Last night, we dodged rain clouds and feasted on Wellfeet oysters, lobster rolls, and grilled striped bass. Cape Cod’s finest. And washed it all down with a bottle of Camille Savès, Carte Blanche NV. This made me ponder one of the wine world’s most urgent questions: is champagne better with oysters or fries?!? (Fries, often double-fired, frequently come with lobster rolls, for those who haven’t had the pleasure.) Have your say in the comments! While oysters may be a classic pairing, the high-low pairing of fries works so well, if you haven’t tried it, thanks to the fat and crispiness of the fries and the acidity and bubbles in the champagne. Mmmm….
The $666 burger has gotten a lot of media attention but for the description, we’ll cut right to the owner of 666 Burger, a food truck (yes, this burger comes from a truck, presumably relocated to the Hamptons for the season):
“Kobe beef patty (wrapped in gold leaf), foie gras, caviar, lobster, truffles, imported aged gruyere cheese (melted with champagne steam) kopi luwak bbq sauce and Himalayan rock salt. It may not taste good, but it will make you feel rich as f–k. Douche.”
Hey-oh! That’s some spicy talk to go with the champagne-melted gruyere! Even though the 666 burger man only sold one burger and more or less admits it’s a hoax, which wine would you pair with this burger? Something to go with the lobster, the caviar, the kopi luwak sauce? Or match the minerality of the gold leaf? Goldschlaeger? Ace of Spades, the “gold bottle”? Or just a magnum douchy wine? Or is it…impossible?!?
Okay, we just did an “impossible” challenge but it reeked of pipi and April foolery. So here’s something more useful: five veggie burger recipes via the Times, where the article was as high as number two on the most emailed article list over the weekend.
Seeing it on the way to the Trade Joe’s, we decided we would try it out here at the Dr. Vino World Headquarters. We made the “curried lentil, rice and carrot burgers” and they were pretty good (though the cumin smell will linger in the kitchen for days). It was so impossible for me to pair with wine that I went with a Bengali Tiger, the supremely balanced and utterly delicious IPA from Sixpoint brewery in Brooklyn.
There are other challenges on the list: Beet, Rice and Goat Cheese Burgers; Quinoa and Vegetable Burgers With Asian Flavors; Mushroom and Grain Cheeseburgers. Each has a particular aspect making it difficult, but at least a couple can offer some fun red wine pairings for vegetarians. Unless you think they are…impossible?!?
Ah, spring is in the air. And people around the world are thinking about eggs. Here, we have bunnies who lay colored and chocolate eggs. In China, it turns out, the springtime air in Dongyang fills with the smell of hot urine and the gastronome’s mind in that city then turns to…eggs. Let’s hear the recipe for this “delicacy” from Reuters: “Basins and buckets of boys’ urine are collected from primary school toilets. Eggs are then soaked and cooked in the urine.” A vendor touted the health properties, saying “If you eat this, you will not get heat stroke.” A shopper who was buying 20 eggs pushed the health angle further: “we will not have any pain in our waists, legs and joints. Also, you will have more energy when you work.”
Given China’s growing interest in wine, perhaps they need a little help with the wine pairing? If you were a sommelier in Dongyang, what would you serve with urine-boiled eggs–or is it impossible?!! A sauvignon blanc with notes of pipi de chat?
Chef Yannick Alléno, recipient of three Michelin stars, adores New York hot dogs. According to a piece in the NYT Dining section, he loves the hot dog so much that he wanted to make a French version, out of calf heads. Instead of calling it literally a “chien chaud,” he opted for truth in labeling, going with “veau chaud” (hot calf). Site reader Caleb Ganzer writes in to see if we might try to pair it up. And to that we reply “fo sho with the veau chaud”
So here’s a bit more on the dish that can be eaten without a plate. The nine-inch sausage is made from “edible bits of a cooked calf head, or tête de veau” (brains and eyes excluded). Served on a mulitgrain (!) baguette, the dog, or calf, is topped with gribiche sauce, which is a vinaigrette with capers, cornichons, and hard boiled egg, herbs and mustard.
