Buttermilk Rice Pudding with Strawberries, Chocolate and Black Muscat

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Rice pudding, riz au lait in French, is one of my childhood favourites – just enough rice, milk, sugar and vanilla and you get a creamy dessert. Very easy. To offset the richness of the pudding, I substituted the milk with buttermilk and used my star ingredients in compote and a sauce.

We finally opened the Black Muscat we brought back from our spring 2006 road trip to Vancouver and Salt Spring Islands! Not that we forgot about it. Far from it, we just wanted to save it for the right time: with Tuscan melon and Bresaola, or, for dessert, in the Strawberry Rhubarb Compote or in the Dark Chocolate Sauce.

BC Wines from the warm and dry Okanagan Valley were familiar to us, but we had never heard of any from the Islands. A few stops along the wine trail, quite pleasantly surprised by these exceptional yet unknown vineyards! Nothing to do with the Napa Valley I visited as a teenager, simple and familial just like in Sideways.

So impressed after our first taste at Blue Grouse, that we stocked the car with 2 cases of Gamay, Pinot Noir, and Ortega. A little tipsy after the generous servings – I must admit- but sober enough to drive on. Just in time for lunch we reached the Zanatta winery: delicious homemade food to savour with a glass of their Glenora Fantasia or Pinot Nero in the sun-bathed bucolic patio. Another case of Pinot Nero and Spumante and more in the trunk and off we went! With enough bottles to open a shop and plans for another trip to the Islands!

Two years later, we managed to save the Muscat and the Devinette – going online soon to order. The Black Muscat is not as sweet as Port and makes a perfect addition for the strawberry rhubarb compote or in the dark chocolate sauce which accompany the rice pudding.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

1 cup round rice

2 cups water

3 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean

¼ cup unsalted butter

For the strawberry rhubarb compote:

2 cups rhubarb

1 cup strawberries

¼ cup sugar

½ cup Black Muscat (substitute with Port)

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For the chocolate sauce:

½ cup dark chocolate

¼ cup Black Muscat

Strawberries to garnish

1. In a medium saucepan heat buttermilk, sugar, salt and split vanilla bean to a gentle simmer.

2. Bring the water to a boil in a medium another saucepan.

3. Cook the rice for 2 mins in the boiling water, strain using a sieve and rinse thoroughly with cold water.

4. Stir the rice into the buttermilk and let simmer for 20 mins, until soft.

5. Stir in the butter.

6. Enjoy warm or chilled.

7. To prepare the strawberry rhubarb compote filling, place rhubarb, sugar, and Black Muscat in a saucepan.

8. Bring to a gentle simmer while stirring and cover until the fruit is tender.

9. Add the strawberries and let simmer for 5 mins.

10. To prepare the chocolate sauce, place chocolate and Black Muscat in a small bowl.

11. Stir over a double-boiler until the chocolate is melted.

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