I am not that much of a superserious food-and-wine pairing guy anymore. I love to cook and I love to drink wine. And when both are excellent, they seem to just about always go together. I am not that interested anymore in what sometimes feels like the food-and-wine academy or gastronomic temple, despite attending courses at Le Cordon Bleu in London in the early 1990s and having eaten in my share of Michelin three-star restaurants all over the world. It's not that fun anymore.
Nonetheless, I remember some great food-and-wine matches in my life, such as a roasted chicken with slivers of black truffle between the skin and meat with a vanilla sauce and served with a Domaine des Comte Lafon Meursault at Lucas Carton restaurant in Paris in the mid-1990s. Or, just thinking this morning in my pajamas, I remember tiny roasted birds in the kitchen of Alain Ducasse in Monte Carlo in the early 1990s with a bottle of 1971 d'Yquem.
At the same time, I remember drinking a Talbot 2003 from a paper cup at Tommy's Burger in downtown L.A. with a film director buddy. The young claret was the perfect foil to the greasy chili burger. Not really, but I liked the idea!
At home I always love to eat smoked Scottish salmon with chopped fennel, lemon juice and Tuscan olive oil with a glass of crisp, simple and appley Chablis. Then there is the weekly margherita pizza from my local pizzeria and a few glasses of Barbera from Vietti.
I was thinking of this the other night in Pasadena, Calif., when I stopped in and visited a couple of friends in the restaurant business, David Haskell and Joshua Goldman. David is running the wine bar/restaurant Vertical and Josh is head sommelier for the Langham Huntington Hotel. They worked together at David's late West Hollywood wine bar, Bin 8945.
Anyway, they both laid on some cool food-and-beverage combinations that were memorable to say the least, and most didn't even include wine. One of my favorites was David's 12-hour braised short ribs with Don Julio Tequila 1942 Añejo. The fiery tequila cut through the fatty meat and finished with an artichoke and spice aftertaste. Josh added a mindblowing combo of Belgium ale from the Duchesse de Bourgogne with small pieces of pigeon pastrami with sauerkraut gelée topping. The slightly off-dry, sour ale turned dry and fruity and intensified the smoky flavors of the pigeon.
In the right environment with the right people, complex food-and-bevy combos can be a fun and thought-provoking experience. I think fun is the most important thing. What was your last great pairing?
Peter Vangsness — Springfield, MA — January 20, 2010 3:17pm ET
Stephen Stewart — new mexico — January 20, 2010 4:31pm ET
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Luca Sanjust — petrolo , toscana , italia — January 22, 2010 12:12pm ET
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Paul M Hummel — Chicago, — January 23, 2010 6:56pm ET
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Leonard Cupo M D — Honolulu, Hawaii — January 26, 2010 6:09am ET
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