Swiss Wine: Oeil de Perdrix

The sun has been shining and summer is here so, after previously exploring a couple of the Swiss white and red grapes, I decided it was time for me to sample some Swiss rosé. Oeil de Perdrix is a rosé made from pinot noir. The name means eye of the partridge and is a reference to its pink colour (apparently partridges’ eyes turn pink when they are killed – not the nicest thing to name your wine after!).

While Oeil de Perdrix is now a protected AOC wine (it can only be made in Neuchâtel, Geneva, Vaud or Valais), it actually originated up in the champagne region. Prior to inventing the methode champenoise, the regions attempts at making white wine from red grapes resulted in pale pink wines which were referred to as vin gris or Oeil de Perdrix. When Dom Pérignon later worked out how to make truly white (and sparkly!) wine from the red grapes the Champenoise stopped making Oeil de Perdrix, however somehow the technique travelled to Neuchatel and was adopted there.

These days Oeil de Perdrix is a dry wine made with free run juices and with very little contact between the skin and the juice. While Neuchâtel is it’s spiritual home (it was originally only produced there), the two I tried were from elsewhere in the Swiss Romande: one from Peissy in Geneva and one from Valais.

First up was a 2012 bottle from Les Perrieres, in Peissy Geneva (CHF12)

Les Perrieres Oeil de Perdrix

Les Perrieres Oeil de Perdrix

For a rosé wine with very little skin contact (6-12 hours) this was more of an orangey salmon pink than the delicate pale wine I would have expected. It had very few legs (surprising at 13%) and a fruity nose of apricot and apple.

Les Perrieres Oeil de Perdrix in the glass

Les Perrieres Oeil de Perdrix in the glass

This was a very acidic wine which greatly improved with some food. At first there was very little flavour, juts the acidic and a hint of minerarlity, however with food the fruit became more apparent and the wine a little rounder and softer. Not a bad wine, but not something I would want to drink too much of by itself.

The next Oeil de Perdrix I tried was a 2012 bottle from Cave Saint George in Valais (CHF11.95 from Manor) which had won a best of Swiss wines award.

Cave Saint George Oeil de Perdrix

Cave Saint George Oeil de Perdrix

This was an even darker colour than the Geneva bottle, an extremely deep pink. Again, despite being 13% there were no legs to speak of, however there did seem to be the tiniest hint of fizz, a little “spritz” which was interesting. Swirling the glass revealed fresh aromas of peach and citrus.

Cave Saint George Oeil de Perdrix in the glass

Cave Saint George Oeil de Perdrix in the glass

Again this was a very dry acidic wine with a mineral flavour, however it had a fruiter sweeter finish than the Les Perriers bottle making it more suitable for an aperitif. It was quite a rich full wine and worked well with a spicy dish I was enjoying.

These were both very dry and sharp wines and while they were a little too acidic for me by themselves, they were both lovely with food. I’m intrigued by the story and origins of Oeil de Perdrix and I’m going to keep my eye out now for a Neuchâtel bottle to try as well.

Balcony Produce and Beautiful Blueberries

In addition to enjoying cooking and eating food, since I moved out to France (and finally had a bit of an outdoor space) I’ve also been enjoying attempting to grow some food.  Not everything has been successful (so far this year my pumpkin and my spinach have been utter failures) but it’s great fun to try things out and see what will work.  I think there’s something really special about eating food you’ve nurtured and watched grow.

This year I’ve had a go at growing some nice purple aubergines.  It’s been a bit hit and miss (several of the flowers and one small aubergine went mouldy for no apparent reason and fell off) but the plant did finally produce two smallish but edible aubergines.  They had stopped growing a little while ago and so this past weekend I decided it was finally time to pick and eat them!

I decided to make baked aubergine, butter beans and tomatoes as this meant I could also use some of my home grown tomatoes and thyme – a real celebration of my balcony produce.  I have to say that as nice as this dish is with shop bought ingredients it was particularly special for having spent so long waiting for both the aubergines and tomatoes to be ready.

