Archive for Food and Wine
10 or 11 years ago, Cheryle & I met Dino Coro’ & Isabella Zambon & their two beautiful, young children—Jessica & Filippo, as they dined in our Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas restaurant. Every year, they would come back to vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii & make periodic “shopping” trips to Oahu & dine at night either at VINO or Hiroshi’s. They have become such dear friends over the years & we have watched Jessica & Filippo grow up & blossom. They all really warm my heart.
A few years ago, while on a wine trip in Germany, Cheryle really wanted to go to Venice to see the city, but also to see our friends. We discovered that their Osteria Oliva Nera eaterie is generally regarded as the finest restaurant in Venice & we had 2 great meals there. We were also amazed at how many people from Hawaii have dined there too & every year when the Coro’ family came to Honolulu thereafter, their Hawaii friends would get together with them in VINO on a special night. For 2015, after a hiatus of 3 years, the Coro’ family (Isabella, Jessica & Filippo) came back….& January 8th was that special night.
Rather than asking Isabella to cook, VINO Chef Keith Endo came up with a special menu & we came up with the wine pairings. For all who know the Coro’ family, this was their chance to say hello. For those who do not know them, this was a chance to savor some of Chef Keith’s foods AND meet some very special people, (which may come in handy if they ever were to go to Venice in the near future).
Here was the menu—
Crispy English Pea Tortellini–served with charred Kahuku corn & smoked Big Island pork
UOVA–with sage brown butter sauce
WINE: Hofstatter Pinot Bianco
Crispy Pork Porchetta–stuffed with mushrooms & served with charred Spring vegetables, home-made cavatelli & pork jus
WINE: 2006 Friggiali Brunello di Montalcino
Pear Tart–with caramel sauce
Yes, it was a very special night. Thank you to all who came. Also, many thanks to Isabella, Jessica & Filippo. I know Dino was also there amongst us & I thank you for coming. As I have said many times in the past, I am somehow connected to this family beyond what I can explain. They truly warm my heart.
Again, one of our goals for 2014 is feature more & more good wines……those which others can be compared to. This will help, tasters create a solid base to work from as their tasting adventures continue. It is not as easy as one would think. Here are 4 standouts from the Mediterranean basin. These are some of the most interesting & provocative rustic reds we have run across. I think soulful is a really good word to use here. If you want to better understand what we mean when we say soulful, then you should come & try these wines. Yes, just another really good opportunity to learn! Wines like this just don’t happen along!
Corsica’s star is rising on the American wine scene. Sommeliers & wine professionals across the country are jumping onto the Corsican bandwagon on the fast track. The rugged & very remote countryside produces some equally rugged, masculine red wines, of which the very finest are crafted from indigenous grape varieties. Certainly leading the charge is Abbatucci. Genius!!!! AND, a true champion of tradition & authenticity—in their wines & especially their environment.. Here is their Ajaccio (southwestern Corsica) which is produced from the Sciaccarellu & Niellucciu grape varieties, which are biodynamically farmed. A must to try!!!!
2007 D’Aupilhac “Le Carignan”
The family has been working this special tract in Montpeyroux down in southern France since the 1800’s, although the vineyard itself dates back to Roman times. (The Romans were true experts on where to plant their vines!) The neighbors across the way include Daumas Gassac & Grange des Peres (talk about an unreal neighborhood!!!). The ancient Carignane vines were planted on severe terraced hillsides with all kinds of crazy, extreme soils, which, at least partially, explains the completely wild & rustic character of this standout French “country” red. You never had something like this before!
2008 Guido Porro Barolo “Santa Caterina”
Here is our chance to show tasters a Barolo as it was made BEFORE roto fermenters & all of the other modern technology which is used to make modern/contemporary renditions. Yes, this is a winery who is dedicated to traditional methods both in the vineyards & in the cellar. The Caterina monopole vineyard is located at roughly 1200 feet elevation in the limestone heavy soils of Serralunga d’Alba. The region is most noted for producing long lived, full bodied Barolo. I therefore smile that the Porro version is much more elegant & refined, yet masculine, traditional & truly authentic in its core!!!!
