Pan-Fried Trout and Hazelnuts … with a Savennieres

Pairing:  Pan-Fried Trout Paired with a 2006 Baumard Savenniéres

Food:  Close your eyes … you can just smell the woodsmoke and hear the crackle of the open campfire as you fry up your fresh catch of trout from nearby in the famed waters of the Yellow Breeches. I can dream, can’t I? Alas, the trout for this meal was bought at the local fish market (sigh). But this is a favorite meal of ours, and ridiculously easy and fast. Pan fry some trout filets with some butter slowly in a heavy skillet. When the trout is just about cooked through, throw in a handful of toasted hazelnuts with a little more butter, if needed roll the hazelnuts around in the butter, and serve the trout with pearl couscous (also called Israeli Couscous) cooked in fish stock (perhaps made with the heads and bones of the trout). Lovely fresh green broccoli provides the final piece for this perfect meal. Enjoy!

Trout with Sauvenier

Wine:  Speaking of perfection … the wine we’ve chosen to pair with the trout, a Baumard Savennières, is absolutely out of this world. Savennières is a tiny village in the western part of the  Loire Valley, an extensive wine region south and southwest of Paris. It is made from the Chenin Blanc grape, which is also the grape of another Loire Valley wine, Vouvray.  The grape is believed to have originated in the Anjou area of Loire dating as far back as the 9th Century (though the name Chenin Blanc was first documented in the 16th Century). The point is that it is a very old variety and first appeared in this part of the world. And for our purposes Savennières is the perfect accompaniment for the trout.


Tasting Notes:  A lovely color of straw with some greenish tints. Aromas of ripe melon and fragrant apple blossoms tickle your nose. On the palate, a medley of tropical fruits provide a delightful consortium of flavors. Its like a delicate bowl of fruits with just a hint of sweetness. The depth of the wine … this 2006 has aged over eleven years …  yields an extraordinary complexity and ripeness. And the wine complements and brings out the buttery flavors of the trout and hazelnuts. This is without a doubt the best wine from the Loire Valley we have ever tasted. I hope our readers will get a chance to enjoy it.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Pan-Fried Trout: Riesling (Alsace), Chenin Blanc (South Africa), Pouilly-Fumé (Loire Valley), Prosecco (Italy), Chardonnay (Western Australia)

Other Foods That Pair Well with Savennieres:  Shellfish (Mussels, Clams, Scallops, etc). Crab, Lobster, White Fish, Apple Dishes

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Mushroom and Chicken Risotto … with an Unoaked Chardonnay

Pairing:  Mushroom and Chicken Risotto Paired with a 2012 Iron Horse Unoaked Chardonnay

Food: Marcella Hazan was arguably the leading authority on Italian cuisine for generations of home cooks, and her seminal work, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, is widely considered to be the bible of Italian cooking. Our dish is an adaptation of her Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms from this cookbook just with some pieces of cooked chicken added to the risotto at the end. Follow the link for the recipe. If you are a fan of mushrooms (like we are), the wonderful earthy flavors of this dish are without equal. But the chicken doesn’t let the mushrooms overwhelm the dish. Can’t think of any superlatives to give it justice.

Mushroom and Chicken Rissoto

Wine:  Many of us associate Chardonnay with big, bold, buttery flavors. Those flavors are actually a result of aging the wine in oak barrels for part of the aging process. The influence of the oak on the wine depends on the length of time the wine stays in the barrel, whether it is new or old oak, French or American oak. The skill of the winemaker in managing the oak determines the taste and quality of the Chardonnay.

Some winemakers, however, choose to forgo the oak and let the pure, unaltered flavor of the Chardonnay grape be the centerpiece of the wine … an Unoaked Chardonnay. That part of Burgundy called Chablis is probably the most well known wine region in the world producing Unoaked Chardonnay, though for this meal we are pairing one from the Green Valley in Sonoma, California.

