Archive for the ‘General’ Category

From The Grapevine…Noble Grapes

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

When beginning to pair food and wine together, it is important to lay a foundation of general knowledge as it pertains to grape varieties.  The easiest way to do this, in my opinion, is to begin with what are called “The Noble Six”.

The Noble varieties are so named since they are the most commonly planted varieties and the standard by which all grapes are grown and fine wine is made.  These six varieties are Sauvignon Blanc [SOH-vihn-YOHN BLAHNK], Chardonnay [SHAR-dun-nay], Riesling [REEZ-ling], Pinot Noir [PEE-noh-NWAHR], Merlot [mehr-LOH], and Cabernet Sauvignon [KAB-er-nay SOH-vin-NYOHN].  Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling are all white grapes and Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are all red grape varietals.  Both these red and white grape varietals make wines that have general aromas and flavors.  Knowing these generalities will assist you in knowing which wine to pair with your food.

Sauvignon Blancs are known for their citrusy and herbal aromas and flavors and are best paired with lean poultry, lean finfish and fresh goats cheese.  Chardonnay can be a tricky because you will need to know if they are oaked or un-oaked.  Old world varietals are usually lightly oaked, or un-oaked making them very food friendly.  With aromas and flavors resembling apples and pears, they go very well with lean poultry and pasta dishes with cream based sauces.  Oaky, New World Chardonnay (think California), go very well with butter sauces and rich seafood such as crab and lobster.  Then there are Rieslings, known for their rich honey and citrus notes, as well as their tendency to taste like dried apricots.  Rieslings can also have a lot of minerality making them a great pairing for pork, game birds, sushi and blue-veined cheeses.

Moving on to the reds, Pinot Noir, which is one of the most food friendly wines since it is fruit forward with good, balanced acid and medium tannins (the astringency in grapes), is known to be lush, fruit forward (resembling cherries and cranberries) and very earthy.  Pinot lends itself to be a great partner to mushroom risotto, Boeuf Bourguignon and braised lamb.  Merlot, a varietal known for its plum notes as well as having a vegetal quality goes very well with roasted or grilled meats, pizza and skin-on roasted poultry.  And lastly, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Similar in aroma and flavor to Merlot, there are also some subtle hints of black olive and eucalyptus.  These qualities make it a great match for meats done in robust cooking methods, and blue-veined cheeses.

Keeping these general, broad-stroke descriptions in mind will enable you to make a better pairing for all of your food.  Remember that wine can be the final sauce an accentuation of the flavors of your cuisine.

In the next issue…Classic Pairings and Gastronomic Identity.

From The Grape Vine…Noble Varieties

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Here is my second article written for the Culinary Business Academy newsletter.

When beginning to pair food and wine together, it is important to lay a foundation of general knowledge as it pertains to grape varieties.  The easiest way to do this, in my opinion, is to begin with what are called “The Noble Six”.

The Noble varieties are so named since they are the most commonly planted varieties and the standard by which all grapes are grown and fine wine is made.  These six varieties are Sauvignon Blanc [SOH-vihn-YOHN BLAHNK], Chardonnay [SHAR-dun-nay], Riesling [REEZ-ling], Pinot Noir [PEE-noh-NWAHR], Merlot [mehr-LOH], and Cabernet Sauvignon [KAB-er-nay SOH-vin-NYOHN].  Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling are all white grapes and Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are all red grape varietals.  Both these red and white grape varietals make wines that have general aromas and flavors.  Knowing these generalities will assist you in knowing which wine to pair with your food.

Sauvignon Blancs are known for their citrusy and herbal aromas and flavors and are best paired with lean poultry, lean finfish and fresh goats cheese.  Chardonnay can be a tricky because you will need to know if they are oaked or un-oaked.  Old world varietals are usually lightly oaked, or un-oaked making them very food friendly.  With aromas and flavors resembling apples and pears, they go very well with lean poultry and pasta dishes with cream based sauces.  Oaky, New World Chardonnay (think California), go very well with butter sauces and rich seafood such as crab and lobster.  Then there are Rieslings, known for their rich honey and citrus notes, as well as their tendency to taste like dried apricots.  Rieslings can also have a lot of minerality making them a great pairing for pork, game birds, sushi and blue-veined cheeses.

Moving on to the reds, Pinot Noir, which is one of the most food friendly wines since it is fruit forward with good, balanced acid and medium tannins (the astringency in grapes), is known to be lush, fruit forward (resembling cherries and cranberries) and very earthy.  Pinot lends itself to be a great partner to mushroom risotto, Boeuf Bourguignon and braised lamb.  Merlot, a varietal known for its plum notes as well as having a vegetal quality goes very well with roasted or grilled meats, pizza and skin-on roasted poultry.  And lastly, Cabernet Sauvignon.  Similar in aroma and flavor to Merlot, there are also some subtle hints of black olive and eucalyptus.  These qualities make it a great match for meats done in robust cooking methods, and blue-veined cheeses.

Keeping these general, broad-stroke descriptions in mind will enable you to make a better pairing for all of your food.  Remember that wine can be the final sauce an accentuation of the flavors of your cuisine.

In the next issue…Classic Pairings and Gastronomic Identity.

Eat Fresh, Eat Local

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Paying a little extra at my neighborhood produce stand for organically grown, fresh, local produce is little more than a reflex for me these days.  It isn’t even debatable.  Eating fresh and high quality produce will not only make your cooking that much better, it will make your HEALTH that much better.  Local produce stands will be willing to negotiate pricing with you if you buy things in bulk.  This will assist you with your canning projects and bulk storage needs.  Eating more local fruits and vegetables will also assist your local economy and keep local farmers in business to provide even more quality produce for your area.  Eat fresh, Eat Local!!!