2008 Tempier Bandol “La Tourtine”
Tempier has to be the most storybook wine of all. Their wines & estate is iconic, steeped in tradition, history & regional culture. It is hard for me to separate the wine from the family & its history. There is really nothing else like Domaine Tempier. The La Tourtine bottling usually is dominately Mourvedre, with some Grenache & Cinsault for finer details. I find the resulting wine has wonderful structure, more refinement & needs bottle age to really strut its stuff. Here is your chance to taste one of their treasures yourself & experience the magic of Domaine Tempier & its wines.
More “small” plates & wine thoughts at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas……..
Crab Salad with grapefruit, cucumbers & pickled wasabi
WINE: 2013 Birichino Malvasia Bianca–this winery made quite a big leap in quality with the transition from 2012 to 2013. They were able to source some malvasia grown in limestone soiled vineyards, which apparently added minerality & ethereal-ness to the blend. Furthermore, this wine’s innate aromatics just heightens the dish’s nuances in quite a magical way.
WINE: 2008 Gysler Silvaner Medium Dry “Estate”–in the old days, one would not consider pairing a wine with asparagus. It is still quite the challenge. We instead, therefore, look for an appropriate wine based upon its gulpability, meaning aptly wash the morsels down WHILE keeping the palate fresh & clean between bites. A few years ago in Alsace, I truly re-discovered the food friendly merits of the Silvaner grape variety. While it may not be the noblest of grape varieties, it does work wonders with a myriad of foods. This one comes from Germany’s Rheinhessen region & has a tiny bit of age to round out its once upon a time hard edges.
Sliced Sous Vide of Vintage New York with mushroom medley, lemongrass scallion relish & kaffir lime butter
WINE: 2012 CF Riesling Medium Dry “Euro-Asian”–don’t let this dish fool you. We find an off-dry Riesling to work best, especially because of the finely chopped picked wasabi top-ginger-scallion relish. This particular Medium Dry Riesling is grown on steep, red slates hillsides in the Rheinhessen’s Nackenheim & Nierstein vineyards, right on the Rhein River. It is crafted by Fritz Hasselbach of Weingut Gunderloch exclusively for our DK Restaurants & seemingly tailor made for dishes like this!
Okinawan Soba with spare ribs, grilled Tokyo negi, red ginger & truffle oil (not pictured here is the pork broth)
WINE: 2012 Eric Chevalier Pinot Noir Rose–when most tasters see the words Pinot Noir coupled with the word rose, they have visions of a pink, completely fruit driven wine. That is not the case here. Because of the extreme marine soils & metamorphic rock composition of the vineyards AND the close proximity to the extremely cold Atlantic Ocean nearby, this delicious rose is remarkably light, ethereal & minerally. So much so, that in a blind tasting, one would be hard pressed to guess the grape variety used in its production. This wine therefore is light enough for this dish & ethereal enough not to clash with its oriental components.
We looked to taste advantage of Easter Sunday at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, to do another night of “small” plates served on a cart. Not only are the small plates tasty & craete an opportunity to try a bunch of different tastes, it is also a golden opportunity to try out different wine pairings too. Here are some to think about–
WINE: 2006 Milz Riesling Medium Dry “180 degrees”–we needed a slightly aged (8 years old), ever-so slightly off dry Riesling, because of the slightly sweet & slightly salty sesame vinaigrette. It is amazing what a little age will do to a wine like this!
Seared Scallop–served on a bed of seaweed salad with Shinsato pork broth & wasabi-XO ragout
WINE: 2007 Theo Minges Riesling Medium Dry “Estate”–Minges is from the Pfalz region of Germany & his wines therefore have a little bit more round-ness, which we needed for the pork broth, with just enough sweetness to take off the salty edge created by the XO sauce which is mixed in.
