I have been given a task to start building tasting menus for Louis to begin pitching our wine/dinner pairings. This clues me in a a couple of things.
1. I have to build up my cellar a bit
2. I have to invite people over for dinner as I begin to plan pairings.
Before that can happen, I have to do some homework - which I started this week. I'm working on the triangulations of flavors. Those that know me well may scratch their heads and think, "Hmmm, now I've NEVER heard that word come out of Margo's mouth", and they'd be right. I don't mean to make this sound complicated - because I always believe that one should go with your gut, but I need to have the gut feel in the back pocket and the next level of more subtle matches. For example - I love duck with plum sauce. Cabernet Sauvignon is a natural blend with duck - both are hearty, but plums are a better match with merlot (and its plummy flavors)than a cab, which will overwhelm the plum. Duck L'Orange will stand up to a Cab, but a berry or a plum sauce won't. Hence triangulations.
I've been putting flavor mixes and trying to come up with matches, specifically, matches with Amalthea's wines. As I build my stores, I will put together more recipes, but to hone my taste, I'm working with both Amalthea wines and what I have in house. For example - tonight, after a long week(lots of work, ex giving my daughter a hard time about a band rehearsal, mom in the nursing home, etc), I decide to treat myself to dinner.
I didn't want to eat out, I'd been working in my sweats all day with a baseball hat on my head and wasn't motivated enough to change. So I decided to leverage the vegetables in the freezer. I've been pouring over Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food, and decided to make her version of Mushroom Ragu. Most ragu's that I've seen are very heavy on the tomato; Waters' recipe is more like a mushroom bolognese. It's a simple (pardon the pun) recipe and incredibly rich and delicious. Waters calls for heavy creme or creme fraiche, but I substituted half and half - it didn't hurt it at all. it was fabulous. I had also picked up some broccoli rabe and some beets at the market - I parboiled the rabe and the beet greens, then did a light saute with some garlic, olive oil and beef stock. It was wonderful and hearty - I put a dollop of greens on top of the dish. It was comforting and not too heavy.
I paired the dish with a cabernet sauvignon -
in this case, a Chilean cab that came in my wine club selection. The heartiness of the cab, marries well with the earthiness of the mushrooms and cuts through the creaminess that is the background of the sauce. A great way to spend a Friday evening.