Saturday, 14 August 2010

Prawn Saganaki and the Loss of a Vintage

As the tradition goes and due to Tim being at work, last night was another "Champagne Friday". Not sure where or when it started, but it did have something to do with Lost.
Anyway, recently having to sacrifice some potentially lovely vintages to the god of the sink following some very upsetting sherry tastes, a friend and I have decided not to save the posh stuff for special occasions (I don't know, the Pope visiting, or Daniel Craig/George Clooney/Brad Pitt turning up on the doorstep) but to drink and to experience the posh Champagne we've been hording for a couple of years since our last trip to Reims.
We had a rather posh 1995 Joseph Perrier "Josephine" cuvee, and either a Joseph Perrier Blanc de Blancs or Rose to go at, and we decided to try and team it with food that wouldn't detract from the champagne flavours.

1995 Joseph Perrier "Josephine"

Again, we are not pretending to know anything about food and wine matching, but the normal Friday night food of pizza, pringles and dip and cheese stuffed chilli type things probably wouldn't work with the vintage. After a quick google, we found that fish, seafood, cream and other lovely things were supposed to work with champagne (although the more you look into it, everything seems to go with it, and don't even ask about what goes with different vintages as opposed to blanc de blancs!). So here was another opportunity to cook the lovely version of Prawn Saganaki we found since returning from Crete.

While in Crete we were told by a very helpful waiter (more about him and the food over there when we get round to posting about it) that Saganaki means sauce, and that there are large and obvious differences between Cheese Saganaki and anything else Saganaki. Everything apart from Cheese Saganaki has, like the name suggests, a sauce.
We discovered Prawn Saganaki on our last day in Crete, and we're rather glad we didn't leave without trying it. It was lovely. Cheesy, tomatoey, with lovely large prawns. The setting was great too, this was eaten at the Blue Sea Restaurant in Elounda, on a jetty type arrangement, with the sea lapping below us.

Prawn Saganaki at Blue Sea Restaurant, Elounda
After loving this dish out in Crete I decided I would try and recreate it at home, and started by googling the recipe. The first that came up was this so I tried it. We also cooked the Stifado recipe from that site, and even though it was different that what we had tasted, somehow all the ingredients and flavours came through in the finished dish so we thought the Saganaki should be good too. The result was first tried out on the parents who enjoy food with flavour, and was a great success, so I thought it would work nicely for "Champagne Friday".
While it was in the oven, and the Josephine was chilling, we decided on the Blanc de Blancs. This was lovely, and re-affirmed our faith in that all our champagne that was bought a couple of years ago would not be of the sherry variety. It also re-affirmed our faith in the Joseph Perrier brand. We'd had a couple of bottles of the brut and vintage that hadn't been as good as we remembered, but this BdB was far nicer than any we'd tried before.
Joseph Perrier Blanc de Blancs
The Prawn Saganaki was done, so out of the oven, served with leaves and bread. This was different to the one from Crete, which had a smoother sauce, maybe blended, but we didn't really care!
I forgot to take pictures as soon as it came out, so the resulting few don't look as appetising as I'd hoped. But believe me, it tasted yummy.

Homemade Prawn Saganaki
The Josephine. Well. The cork popped - we have perfected the art of opening without a pop, and therefore no potential wastage. That was the first sign. Then the cork was rather brown at the end. The second sign. And didn't expand. the Third sign. We are, rather upsettingly, used to certain signs of off champagne.
The wine did have the sherry smell, and a slight sherry taste, but after a while - and a few mouthfuls this went away. We were very disappointed as this had been waiting to be drunk for a year since a 30th birthday party, (sorry 28th ;-)). We don't feel we can comment on the taste etc as we don't think, sorry we know, that it wasn't supposed to taste like this. After a period of grieving for the Lost Vintage, we did decide to finish it! And as with most champagnes, no hangover the morning after.
Moral to the story, champagne is to be drunk, not kept for a special occasion that may never happen.

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