Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Gingerbread wrecks: New Year's Eve champagne matching

My New Year's Eve menu was developed during a pleasurably drunken afternoon with Matt Day, who runs an Italian cookery school and represents Mumm champagne. I'm glad he told me all the technical stuff at the beginning. By the third bottle it was like devising a menu with Noel Fielding while embarking on a three day LSD bender; fantastical matches which turned out to be not so practical for real life.
For example;
Matt: "I know, why don't you give an ostrich egg to each guest and make them eat fondue out of it"
Me: "Genius!" Peers at glass, wonders how much 30 Ostrich eggs would cost "What am I drinking now? Hic!"
Matt: "Yeah and give each table a big sparkly hammer so that they can smash the gingerbread house to pieces at the end of the meal"

This last suggestion has been taken on board however and I spent three days making a village, or perhaps a favela, of gingerbread houses. It wasn't easy. My advice: straight walls, light roofs, proper right angles, make construction less jerry-built. Also you will need far more icing sugar to stick it all together than you can possibly imagine. Buy at least five boxes. You will spend a good deal of time holding things together with your fingers waiting for the icing to dry and propping up the walls with different height tin cans and glasses.
The windows were easy: place a clear coloured boiled sweet in the window opening as you bake: it will melt into and attach itself to the gingerbread. I spent £30 (pause for childhood nostalgic sigh of happiness) on sweets and biscuits and also made little gingerbread allotments with fairy mushrooms, sour cherries as plants and crumbled up ginger cake as the earth. Lollipops can be trees.

Matt suggested matches from an uber scientific 'gaschromatograph' machine as to what foods go best with Mumm champagne. This is the resulting menu:

Non-vintage Mumm de Cramant. Yes it's the cremant from Cramant. (I think I'm making a wine joke there).
This matches well with cauliflower.
-Creme de choufleur soup with seared scallops and Riofrio caviar (blue cheese roundels for veggies)

Mumm Cordon Rouge. The red sash around the bottle represents the houses links with the legionnaires. this is non-vintage too (now remember, I said in this post, that non-vintage is not a bad thing, in fact, in Champagne it is the 'expression of the house style')

Tests show that this matches well with sweet corn. 
-Roasted sweet corn with flavoured butters (lime and piquillo pepper, maple, olive, truffle)

Mumm Rosé. This is a blend between a red and white wine. Der! You might say, but rosé in champagne is not a lightweight girly choice, it's heavier and more powerful than a still wine rosé. With still wine, it's illegal to blend red and white wine, so the white juice is macerated in the skins of the red grapes. 

This marries well with exotic fruits, game, fish, coconut milk, chilli.
-Tuna steak with a watermelon, papaya and strawberry and basil salsa ( Seared Portobella mushrooms for veggies)

2002 G.H. Mumm. This year had a warm spring, a hot summer punctuated with rain and a long dry autumn which produced very healthy grapes. It goes great with food.

Matches with cheeses, oily fish, butter.
Langres fondue with Marmite soldiers

Mumm Demi-sec. This has a heavier 'dosage' at 44g of sugar per litre.

This 'dessert' champagne allies with ginger, fruits poached in cognac,heavy sugar icing, dried fruits.
-Poached pears with creme fraiche and gingerbread wrecks.


  1. we made a gingerbread copy of our Parish church the other year- it took 2 weeks!! We had to throw it away rather than eat as we had it on display for so long!!

  2. What a fantastic labour of love - I particularly like the chocolate fingers on the roof. Impressive stuff!

  3. Love the gingerbread houses, though making them completely by hand is quite the challenge... Sounds like a delicious menu and a fun time coming up with it too.. Happy New Year!

  4. Well done, lovely houses. Always impressed with those that make them - I just admire from a distance. Hope all goes well.

    Happy New Year

  5. That menu looks so good and the gingerbread houses look incredible. There will be gingerbread flying everywhere once people start on them with their hammers, if they can bear to (and I bet they can).

  6. Kerstin, I know it's off-topic for this post, but just wanted to say my next trip to England MUST be timed to attend your underground restaurant! (I've always known The English can cook--my mother was a world-class cook.)

  7. Oh what fun! I love the houses and what champagne. Good work :)

    I missed a couple of mumm sessions with the chromatograph thingy as IU was away. Shame as it appealed to the scientist, and er drinker in me ;)

  8. Thanks for the comments everyone!
    I think next time I will do gingerbread council flats, a gingerbread DSS office, gingerbread Lidl, gingerbread crack hos!
    Niamh: it was totally worth going, very interesting day.


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