Sunday, 8th July 2018 – Pairings, York
For lunch on Sunday in York we took Richard’s at Rascills recommendation and sought out Pairings on Castlegate. He said we’d like it. He was absolutely right. Some of the seats looked a bit “medieval instruments of torture” but we found some chairs rather than bar stools and made ourselves comfortable.
Menus were rapidly forthcoming along with an eclectic and intriguing wine list. One of the things they do, and the clue is in the name, is pairings of wine and food, but they also do wine flights of varying types, and with the theatre just round the corner, had added a special in the shape of a Shakespearean flight with a sherry, a claret (or clairet as it is also known) and a madeira. It sounded rather fine but also rather too heavy for a sunny afternoon when we still had to get home.
A check of the cocktail list revealed that they had a Hugo on offer, the first time I’ve ever seen one in the UK. We couldn’t resist so we ordered a pair and watched as the waiter scooted outside to pick some fresh mint. We soon had a lovely cooling drink and a bowl of harissa almonds to hand and were ready to consider what we would eat.
There were some great sounding options, with much to get excited about (and apparently to buy from the deli section and take home should you want to).
In the end we decided that we would go for the Deli platter, designed to be shared between two people. It automatically comes with a Voakes individual pork pie, a lovely meaty little morsel. It also comes with two small jars of delicious, sticky spiced tomato chutney, and red onion chutney, a couple of tiny pickled chillis, a couple of gherkins, some giant pitted green olives, and some crackers. Oh and some brilliant sourdough with a mild, smooth balsamic and olive oil.
As if that wasn’t enough you get to choose three cheeses and three charcuterie options. For the meat choices we went with the smoked Barbary duck breast, cut beautifully thin, and cured and smoked over beechwood and oak, mild and gloriously smokey. We also went for the speck, the Italian cured meat almost melting on the slate. And just to round it off we decided to pay the extra supplement for the Montanegra Iberico Bellota Shoulder ham, this also cut thin, ethereal in the mouth, but with just enough substance to hit the spot. We decided we’d take some home, regardless of the cost.
For the cheeses we couldn’t say no to the King Richard III Wensleydale, now could we? This is made to an old-style recipe, with a sharp acidity to it and a lovely crumbly, soft texture. We added a Manchego, which was as it should be, and a Delice de Bourgogne (described by our waiter as “Brie on steroids”), that was absolutely stunning! It probably needed a whip and a chair to get it onto the crackers, or at the very least a spoon! We would take some of that home too.
We considered a wine flight or two, but then decided we would instead take a bottle, this time a Zweigelt Rose, Huber, 2017 from Traisental in Austria. It was excellent, light and very pleasant, just fruity enough to stand up to the cheeses. Afterwards, with some cheese left, we wrapped up the leftovers, bought some more ham and a duck breast, along with a chunk (an ooze perhaps?) of the Delice de Bourgogne.
A coffee finished the meal nicely and after a lovely wine-related chat with our waiter we were ready to head for home. I’d definitely go back to Pairings anytime. They’re doing a brilliant job and are rightly proud of their wine list and their food!
The supplies we bought saw us through two more dinners at home on the following two evenings when it was far too hot for me to want to cook. I’d call that a result all round.