Thai Pomelo Salad + Nova 7
Spring is in the air!
Fragrant blossoms and aromas of all things green are filling the air. A welcome olfactory assault after the muted scents of a cold, crisp winter. By the end of winter, we find ourselves craving explosive Asian flavours that grab you by the tongue. Those complex flavours, the hot, sour, salty sweet, our palates are confused by all those frenetic tastes.
Basically, what we’re looking for at this time of year is spring in the glass and on the plate. Good bye slush puddles, chapped lips, dry skin and beef stew! Rich, bold red wines, we’ll see ya next fall.
Hello longer days, sunshine, spring breezes and crisp vibrant white wine.
Aromatic for the people!
Our little wine is fragrant, refreshing, crowd pleasing and crisp with a spritz of effervescence in a subtle shade of salmon pink. Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 was first produced to resemble the ever-popular Italian sparkler, Moscato d’Asti, which hails from the northwestern Piedmont region of Italy. Bursting with delicate but complex aromas of peaches, grapes, honeysuckle blossom and spring flowers, the wine has just a touch of sweetness and a lively acidity. With all these sweet descriptors, there’s a case to be made for pairing this fragrant spritzy wine with dessert, however, this style of wine is actually very versatile. Thinking ahead to this Easter weekend you could pour it when guests and family arrive…you could have a glasss on-hand while cooking….you could pair it with brunch or with seafood and the bonus is it’s only 8% alcohol. Best of all it’s undeniably delicous!
Like Moscato, Nova 7 is made from the super aromatic, grapey-Muscat variety. The Muscat grape is grown all over the world and in the Gaspereau Valley region of Nova Scotia, the local varieties include the hybrid New York Muscat, L’Acadie and Ortega to name a few. To produce Nova 7, the wine is fermented in a closed steel tank that captures the carbon dioxide, absorbing it as bubbles. Fermentation is halted when the desired level of sweetness is achieved (usually at around 7-8 % alcohol) and unlike other fully sparkling wines, Nova 7 does not undergo a second fermentation. The wine is kept fresh in the tank until bottling which usually happens, with much anticipation from the masses, in the spring.
Our Asian flavour pantry
Citrus of all shapes and sizes
That huge yellow fleshed citrus you see in the bottom left corner is the under-appreciated giant of the citrus family and star of our salad….the pomelo. You’ve likely seen one at the grocery store but been intimidated by it’s bowling ball-like size. It is in fact the largest of all the citrus fruit and can weigh a whopping 3kg. Perhaps you’ve been tempted but thought what the heck am I going to with it. Well, once you get through it’s thick skin, you’ll find sweet segments of fruit in a pale yellow to bright pink colour, that resemble a mild grapefruit in flavour. The reason for the similar flavours is the fact that the grapefruit is actually a hybrid of the orange and the pomelo.
The pomelo is native to southeast Asia and also goes by the name pummelo, pamplemousse, shaddock and Chinese grapefruit. It’s flesh is usually eaten raw and is fantastic dipped in a sugar/salt/chili mixture but works well in salads, salsas, jams, marmalade and even cocktails. Need another reason to try a pomelo? Well it is also considered in Chinese culture as the fruit of reunion and is believed to ward off evil. How about another….one serving packs a whopping 193% of your vitamin C recommended daily amount.
Hot Thai bird chilies + sour limes and grapefruit + salty fried pork, crispy shallots
and peanuts + sweet brown or palm sugar
Asian foods are so complex in flavour ; In one dish you often have a dizzying
combination of hot + sour + salty + sweet
Liquorice-spiced Thai basil + peppery watercress + citrusy cilantro + refreshing mint
For the beginner gardener, herbs are one of the easiest things to grow. With a sunny windowsill, a first harvest of herbs can happen before you even get your hands in the dirt. A sure fire way to enliven any dish, our snippets of assorted herbs added multi-layered interest to each bite.
This pairing was one of our favourites. Each bite was unique and crunchy, leaving our palate not knowing what to focus on. There was so much going on. Vibrant and crisp, the light bubbles helped deliver the wine to every inch of our palate. The wine acting like a re-set button, getting us ready for that next bite of explosive hot, sour, salty and sweet flavours.
