10 December: Tokaji Aszú Day!
Trivet, London: lobster, sweetbread and other food pairings from “the outside of the box”
Though the unforgettable sweet Tokaj lunch in London’s Trivet restaurant took place in October, probably it is the first time you can see the official photos of all the mind blowing food pairings. Isa Bal Master Sommelier and Jonny Lake chef really understand what it means to think out of the box – in fact a lobster with Tokaji Aszú is really far from the box of blue cheese and desserts!
(If you need to refresh your knowledge about Tokaji Aszú, read Caroline Gilby MW’s lesson on Decanter.com.)
Sweet flight – if it works, it rules
It was almost 20 years ago, when I was invited to Jerez and among the diverse programmes it was kind of obligatory to participate in the sherry lunches. Five courses daytime accompanied with 5 fortified wines, most of them sweet. I considered it an attempt of murder in the heat of May in the south of Spain. I survived, what is more, it was one of the most memorable lunches in my life.
Since then I know, you have to get rid of your prejudices when it comes to sweet wines. Sweet wines are tricky, they can be boring and flat, but if they are great, they will conquer the whole audience gloriously.
Apparently, the latest conquer happened in October in London, when Wines of Hungary UK (led by Zsuzsa Toronyi, a missionary with infinite energies) and Agricultural Marketing Centre conducted a Tokaji Aszú lunch for the trade and press of the UK. Can you imagine 5 courses with only sweet wines above 180 g / l residual sugar? And can you imagine that it was refreshing, invigorating and unforgettable? Well, if you can’t, listen to the experts!
Lobster in a spicy nage
Paired with Barta Öreg Király Aszú 2016 and Royal Tokaji Gold Label 2016
After the “warming up” activity, some snack of mangalitza ham with Patricius and Juliet Victor Tokaji Aszús, the first course was lobster with citrusy flavours (lime and lemongrass). Tamlyn Currin, wine writer of JancisRobinson.com participated in the lunch, and she considered Royal Tokaji too tropical, too dense, too much, it overwhelmed the dish, while Barta was a better choice: “Barta, despite having considerably more residual sugar, was piercingly fine, very racy, almost as delicate as the lobster. It made an exquisite pairing. Perhaps one of the best pairings of the whole meal.”
Crispy veal sweetbreads, wild herb and kombu salad
Paired with Hétszőlő Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos 2017 and Zsirai Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos 2013.
Here – according to Tamlyn Currin – both wines were great with the dish. Hétszőlő Aszú made of 100% Hárslevelű lifted the dense food with the sweet jus. “The Zsirai, with very slightly higher acidity but tasting of orange marmalade on dark-toasted rye bread and pecans in cooked-orange syrup and even a little smoky, synchronised with the dish in a totally different way. Instead of lifting the dish, it echoed the flavour notes, like two tenors singing the same song together. The wine and the food seemed to melt into each other, lines blurred, boundaries lost.”
Pigeon and Persimmon
Paired with Sauska Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos 2003 and Füleky Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos 2007
Edit Szabó, editor-in-chief and owner of Borsmenta.hu, a Hungarian food and wine online magazine refers to this course as the peak of the whole meal. The Tokaji Aszú wines here were mature and complex with inevitable notes of ageing. The Sauska Aszú celebrated its 18th birthday, yet fresh and persisting. I can’t do anything but to quote Tamlyn again: “When tasted with the food, the two seemed to take each other’s intensity to a new depth, almost as if daring each other to go higher, longer, deeper, bolder. The texture of the wine gave extra grip to the textures of the dish.”
Roquefort, Colston Basset Stilton, Époisses
Paired with Chateau Dereszla Tokaji Aszú 5 puttonyos 2017 and Megyer Tokaji Dry Szamorodni 2011
Isa Bal MS initiated some game here: he proposed the guests to taste the sweet Aszú first (with 169 g/l residual sugar) and then the dry Szamorodni, which was the only dry wine of the menu with only 2 g/l residual sugar. According to Tamlyn Currin Dereszla Aszú was “simply heavenly with the Roquefort”, while the Szamorodni and the Stilton “were a stunning combination.”
Paired with Patricius Tokaji Eszencia 2000
The estate manager of Patricius, Dr. Péter Molnár was present at the lunch and he gave a wonderful introduction to Tokaj. It was a shiny crown put on to have his heavenly wine at the end of this splendid menu. The spoon in the photo is on purpose: Tokaji Eszencia is even richer in sugar than a Tokaji Aszú, it is the “nectar” in the lyrics of the Hungarian anthem, a natural sweet wine in case of Patricius with 618 g/l residual sugar! As Tamlyn wrote, it was an “all-body experience”: “Just dipping the tip of your tongue in it is almost enough. It’s almost impossible to sip. It was a genius combination.”
Today is Aszú Day. If you haven’t tried any, you can taste it at Trivet – since the above described fabulous lunch the restaurant offers Tokaji Aszú by the glass!
Watch a short video about the lunch