A Cheese and Wine is often used to describe a cocktail party where a glass of wine and an array of canapés or a buffet of snacks – and usually a wide variety of cheese – are served. And while your favourite glass of wine and a few delicious cheeses on a platter, may sound like a dream come true on a Friday evening, wine and cheese can often be each other’s worst enemy!
Rules for wine and cheese pairing are quite tricky. Not only are there countless variables to consider – the variety of the cheese, how mature it is, the type and style of wine, the serving temperature, etc. – but some cheese and wine combinations will just never work.
South African authority on Food and Wine Pairing, Katinka van Niekerk, says, “…there’s still much to be said for serving a board or platter of mixed cheeses with its enticing variety of aromas, textures and tastes, but finding a wine to accompany a selection of widely differing cheeses is not possible”. If you would like to have a wine and cheese combination that works, her advice is to choose your wine and then select a cheese that works with it or otherwise first pick your favourite cheese and then find a wine that complements it.
One cheese and wine combination that will probably never let you down, is Sauvignon Blanc and Goat’s Cheese. Try this recipe for Ravioli with Wild mushrooms and Goat’s milk cheese from our Cape Winelands Cuisine cookbook and pair it with our 2014 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc.
Recipe for Ravioli with Wild Mushrooms and Goat’s milk cheese (p. 177)
Persian-Arabian pasta recipes were also known in Spain, but it was the Italians who experimented with the recipes and exported the use of pasta to France. The Italian cooks started to fold pieces of meat or vegetables into pasta dough strips, which they then fried in fat. According to Anne Willan (Great Cooks and Their Recipes), they called this dish rabiole, which means ‘leftovers’ in the Ligurian dialect. In the recipes of the Italian chef Martino (1474), pieces of pasta dough were filled with spiced meat, which were then cooked in saffron water. He called this dish ravioli and served it with cheese and cinnamon sugar. In his cookbook Opera (1570), the Italian chef Scappi gave a variation on pasta dough that contained eggs. Today, eggs are mainly used when preparing pasta dough for cooking ravioli.
The Dutch, who traded in the Mediterranean, took these Italian recipes to the Netherlands, where they developed their own fillings. Proof of this development is a ravioli recipe with a cheese filling that appears in Thomas van der Noot’s cookbook (1510). These recipes also made their way to the Cape when the Dutch settled here.
2 Tbsp (30ml) olive oil
1 Tbsp (15ml) butter
500 g mixed field mushrooms or brown mushrooms
2 gloves garlic
1 knob fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp (15 ml) chopped fresh oregano
¼ cup (60 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup (125 ml) goat chèvre cheese
1 spring onion, chopped
¼ quantity pasta dough*
beaten egg or water, for brushing
chopped spring onions and grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
olive oil or melted butter, for drizzling
Heat a frying pan, add the oil, brown the butter and sauté the mushrooms, garlic and ginger.
Strain the fat and season the mushrooms with salt, pepper and oregano.
Mix through the cheese and spring onion and mould the mixture into 80 g balls.
Roll out the pasta on a lightly floured surface into two 5 cm wide x 1 cm long strips. Place the first strip on a floured surface, brush lightly with egg or water and place the mushroom balls at 5 cm intervals.
Place the second pasta sheet on top and gently press over the mushroom mixture. Remove all the air around the mushroom ball.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out the ravioli. Cut the paste 1 – 2 cm larger than the mushroom ball and squeeze the edges gently to prevent it from opening.
Place in boiling water for a minute or two until cooked. A good indication that they are done is when they float to the surface.
Serve sprinkled with spring onions, freshly grated Parmesan and good olive oil or melted butter.
*Recipe for Pasta dough
Makes 900 g
500 g ‘OO’ pasta flour or finest quality cake flour
1 Tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) iced water
Mix all the ingredients together to make a firm dough and knead for 5 minutes.
Refrigerate for 1 hour before use.