Loire, France's most northerly wine region on the country's Atlantic side, is home to historic towns, architecture and wines and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; say Loire and I think of bike rides along tree-lined canals with grand chateaux, accompanied by crisp wines and goat's cheese.
Whilst it is home to numerous sub-regions, grape varieties and styles, the key characteristic of Loire wines is a light, refreshing elegance, which makes them perfect as summer sippers or an accompaniment to simple seafood dishes
Perhaps the most famously traditional Loire wine-and-food match is the light, lemony Muscadet with shellfish. But what, I wondered, would be its 21st-century equivalent in Cambridge ?
On a hot Sunday morning, with temperatures in the high teens and rising, I led the CWB family into Cambridge in search of the ideal takeaway pairing.
Armed with a couple of chilled bottles (a rose d'Anjou and a Muscadet) plus a picnic blanket and a Frisbee, our first stop was YO!Sushi to collect a sharing platter of salmon, tuna and prawn sushi with salmon and prawn maki rolls.
With the time to spare, central Cambridge can be a great place to stand and watch buskers, many of whom deserve to be playing to much greater audiences.
We found no sign of soulful singer-songwriter Will Robert, but were captivated by the exotic and hedonistic sound of Fernando's Kitchen, comprising an unassuming double bass, nonchalant-yet-intricate flamenco guitar and a strangely beautiful, other-worldly singer-percussionist.
From here it is just a short meander amongst the colleges to the backs and the river to indulge in our favourite sport of watching punts pass leisurely by and begin the food matching in earnest.
The traditional accompaniments to sushi of ginger, wasabi and soy can easily overpower a wine, but without those, the raw fish has a delicate fatty sweetness that is very wine-friendly.
Creamy avocado adds to this and the sticky rice has a soft sweetness; contrast is provided by the merest hints of wasabi paste and the savoury seaweed used for the maki rolls.
The children, struggling with chopsticks, decided they liked the strips of fish best, whilst Mrs CWB preferred the crunchy prawn maki.
That left me to decide on the wine match and I found the salmon-pink rose d'Anjou to work better, with its ripe red fruits, hint of sweet spice and rounded fresh acidity.
Priced at under a fiver, screw-capped and just 10.5% alcohol, it is also the perfect choice as an unfussy picnic wine.
And so, the serious business of assessing over, it was time to fulfil my parenting duties with the kids and the Frisbee before enquiring if anyone was interested in going to the play-park for an ice-cream.
Maison Des Princes, Rose d'Anjou 2011 - £4.69, Morrison's
La Nantaise Reserve Muscadet 2012 - £7.49, Laithwaites
Sharing Platter - £10, YO!Sushi
All our Cambridge independents stock a range of Loire wines to match with sushi, including:
Domaine du Bois Bruley, Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie 2011, £9.99 - Bacchanalia
Sauvignon Touraine 2011 Domaine de la Rablais, £8.99 - Cambridge Wine Merchants
Domaine des Hauts Pemions Muscadet de Sevre et Maine sur lie, £8.85 - Noel Young Wines
Wines and sushi provided for review.
Other related articles
Fitzbillies, Punting and a Perfect Day Out
Rablais and a Risotto Recipe
InterLoire - website
YO! Sushi - website, twitter
Fernando's Kitchen: http://fernandoskitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/34200_412478548357_744043357_4634976_6404235_n.jpg
The Backs: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/8/8b/Punting,_Cambridge,_Summer.jpg/350px-Punting,_Cambridge,_Summer.jpg