Monday, November 2, 2009

Pairing, shmairing. At least the dinner was fun.

This past Friday I attended a 7 course tasting dinner (I know I said 5 in my previous post, but with the Amuse and the "Surprise" Amuse, it turned into 7). My friend, Laura, was the sous chef to her boyfriend, Joshua, the head chef. They provided the menu a few days beforehand and I was going to pair each course with wine. Well that was the plan at least.

The menu was on the light side - oysters, peppers, fish - so I decided that I'd go with a lot of white varietals. This can be daring because people tend to have a red bias when pairing wine with food.

This was the plan:
Course 1, "Surprise" Amuse: Sweet white wine
Course 2, Oyster Amuse: Sparkling white wine (Parigot)
Course 3, Spinach and Leek Frittata with Black Truffle: Sparkling white wine (Parigot)
Course 4, Beet Salad: Sparkling white wine (still Parigot)
Course 5, Stuffed Pepper: Pinot Noir (Four Graces, good, simple classically jammy)
Course 6, Red Snapper with Miso Glaze and Heirloom Quinoa and Black Sea Bass with Cilantro and Celery Root puree: Pinot Noir (Four Graces)
Course 7, Chocolate Pot de Creme with Pumpkin Gelatto and Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream: 10 Year Old Tawny Port (Taylor's)

Here's what happened:

Due to traffic, it took me over 1 1/2 hours to get to Joshua's. By the time I got there, they'd already opened a bottle of Champagne. Unfortunately a sweet white does not do well after something as acidic as a sparkling white (or most still whites). My strategy to prime the taste buds and wow with the delicate sweet white was out the window. Hopefully Joshua and Laura can enjoy the extra bottle I left them in the fridge (ideally with some good cheese). So we ended up drinking a lot of sparkling and really, what's wrong with that? Of course the upside is that we all reached for the sweet white to cool our palettes when we bit into the habanero topping the beet salad.....

Then, when we got to the red, another guest wanted to open the red table wine he'd just picked up in Napa so we went with it. The only problem is that red table wines from Napa are usually much bigger and oakier than Pinot Noir so it basically kills the flavor of the Pinot. At least the port worked out well with the Pot de Creme!

Well, I learned my lesson. Next time I pair I'll send out the list ahead of time and explain the pairings. I'll also leave more time to get to my destination. Friggin' tunnel traffic.
That said, it was still a really fun night with some excllent food and even better company. When you have that, does it really matter what you're drinking?

Joshua, Laura, Pam, Micah and Jeff - Thanks for being great dinner companions. I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween weekend.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.


Pamela said...

Let's go Alli!
clap clap clapclapcalp

Let's go Alli!
clap calp clapclapclap!!!!!

Great job on the wines by the way ...

elliej said...

Wow, what a meal! My mouth was watering just reading about it. The hell with the wines. I'd eat that food with tap water.

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