Home-made Squid Ink Linguine with deep fried Kauai Shrimp, Manila clams, calamari & Asian Clam jus
WINE: 2012 Hans Wirsching Scheurebe DRY–this 2012 Wirsching Scheurebe has a real lemongrass, green thing permeating through the minerality & lime-citrus character which mixes in well with the galanghal & lemongrass components fused in with the Asian clam jus. Plus the wine’s crisp, lime fresh edge keeps the palate cleansed & refreshened between bites.
WINE: 2012 Champalou Vouvray “Sec”–is an absolutely riveting, minerally, remarkably light & ethereal white wine from France’s Loire Valley. We find the wine’s minerality very compelling & adds to the refreshing edge of this wine. Furthermore, as we have noted in the past, these aromatic white wines really help to heighten vegetable & fresh herb character of dishes like this.
WINE: Filippo Gallino Birbet–is a fizzy, wonderfully fruity, low alcohol RED wine produced from the Brachetto grape variety, which is grown in this case in Roero, Italy. (The same grape variety grown in between the towns of Asti & Alba in the more famous regions of Piemonte, which follow the appropriate governmental restrictions, can be labeled as Brachetto d’Acqui). In many instances, however, I prefer the Birbet, because it is more joyous, unpretenious & fun lovin’! This is one of those occasions.
It wasn’t that long ago when Hawaii’s best restaurants featured foods from Europe, especially France. That was significantly changed when a group of 12 chefs, founded HRC (Hawaii Regional Cuisine).
From that day the concept of “fine” dining & high level foods changed. For HRC chefs like Roy Yamaguchi & Alan Wong (& later on “new generation” chefs such as my partner DK Kodama) their foods often feature a real dynamic Asian flair.
In terms of wine, this created an incredible, new learning opportunity of pairing wines to foods.
From the classical French cream and butter sauces, we now had to, for example, consider what worked with shrimp served with a contemporary spin off of the pungent Chinese black bean sauce for one and a hoisin marinated duck for the other.
As one can see, this was a whole ‘nother ball game.
From all of this came three interesting revelations.
The first was the realization that different kinds of foods call for different kinds of wines. The wine most apropos for a fish with a rich, classic French cream or butter sauce would not be, at least for me, as compatible with a salty, slightly sweet teriyaki glaze.
It became clearer as time went by & much experimentation that with salty, spicy and/or sweet
Asian inspired foods, off-dry to slightly sweet, fruit driven, lower alcohol wines, like German Riesling, seem to work well. And on the red wine side, more elegant, really delicious, wonderfully textured, minimally oaked with no hard edges, especially from grapes such as Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir, were more advantageous. These kinds of wines were less confrontational with the strong characteristics of Asian foods.
Then, when our restaurant group (for more info, go to www.dkrestaurants.com) opened VINO, with its contemporary Italian/Mediterranean foods, we again had to go back to rethinking pairing wines with the foods. We learned that with rustic, heartier foods with so many earthy characteristics from tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, roasted peppers & fennel, we needed more rustic, earthy, higher acidic wines more common to the Mediterranean basin. For white wines, this included grape varieties such as Pinot Grigio from Friuli, Vermentino from Sardegna & Liguria, Moschofilero from Greece and Albarino from Spain. On the red wine side, we sought out indigenous grapes such as Sangiovese from Tuscany, Tempranillo from Spain and Mourvedre, Syrah & Grenache from southern France.
From all of this came the (second) realization that there are thousands of different grape varieties available in the world. Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir and Merlot are but four. To truly enjoy myself why would I want to limit myself to just a few? Just as with dining, why would I want to eat only Chinese food and miss the diversity and pleasure of what Italian or Korean and/or Mexican food has to offer.
Since taste is so subjective & personal, let me close with the third realization…..the real fun of it all is experimentation. There are no wrongs or rights and there should be no judgments. Enjoying food (and wine) should be just that….enjoying.