“I have adapted the ‘dog’ to the true ambience of Paris,” Alléno told the Times. “There is nothing more Parisian than tête de veau.”
And there’s nothing more French than wine! So which wine would you pair with it? Or is it…impossible?!?
Over the weekend I was out to dinner at a nice restaurant and encountered something I hadn’t seen for a while: the iceberg wedge slathered in blue cheese and bits of bacon. I told my cousin sitting next to me that I was surprised to see this retro dish on the menu, remarking that the last place I had read about it was when Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft with a net worth of $14 billion, was “dipping bits of iceberg lettuce into a ramekin of blue cheese dressing” at his canteen, a private dining room at a Seattle steakhouse. My cousin assured me that is coming back thought not as comfort food as I had suspected, but as an ironic appetizer. Yes, ironic!
Well, no matter why it’s coming back, the dish is appearing on tables again. And if that’s the case, then let’s help the Steve Ballmer and others. Which wine would you pair with an iceberg wedge and blue cheese dressing (bacon optional)? Or does that blue cheese dressing make it…impossible?
Recipe and photo credit at seriouseats.com
Is food-wine pairing dead? Never! And the same is true of our “impossible” pairings. So by request, we kick off 2012 with an easy one for you: grilled cheese.
Yes, it’s comfort food. And, no, it’s not impossible as the bread-cheese duo is the basis of so many delicious staples from pizza to ravioli. So raise the degree of difficulty, if you so desire, by adding a twist to the classic by suggesting your favorite cheese. (Incidentally, Ruth Reichl gave some tips last week on Gilt Taste about how to make grilled cheese better, including grating the cheese and adding a thin layer of mayo!) Who knows, maybe your grilled cheese will be graced by a depiction of the Virgin Mary it and you can sell it for $28k on eBay!
Bryan, who asked the question originally, said he went with Australian cheddar and a Simon Bize Savigny-les-Beaune 2009. How would you spin it?
My wife has a dilemma: she loves red wine and she is a vegetarian. Granted, by picking the right reds–lighter varieties such as pinot noir, gamay, or poulsard–or the right vegetables–mushrooms or lentils–the problems are surmountable and the results rewarding. Nonetheless, my wife represents what may well be a growing number of Americans who eat less or no meat, urged on by Michael Pollan (“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”) and Mark Bittman (who recently suggested eating a vegan diet once a week). Heck, there are even vegan bodybuilders! (I also eat a mostly vegetarian diet but enjoy whites more than my wife, which reduces the food-wine pairing dilemma.)
Many wine enthusiasts have drawn a line in the pomace and said no to wines over a certain alcohol percentage. But the changing food preferences of Americans may represent the greater challenge to high-octane reds since they generally make for lousy partners with seafood, lighter, or plant-based fare. And don’t forget spice. Much Indian food is vegetarian and spicy; dousing it with a 15% Chateauneuf du Pape sounds to me more like a recipe for pain, not pleasure. The big reds are easy to pair with the fat and protein of grilled meat but if Americans are feasting less on flesh, the treacly cabernet producers of the world face a challenge (as do the oak barrel makers of the world).
Charlie Trotter is one chef who put vegetarian cuisine literally on equal footing with meats since diners at his restaurant had a choice of either a meat menu or non-meat menu. So with news this week that he is closing his restaurant in August after 25 years, it seemed timely to broach the subject of how a vegetarian diet could impact the wine world. My wife and I have fond memories of Charlie Trotter’s since we lived in the adjacent building after we were married. One dinner we had there that highlighted the difficulties of vegetarian pairings was an all-tomato menu, a challenge for any wine, but particularly challenging to wash down with young Cabernet (unfortunately, I can’t recall what we had).
Anyway, with bacon-drenched everything appearing these days (ice cream, vodka, toothpaste, and the “explosion”), it’s not as if vegetarians are “occupying” the dining rooms of the world’s finest restaurants. But eating less meat appears to have taken hold in America and, for the wines that people actually drink wine (as opposed to collecting and flipping it), this will likely have an impact.