London

RAW DUCK IN HACKNEY: ON TREND PAIRING WITH HARISSA AND CORIANDER WITH AN EXCEPTIONAL ORANGE WINE

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I recently visited the Raw Duck in London Fields for brunch. It’s a trendy, charming and buzzing spot where care has gone into every aspect of its decoration. Industrial chic with plants all around and raw produce on the counter to underline its healthy, clean approach to eating.

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They produce all of their own ferments, pickles, jams and juices in house. The harissa paste I had was so good I wish it was possible to buy it (they ought to sell them). As usual, I couldn’t decide what to pick from the menu so I veered away from my usual choice and went for harissa eggs on charred flatbread, greek yoghurt & coriander. I’m into fresh yoghurt and spice at the moment, and I love fresh coriander.

It was amazing. Eggs poached to perfection and the (again – back to the harissa paste) the best I have had. Thoroughly recommended to anyone passing by Hackney.

Onto the wine. I actually read about Raw Duck in one of Jancis Robinson’s articles – London for Wine Lovers. Which, by the way, if you haven’t read is a must read. Not just for the wine aspect but for excellent, reliable and trendy spots for food and atmosphere.

She mentions Raw Duck. I’m challenging myself at the moment to learn as much about organic, biodynamic and natural wines. Here’s a really good short summary about the three from Will Lyons in the Sunday Times this week – what actually is organic, biodynamic and natural wine?

Organic. The UK tends to be quick in picking up trends, fashions and styles, but we’ve been a bit slow on the uptake with this one.

The UK market lags behind the rest of Europe when it comes to purchase of organic wine. However, in the independent sector, growth is appearing with some independents reporting growth by 12% year on year. In my experience, trends appear first in independents: whether that be wine, beer, fashion or even as far as the independent music sector. After these independents thrive, the “multis” follow.

Organic produce. We should be eating it (we are – organic food sales have risen 2.3%) and we should be drinking it where possible. I appreciate in many wine regions it’s hard to produce organic, due to climate difficulties. However, in many warmer and drier regions, we can.

The Raw Duck has an exceptional wine list of organic, biodynamic and natural wines.

That’s the case with this wine. It comes from Sicily, made from  a  local Sicilian grape which I had never heard of called Catarratto. In a nutshell, orange wine is sort of white wine but made in the style of red.

This wine is made with minimal chemical intervention in the vineyard, but without organic certification. It practices the “la lutte raisonnée” method, meaning ‘the reasoned struggle’. Growers who practice this kind of viticulture claim to use chemicals less often and less aggressively than conventional growers.

In this case, the wine is allowed to macerate (sit on its skins) for three whole days. Maceration with white grapes is either actively avoided or allowed for a few hours, to max 24 hours (much more extreme), generally speaking.

In this case, the maceration gives the wine its bronze colour, and the tannic structure similar to a red. If you shut your eyes, it’s likely you would be fairly confused.

This round, big wine is the perfect match for harissa.

It has rich nutmeg and spice notes combined with deep notes of cooked apples and plums that perfectly balances the heat of the harissa. Moreish and delicious, the best pairing I have made in a long time.