Guidelines to Food & Wine Pairing

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Having trouble paring food with wine? Try referencing these guidelines to help.

1. Food sweetness level should be less than or equal to the wine sweetness level.
2. Food acidity level should be less than or equal to the wine’s acidity.
3. Highly salty foods work better with wines that have high effervescence.
4. The negative impact of bitter foods is lessened when combined with wines of moderate to high effervescence.
5. Wine tannin levels should be equal to meat fattiness levels.
6. Wine acidity should be equal to vegetable fattiness levels.
7. Overall body of the wine should be equal to the overall body of the food. (Exception is intensity).
Using these tips will aide you in making a successful match with your next dinner party.

A Taste of Spain

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In preparation for a trip to Spain this summer, I recently participated in a private tasting with Spanish sommelier, Jesús Sanguino Collado, from Junta de Castilla y León. We tasted nine wines from the region and conducted sensory evaluations of each varietal. We started with Verdejo, a “highly extractive, herbaceous and minerally complex” wine that is perfect with caramelized fennel bulb as an amuse bouche. After numerous other varietals, we finished with the highlight of the region, Tempranillo. Tempranillo is grown in the Ribera del Duero region and is known for its fruity character and extended bottle aging. Well balanced, Tempranillo can be matched with anything from Lamb to chocolate.

Jesús was very descriptive when discussing the wines with the group and made sure to emphasize that although wine pairing is an art and has many guidelines to make appropriate matches, it is also very subjective to each different person; something I express in my food and wine pairing classes regularly.

A New Frontier

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Recently I was hired as an instructor at the Northwest Wine Academy as a food & wine pairing instructor.  This new challenge came from out in left field, but I welcome the opportunity to teach and share my knowledge with people interested in becoming Sommeliers, increasing their skills as a server or purely for their own personal enjoyment of food & wine.

I tell my students to think of wine as the final sauce of a meal; a way to enhance the meal they are presenting in their restaurant, a dinner party at home or merely a patio picnic.  Being able to match food and wine will make any meal a delicious and distinctive dining experience.

“From The Grape Vine”

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Here is an article that will be published in the upcoming issue of Personal Chef magazine. It is the first of a series I will be writing this year as a contributor.

From The Grape Vine a series devoted to food and wine pairing

By: Jay DeLong, Executive Chef of Canape Specialty Chef Services, Seattle, WA

As Personal Chef’s we were drawn to the culinary arts for many reasons.  A light went on that drew us to food like a moth to a flame; mesmerized by foods ability to nourish us and give us pleasure.  Bringing wine into the fold can have the same feeling of discovery.  Learning how to make food compliment a wine pairing and vice a versa, can bring your business to new heights while enriching your personal life at the same time.

In the coming issues of Personal Chef Magazine, we are going to explore the language of wine and how to pair it with food by laying a foundation and breaking through pre-contrived notions that wine is for snobs, screw cap wines are cheap, or only California produces high quality American wine.  I hope to excite you into adding wine pairing to your repertoire, and show the world that Personal Chefs are more than the 5×4.

We will begin by understanding that communicating what we taste and evaluating wine is a new language.  Interpreting this language through evaluating how flavors are perceived on our palate is paramount.   Let’s begin with the basic senses and begin building our new wine vocabulary!

On the palate (what we experience on our taste buds) is sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.  It is important to take notes when tasting wines and remember how they affected these general areas if you are to make an accurate and appealing pairing with your food.  On the nose, the olfactory senses greatly influence what we perceive.  Is the wine fruit forward?  Does it smell of flowers and herbs?  Once we have established the flavors and aromas of the wine, we can make food pairings that make sense.  We can pair our dishes to compliment the wine (Sancerre & Oysters), or we can pair in opposites (Port & Stilton).

By enhancing our food with wine, the dining experience is deliciously aggrandized causing our clients to enjoy their meal that much more.

In the next issue…noble varieties and classic pairings.

Chef Jay’s Shortbread Cookies

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Ingredients:

12 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Method:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Generously grease a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Sift in the flour and, with a wooden spoon, blend well.  Form the dough into a small ball.

Roll the dough to an 1/8 inch thickness on a board that has been lightly dusted with superfine sugar.

With a biscuit cutter, cut into rounds.

Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Mise en Place

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

The term mise en place translates into everything in its place.  With the Holiday season nearly here, this term applies to cooking preparation more than ever.  Planning your menus is a great way to save time, lower your grocery bill by buying like items in bulk, and get ahead of the increased traffic that enters your home.  Once you have your meals planned, you can begin to prepare some elements of your meals, or, in the instance of a lasagna, prepare the main courses.  Making salad dressings ahead of time as well as cookies, which I mentioned in my “C” is for Cookie post last year, will allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family.

Tailgating At Home

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

This morning my Sister-in-law and her husband came to my house for a “tailgating” brunch before an afternoon of football.  I prepared some things the evening before which helped with cooking in the morning.  It saved time and a delicious brunch for 4 only took about one hour to prepare.  I made a bread pudding style French toast, breakfast potatoes with leeks and fresh thyme, a cheddar cheese scramble, oven roasted pepper bacon, coffee and Bloody Mary’s.  I made the custard and soaked the bread overnight for the French toast, blanched the potatoes and mixed up the bloody’s last night.  It was only about 30 minutes of preparation so I could concentrate on cooking in the morning and having a beverage to begin the pre-game warm up without missing the kick off. The in laws brought fresh fruit to complete the meal and we were all satisfied well through lunch.



 
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