Posts Tagged ‘Food & Wine Pairings’
As I pack up to embark on my next journey, I can’t help but drool over all that I’ve discovered about Croatia’s gastronomical selection.
Croatia is described to have the “cuisine of the regions. “ With each region having its own distinct culinary traditions, its heterogeneous food selection is most notably divided between those on the mainland and those in coastal regions. The mainland cuisine is heavily influence by the earlier Slavic, and more modern Hungarian, Viennese and Turkish flavors. The coastal region bears tastes similar to those of the Greek, Roman, Illyrian and more Mediterranean cultures. Italian and French cuisine are also heavily represented in Croatia.
The region of Istria is particularly famous for its harvesting of truffles. Truffles are a rare and precious mushroom species unearthed by pigs and specially trained dogs. Rest assured that I will be eating a lot of pasta a risotto dishes seasoned with this fungi! Lamb is a most highly valued meat, and most traditionally boiled or cooked on an open fire.
The Dalmatian coast serves up some of the best and freshest seafood, straight from the Adriatic Sea. The island of Pag is famous for Pag cheese, made from sheep’s milk. Having a sharp flavor and often served with olives, I will be sure to enjoy it along side a glass of local wine.
The cuisine of the northwest specializes in simple traditional cuisine. Several specialties of this area include: buckwheat porridge, turkey with mlinci (pasta taters), strudels, and pumpkin cake with poppy seeds. In addition to this, the curating of meats is quite popular, with winter salami, blood sausages, and garlic sausages being commonly eaten. Boiled smoked pork leg with potato or bean salad with onion is a very traditional dish. Sweets definitely don’t go unnoticed in Croatia. Traditionally, deserts are pastry dishes. The palacinke, or Croatian pancakes are stuffed with walnuts or chocolate and served with ice cream, and are a national favorite.
While Croatia has over 300 geographically developed wine regions, it is divided into two main ones: Continental (Kontinetalna), and Coastal (Primiorska), which includes the country’s surrounding islands. Continental Croatia, which is the inland wine region, hosts a climate with hot summers and cold winters. Production in this area is concentrated in white wine varieties. Producing white wines, which are characteristically rich and fruity, share a similar style with the neighboring countries: Hungary, Slovania, and Austria. This continental climate supports the Grasevina vine, producing crisp, light refreshing and aromatic wines. Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are also very popularly produced varietals in this region. While less commonly produced as compared to white wine, the Frankovka is the most popular red wine grape.
The Coastal wine region runs along the Adriatic coast line. Hillside slopes and islands of this region are home to a multitude of small winegrowing estates. This region has a more Mediterranean climate with long, hot, dry summers, and mild, short, wet winters, being particularly well suited for grape harvesting and winemaking. The northern part of the coast, Istria, produces mainly bold dry Bordeaux reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, while the southern edge of the cost, Dalmatia, homes a wide range of wines and regard the preservation of terroir to be of the utmost importance.
Does anyone have their own personal fav food or wnes that I must try while we’re in Croatia?
The official wine of the PGA Tour is Beringer Vineyards and this week at the Cadillac Championship Beringer’s iconic Winemaker Laurie Hook flew out from Napa to join Jody and Wine Portfolio in Florida. She was on hand to let us in on some of Beringer’s latest vintages and to tour Wine Portfolio around the facilities Beringer has set up for golf fans. Like our own Jody Ness, Laurie and Beringer like to help spread the love of wine and as the Official Wine of the PGA Tour they’re doing a great job of connecting with new wine drinkers.
Later in the day Laurie and Executive Chef Timothy Hughes of 5300 Chop House, the well known restaurant at Hyatt Miami at The Blue sat down with Jody over some food and wine to talk about the always hotly debated subject of food and wine pairing. Wine Portfolio fans can look forward to a great discussion on the theories of how to approach food and wine pairings from the perspective of a respected Winemaker and a Chef who takes his ingredients and flavors very seriously. Jody tried to stay neutral during this great discussion but since he is both a restaurateur and a wine lover, he also brought his own perspective.
In the end the debate was not settled as the passion for what food goes with what wine and how to best enjoy and complement the flavor of each is as timeless and ultimately as unanswerable as whether the chicken or the egg came first! However some great food and delicious wine was enjoyed overlooking the 12th fairway of the TPC Blue Monster at Doral. There are better jobs in the world, but at the moment I can’t think of them. If you would like to learn more about Laurie Hooks’ thoughts on wine and food pairings go to Beringer and for more on current menus visit 5300 Chop House.
They say love is in the eye of the beholder and who are we to argue. A quick look around any restaurant and you’ll see an astonishing array of weird and marvelous couples proving that other old adage that opposites attract. So if people from such different backgrounds can hook up and make it work what about food and wines that seem to contrast rather than complement?
Traditionally wine pairing has followed simple rules such as match likes with likes, add sweet wine to sweet deserts or serve bold wines to cut through big meat dishes. But is this really all there is to know with respect to matchmaking food and wine? Of course not, and let me show you why?
First off, wine pairing is an art and not a science so that the only rule that applies is, well there are no rules. Sure there are guidelines and logical practices, but wine pairing is more like a blind date than a stable marriage, you never really know how things are going to go and what’s going to work.
So without further ado here is a short list of some of our favorite non-traditional wine pairings
Goldfish crackers & Riesling – I love this one. The cheddary crunch of the goldfish snacks accent the light style and residual sweetness of a Riesling. In a similar way I also like combining salted peanuts or even popcorn with bubbly. In Thailand the theaters serve alcohol and so there is something decadently fun about having a bag of popcorn and a sweet Italian Prosecco or a tart and dry Champagne. Trust me it makes any Rob Schneider movie funny. Ok maybe not any of his movies, but it is a nice pairing.
Egg rolls and Pinot Grigio. Yep this is a favorite of a Sommelier we met in Hong Kong. I tried it and he’s right. The oil and fresh veggies of the egg roll work perfectly with a typical Pinot Grigio. For desert try pairing a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with a Cabernet Sauvignon. The king of red grapes’ high tannins and complex fruits work well with the peanut buttery goodness of the snack. It tastes like a PB&J sandwich.
Next up how about Asparagus and Sauvignon Blanc? Both taste grassy and earthy and both complement each other’s unique flavors. Or what about eggs and a Pinot Noir? They work well together as the Pinot’s fruit and spice helps make the eggs come alive. Think of it as Oeuf and Burgundy and it sounds like a much more sophisticated meal.
When we were in Argentina we tried fish tacos with a Torrontes, a fruity, floral and dry white wine varietal. The delicate wine stood up nicely to the hot spicy tacos and complemented the heavy use of lime juice on the meat. It shouldn’t have worked but it did, just like ginger bread and Gewurztraminer proved to be a nice pairing and hot dogs and a Dry Rose have become a new fav.
One thing I have learned over the years is that you can’t predict another person’s taste in partners or in pairings. And so attraction and taste really is a truly personal matter and if you like something or someone, who are we to judge? I say enjoy and go for it.
Ok that’s it for me, now it is your turn. What are some of your most surprising food and wine pairings?