We continue with the fun filled journey of pairing foods & wines.
“In House” Smoked Shinsato Pork with Hau’ula tomatoes, sliced Maui onions & lemon-fish sauce (Keith Endo, VINO)
2012 Eric Chevalier Pinot Noir Rose–this is marvelous, light, airy Pink wine from the Muscadet region of France’s Loire Valley. It wasn’t that long ago, when we were lucky to get 2 or 3 vintages out of every ten which would ripen the grapes. Imagine!!!!…today now Pinot Noir!!!! This rose gives the dish a real uplifting, palate cleansing fruitiness between bites.
Roasted Beet, Avocado & Surfing Goat cheese “Salad” (Ivan Pahk, Maui Fish & Pasta)
2012 Champalou Vouvray Sec–I have tasted a fair share of Vouvray over the years, but I always seem to come back to Champalou’s Sec, as that is home for me! I just love the deftly crafted sweet sour tug of war this bottling masterfully features year in & year out. I also adore this wine’s riveting minerality & amazing lightness & ethereal-ness. It really is like no other! It makes this dish just come alive, especially with the fresh herbs gently sprinkled on top.
Home-made Papardelle with wild mushrooms (Ivan Pahk, Maui Fish & Pasta)
2012 Drew Albarino “Anderson Valley”–who doesn’t love a more classic styled of Pasta once in a while? Yes, one could readily pair this wine some kind of Chardonnay. But if you want magic, I suggest a more aromatic white wine. This one especially connects with the potpourri of fresh herbs sprinkled on top at the last moment before serving. Just it uplifts the flavors & remarkably counters the dish’s richness.
Kula Strawberries with miso vinaigrette & micro arugula (Keith Endo, VINO)
2011 Filippo Gallino Birbet–in Piemonte, Italy between the towns of Asti & Alba, top caliber Brachetto wines can be labled as Brachetto d’Acqui. Yes….& this is fastly growing wine category in terms of popularity. I therefore also see the price quickly rising as well. In Roero, this style of slightly sweet, fizzy, deliciously fruity Brachetto wines are called Birbet. It does wonders with the smoked miso & especially the strawberries. Boy, this was a fun pairing!!!
One of the most interesting aspects of the restaurant industry is pairing wine to food. The very complex matrix of understanding how they interact is really totally fascinating & compelling to say the least. I am so lucky to work with a group of chefs who are continuously churning out new foods. Here are some of the most recent–
2010 Gysler Silvaner Halbtrocken–most aficionados of fine German wine, would wince with the word Silvaner. In fact, one lady the other night shared her real distain for the Silvaner grape variety. Still, I distinctly remember dining at a restaurant & trying a myriad of wines/different grape varieties with all kinds of foods & being the food friendliness of Silvaner. In short, it may not be a noble grape variety, but good ones certainly have a place at the dinner table. We needed a hint of sweetness to the wine, because of the innate fruitiness of the tomato & the saltiness of the goat cheese. Silvaner seems to work well with earthy dishes like this.
(On the right)–Bruschetta with porcini-olive tapenade, roasted peppers & sunny side quail egg. (Chef Partner Keith Endo, VINO)
(On the left)–Fresh Burrata with crab & charred tomatoes (Chef Partner Keith Endo, VINO)
2012 Domaine Skouras “Zoe“–this is a “quietly” exotic, absolutely delicious white wine from the Peloponnese of southern Greece. We love these kind of aromatic wines (in this case of Roditis & Moschofilero) with these kinds of foods. It really does heighten the earthy flavors & help top wash it down.
(On the left)–Kampachi Crudo, with avocado puree, chili pepper water aioli & ogo (Chef Partner Keith Endo, VINO)
(On the right)–Curried Cauliflower with truffled aioli & pickled Maui onions (Chef Partner Keith Endo, VINO)
2012 Birichino Malvasia Bianca–here is another example of a terrific, wonderfully food friendly “aromatic” white wine. You really can have alot of fun with these kinds of wines with a whole myriad of foods. The real challenge is finding good ones.
