Sweet and Sour Zonnebloem and the Umami Fairy

Krismis has come early for wine writers in 2012 as PR campaigns start including desirable goodies in wine dropoffs that keep hedonism’s hacks solvent in these times of shrinking word counts and vanishing column inches.  From Place in the Sun, a solar powered Consol glass tadpole jar to throw a ghostly glow at a new moon picnic on the upcoming shortest day of the year. Plus a bottle of robust 2011 Shiraz. From Zonnebloem, for whom solar power is also appropriate, the most delicious Grana Padana cheese, umami city, and a succulent 2010 Shiraz that I decided to drink, rather than trade.  At Simply Asia, with a sweet and sour beef stirfry. Totally delicious with bouncy ladyboy Thai pop.

20120619 192215 Sweet and Sour Zonnebloem and the Umami Fairy

The PR release is also more poetic than usual: “Given the time it’s taken to conceive and make, we thought you might like to take your time in savouring it with a few slices of 26-month aged Serrano-style air-dried ham, made by Jason Lucas in Prince Albert. That’s how long it needed to bring its densely layered flavours to the fore with the faintest touch of sweetness. And because we thought you might like to extend the pleasure, we’ve also included some 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano to nibble on while sipping the wine. It’s also hand-made, produced from the unpasteurised milk of grass or hay-fed cows and contains no additives. It has passed two summers, as the cheese makers like to say, and has reached the peak of its flavour with a complex fruity/nutty taste with a strong savoury character and a slightly gritty texture.”

The only thing missing is the terroir details of the cheese. For as the splendidly named Guardian food blogger Oliver Thring points out, terroir is the latest itch for foodies to scratch. From rhubarb grown in the magic Rhubarb Triangle in Yorkshire, from which loads comes out but none seems to go in, to the pungent white asparagus from northern Germany, production sites are suddenly in fashion. At least I have a cheesy lead: a telephone number for the umami fairy, The Real Cheese: 021 4488041/63.

20120619 194600 Sweet and Sour Zonnebloem and the Umami Fairy