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Mar 26, 2010 08:05 PM

"port night" menu check please

I have 10 people coming over tomorrow for 'port night'. We are going to sample some different ports. I am told tawny port goes best with chocolate and nuts and vintage port goes best with blue cheeses so we are going to test the theory. We have 4 ports to try and two full bodies wines that are said to go well with either. Here is what I plan to serve:
almonds and pistachios
pear and stilton crostini (stilton mixed with brandy and walnuts heaped on a slice of baguette with a slice of pear and placed under the broiler for a minute)
2 other blue cheeses from the cheese shop yet to be selected
home made baguettes
dark chocolate truffles
flourless chocolate cake
decaf and regular coffee

I usually make too much food so I am trying to keep this simple. Mostly we are going to sit around and drink but I want to make sure I have foods to compliment the wines. What do you think? Should I add another cheese appy? a second cake?

Everyone coming likes port and blue cheese. I have one person who can not have any cheese but she is happy with cake and chocolate...wondering what I can come up for her that is savory maybe? but simple. Maybe just some procuitto and melon? Also one diabetic but I have a recipe for truffles made with Splenda that I'm going to try.

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  1. Can I come? This sounds awesome.

    I am no sommelier, but I don't think that the ideal pairings for vintage vs tawny will be very different.

    If your guests aren't expecting "dinner," I think your menu looks great as is. It will certainly be enough food, even if they don't eat dinner. I wouldn't add anything.

    Melon and prosciutto is a little iffy....though prosciutto itself would probably be a reasonable pairing. Perhaps a real sommelier will chime in.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jeremyn

      Yes!!! Get a plane ticket and stop by! I love having company. Im in vancouver long will it take you to get here?

      I think you are right about the melon and proscuitto....I was trying to think of a meat thing instead of cheese. Not sure what to offer. Maybe some olives but that doesn't seem right with port. cured meats maybe

      1. re: julesincoq

        hmm, I'm near Denver. Maybe I could swing it -- the time change is in my favor. I bet the snow at Whistler is better than it is here...

        Cured meats sounds good, but I'd avoid anything super-fatty (somehow I think prosciutto would work, however).

        I would consider reducing the brandy to a syrup. Or better yet, a port syrup! I'm not necessarily worried about the pairing -- I think it will work fine as you've planned it -- but I think it would make the dish pretty if you drizzled it on at the end.

    2. You probably already know that Port, because it's a fortified wine, is best served at about room temperature - somewhere in the range of 65 - 68 degrees. What you have listed, except for the baguettes (unless they're simply a vehicle for transporting the cheese) looks pretty good. For the Port tasting, I would include nuts, dark and milk chocolate, Blue cheese, Stilton cheese, bread and/or rice pudding, perhaps a flan and even something like a pecan or chocolate pie, chocolate fudge, and maybe some brownies.
      I would not do the Stilton mixed with brandy and walnuts, etc. The brandy will fight with the flavor of the Port and I don't believe that competition does justice for the Port.
      I can't think of anything "savory" that pairs with port. A pork loin with a sweet glaze and the traditional seasonings is about as close as I'd go to pair "savory" dishes with Port. Procuitto? IMHO, never with Port.
      Diabetics are usually strickly forbidden to drink alcoholic beverages. Port violates two principles (sugar and alcohol - a sugar) so if the guest is strickly following a controlled diabetic diet there is little on the menu that he/she could safely consume. That said, many diabetics control their blood sugar by "dosing" with insulin and if that's the case it probably won't matter what you have on the menu.

      2 Replies
      1. re: todao

        I think a small amount of reduced brandy could work, as long as it is a minor component.

        I like all of your other suggestions except pecan pie. To my palate, the sweetness would be too much.

        1. re: todao

          Yup got the room temp bit. And Yes you are right the baguette is a cheese delivery device (and an excuse to bake bread and make the house smell good). I think the darck chocolate flourless cake will be good. I have another dark chacolate cake with ganache I might just make too since I just feel like baking. I hadn't planned to do any milk chocolate only dark - but maybe I should do so dark and milk truffles.

          The appy is about 4oz os stilton with only 1 tbsp brandy and some walnuts and wee bit of butter to soften it. I don't think the brandy flavour will be too strong.... but I will taste it and think about what you said about competing with the port. I think the dominant flavour is the stilton so It will be ok.

          This all started because I read an article about vintage and tawny port and what goes best with it and decided to put it to the test. This should be fun!

        2. I ended up doing the 'dark moist chocolate cake" from epicurious (flourless cake) it was a bit smushy. But I also did a chocolate cake with ganache that was excellent. Mycheeses and nuts were great. My stilton and brancy appy was perfect. The brancy taste was so mild and vintage port is such a strong flavour it would be hard to overwhelm it. It was a perfect appy. The port was really good. And I can honestly say that vinage port does go best with blue cheese and tawny goes very well with chocolate....and I can also say that after you have tried both, you can mix em up and it all tastes pretty good. My coffee turned out well too (non - coffee drinker learning to make coffee). The coffee drinkers were pretty happy. Mind you they were also drunk and I put grand marnier in their they were happy anyway. :-)

          1. Yum! Your gathering sounds delicious and fun!