, sherry is obviously an option.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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