21 Jan
Thu / 2016

The Gilded Dish: A Rienzi Blog
Hunky Dory Dreams Up “British Tastes and French Wine: A Pairing Dinner”

Teaming up with two of Houston’s most notable culinary forces, Rienzi explores British influence on French wines with British Tastes and French Wine: A Pairing Dinner on February 2. Guests will enjoy classic French wines paired with a four-course meal, created by Hunky Dory restaurant’s Richard Knight, the executive chef; and Travis Hinkle, beverage director.

I sat down with Knight and Hinkle to dig deeper into how they created the dinner’s menu.

What inspired the pairing of the British fare with French wine? What influences from England did you pull into your pairing strategy?
Hinkle: In working on Hunky Dory, we had the opportunity to think a lot about what kind of wine list made the most sense for the restaurant. Ordinarily, the obvious choice is to select wines that are native to the place the cuisine comes from. However, despite having a robust wine culture, Great Britain hasn’t really produced wines of its own. Instead, they have relied on importing wine from other places. What surprised me while researching for the wine list was just how big a hand the English have had in the creation of these classic wine styles all around Europe.

Where did you get ideas for the menu and drinks?
Knight: I got most of my inspiration from books. I have one wonderful cook/history book that has recipes from the 14th to 18th centuries. It tells you about what was going on, what was being eaten, and why. I love the recipes written in Old English, which thankfully are translated most of the time as they are very hard to follow—though they have a certain beauty in their simplicity.

What about Rienzi complements the dinner and beverages you’ve planned?
Knight: Rienzi has a wonderful feel of a time gone by and reminds me very much of stately English homes. These wines—which are interwoven into Britain’s history—along with the style of food we’ll be serving for this meal, lead guests to imagine enjoying the meal in an age past, in a similar environment to Rienzi.
Hinkle: Rienzi is an incredible venue for an event like this. Apart from being a simply gorgeous environment, so much of the architecture, fine art, and furnishings are European-inspired. It’s easy to imagine that you’ve temporarily been transported into a beautiful estate on the other side of the Atlantic. A space like this ignites your imagination and makes the history come alive.

What would have been your meal or wine of choice during the period from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment?
Knight: I love the outrageous feasts of the Middle Ages, where they made sea-and-land battles out of food, castles with working drawbridges, ships with firing cannons, and pies filled with live animals ready to pop out and amuse the guests once the pastry is cut into. Also, a stag served with an arrow in its side, so that when you pull the arrow out, claret pours out as though it were the blood of the animal.