What happens when a talented chef and an adventurous winemaker bring their heads together? In most of the cases they come up with innovative ways how to pair food with wine, in others they engage their diners and ‘winers’ into a heated conversation about what they would drink with what.
The later was the case on an event I have attended recently in London. A winemaker of a Californian brand Turning Leaf Stephanie Edge can perhaps be crowned a queen of adventure. At least if it was measured by the number of countries a single winemaker has visited in search for inspiration. During a six-year period she travelled to 73 countries. I wrote about her and the wines she created for Turning Leaf earlier in her another quest for food and wine matching, at that time it was about Christmas food and perfect wines to go with it.
Ester Roling, the chef
This time though, she has paired herself with a young and talented dutch chef Esther Roling and their common female passion for discovering new flavours gained some unconventional results. Ester Roling worked at London’s Les Trois Garcons, a two-Michelin starred Pied a Terre and finally founded her own catering company Sugar & Salt. Her thirst for fresh produce sourced from various farmers markets and specialist grocery outlets confirms her love for quality.
Beef Carpacio a la Ester Roling
The beef carpaccio she used with parmesan mayo, baked tomatoes and cress not only perfectly accompanied Turning Leaf’s Cabernet Sauvignon, but it melted like a slice of ice infused with beef consomè. Ester disclosed me her source – The Natural Kitchen, an organic grocer on Marylebone High street in London. I am jealous of Londoners now that I have moved out. It seems that I will have to fly to Argentina in order to get a piece of beef like that. Feeding the cows with grass and using only the meat from the young cattle is perhaps the secret that the Argentine and organic producers elsewhere share.
She went into even more exotic corners of the world as she pan-fried red mullet with spicy couscous and paired it with Chardonnay. Chorizo, saffron, chilly, paprika, mint, cinnamon, cardamon and rose petals in her couscous creation were magic with a slightly oaked and warmly spicy Chardonnay. The recipe looked so good, that I had to offer my hand to help her to mix the ingredients together.
Turning Leaf Discover The Taste Of Colour masterclass
I have to give you the recipe here so you can try it yourself. It looks a bit complicated, but it is not. Definitely, it is a very interesting dish with wine and you will impress anyone you will be serving it with to.

Turning Leaf Chardonnay with Red Mullet and Moroccan spiced couscous:

This recipe serves four people.
Ingredients: 175g diced chorizo; 3 cloves of garlic; 20 saffron threads; 25g breadcrumbs; cayenne pepper; paprika powder; 2 eggs; salt; olive oil; grapeseed oil; 1 onion; 150g couscous; 240ml boiling water; Ras el Hanout*; 20 parsley leaves; 20 mint leaves; 1 courgette – yellow or green; 4 fillets Red mullet (around 150g each); 20g butter
For the Chorizo crumb: 100g diced chorizo; parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on an oven tray and spread the chorizo. Cover the chorizo with another sheet of paper and place a baking tray on top and bake for 15 minutes or until the chorizo is crisp.
Allow it to cool and then break into crumbs. Set the chorizo aside until needed.
For the Rouille: 3 cloves of garlic; 100 ml boiling water; 20 saffron threads; 25 g breadcrumbs; a pinch of cayenne pepper; a pinch of paprika powder; 2 eggs; ½ teaspoon salt; 50 ml olive oil; 50 ml grapeseed oil
Keeping the skin on the garlic, wrap the cloves in tin foil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 160°C. Set aside to cool then push the flesh of the garlic out of the skin. Using a medium-sized bowl, pour boiling water over the saffron threads and add the breadcrumbs. Boil the eggs and once boiled drop them into iced water to stop the cooking process.  Peel the eggs and separate the egg yolk, discarding the egg whites. In a food processor add the egg yolks, garlic, breadcrumb mix, a pinch of cayenne pepper and paprika powder and salt and blend to a creamy consistency. Gradually add the oils until you get a smooth emulsion.
For the Moroccan couscous: 4 tbsp olive oil; 1 onion, finely sliced in rings; 150g couscous; 240ml boiling water; 1 tsp  Ras el Hanout; 20 parsley leaves, finely chopped; 20 mint leaves, finely chopped; salt to taste; olive oil; 75 g good quality Alejandro chorizo, cut into small dices
Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan and add the onion rings. Cover the pan allowing the onion to sweat over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden.  Add a teaspoon of salt and remove from the heat. Put the couscous in a bowl and pour over 240ml boiling water. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 5 minutes to allow the couscous to absorb the water.  Remove the cling film and with a fork, loosen the couscous.  To make the couscous burst with flavour, add the cooked onions, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon of Ras el Hanout, parsley, mint and a pinch of salt. Over a medium heat add a splash of olive oil to a frying pan. Add the chorizo and stir until the oil runs out of the chorizo. Add the chorizo and oil to your couscous to give it a golden-yellow colour.
For the Courgette: 1 Yellow or green courgette; olive oil; salt & pepper
Using a small melon baller, scoop out a small ball of courgette, if you don’t have a melon baller use a peeler to slice the courgette length-ways.  Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil.  Sauté the courgette for 1 minute. Cover to keep warm until needed.
For the Red Mullet: 4 fillets of Red Mullet – around 150g each; 2 tablespoons of olive oil; 20g butter; salt; pepper
Season the fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Place a large non-stick pan over a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil when hot. Place the fillets skin down into the frying plan for about 2 minutes. Add the butter then carefully turn the fillets to fry on the other side for another 2 minutes.
If you try this let me know how did you like it with an oaked Chardonnay. I am curious about any other wines working wonders with this dish. Perhaps you would prefer a Pinot Noir from Turning leaf with it?