Lobster “Roll” with baby arugula pesto & cole slaw (Chef Partner Keith Endo, VINO)
2012 Hans Wirsching Scheurebe DRY– by reputation, Hans Wirsching is the top producer of the Franconia region of Germany. (I would also add Rudolf Furst). Wirsching excels in dry white wines, which in this case is light, airy & iressistable. It also scores high on the gulp-ability scale.
Duck Confit with home-made linguine, XO sauce & Sumida Farms watercress
2012 CF Euro-Asian Riesling Medium Dry–in case you are not familar, the XO sauce is some kind of scallop reduction–salty & full of dried scallop character, which is why we are pairing it with a medium dry Rheinhessen Riesling, which was crafted by Fritz Hasselbach of Weingut Gunderloch. It certainly can stand up to the duck with enough sweetness to offset the XO sauce & still keep the palate fresh & alive between bites.
“NEW AGE” KAISEKI MENU
JANUARY 28, 2014
Mekajiki Carpaccio–sesame oil-chive relish, chili pepper water vinaigrette, micro greens and truffle oil
Braised Island Tako–seaweed salad, yuzukoshu, shiso and yuzu vinaigrette
Marinated Island Papaya & Seared Foie Gras–green papaya, sweet Thai chili and Thai basil chiffonade
“Surf and Turf”
oxtail chawan mushi spoon & Kauai shrimp with Chinese five spice dust
Crispy Skin Kampachi–saffron- kaffir lime broth, crab salad, Manila clam and micro shiso and lemongrass
wine: Domaine Skouras “Zoe”
“Mapo Pork & Pork Tofu”–Shinsato Farms Pork shoulder, local wild pig and Mrs. Cheng’s tofu
wine: CF Euro-Asian Riesling Medium Dry
Sous Vide of Kulana Beef –miso glaze, yukari, pickled wasabi tops-cauliflower puree, roasted vegetables & scallion pesto pasta
wine: Chateau Fontanes “Coteaux du Languedoc”
Pepper Seared Ahi Chazuke-ikura, house made tsukemono and truffled green tea broth
Kaffir Lime Lemongrass Bavarois–coconut anglaise, pineapple sorbet & Surinam cherry streak
One of the things I have learned more & more about over the years is understanding, when pairing wines with foods, is the window of opportunity is much bigger, when one approaches with wines more “country-ish” is style. Meaning, we don’t need lots of alcohol, we don’t need lots of oak, or declassified Auslese. What we need is for the wines to be delicious, lighter bodied, well balanced & gulpable. Save the trophy wines for another day.
In the case of dealing with Asian inspired foods, we have to adjust even more. Fruit, fruit, fruit…..lightness….lower, more moderate alcohol & UN-oaky, UN-bitter.
With that spirit in mind, here are the pairings for this Kaiseki.
Birichino Malvasia Bianca–A VERY aromatic, DRY, amazingly light bodied, wonderfully food friendly white wine.
WINEMAKER: John Locke (former, long time winemaker at Bonny Doon)
We have found such aromatic grape varieties really connect with the herbs in dishes like this. BOTH highly brighten a dish. This version also has a distinct lime-edge to it which keep the palate alive & fresh with each bite.
