P for Pairing. A for Assyrtiko + Apricot & Almond
Our first letter in the P for Pairing project is A: A for Assyrtiko, Almonds and Apricots.
Today we are launching our P for Pairing alphabet, opening with the letter A!
It is A for Assyrtiko + Apricot & Almond, and for this pairing we have partnered with Laura and Andrea from the Ver Aguas project.
Assyrtiko is a flagship Greek white grape, native to Santorini, but found across Greece. When grown on volcanic soils of Santorini, it displays signature minerality and salinity, whereas in the rest of Greece the fruit character is more marked, especially stone fruit like peach and apricot. This flavour profile combined with high acidity is often used to compare Assyrtiko with Chablis and Sancerre wine, but it is a truly unique Mediterranean variety, incredibly versatile in food pairings. We went for the Santorini Familia by Hatzidakis Winery, one of the most renowned wineries on Santorini. This unoaked Assyrtiko displays incredible complexity with citrus, stone fruit and floral notes and well-integrated acidity and alcohol (the latter easily climbs to the impressive 14.5%!)
Hatzidakis Winery was founded by Haridimos Hatzidakis in 1997 after Haridimos met and married a local girl of Santorini, Konstantina Chryssou. Konstantina’s family owned vineyards in the village of Pyrgos Kallistis, that had not been cultivated since the Santorini earthquake in 1956. After extensive re‐planting and nurturing of older vines, they found a cave on the outskirts of Pyrgos Kallistis, which was transformed into a winery. After Haridimos passed away in 2017, Konstantina took over the winery that currently manages 8 hectares of Assyrtiko, Aidani and Mavrotragano grapes, all grown organically.
A for Almond and Apricot
We have chosen to pair Assyrtiko with two iconic Mediterranean ingredients that are almonds and apricots. Almonds are considered native to Iran and the rest of Central Asia; they were spread along the shores of the Mediterranean by seafaring phoenicians and popularized by romans. Almonds are used in desserts, oils and milks, but also in savoury dishes: its unique texture and elegant flavour are a perfect canvas for other ingredients with stronger flavours and aromas. Another ingredient, originating from Central Asia and widely cultivated in the Mediterranean, is apricot. Its sweet, fruit and soft flavours make it a hero ingredient in many sweet and some savoury dishes.
The dish by Ver Aguas
These two elements are transformed by Laura and Andrea to create a Fermented almond, chicken, pickled apricots and salt-preserved cilantro seeds dish, served in gyoza-shaped dumplings. Marcona almonds are fermented to create a creamy texture, whereas dried apricots are pickled in vinegar solution for a few days. Gyoza dumplings are filled with minced chicken and are served on almond cream, topped with pickled apricots and cilantro seeds, with a dash of extra virgin olive oil. The result is a perfectly balanced dish with a variety of textures and flavours. With our Assyrtiko pairing we chose to underline the dish’s creaminess, while highlighting the wine’s bright acidity and bringing out all the fruit potential of the grape.
Ver Aguas project
Laura Veraguas and Andrea Escriche are Ver Aguas, a gastronomy project, with a strong focus on the plant world and plant-based ingredients. Ver Aguas is based upon respect towards humans and nature and upon honest approach and natural offering. Their mission is to share and re-educate through gastronomy. Laura is among the most recognized female chefs in Catalonia who has worked in a number of prestigious projects. If you are interested in trying Ver Aguas food – or learning with them! – keep an eye on their website, where they announce all the upcoming events and workshops, as well as offer a private chef service (“Ver En Casa”).
All images are by Blanca Galindo and David Simon from Leafhopper project.
Stay tuned for our next letter!