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Orange Currant Scones

Orange-Currant Scones

Delicious right from the oven—these flaky scones are flavored with orange zest and Zante currants, an ancient seedless grape cultivar known as "Black Corinth". The humble Zante currant is, in fact, one of the oldest known raisins; its lineage the bearer of a somewhat romantic history. The first known written record was in 75 AD by Pliny the Elder who described it as a tiny, black-skinned grape growing in small bunches. The next mention—a full millennium later—appeared when the raisins became a subject of trade between Venetian merchants and Greek producers from the Ionian coast. Later, they would sold in the English market as Reysyns de Corauntz, and the name raisins of  Corinth was recorded in the 15th century, after the Greek port which was the primary harbor of export. Gradually, the name transmuted into currant. By the 17th century, trade shifted once again towards the Ionian islands, particularly Zakynthos (Zante), at which time it was christened the Zante currant.  So pour yourself a strong cup of coffee, and roll up your sleeves. These scones are well worth the effort.   [amd-yrecipe-recipe:18]  ...

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

This is the classic recipe for Potato Leek soup, or the closest I could find to it, keeps ingredients to a minimum—a simple but lovely quintet of Yukon Gold potatoes, leeks, garlic, butter and chicken stock. Contrast the silkiness of this soup with topping of applewood smoked bacon, prosciutto, crème fraîche, Parmesan crisps or truffle oil. Pair with a moderately oaked Chardonnay, in my case I enjoyed this dish with Tendril's excellent 2014 Willamette Valley Chardonnay. Cool-climate Chardonnays from Sonoma County or Chablis are fine choices, too. [amd-yrecipe-recipe:17]...

Wilfred Wong's Pho

Wilfred Wong’s Pho

A few months ago, a friend from Sweden sent me a recipe for cardamom buns. He'd come across my review of Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs 2005, where I wrote, "My ex-mother-in-law made Swedish bread every year at Christmas. This brought all of it back; the yeast, cardamom, and toasted almonds." Having used Vivino since its launch in the late fall of 2011, I've watched the evolution of the app, and more importantly, have seen the social aspect of it flourish. Being a part of a global community has its advantages: We're united in our mutual love of wine, but we talk about other things, too. Food is a common topic, and I often see pairing notes layered into tasting notes. For me, Vivino provides a window into what people are drinking and eating worldwide, hence the inspiration behind this series. I'd like to start by sharing recipes and wine pairings in articles here, much like recipes are shared between wine lovers in the app. This recipe to share comes from Wilfred Wong. His formal title, Chief Storyteller at Wine.com only hints at the scope of his life. He's also an accomplished photographer and writer, a dog lover, a world traveler, and is...

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Feeling confounded about what to pair with this dish, I turned to one of my favorite wine writers, Fiona Beckett and her excellent website, Matching Food & Wine. Her suggestion proved to be spot-on, as she recommends not a dry white wine, which she writes "tends to be too similar, too lemony," because of the dish's bitter components, the lemons and olives. Instead she advises a red, specifically an aged Rioja. Her recommendation was absolutely a perfect match. Bravo, Fiona, once again I've learned from a master. [amd-yrecipe-recipe:1]...

Herb Roasted Rack of Lamb with Fingerling Potatoes and Léoville Las Cases

Herb Roasted Rack of Lamb with Fingerling Potatoes and Léoville Las Cases

I love simplicity—in cooking and in maintaining a garden, there is something about a recipe that combines simple flavors, with few ingredients, but does so in a way that the dish has absolute balance and harmony. Such is the case with a rack of lamb, which from a home cook’s standpoint is very simple to prepare. It’s more about technique and quality of ingredients. Letting the lamb be the best of “lambness” where fingerling potatoes play a supporting role. So to with wine, in this, case the superlative 1989 Léoville Las Cases, a bottle with great finesse and yet somehow grown tender with age. [amd-yrecipe-recipe:2]...

