Here's my entry for the First Combinations challenge: Baked Mackerel with Rhubarb Sauce. I couldn't find fresh mackerel anywhere near Memphis, so I decided to substitute rainbow trout fillets. I wanted to use young whole rainbow trout, but one of my regular supply lines dried up. And I had the damnedest time finding cider, so I'll start with that image. I drank a lot of hard cider (as we call it in the states) back in the late 90s, which is when it was really first introduced in this market. That coincided nicely with my turning 21. I was particularly fond of the Woodchuck Granny Smith Draft Cider. But I stopped drinking it at some point, and haven't touched the stuff since. Hey, there's been too much good beer and wine that's come my way recently. Anyway, I picked up a six pack of Hornsby's Cider, bottled by the Gallo wine conglomerate. I had a bottle this afternoon and loved it. Great apple flavor without being sweet or having that vinegar flavor that I grew to despise in hard cider way back when.
Here's how the meal turned out... Instead of boiled potatoes, I chose to make roasted eighths of new potatoes tossed in butter and fresh rosemary from the kitchen garden. Joining me for this dinner was my longtime friend and fellow blogger Paul. The sauce looked a little limp, but was quite flavorful, and I'm pretty sure this is the first time that I've ever eaten rhubarb. Yeah, I've gobbled up baby octopus and have eaten plenty of live ants, but somehow I never got around to rhubarb. The trout turned out OK in my opinion; I think it would have been better pan-fried or grilled, and I'm sure that this baking method was much more suited to the gutted mackerel than a mostly flat fillet. However, it was all eaten and enjoyed, and the dogs circled the table hungrily.
And now for the wine... This afternoon I wandered through the wine shop, looking for something appropriate. I could have gone with a tried and true favorite, but I really enjoy trying a new bottle. So I'm walking along, thinking I'd like an interesting white blend, and what do I find? A wine with my first name on it. (Yes, I'm a Benjamin, Benito is just a nickname.) Thus my wine of choice for this dinner was the 2002 Hill of Content "Benjamin's Blend" from the Margaret River region of Western Australia. Plus, Barbara's from around there, so I figured karma was on my side. The wine is a mix of 50% Chardonnay, 39% Sauvignon Blanc, and 11% Semillon, all unoaked. The wine is all about the peaches: on the nose and on the tongue and on the aftertaste. A nice wine to drink cold with a hearty bit of seafood, and a good bargain at $15. It matched well with the fish--the forward fruit and balanced acidity provided a counter to the sometimes fatty fish, and yet it complemented the sweet rhubarb sauce going along. The roasted potatoes mainly cleansed the palate between fruit explosions.