When you come to Argentina, you ought to leave your Dr. Atkins book at home. This is the land of wine, beef and bread. And while you have your Malbec and steak pairing nailed, have you put enough thought into what bread you are serving with wine?
Bread is a serious matter, and it too deserves the same attention any food and wine pairing requires. To get to the heart of the matter, I went to Francis Mallmann’s renowned 1884 restaurant to speak to Head Sommelier Daniela Fernandez and Head Chef Orlando Diaz Masa about pairing bread and wine. Now while Daniela stresses that “the concept of Francis Mallmann is that you have the choice to enjoy whichever wines you enjoy with your food” rather than convince people to drink a certain wine with certain foods, there are some wines that work better with certain breads. However with five different breads being served throughout the evening at Mallmann you can play with the pairings yourself as you change courses and glasses (or bottles) of wine. When thinking of bread pairings Daniela recommends thinking about the flavor, how unctuous it is, and its texture.
I’ll be breaking down some of Argentina’s top breads into a series of bread blogs. This is installment numero tres: Pan Cremona.
This unusual bread is pretty special to Argentina, and above all in Cordoba. A traditional Argentine bread made in the hojaldre (or puff pastry method) which comes from the Arab tradition in Spanish cooking of dough folded into layer upon layer with a thin spread of animal fat (or you can use butter or olive oil) and rolled out each time. Orlando folds over their dough five times before placing it in the clay oven where the outside goes nice and flaky and the inside is a “soft explosion of dough” in his words.
The layer upon layer effect gives it a wonderful texture and also a much richer flavor from the beef dripping which enables it to stand up to a good red. Daniela picks a young Escorihuela Gascon Malbec to pair as the acidity and tannins cut the fat content and give you a cleaner fruity finish. Sparkling wine too has a fun textural play with the bread, although you may want to pick up a more aged Blanc de Noir bubbly to hold up to the stronger flavors of the bread.
“This is our traditional bread from Argentina - it's a cultural thing,” explains Daniela, “so we eat it with wine, with maté, with coffee, with everything!” Pairings are often very cultural, for example empanadas in Salta are paired with Torrontes while in Mendoza you’ll pair them with Malbec. And this bread could be paired with many different beverages during the day, including wines at night.
However you choose to pair, enjoy!
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist who makes her own bread and butter by drinking wine around the country. Actually …she spends her bread and butter on wine.