Thai Pomelo Salad – serves 4 to 6
- 1 pomelo
- 3 pink grapefruit
- 1 bunch watercress, washed
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup mint leaves
- 1/4 cup Thai basil leaves
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed inner portion minced
- 2 Tbsp grape seed oil
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 shallots, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shavings
- 1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts
- 2 Tbsp reserved grapefruit juice
- 3 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 Thai bird chilies, seeded and minced
- With a sharp knife, trim the end of the pomelo and set a flat side on a cutting board.
- Trim away the rind and pith, exposing the segments
- Cut toward the centre, along a membrane or segment, then slice along the adjacent membrane until the cuts meet, releasing the segment. This technique is known as ‘supreming’ and yields nicely shaped citrus segments with no pith or rind.
- Repeat with the remaining segments.
- Do the same thing with the 3 grapefruits. Do this over a bowl to capture all the juice which will be used in the dressing.
- To make the dressing whisk together all the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Taste for seasoning. You should have a balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet!
- In a medium skillet over medium high heat, fry the ground pork, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. You want to continue frying and breaking up the pork until you have very small, crispy and dry pieces. This may take around 10 to 12 minutes. During the last 2 minutes, add the minced lemongrass and cook until fragrant. Drain off fat and set aside the pork to cool.
- Using the same skillet, heat 2 Tbsp grape seed oil over medium high heat. Dredge the sliced shallots in cornstarch until lightly coated. Add them to the hot oil and fry until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towel to drain.
- In a large bowl or serving platter, arrange the watercress and all the herbs. Layer in the segmented pomelo and grapefruit.
- Sprinkle the salad with the crispy fried pork and shallots.
- Top with shaved coconut and chopped peanuts.
- Drizzle salad with dressing.
Everything about this pairing is easy. Our biggest challenge was waiting for the wine to chill. Everything else, easy-peasy lemon squeezy:
No corkscrew? No problem. Screw cap.
No time to prep? No problem. The salad comes together in the time that it takes the pork to cook.
No patience for a hangover? No problem, at only 8% alcohol you can share this bottle with one special friend.
Easy on the eyes, easy drinking, and easy clean up. It’s one bowl… and if you have the kind of friendship that we do, you can eat it right out of the bowl!
Let’s face it, we’d rather spend our time outside in the garden than in the kitchen doing dishes.
Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 - 2014
Nova Scotia, Canada
Benjamin Bridge vineyards are located in the Gaspereau Valley on the Bay of Fundy, near Wolfville, Nova Scotia. It is said, the cool climate there reassembles the Champagne region of France. The estate makes a range of wines from white, red and rosé, both dry and sweet, however, their focus is to produce world class Traditional Method (Method Classique) wines. Their efforts have paid of with many critics singing their praises, proclaiming their wines as ‘Canada’ best bubbly’ and able to ‘challenge any highly rated French Champagne’.
The first vintage of Nova 7 was produced in 2007. The 7 was intended to reflect the vintage meaning it would change each year…Nova 8…Nova 9. The first vintage flew off the shelves in Nova Scotia and developed a cult following with ‘Nova 7 Parties’, store line ups and even case hoarding. The name Nova 7 stuck…customers were asking for Nova 7 by name, and so 10 years later, it is still referred to by it’s original name.
Like a good friend…we are just trying to push you outside of your comfort zone.
Live a little and expand your palate.
Take it easy.
Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers
After 10 years as a restaurateur, culinary instructor and caterer, a trip to France sparked an untapped enthusiasm for all things wine. I gave up the restaurant life, made a huge u-turn and dove head first into the vast world of wine. I have never looked back and achieved my Sommelier certification with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers in 2015. I love sharing my pursuit of the perfect pairing in a fun, unfussy and ultimately delicious way with my friends, family and those I teach.
Red Seal Chef, Culinary Instructor
I graduated from the Stratford Chefs School in 1999 and achieved Red Seal Certification shortly thereafter. With this strong foundation laid, an opportunity to spend time in California presented itself. While there, I was intoxicated by the seasonality and quality of the ingredients everywhere I looked. This experience proved to be a turning point for me in how I thought about food. It inspired me to have a deep and enduring respect for the people, food and culture that go into the perfect dish.