A cheese and wine habit

I have a confession to make, a dark secret, a deep flaw, an unspeakable weakness in my otherwise pristine character. I cannot resist cheese. As far as I remember, I was never able to control myself around a piece of cheese. During the month I spent in Paris around the holidays, I’m pretty sure 75% of my meals were cheese and bread with sometimes a bit of lunch meat thrown in for good measure.

And, well, I did it again… Last weekend in New York City I wandered into a dark place, a place of addiction and despair, a place of cheese. This is my story, may God have mercy on my soul and may it serve as a warning to you. Don’t let your children get hooked up on camembert.

So yeah, cheese. Cheese and wine actually, I found a bistro that offers a few cheese and wine flights designed to go together, and, since I have a problem, I had not one, but two such flights : six cheeses, six wines. It made for a beautiful way to start the day.

Flight number 1:

cheese flight 1

Delice de Bourgogne with Ca’Furlan Prosecco (Veneto, Italy)

The pear and orange aromas of the wine compliment the creamy, dairy-like flavors of the cheese. The pairing makes it lighter, crisper, it cleans the palate and supports the cheese

Robbiola due latti with Three Saints Chardonnay (Napa Valley, California)

The cheese is very creamy and the wine very oaky. It works out well, without the oakiness the wine wouldn’t be able to keep up with the strong flavor. Both wine and cheese have a nutty taste that makes for a really nice finish.

Pont-L’Eveque with Louis Jadot Santenay (Burgundy, France)

Pont-L’Eveque is an intense, funky cheese from Normandy, kinda like the weird cousin of camembert. The Santenay as enough acidity to hold its own and cut through the funkiness, the aromas of tart red berries from the wine give a necessary dose of freshness to your taste buds

Flight Number 2:

cheese flight 2

Pecorino with Hugel Riesling (Alsace, France) :

Both wine and cheese have a salty, mineral side that blend together and create something even better.

Brillat-Savarin with Olivier Leflaire Bourgogne Blanc (Burgundy, France)

Brillat-Savarin is the creamiest cheese ever. The simple chardonnay with good acidity is a good match, it’s actually a very classic match between creamy cheese and acidic wine to cut some of that fat from the cheese

Epoisses with Chateau Haut-Selve, Graves (Bordeaux, France)

Ah, Epoisses,… Stinky, almost liquid, delicious Epoisses. A cheese that you are allowed to eat with a spoon… Here paired with a very fruity Bordeaux it’s the cheese that provides acidity and the wine that is rounder. Another great pairing.

After all that cheese and wine I stepped back into the sunny streets of NYC. So, I have a little bit of an addiction, but I can stop whenever I want! The only thing is that, well, I really don’t want to.

New Year’s Eve wine and food ramblings

I’ll be flying home for the holidays on Friday, a couple weeks in Paris to see family and friends, celebrate Christmas and send 2013 off in style. I know that NYE is overrated but I’ll just have a few good friends with me and we’ll have a good dinner with good wines, no big production.

That leaves me with a task, dinner for ten people or so to plan. What will I make and what will we drink with it? What should I ask guests to bring and what will we drink with it? It seems a daunting task, not so much the cooking but the battle plan preparation. Once I know what, the rest is just logistics and execution. But right now, I’m staring at an almost blank canvas.

Almost blank because, thankfully, I know a few variables already

– There will be champagne with snacks because we are civilized people. And civilized people have champagne with snacks, let’s not be vulgar. I think I still have a few bottles of Cattier hidden in the cellar.

Cattier

–  There will be foie gras because we are savages and we eat fattened duck or goose liver. Also because a guest has South-western France connections and that’s where foie gras comes from. Also because I love foie gras. The accompanying wine is a sweet white, Sauternes is the common choice, I tend to prefer Jurancon but they will both do.

–  There will be cheese because I live in the US and while I visit France I need to have as much delicious unpasteurized fermented milk with as many living organisms in them as possible. I’d like to serve white with cheese because I often feel it’s a better match. Ideally I’d like to find a white from the Jura region in Eastern France.

szrzU_plateau_fromage_11

And… that’s all I have so far. I still need to choose a main dish that I’ll make, I really don’t know what to make. I like to cook New-Orleans inspired dishes but I’m not sure it’ll work. I might end up going super-French and make blanquette de veau or something like that. Or I’ll just ask my guest what they want to eat.

Guests will also bring dessert and I’ll have to find something that matches, I’m not worried about that one (to be fair, I’m not worried about any of it, I just made this a bigger deal than it is because I needed to stretch it into a blog post…)

I’m not sure if we’ll have port and cigars and discuss stocks afterwards. We’re in our early thirties and might not be at this point yet, we’ll play it by ear, it will be fun, it always is. And if I do my job right and get the right wines, everybody should be in a good mood when 2014 rolls in.

The wine & food pairing challenge

A colleague of mine (at my normal, pay the bills job) recently learned that I was taking wine tasting classes and asked me for wine recommendations. I decided to make a game out of it and told her to send me a list of dishes and I would come up with a wine for each entry. The idea was to limit myself to wines I’ve tasted recently (and for some of them, wrote about). Here are the results. I’ll try to get feedback on how it worked out. What do you think? Also, feel free to give me some more dishes to match, it’s one area I’m trying to get better !

Veal MarsalaCostamolino Vermentino di Sargegna, Sardinia, Italy

Eggplant parmesan (red sauce) : Vignole Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy

Chicken Broccoli Ziti (white sauce) : Pewsey Vale, Eden Valley Dry Riesling, Barossa Valley, Australia

Baked/broiled Salmon (with veggies)Raats Family Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Roasted Chicken : Nicky Pinot Noir, Hahn winery, Central Coast, California

Baked TurkeyPine Ridge Dijon Clones Chardonnay, Carneros, California

Curried/Thai Chicken : Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier, Napa Valley, California

Beef Stew : Gnarly Dudes Barossa Valley Shiraz

Steak & mashed potatoesRib Shack Red, Western Cape, South Africa

Lamb chops : St Supery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California