Veal Chops

Veal Chops and Pomerol

This recipe, albeit simple, hails from the year I spent in Carmel, California, at the invitation of a former wine buyer and his wife. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this story, my year in Carmel is what launched my career as a writer. One could see the ocean from the house, and it was there—to the constant rhythmic sound of the sea that I learned about Bordeaux. Not just any Bordeaux, but bottles that had been lovingly and properly cellared for years—the couple waiting for just the right moment to open them. Our meals were quite simple, as is the case with these veal chops, prepared with little adornment or fuss, so that one could focus on the wine. Evenings spent around that dinner table were about discussing the wines, appreciating each bottle’s merits and charms. At this particular meal we opened a 1986 Château La Fleur De Gay that proved to be an exquisite match with veal’s delicate flavor. A word about veal. As with foie gras, veal is a food product that engenders controversy. And rightly so, animal cruelty is not something I’m keen to serve at the dinner table. I was pleased to find, in doing a bit of research...

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée with Sauternes

This is my go-to recipe from the Culinary Institute of America. It’s fool-proof as recipes go, and there is little motivation on my part to change it. Of course, there are infinite variations on this theme. Try infusing the cream with lavender or cardamom seeds, for example. Or substitute honey for sugar. Add subtle lift with orange zest or Meyer lemon. The possible flavor combinations are endless. Even so, I find myself returning to this most classic of French desserts without altering in any way. The satisfying burnt sugar crust and rich vanilla bean custard lend themselves perfectly to sweet, opulent wines of Sauternes or Barsac. In which case, when it comes to stickies, I want their complexity to shine, and not compete with the pairing. Recently, I paired this with a youthful 2010 Château Rieussec with pleasing results. Thankfully, I have a few more bottles stowed away because Rieussec only grows lovelier with time, the 1988 and 1986 vintages were both outstanding. [amd-yrecipe-recipe:4]...

Scottish Beef Stew Topped with a Phyllo Dough Crust

Scottish Beef Stew Topped with a Phyllo Dough Crust

My take on classic Scottish Beef Stew—the butteriness Phyllo dough crust adds a delicious dimension of flavor and texture. I've also substituted leeks for yellow onions and flat iron steak for beef chuck. The flat iron, while more expensive is ultimately more tender. And for me, this is the perfect sort of dish to serve on a winter evening along with a hearty red. It's pure comfort food. In this case, a bottle of 2000 Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse fit the bill nicely. I had a brief moment, pondering the addition of a tablespoon or two of beef demi-glace. In the end, I decided against it. The liquid develops more than enough flavor to carry the dish, and it felt suitably rich. [amd-yrecipe-recipe:5] [caption id="attachment_9860" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Fill each ramekin with stew, then top it with layers of phyllo dough. Brush each layer with butter.[/caption]...

Chicken au Champagne

Chicken au Champagne with Crémant d’Alsace

While the original recipe for Chicken au Champagne calls for Brut Champagne, this dish is certainly versatile enough to partner with a less pricey option like a Crémant. In this case, I used the Willm Crémant d’Alsace Blanc de Noirs and I particularly enjoyed how relatively easy this meal is to prepare, making it a satisfying weeknight dish. [amd-yrecipe-recipe:6]  ...

Amarone Braised Beef Short Ribs

Amarone Braised Beef Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta and Mission Fig Glaze

I couldn't bring myself to use an entire bottle of Amarone as the cooking wine for the short ribs, instead I substituted a bottle of 2011 Palazzo Delle Torre from Allegrini. Pallazzo Delle Torre is a blend of Corvina Veronese and Rondinella, traditional varieties that go into the making of Amarone, and part of the grapes that comprise the final blend are air-dried as well. The wine is lovely on its own and is attractively priced, at least, I didn't feel remiss to sacrifice an entire bottle. I did use a cup of 2010 Allegrini della Valpolicella Classico Amarone in the fig glaze, the rest we drank...