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.
A team from National Geographic ventures into a pharmacy in Hong Kong. They try to discern the medicinal from the “magic potions.”
Bringing back memories of The Great White North, they crack open a bottle of mouse wine–yes, it is what you think it is. Then they sample three penis wine described as “a delicate blend of dog, deer, and seal penis” that helps kidneys and “male sexual power.” They describe it as “creamier” than the mouse wine. Go figure.
We usually try to pair wines with wacky foods, but what dish would you pair with three penis wine? Or is it too hard, nay, impossible?!?!
With gold at $1,800, Ron Paul polling third among the Republican candidates, and people flocking to a wine cellar for safety, is it any wonder that Costco is currently marketing a one year’s supply of food? Called Shelf Reliance THRIVE, it’s dehydrated, freeze-dried, and comes in big cans. All the better for storing in your bunker! (One commenter points out that it’s a lean 1,220 calories a day amortized over a whole year. And the ability to boil water is required for some of them!)
So, if you had to tuck away a year’s supply of wine to pair with such delicacies as Taco TVP–textured vegetable protein–what would it be? Or is it…impossible?!? Given that all the food costs $799, ratchet up the degree of difficulty by trying to keep under that number. (Needless to say, a $10 bottle every night in your bunker would cost $3,650 for a year.)
So a new mother is quoted in a New York magazine article on cooking placenta. No, not polenta–placenta. I’ve never delivered a placenta personally, so maybe that’s why I find it a little difficult to, erm, swallow. But the NYmag story highlights various preparations including raw, popped in the blender with coconut water and banana, stewed with ginger, lemon, and a jalapeño pepper, and even pill form.
So let’s help the new mothers (and new fathers?) out there as only enophiles can with the fruit of their own labor and the fruits of the vine: which wine would you pair with placenta–or is it impossible?!?
Ah, Iowa. Every four years, politicians stampede your county fairs, kissing babies, shaking hands and eating fried foods. This year provides the spectacle of a raft of socially conservative Republican contenders chowing down on foot-long corn dogs. Doesn’t the Bible say something about that? Anyway, let’s help them as only enophiles can: which wine would you pair with corn dog on a stick…or is it impossible?!?
And for those who were wondering about pairing wine and the Bible, check out our archive post on Jesus, oinos, and the marriage at Cana.
As of today, the venerable contract for pork bellies is no longer trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. So important was the contract at one point, the CME was once known as the “House that Bellies Built.” But it was Eddie Murphy who cemented the contract in popular culture using it in his explanation of market dynamics (see below). Even though bacon has off-the-charts popularity today, interest in the contract had dwindled to two a day–both from the same trader.
So let us honor the now-defunct contract as only Bacchus would–pairing it with wine! Let me use my blogger’s privilege to launch the thread by suggesting…a great off-dry Riesling. The sweetness and acidity are a magical pairing (assuming you’re not a vegetarian) with the saltiness and fattiness of the pork. Which wine say you?
More Eddie Murphy after the jump! Read more…