Iron Horse Unoaked Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:  A clean, smooth golden wine, but with a crispness reminiscent of a Soave or Pinot Grigio. The nose brings forth aromas of some light citrus and green apple, while flavors of ripe peaches and tropical fruit (even a little pineapple) emerge on the palate.  A lovely complement to this risotto.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Mushroom Risotto:  Pinot Noir (California), Soave Classico (Italy), Pinot Grigio (Italy), White Burgundy (France)

Other Food That Pairs Well with an Unoaked Chardonnay:  Curries, Guacamole, Grilled or Roasted Pork, Grilled Shrimp, Grilled Salmon

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Mediterranean Vegetables and Lamb Pasta … with a California Cabernet

Pairing:  Mediterranean Vegetables, Lamb, and Romano Cheese on Penne paired with 2011 Dutcher Crossing Taylor Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Food:  They say (though I’m not exactly sure who) that “necessity is the mother of invention”. And we need to deal with those leftover Mediterranean veggies (cubed and sautéed eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onion and a bit of garlic) and ground lamb … in the back of the fridge  … leftover from different meals enjoyed earlier in the week … before they go bad.  Hmmmm … what to do … ah … throw them all into some pasta. Grate a generous amount of Romano cheese, add some rosemary or thyme, and drizzle with a little olive oil. That was easy!

Pasta with Med Veg

Wine:  True confession … for years, I didn’t like Cabernet Sauvignon. How, you say, could I possibly not like the most widely consumed red wine in the world? Maybe it was my own little rebellion … who knows. Well, a few years back, we were driving through the Dry Creek Valley area of Sonoma wine country north of San Francisco Bay stopping at small, lesser known wineries sampling their wines. Dutcher Crossing winery turned out to be our very favorite. One sip of their Cabernet Sauvignon and I was hooked. It was terrific, and I have been enjoying Dutcher and many other Cabs ever since. What was I thinking? … (sigh) … one of life’s little lessons … don’t give up on a wine … it could surprise you!  Note:  Dutcher Crossing is a small winery and the best way to obtain their wines is directly from them through their website (see below).

Dutcher Taylor Cabernet

Tasting Notes:  On the nose one gets the delicate aroma of black currants similar to the smells you get when reaching into the currant bush while picking the fruit. Not surprisingly, on the palate you encounter a lush combination of fresh black currants combined with black currant jam … what a rush! Very soft tannins and the wine needed little or no decanting. The Cabernet Sauvignon proved to pair particularly nicely with the lamb, eggplant and Romano cheese ingredients of this dish. A worthy way to elevate the sometimes lowly status of leftovers!

Other Food That Pairs Well with Cabernet Sauvignon:  Pizza (made with blue cheese, leeks and chanterelles), Roast or Grilled Lamb, Eggplant Parmesan, Grilled Beef or Lamb Burgers, Steak

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Pasta Dish:  Bandol (Provence), Cote de Rhone (France), GSM (Australia), Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot Blend (Australia)

Enjoy the Views of Sonoma Wine Country:  sonoma county

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Two for One … Shrimp Salad and Peach/ Lime Pork each paired with Roero Arneis

Pairing:  (1) Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Salad, and (2) Pork Tenderloin in a Peach/ Lime Sauce, Each Paired with 2013 Cascina Spagnolo Roero Arneis (Italian White)

Food:  There are usually just the two of us home for dinner, and a bottle of wine typically lasts us two nights. So we plan for two meals that each will pair nicely with the same wine. This posting provides an example of this pairing with two very different meals that benefit from the same wine accompaniment.

The first meal is a recipe from Eating Well magazine for Chilled Maine Shrimp with Cabbage and Peanuts, Vietnamese-Style (see link). A most flavorful shrimp salad made with small shrimp, Chinese cabbage, cilantro, rice vinegar, peanut oil, fish sauce, Asian chili sauce, sugar, fresh ginger, shredded carrot, and unsalted peanuts.  A stellar shrimp salad with a conglomerate of bold flavors.

The second meal is simplicity itself. Rub a pork tenderloin with salt and black pepper. Cook on a hot grill pan. Make a basting sauce with peach nectar (or pureed peaches or peach jam/ marmalade) with some lime zest and soy sauce mixed in. Warm up the sauce on the stove, knapp some of the sauce onto the cooking pork. Serve the remaining sauce over the pork slices at the table.

