At the end of the night I sat down with a new dish from the Menu. I actually made the dish myself with the very close supervision of the sous chef because I barely cook beyond scrambled eggs… I know way too much about food but have been debilitatingly spoiled by chefs for years. The dish has a very dense rigatoni like pasta from Gragnano in southern Italy. The sauce is a porcini crema with a little lemon juice for acidity. Spring vegetables like peas, morels, and pickled fiddle heads are added to the dish. Over all it is green tasting, mushroomy in that porcini kind of way. The pickled fiddle heads lend more acidity to the lemon juice’s subliminal acidity.
In my opinion as delicious as the dish is, this is simple stuff and can’t really justify itself headlining a supposedly alto cucina restaurant’s menu without a pairing worked out to elevate it. My simple strategy was to grab every open bottle of white wine available plus the lightest red (because I feel red barely goes with food), try and call my shots like in shooting pool and see what happens. (I was not very good at calling my shots so I gave up)
With whitehaven’s new zealand sauvignon blanc the flavors of dill were obnoxiously revealed in the wine which i guess paired but was far from fun and elegant
bridlewood’s viognier was too low acid for the dish and tasted thinner
a strange rather full bodied pinot grigio brought into focus intense nut flavors so I guess it might have paired because there was an interesting reaction but it was again not really elegant or worth a second sip. I think this is the style of wine that most books would recommend with this wine in theory but that is why we need new books…
terra di paolo’s falanghina is this very dry white wine with pear like fruit, and very subtle herbaceous notes like pinenut and rosemary… it is so amalfi probably like the dish… but when you drink the wine following a bite of the dish the stunning unembellished flavor of the porcini is reflected back into focus in your mouth contrasted with the beautiful pear flavor in the wine and you have the most ideal pairing… exploring the pickled fiddlehead element of the dish also proved no negatives… though there wasn’t enough of them to explore it with every wine…
the red was barely worth mentioning. edmeades mendacino zinfandel is in my portfolio of advanced food wines but even in its lightness and rare for a zinfandel acidity it was too full bodied for the dish…
Unfortunately restaurants hate investing in pairing R&D but when you can really link food and wine with a successful pairing it is very profitable. People guzzle things that work. They are either trying to figure out how and why the magic happens or enjoying it all simply subliminally. When trying to make money it sucks to see a guy put down his glass of red wine while he enjoys his fish and then doesn’t return to it until he is done.
Would it be weird if restaurants developed perfect wine pairings for every dish with the sole goal of the making money and the art was cast aside solely to move more wine? Amusement and pleasure are only byproducts. Shouldn’t the market system really drive the art and science of food and wine interaction yet it appears to have barely gotten anywhere?