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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...

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...

Salade Niçoise with Copper River Salmon & Bandol Rosé

Salade Niçoise with Copper River Salmon & Bandol Rosé

It was in the mid-eighties that I realized that I was from a non-cooking household—a discovery made while on sleepovers at girlfriends’ houses. I started to wonder why it was that other families put so much more effort into their nightly meals. At my home, cooking was utilitarian at best, and not a thing to savor. My mother, a fashion designer by trade, prided herself on her trim figure, a feat helped by endless cups of coffee and packs of Eve cigarettes. And so while my mother was unceremoniously making do with canned green beans, flavorless iceberg lettuce, and Swanson’s TV dinners, Julia Child was a staple on PBS. By the time I was old enough to take more than a passing interest in cooking, her original show, The French Chef had long been broadcast as reruns. During the 1980s, she’d expanded her cooking repertoire to include feisty guest-chefs, like the legendary Jacques Pépin. And somewhere between the tender ages of 12 and 18, I started tuning in, perhaps while waiting for more exciting programs, like Nature or Nova. What I do remember is the sense that food could somehow be better. Fast forward to today: French is still my go-to cuisine of choice, and...

Shrimp with Wild Mushrooms and Pancetta in a Cream Sauce

Shrimp with Wild Mushrooms and Pancetta in a Cream Sauce

We paired this with an aged Burgundy, the 2002 Meó-Camuzet Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Boudots proved to be a heavenly match. Woodsy notes work beautifully with the mushrooms and pancetta. Meó-Camuzet is pricey, though I suggest sticking with the Nuits-Saint-Georges AOC as the Pinot Noir from this region tends to have a lovely earthy, foresty character. [amd-yrecipe-recipe:11]...

Roasted Chicken with Herbes de Provence

Roasted Chicken with Herbes de Provence

I've been making roasted chicken with Herbes de Provence for what seems like ages. A favorite Sunday dish, the kitchen is filled with tantalizing aromas of roasting chicken and fresh herbs. Because I've made this recipe often, there are a few tips that make the outcome especially delicious. The first of which is, buy high-quality meat. We have a great butcher in town and I try to buy local chicken whenever possible from a grower that treats the birds humanely and raises them organically. I also suggest finding a good source for Herbes de Provence, I especially like the blend from World Spice Merchants in Seattle. Finally, stuff your bird with a half lemon, it really does make a difference in terms of tenderness and flavor. [amd-yrecipe-recipe:14]  ...