  1. Wine:  The Piedmont wine region of northern Italy is most noted for the Nebbiolo grape, the single grape used in the making of the exquisite Barolo and Barbaresco red wines of the region. However, Arneis is a grape/ white wine that is gaining in popularity after teetering on the brink of extinction in the 1970’s, thanks mostly to the efforts of winemaker Alfredo Currado of the Vietti wine family (“Never doubt that one man can change the world …” – Margaret Mead). Roero has become the center for making the Arneis white wines, gaining such distinction that it is sometimes referred to as the white Barolo.

Roero Arneis Italian White

Tasting Notes:  A pretty pale gold color. The nose is a medley of fruit aromas … peach, melon, and citrus … each sniff bringing another fruit to the forefront.  The palate echoes the same fruits, the melon being ripe cantaloupe. There is a background hint of sweetness to the taste, along with the delight of white flowers. The finish brings back the citrus notes. A lovely pairing with the complex flavors of the Vietnamese-style salad. And the peach and lime flavors of the pork bring out the peach and citrus tones in the wine. Yet another wonderful Italian white wine, both by itself and paired up with good food.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Salad:  Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Vouvray (Loire Valley), Pinot Gris (Oregon), Unoaked Chardonnay (California), Soave (Italy)

Other Wines That Pair Well with Peach/ Lime Pork:  Chardonnay (California), Gewürztraminer (Alsace), Riesling (Germany), Viognier (Australia)

Other Foods That Pair Well with Roero Arneis:  Crab Salad, Pasta with Seafood, Poached White Fish, Clams

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Grilled Jerk Chicken and Summer Pasta … with Champagne (!?)

Pairing:  Grilled Jerk Chicken and Summertime Pasta Paired with NV Jean-Jaques Lamoureux “Réserve” Brut Champagne

Food:  “Jerk” is a cooking style originating in Jamaica, distinguished by the use of a spicy rub, either a dry rub or a wet marinade. For our Jerk, we combined 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 T brown sugar, 1 tsp each of dried thyme, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, dried garlic, mixed Italian seasonings, black pepper, and salt. Mix together all the ingredients and let the chicken pieces marinate in the mixture for 5 hours, turning occasionally. Grill the chicken over a wood charcoal fire (always best, if available), basting with the marinade. We’ve accompanied the chicken with Jacques Pépin’s Summertime Pasta from his cookbook Fast Food My Way. It’s an easy warm pasta salad made with diced tomatoes, zucchini, and mushrooms Click on the link for the recipe.

Grilled Jerk Chicken and Champage

Wine:  Yet one more example that Champagne pairs well with many, many disparate cuisines from around the world, and … one doesn’t have to be celebrating some special occasion to enjoy a glass of bubbly. Perhaps just enjoying the company of good friends. Lamoureux is a well respected small estate located near the pretty commune of Les Riceys in the far eastern part of the Champagne wine region, not far from the northern border of the Burgundy region. Lamoureux is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, mostly from the 2011 vintage blended with grapes from the 2009 and 2010 vintages.  Champagne is best described as a cool-climate region. Indeed it is among the most northerly wine regions in the world. And Pinot Noir thrives in this climate and soil.

Champagne Lamoureux

Tasting Notes:  Fine, persistent strings of bubbles in this lovely, straw-colored wine. The nose is dominated by a wonderful sweet, fresh apricot aroma. The flavors of ripe peaches and cantaloupe linger in sip after sip of this nose-tingling sparkler. The biscuit-y, creamy taste of the wine reminds one of eating fresh peach scones. Absolutely delicious. And the long, lingering finish leaves one with, once again, the taste of apricots. These fruit flavors, along with the tactile sensations created by the bubbles, play off beautifully with the spiciness of the jerk chicken. You’ve got to try this combination!

Another Surprise:  To further emphasize the point that Champagne goes with many unexpected foods … we drank the leftover Champagne on Memorial Day with our traditional meal of hot dogs roasted over an open fire, baked beans, and cole slaw. A perfect pairing!

Other Wines that Pair Well with Jerked Chicken:  Cava (Spain), Prosecco (Italy), Gewürztraminer (Alsace), Chardonnay (California), Dry Rosé

Other Food that Pairs Well with Champagne:  Smoked Salmon, Raw Oysters, Sushi, Lobster, Egg Dishes

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