As part of our quest to visit as many supperclubs and underground tearooms that we can, we continued this year with a trip to Cafe Nouveau at Home based in Huddersfield, for the cake and wine matching event. Cafe Nouveau is run by Marie-Claire who has become a firm foodie friend this past year. Marie-Claire is a self proclaimed baker obsessive who loves to bake every night! She bakes and decorates beautiful cakes for all occasions as well as running this monthly tearoom from her pretty home.
Those of you who know me will be aware of my sometimes ‘grumpy’ attitude to afternoon tea. As pleasant as it is, sometimes all I want is a decent meal at a ‘proper’ time. Having said that my recent forays into afternoon tea have been glamorous and fulfilling, so I take it all back!
At Marie-Claire’s we were invited to walk straight in through the front door without knocking. On arrival everyone else was already sat down around the large dining table that was groaning under the weight of delicious treats and vintage china. Martin, Marie-Claire’s husband was quick to take our drinks orders. A delightful array of choice was on offer and so I opted for a spiced masala chai, which is quickly becoming a firm favourite of mine. It was served in a fun, Danish device that was a bit like a wine carafe.
We were invited to start with the savouries, which were sandwiches of Wensleydale and carrot, BLT and an open sandwich of poached salmon. These were dainty and tasty and beautiful to look at it. Other savouries were mini sausage rolls and an onion tart. The tart had lovely crispy and chewy pastry. The sausage rolls had a nice spice and garlicy taste. They provoked debate about what they should be called with some feeling they were too dainty for the robust working class title of ‘sausage roll’. I thought that was tosh though!
Next up were some light and fluffy fruit scones with jam and gooey clotted cream, lovely! Then we started to be introduced to the main event of the day – a selection of handbaked cakes all paired with a different glass of wine. Rob and his wife of the eponymous Hoults Wine were in attendance and had carefully picked a wine for each cake. This was no mean feat as cake is well suited to sweet dessert wines but Marie-Claire was clear that she wanted ‘normal’ wines to be paired to the sugary treats.
First up was a strawberries and cream cake. The fruitiness of this cake was paired with a sparkling pinot noir rose. They were a perfect match, bringing out each other’s light freshness – a good summer combo. Next up was a vanilla cupcake. There was much discussion about how hard it had been to find a wine that suited the intense sweetness of the buttercream, but success was found in a Niento Senetiner Torrontes from Argentina. The richness of the wine stood up to the buttercream and was delightful.
Now it was time for an apple and cinnamon crumble cake, which was a family recipe for Marie-Claire. The wine it was paired with was my favourite – a Sables and Galets Gewurztraminer from Austria. This was so rich, you wouldn’t be able to drink more than a couple of glasses. But in terms of using it as a complex pair it was truly exciting. Our final pairing was a decadent gateaux opera that Marie Claire had perfected at a Betty’s cookery class that I hope to do this summer. The coffee and chocolate notes in this were paired with a Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz from Australia. This was not my cup of tea at all. I do like red wine but this was too smoky and savoury for me. I could imagine the cake working with another red wine though.
Just as everyone was groaning about how full they were the salted caramel macarons were whipped out! These were stunning. They were so perfectly made I was convinced that Marie-Claire had bought them in! She was full of tips about how to get them right, including leaving your egg whites out for a few days before using them. Anyway an Austrian dessert wine was brought out for this. I liked the macarons and I liked the wine – just not together!
A great afternoon was had in the end. I admit I was not on my best form as I was in the process of cramming for a job interview the next day and was using the tea as respite! It was a delight to visit Marie-Claire’s lovely listed home and sample her delicious baked treats. I learnt a lot about the wine, but in a relaxed and informal environment. A secret dining success!
To find out more about the wines served that day, have a look at Marie-Claire’s wine pairing list