After some months of Tweeting to each other, I was delighted to receive this guest piece from Chef Simon Jury and hope you will enjoy reading it, too:
"Duck and cherry, two of my favourite flavours. I love that gamey meat flavour of the cherry and fresh fruity freshness of the duck...... no, hold on, I think I may have got something mixed up there. I'm also a fan of flavoured vinegars but have found that many cherry vinegars are often lacking or are a bit sharp and, much of the time, too vinegary. Yes I know that sounds a bit odd saying they are a bit vinegary, there are just a lot of flavoured vinegars that really don't offer more than, well, vinegar.
"A few weeks ago, I happened to be talking on the subject of vinegars and dressings and Rupert from Womersley Foods joined in asking if I have tried their vinegars. To my shame I had to admit I hadn't. Shame because I've spoken to Rupert on Twitter for a while now and hadn't really looked at the products that Womersley do. So when Rupert offered a bottle to try, I jumped at the chance. Well I jumped after deliberating over which flavour to choose. I was allowed any bottle I wanted so I had to choose wisely. I saw the cherry flavour straight away and looking back, I'm not sure why it took me so long to decide.
"The package arrived and like an excited child on Christmas morning I tore it open and didn't wait to taste it, I tipped a bit out, dipped my finger in and couldn't taste a thing. This is no sleight to the vinegar, I had a stinking cold and hadn't been able to taste anything for days. A course of antibiotics later and the taste buds were back. I had another tasting session with a ciabatta loaf and dipping bowls with unrefined olive oil and the vinegar. The vinegar is great: fresh, full of cherry flavour and not the usual harshness of vinegar. You could get away with the vinegar on its own as a dressing as it is that smooth. Also it is the first cherry vinegar I've tasted for a while that actually tastes of cherry.
"Finally I got to match the vinegar to duck which I had been waiting for during my cold filled weeks. (Please note I did not have man flu, I really was ill!) I kept the duck salad very simple as the star here was to be the vinegar. I pan-fried two duck breasts, skin side down until the fat was rendered and the skin was crispy. I then turned the duck breasts over and took off the heat to continue cooking through while I made the salad.
"I made a quick red onion salad by peeling, halving & slicing one large red onion, added some chopped cucumber , quartered cherry tomatoes and a few sliced spring onions. I made a dressing using half and half of the vinegar and unrefined olive oil and a pinch of salt. That's all you need for the dressing as there is so much flavour and sweetness in the cherry vinegar. I put half of the dressing in with the red onion salad and mixed this to coat.
"To serve, I made a bed of peppery salad, rocket, watercress & baby spinach and piled the onions salad on top. The duck, now nicely rested, was sliced and placed on top. The remaining dressing was then drizzled over to flavour the duck breast and drip through the salad. Cherry and duck is always a winner and maybe a little bit predictable, but when it tastes this good, who cares?
"Many thanks for the vinegar, it really is great and found out a friend of mine is a big fan too..."