Produce from my garden for my baked aubergine, butter beans and tomato dish

Produce from my garden for my baked aubergine, butter beans and tomato dish

Blueberries are in season right now and there are plenty of them grown around this region so I thought I’d have a go at making something with them.  Rather than a traditional blueberry tart, the form in which I normally consume blueberries, I thought I’d try something a bit different and decided to have a go at making a blueberry pavlova.

I had never tried to incorporate some fruit into the meringue itself before but I thought it could be interesting so the plan I settled on was blueberry meringue, topped with blueberry crème and fresh blueberries.   A bit of a blueberry overload!

This was a bit of an experiment for me and I was really pleased with how it all turned out!  The meringues browned quite a lot in the outside but were a gorgeous purple hue once you cut into them.  The only problem I had was that my whipped cream melted in the heat so they looked a little flatter than I would have liked, but they tasted divine.  If you fancy having a go the recipe is posted here.

The remains of a blueberry pavlova

The remains of a blueberry pavlova

The final dish I wanted to share this week was for chicken and pepper quesadillas.   Quesadillas always make a tasty light lunch and are a favourite way of mine to use up spare bits of things that are in my fridge.  Traditional quesadillas just have cheese on the inside but you can use pretty much anything you like for a filling provided it can be chopped up small, isn’t too liquid and it goes with cheese!  For these one’s I kept it simple, just chicken, red pepper, cheese and spices – delicious!

Finally, despite the fact that there are three new recipes above, since I last posted I’ve actually not been cooking much.  Instead I have been lucky enough to go out for two meals, one in Geneva and one in Lausanne, as well as having a lovely Holy Cow take away and being treated to a delicious BBQ.  My meal in Geneva was in the charming Café Zinette and I’ve posted a review here.

A New blog!

Welcome to my new blog!  Obviously things are a bit sparse here at the moment but I hope that it won’t be too long till there’s plenty of interesting content and resources for you to enjoy.  My intention is to share information and anecdotes on the food I have been and will be eating and cooking as well as some of my recipes, reviews of places I’ve eaten and of the cookbooks and products I have tried. A little bit of everything!

To get the ball rolling I’ve posted three restaurant reviews of some places I’ve visited since I relocated to the Geneva/France area and I’ll add more as and when I can.

So what have I been up to lately food wise?  Well in the past week of so I’ve been trying to use up some of the various items that had been in my fridge for a while.  As a result I made what is possible my favourite one pot supper Chorizo and Lemon Pilaf (using up some chorizo) and a very quick and light pasta dish of Courgette and bacon spaghetti (using up half a pot of crème fraiche that was lurking around). 

I also used two slightly overripe aubergines to make a delicious dip which I snacked on for a few days (I used this recipe from BBC Good Food minus the dill and with even more garlic) and my left over tinned tomatoes from the pilaf whipped up into a delicious salsa to go on nachos (to go with more of the crème fraiche from what seemed a never ending pot).

Finally, I was quite amazed to find hiding at the back of my fridge a packet of 36 month aged belotta ham that I had brought back with me from a trip to Madrid last October.  I had tried a few slices of this ham whilst eating a tapas dinner at the amazing Mercado de San Miguel Food market and loved it that much that I decided to treat myself (it was a bit pricy) and bring a pack home for a special occasion. 

Well a special occasion never arose and I forgot the pack was in the fridge and upon rediscovering it I decided that it had waited long enough and I was going to enjoy with no occasion at all.  It was just as sublimely delicious as I remembered and didn’t seem to have suffered from either the plane journey or from sitting in my fridge for 10 months (does it now count as being 46 months aged I wonder?).  The ham fat on the ham was soft and creamy and the perfect foil to the deeply salty rich meat.  I managed to make the pack last for three meals all in all, enjoying it with bread, manchego and membrillo.  A treat indeed.

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