One of the concepts we learn early in the process of appreciating wines and their origins is the notion that one should often match with the cuisine from the region in which the grapes are grown. That process works well as a general guide for pairing wine and food.
However, I also take mischievous pleasure in finding radically different cross-cultural matches, based only on my perceptions of the characteristics of the individual components in which I am interested.
For example, today’s lunch: Golden Beets and Spicy Guacamole with a Malvasia di Candia Aromatica (from Piacenza, Emilia Romagna region, Italy).
I had some time to play alone in our kitchen today, and it was a good time to invent. There were two triggers for the creation of the dish. One was the inspiration of an absolutely delicious spicy guacamole I had at abc cocina in NYC a few weeks ago. I wanted to replicate it , but my online research provided no definitive recipe, so I had to try out what I thought were the main ingredients.
- Finely minced raw onion
- Finely minced serrano pepper
- Sea salt
- Lime juice
Barbara makes guacamole often, and sometimes a good batch of avocado toast. However, I find these too bland for my palate. I want a lot of salt, acid, and spice, and her style ranges from little to none (she uses only one – avocado – of the 5 ingredients above). Today I pulled out my Molcajete (Mexican mortar, made in Thailand), and I made the dish MY way. Wow, what a difference!
The other trigger was the need to use the beet greens we had saved several days ago from a bunch of golden beets. I had steamed the beets and eaten all but one of them, but I needed to do something with the greens soon. These simply needed to be de-stemmed, washed well, and steamed in a non-stick pan with the liquid attached to the leaves, with a little olive oil and salt. The peppery greens were delicious, so I chopped them and put on a small plate as the base for the dish.
Next, I sliced the beet and got ready to assemble the dish.
Now, for the wine. I had an open bottle of Soave, but decided it was not acidic enough for this dish. A few days ago I attended a wine tasting in Cambridge for Mucci Wines’ 5th anniversary. One of the truly standout wines at that event was the 2016 Tollara Malvasia D.O.C. I loved meeting the owner and tasting her wines. A few days later, Jeff Nedeau at Farfalle in Concord put aside two bottles for me, and I picked them up over the weekend. Everything came together perfectly, and my lunch experiment was a success.