Middle East meets Portugal on the table

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Where in the world does the Middle East and Portugal meet? I found out at a recent food and wine paring dinner held at the Tambourin located at the Villa Rosa Kempinski in Nairobi.

I have always liked Middle Eastern Cuisine but never had this kind of food with wine – Portuguese wine. When I think of Portugal it’s always the beautiful landscapes. And now, it will be the wine these produce as well.

At the Tambourin the lights were dim, there was soft music and a very chilled out crowd of mixed nationalities about to experience the evening.

This four course dinner was not just paired up with ordinary wine but the best Portuguese wine. Brought by UVA Wines, which is fairly new in the already competitive Kenyan market that has a lot of South African wines.

Before the adventure started, we were introduced to Sommelier Juan Ignacio Cambil who was to take us through the different wines and cuisines that we would have.

We started off with the 1st course which was Pan seared Norwegian Scallopes with beetroot hummus, tabbouleh and elderflower vinaigrette. The Scallopes were made for this. They were beautifully placed on the plate. The wine that was paired with this was the JP Azeitao white which I found to have a fruity aroma but went well with the Scallopes.

You cannot have middle eastern food without a belly dancer: We were graced by the resident belly dancer and boy was she flexible. She made her movements look so easy, but I was in no shape to even give it a try. I would have broken or twisted something.

For the 2nd course we had Roulade of Chicken leg marinated with yoghurt, lemon and garlic, served with Arabic lentils and olive oil foam. This was perfectly plated and the wine paired was an irresistible 2016 Ton Duorum Duoro which is from the Golden Duoro Valley. I found that its crisp citrus flavours and acidity balanced well with the yoghurt.

The 3rd on the menu Ouzi which is slow cooked leg of lamb with goat cheese pine nut crust, pearl barley and tomatoes confit with oregano jus was paired with Marques De Borba . I have to say , at the start of the event I was wondering if the chef was being stingy with food but I didn’t even realize just how stuffed I was by the time we got to the lamb. Also I’m not a huge fan of lamb but I had to give it a try for culture’s sake – If such a thing even exists.

The 4th and final course Roz Bel Laban, which was the desert from milk, rice, sugar, and rose water served with crispy Kunafa was paired up with Moscatel De Setubal. I have to say that I felt as if I was having a dose of nectar as the wine was sweet and had a mixture of fruit aroma, strong on orange raisins and a bit of citrus. This was served in a little wine glass as you could not have so much of it. I found it intensely sweet for me but I think this would be amazing with dark chocolate. They would complement each other.

The belly dancer came out a few times and sadly it was the end of the evening. An evening that was enjoyable and different, I made new friends , learnt a number of things and had a great adventure. Was not disappointed at all and I now look forward to more interesting food pairings. This one I found simply unique.


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