Despite the pictures of the pile of pink fish, this is not a recipe for smoked salmon. It’s a recipe for a fresh, zippy salsa that requires 5 minutes of chopping and pairs so well with smoked or cured fish such as salmon (or eel, mackerel or seabass). The sharp citrus refreshes every bite of fatty fish, the cucumber contrasts with its crunch and the avocado, well, it’s just there for retro nostalgia. I’m a child of the 80’s where smoked salmon and avocado was a combination my mother served often, particularly when they had guests around, and even now there is always a small triangular shaped silver serving dish of sliced avocado on the table at family meals.
The recipe is as brief as this post, because all I can think about today is that this time tomorrow I’ll be sunning myself in Crete! I must run off to pack all the things we don’t need and clothes we will never wear on holiday. Excited much? I’ve already downloaded the hotel’s wine list and quizzed a Sommelier I know who used to work in Crete for his tips on the most interesting wine to pursue on the island. Greek wine is incredible, and one rarely sees it on restaurant wine lists. It’s often relegated to the “other” section in wine shops which is a great pity. Hmmm, I feel another one of my harebrained business ideas developing…I must be overdue a holiday. See you on the flip side of August!
What’s For Sippies?
I’d head to the Antipodes – a crisp, aromatic Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or a Clare Valley Riesling are the best wine matches for this dish. Champagne is often served with smoked salmon but because of the sharp grapefruit, a touch of bubbly sweetness in Dry Prosecco works better and is far cheaper.
Since I’m all about Greece right now, I’d like to point out a top-quality white grape variety called Assyrtiko (As-ser-ti-koh), which originated on the gorgeous island of Santorini, and makes intense, refreshing, bone-dry wines. High winds lash the island of Santorini, so the locals innovatively learned how to train and prune Assyrtiko grape vines into a low, circular weave that resembles a woven basket. These vines sit low to the ground and as such are protected from the highest winds, but the shape of the vines means mechanical pruning and harvesting is impossible, so manual labour costs are high, driving up the price of the wines. Still, possibly due to lack of international demand, Assyrtiko’s retail for between £12 and £30 at most, an actual bargain for the pleasure. Some Assyrtiko vines are over 100 years old, which means their grape yields are low, but the intensity of the wines is therefore high. Assyrtiko’s native Santorini climate is hot, and the grapes are hardy. Notwithstanding the high summer temperatures, the Assyrtiko grapes produce wines of high acidity, which is interesting because with most wine grapes acidity begins to fall steeply as the grapes ripen. Chardonnay, for example, can produce wines that are flabby and dull when it is grown in very warm climates, but Assyrtiko, with it’s similar flavours of savoury citrus, but with intriguing smoky, stony notes, retains that refreshing drive. New World producers have begun to experiment with Assyrtiko with exciting results. You can read about renowned Australian producer Jim Barry’s Clare Valley Assyrtiko here.
One of the aspects I love about the taste of wine is that a wine can be simultaneously rich and refreshing. Textbook examples are Riesling, Assyrtiko and cool climate Chardonnay which can all display opulent flavours but have bracing acidity with which a glass of juice just cannot compete.