RESTAURANTE BAJUL, MORAIRA
INDONESIAN CUISINE COURTS CONTROVERSY!
The second in the series, Ethinic Cuisine Meets Spanish Wine – A Marriage Made In Moraira, was held at Moraira’s excellent Indonesian Restaurant, Bajul. This family owned business can boast thirty years of experience with restaurants in Holland and for the last four years in Moraira, where Mum Maria, son Frans and Daughter-in-Law Sandra delight their regulars with exotic dishes from the land of Maria’s birth.
I wonder if my friend, one of the diners at Bajul on the night in question, will now slightly change his ways when he next goes to the restaurant? His comment to me when he reserved for the evening was that on the previous occasions when he’s been to Bajul he’s usually ordered beer with the food. It’s an understandable comment – I do it myself from time to time when I eat Ethnic cuisine.
However if I’m trying to improve the overall dining experience, when I’m intending to make a memorable meal even better, then it’s wine I choose. Last week’s article made the same point and it’s a point that I hope I’m getting over to the diners who have, without exception it seems, enjoyed these evenings immensely. Ethnic Cuisine can be quite happy with well chosen Spanish wine as a bedfellow.
The panoply of aromas, flavours and spices in Indonesian cuisine makes it the prefect dining experience for me – I love it! And with carefully considered wine choices the whole deal is enhanced immeasurably. But, you have to have a supportive, sympathetic wine list from which to choose and, I have to say, in some Ethnic restaurants I’ve frequented this has been lamentably absent.
Not so Restaurante Bajul, whose chef/patron Frans has a keen interest in wines, in general, and in particular in those wines which will complement his and his Mother’s cooking. And, this includes the house wine – another crucial, integral part of any restaurant.
Our choices of wines to complement the various dishes favoured white wine drinkers – why, well white wines are often, though not exclusively, best for this style of cuisine. Indonesian cooking contains elements of chilli heat, both delicate and bold spices, gentle fragrance as well as strong aromas plus there can be a subtle sweetness as part of the deep flavours. If a cuisine can be described as elegant, this is it!
However there are red wines that can match the food and complement it too. And let’s not forget rosado wines whose subtle perfume can mingle with the fragrance of the dish and add to the overall pleasure.
Indeed it was a rosado with which we started proceedings – Mas Donis 2011 from Celler Capçanes, DO Montsant (subject of a Cork Talk some months ago). Made with Garnacha, Merlot and that especially fruity Spanish-grown Syrah, this rosado was served with Chicken Satay, accompanied by an Indonesian salad and boiled rice. The peanut sauce, both a sweet one and one of a more savoury style was lovely with the quite darkly coloured and full rosado. A hit combination, for most – though not all!
Convention is of no concern to Frans. Taboos of not serving white wine with meat are not important, it’s the overall flavours that have to be matched in Indonesian cooking. So the house white, Libalis, made with Chardonnay, Viura and the telling Muscatel was the wine of choice for the super Pork dish cooked with coconut that followed.
This was served with a fruit salad, which enjoyed some palm sugar and ginger, and aromatic yellow rice. The wine’s aroma coming largely from the Moscatel and its depth of flavour was a really good match for this dish and was universally enjoyed. Note also that this wine is the House White of the restaurant, selected deliberately for its ability to match many of the restaurant’s dishes.
Well it follows, I guess, that Frans would like (with my full approval) to accompany a fish dish with a red wine! Filapia (probably incorrectly spelt!), a fleshy freshwater fish from South Africa, was covered in Japanese breadcrumbs and cooked in a dark, sweet soy sauce. It was served with a chilled chilli cucumber salad and accompanied by Celler Capçanes’ young red wine Les Sorts Jove.
This Garnacha, Mazuelo (called by its Catalan name, Samsó) and Syrah based red is a young wine with sweet tannin and big up-front forest fruit flavours. The absence of any harsh acidity and tannin means that there is no clash with this fish, whose strong slightly sweet flavours are complemented by the red.
Finally, blowing convention out of the water, Balinese Beef with mixed vegetables cooked in coconut milk, but whose ingredients are a chef’s secret, was served with a white wine! But what a wine!
Bodegas Viñas del Vero in the mountainous DO Somontano region make a wonderful dry Gewurztraminer – a grape variety, whose difficulty in pronunciation is well worth the effort, is one of my favourites! It has exotic lychee flavours and the sort of perfume that is perfect with so many Indonesian dishes. Like me, Maria and Sandra love it!
Did it go with the beef? Well for me it didn’t just ‘go with it’, it was a marriage made in an Indonesian enclave in