Gysler Silvaner Medium Dry
ORIGIN: Rheinhessen (red sandstone—converting to biodynamic farming)
WINEMAKER: Alexander Gysler
The octopus dish has slight sweetness, saltiness & a subtle pinch of heat, which is why we needed some residual sweetness in the wine in addition to lower alcohol in the finish. Another important factor to consider….is this style is much more light & “country” ish….rather than being beefed up with declassified Spatlese or Auslese, which some people say is because of Global Warming & the regularity of warm vintages & ripe grapes. We didn’t need star power for this dish, just food friendliness
Elio Perrone Bigaro
GRAPE: Brachetto & Moscato
WINEMAKER: Stefano Perrone
Because this is a foie gras dish, we felt we needed some sweetness to the pairing. In the old days, people looked to French Sauternes. For me, that is like 2 Sumo wrestlers going at it. How would one follow such a pairing? Here is a fruity wine, which is an innovative blend of Brachetto (red) & Moscato (white), which would be like fresh fruit with the foie gras.
Domaine Skouras “Zoe”
GRAPE: Roditis & Moschofilero
ORIGIN: Nemea, Peloponnese, Greece
WINEMAKER: George Skouras
Here is yet another wonderfully aromatic “country” styled white wine. George Skouiras is Burgundy trained & is leading the charge in Greece to contemporize the wine movement in his country. In this case, he combines 2 indigenous grape varieties which he ferments in stainless steel to retain the aromatics (jasmine & mint nuances) & innate liveliness of the wine—to create something light, delicious & gulpable…..ideal with fish & seafood dishes.
CF Euro-Asian Riesling Medium Dry
ORIGIN: Rheinhessen (red slate soils)
WINEMAKER: Fritz Hasselbach
This is a collaborative wine project with Fritz Hasselbach of Gunderloch. In the beginning, Fritz would send me bottles of different cuvees, & I would make a blend while sitting at the bar & using a jigger. I would then forward the “recipe” back to him. The different lots were from his 3 main top echelon vineyard holdings—Nackenheimer Rothenberg, Niersteiner Pettenthal & Niersteiner Hipping. The blend would change every year. After, we got into a groove, there was no need to go back & forth, as Fritz would just send me a bottle of what he knew we were looking for. Because of a very long string of warm vintages, however, the wines started rising in bitterness & alcohol levels. Last year, Cheryle & I returned to look at adjusting the recipe. For the 2011, Fritz allowed us to belend in 15% Auslese (7.5 alcohol) to balance it better. For 2012, we asked if he would raise the yields. The bottom line…..the wines have never been better. This wine with the food, would be like biting into a cold pineapple, which would counter the heat or saltiness while cooling & soothing the palate between bites.
Chateau Fontanes “Coteaux du Languedoc”
GRAPE: 40% Syrah, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault & 10% Carignane
ORIGIN: Pic St Loup, Languedoc
WINEMAKER: Cyriaque Rozier
Because this meat dish has some oriental-ness to it, we did NOT want a heavy red, nor one with much oak, alcohol & grand-ness. The wine had to have flavor & intensity without showiness. We also want to serve this wine cool (65 to 70 degrees).
We first met Cyriaque at his day job, running Chateau La Roque. Cheryle & I just fell in love with this young couple, their 2 kids & their vision of wine. “Rozier first started his domaine in 2003, and undertook the ultimate labor of love in the Languedoc—planting a vineyard. For many years, this plot of land was best known for olive trees, until the great frost of 1956 decimated groves by the hundreds. The land is hard as a rock, quite literally, and composed primarily of limestone and clay. To plant a vineyard here is a game of patience and incredibly hard work. Over the last few years, Cyriaque has been slowly building stone terraces to better protect this challenging terrain from erosion. In addition, he has taken to farming biodynamically, a noble task that forgoes the shortcuts that most vignerons have at their disposal today in favor of producing organic grapes in a rich, healthy soil. In total, he works 4.5 hectares, which are planted with forty-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines, as well as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault. He cannot help but love his plantings, as the original cuttings for his vines were all selected from his favorite domaines in Côte-Rôtie, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and Bandol.
Being rebellious seems to come naturally to a man of such innate talent, and the elegance of his wines are proof enough in a region where bigger is often considered better. Make no mistake, raw terroir and spicy garrigue abound in these wines, with rich, juicy fruit and silky tannins”.