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Brix = the amount of sweetness in a given solution measured in degrees expressing the porportion of sugar to each 100 gr. of total fluid; Used in winemaking by growers to measure the amount of sugar in the grapes.

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14 January, 2009

WBW #53 - Breakfast Wine! Liza Cooks!

Wine for breakfast? And not just for "hair of the dog"? Thank you Jefe for an interesting challenge. And it intrigued me enough to actually cook something. If you have ever been to my house for a dinner party, chances are good, a "guest chef" was in the house. So, Liza cooks breakfast? Well, there just a is a whole lot wrong with that sentence. Okay, read, the "Rules"...no sparklers! no stickies! no sangria/mulled/hot chocolate infusions! What?!? So basically phoning it in with some clever semi-homemade selections is not an option. It just got even more interesting! I invited a very few special wineaux and went to town cooking. Of course, Luscious Lush Thea who was sommelly-YAY! for the day and did the pairings, and my party specialist, Janesta. Along with Marshall, Super Q and WineDiverGirl, Lisa de Bruin. We had a fun group!

Amuse bouche - Dates stuffed with creme fraiche and fresh thyme drizzled with Hahn Meritage syrup. Paired with Chandon Sparkling Red. Okay, so we cheated. But breakfast, prohibition or not, you have to start a tasting menu with a sparkler. [And you have to end it with a sticky, so be prepared for a Cheater Sandwich!] The Chandon was a beautiful dark ruby color. Chandon mixes Zinfandel with Pinot Noir to make this wine. Cherry, spice and bubbles. The sweetness of the wine made a great pairing with the ultra sweet date, helped by tartness of the creme fraiche and herbal notes from the fresh thyme. Interesting start!


Truffled Poached Egg Custard paired with 2006 Savannah Chanelle Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley:
Miracle Product Alert! Silicon Egg Poacher This recipe from "The French Laundry Cookbook" is actually pretty easy, if you have these nifty egg poachers. The custards came out silky and complex, infused with white truffle oil and topped with white truffle infused wild mushroom duxelle. We should have picked a pinot that had more forest floor, which would have made a more precise pairing. However, the Savannah-Chanelle was dancing with spice and red fruit. The acidity of the wine cut the uber-richness of the custard. The cranberry tartness of the wine was okay with the white truffle. All in all, I would say: Wine? Delish! Eggs? Fantabulous! Pairing? Meh. We could have done better.

Savory Belgian Waffles with Hahn SLH Pinot Gris : Thea remembered this wine from the fabulous Hahn Blogger's Lunch we attended and Lisa was kind enough to bring a bottle.
Wow! This pairing was poetry in breakfast food!
My initial thought, in general, was to mitigate the overly sweet nature of most typical breakfast fare in order to give the pairings a better chance of success. Belgian Waffle with its IHOP menu image of overly sweet strawberries and clouds of whipped cream or pools of syrup, seemed like a throwdown. One I didn't expect to win. Then I thought of putting bagel toppings on the waffle! Since I had "The French Laundry Cookbook" out already, I used the Salmon Tartare recipe as inspiration to season Wild Sockeye Smoked Salmon from Trader Joe's. Shallots, fresh chive tips, a dash of clementine oil, salt and white pepper and a little time in the chiller and the salmon came out fresh and insanely tasty with a faint whisper of citrus. The flavor combination is at once savory, rich, herbal, and fresh. To round it out, I piped creme fraiche ribbons over 1/4 of a Belgian waffle. Then topped the whole with seasoned salmon pieces. Talk about inspired pairing! The Pinot Gris had lush nose of citrus and exotic savory fruit. The flavors are almost lemony and the wine is gifted with a pleasantly sharp acidity as well as a round, soft mouthfeel. Wary of adding any citrus to the food, I felt like I should have added more acid until I tried it with the wine. Taken together it was a mesmerizing combination. Crisp, rich waffle, tangy creme fraiche, wild salmon seasoned with freshness poised against the zingy Pinot Gris, with its assertive acidity and citrus scented tastiness---all in all very sucessful pairing.
Bacon Croissants with Twisted Oak 2006 The Spaniard:
This was my riff on those trays they set out in European hotels with meats, cheeses and bread. I put out the ingredients for the guests to assemble thier own DIY croissandwiches. Given that the Bacon-Brie-Lettuce-Tomato (BBLT) derives much of its deliciousness from perfectly crisp Niman Ranch apple smoked center cut bacon, Thea insisted it was a good match for The Spaniard . As well, I expected the natural sweetness of Little Splendid tomatoes macerated in fig balsamic, fresh thyme and lavender salt to complement the blackberry yumminess I remembered in the wine. Ay yi yi! Talk about delectable! The rich crispy, buttery goodness of the BBLT (Brie-Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato) matched with the cherry-clove-leather delight of a young (2006) Spaniard. This wine is made from a blend of tempranillo, grenache and graciano aged in new French, new American and two-year-old French oak. Which is like saying Manolo Blahnik makes shoes. It is a beautiful dark wine with tasty spice and fruit. Together with the BBLT, it combined alchemically. We yelled "Yee ha!" A culinary rawhide whip crack flourish. Third bottle we opened...first bottle we finished.

Savory French Toast with 2006 Hahn Meritage Red Table Wine, Central Coast: I initially wanted to use Petite Sirah for this. But when I nipped into the Wine Mine
to source another bottle of the Two Angels High Valley...well...first I was seduced by the $1 Tasting. Who can resist? During that pouring, I realized the Hahn Meritage would make a much more successful pairing than the PS I had planned. Tart and sweet fruits. Sharp acidity. Strong tannins. Hints of mocha-cherry-vanilla and spice. Even just as a sipping wine, the Hahn Meritage nearly leaped into my cart (not really. In fact it was selling so briskly, another customer and I had to dig through cardboard boxes like truffle dogs to find the precious bottles. Half the fun!). Most reviews I saw for this wine suggested lamb, pasta, etc. However, this is breakfast, so I was looking for something to go with French Toast. I wanted enough luscious fruit to support my syrup making idea. This wine was more than up to the task. I reduced 2 cups of wine with 9 tablespoons of superfine bar sugar in two batches. While it was reducing, it filled the air with scents of spice and grapes. Reduced, the color was a vivid, inky purple. You can tell my food stylings were hampered by all the delicious wine I imbibed as the Fred Flintstone presentation in no way reflects the sublime delectability of this pair. The fruit forward, yet tart wine melded effortlessly with its spicy-sweet-syrup cousin once it was poured over the divine French Toast I followed this recipe exactly. I had been lucky enough to stumble upon the perfect bread: Brioche Hot Dog Buns at (where else?) Whole Foods. These buns produced dainty, rich perfect mini French Toast slices. The big lump in the foreground is actually a divinely poached red pear I used the poaching instructions from the attached recipe, but used red pears (in season) and skipped the wildflower honey step. Hahn Meritage Syrup! It's a good (READ: great!) thing.
Cheese Plate and Penfolds Grandfather Tawny Port, Barossa Valley:
The thing about tasting menus is at first I always think there is no way all these tiny dishes are going to fill me up. Then by dish three, I am always so full. This was no exception. But of course, I had planned to concoct a breakfast dessert before partaking of the previous Rabelaiseian delights. Luckily, my plan was to just set out a cheese plate and coffee. And of course, little alambic glasses of super yum Tawny port.
Paper thin date and walnut crackers spread with your choice of Roaring 40's blue cheese or Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor were the last excellent little bites to end a wine soaked "breakfast" to launch 2009 with culinary fireworks. Good friends. Good Wine. Contented sigh.
Who knew? Wine. It's what's for breakfast!
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