I absolutely adore ducks; I’ve nibbled on their webs and sucked on their tongues in Chinese palaces. I’ve even eat their livers “with some fava beans and a nice Chianti” in Italian cucinas.
Just about any way that you want to slice, cook and serve them to me, I love them.
As wine-food goes, duck is just about the perfect protein from its skin, legs, breasts, liver; whether fat and juicy or lean and gamey, rich or spicy, tender or crispy. You can coat them in salt-cake and herbs, flay them and wrap their skin in little Chinese crepes, cover them with pastry in a terrine, you can stuff their innards into little pockets of Ravioli pasta, smoke them whole in tea leaves or, smear their breasts and thighs in sauces made from cepes, l’Orange, plums, figs, quinces, Gaeng Phed Yang (Thai Red Curry), Hoi Sin, Szechuan peppers even chocolate in one famous Belgium restaurant.
I love them all.
When enjoying an exceptional red Burgundy, with its almost sweet initial burst of ripe cherry and wild strawberry flavours and complex mid-palate of forest floor spices and earthy, gamey qualities, I find few dishes bring out the best in it more than a rich and juicy Magret de Canard, particularly when matched with figs or fruity sauces.
With a more savory duck confit I move over to Bordeaux, particularly the right bank of the Gironde with its Merlots and Merlot blends, namely from Pommerol and Saint Emillion, with their creamy, forest berry flavours and fine silky, velvet like tannins .
When spicing my duck up Asian style with peppers, chilies and curries, I look to New World Pinot Noir, careful to select only from the best regions in California, Oregon, Washington State in the United States, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland in Australia, Martinborough and Central Otago in New Zealand or the Bio Bio Valley in the Andes of Chile.
With one of dining’s ultimate joys, Peking duck, I go back to Burgundy, the northern end in particularly and the subtle, refined elegance of a fruity Clos de la Roche or Chambolle-Musigny.
Duck terrines and duck liver pate are pure joy, particularly when matched with a slightly spicy, off-dry Pinot Gris from Alsace whereas with foie gras I am a traditionalist and adore every opportunity to match it with a stunning, sweet, white Bordeaux from Sauternes or Barsac -culinary serendipity.
Oh, and finally, for the gelatinous texture of duck web and the crunchy cartilage of duck tongue, I find a dry, yet fruity rose washes it all down just beautifully.
In early November, Rougie, (one of Frances finest produces of Canard) are sending chef and culinary advisor Jocelyn Deumie to team up with Sofitel Chief Executive chef Sakal Phoeung and create a special one-off dinner, exploring the magnificent ‘delights- de-canard. I get to do the wine matching, I’m in gastronomic heaven, I can hardly wait!