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What wine goes with Gehacktes (a traditional German dish)?

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We know the dish here in the United States as Steak Tartare.  In the Middle East, it’s known as Kibbe, and in Ethiopia a heavily spiced version of the dish is known as kitfo.  In German, the dish is known as Gehacktes if using beef, Mett if using pork.

My father has asked me to make Gehacktes for him for his birthday and Father’s Day this year.  I’ve never made it before, but I am not concerned with the preparation of the dish.  My concern is that the dish that my mother made for me growing up is uncooked beef.  Yep, raw beef.  I’ve had beef twice this calendar year as I’ve tried to change my eating habits (read: I went on a strict nearly-vegan diet).  The thought of preparing this dish is a non-issue.  The thought of eating this dish is something else.

Here’s a photo care of (c) Verena N. / pixelio.de from the http://mstarlikes.blogspot.com/2012/07/like-5-gehacktesbrotchen.html website.  This photo shows the gehacktes spread on sourdough or French break and topped with pickles and herbs.

Gehacktes

My father’s version doesn’t include the gehacktes spread onto bread, but served in a loaf.  Here’s the recipe as he remembers it:

  • One pound (or more) of ground top sirloin ground twice
  • At least 3-4 bunches of green onions sliced finely
  • 1-2 raw egg (not sure if white included or just yolk)
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Mix the meat with some of the green onions, the egg (yolk?) and salt and pepper, preferably by hand.  Form loaf on platter and cover with remaining sliced green onions.  Chill and serve with hot buttered sourdough bread.

When I thought to myself, “How am I going to eat this??”  and “I’m not letting my *son* eat this!”  I began to see something different.  First of all, I told my father that yes, I would be happy to make it but I had conditions.  “First,” I said, “all the food is going to be purchased at either Whole Foods Market or Diablo Foods — I’m not making the dish with beef from Joe’s Market.”  He happily agreed.

wi-8greatrose-608Photo courtesy of gourmet.com

Then it hit me:  What could I drink with it?  The meat will be very lean so while I know I would need a good acid wine, it didn’t have to be sauvignon blanc acid.  The onions on and throughout the dish are making me consider something with high acid and sweetness.   Grenache rosé?  I’m stumped, and wine/food pairing was not my forte before I told my dad I would take on this endeavor.

Truth be told, I’m happy to make the dish for him.  He’s about to turn 77 and probably doesn’t remember the last time he had the dish, so I want to make it as memorable as possible (for all the right and good reasons!).

So, what do you think??  What wine would pair best with gehacktes?

~H

The Tales of the Traveling Tiara (part 2)

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(this is a second installment of my experience at the Wine Bloggers Conference this past August 2012 in Portland, Oregon.  You can read my first post here.)

Thursday night was an early night to bed.  On Friday, the Wine Bloggers in Portland woke up to a clear, hot sunny day similar to the day before.

After breakfast, I went downstairs to mingle.  On Thursday, sometime during check-in, I had seen Nannette wearing a tiara.  I knew instinctively it was her birthday, and heartily wished her a happy day.  When I saw her Friday morning, I informed her that that day was my birthday, and asked if I may wear the tiara that day?

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As I set the tiara on my head, and began touring the registration and tradeshow area, the day began to look much more interesting.

wbc 2 pic

(Pardon the blurred photo, I was a new iPhone user!)

The Argentine Food & Wine pairing was for the most part done well.  Some of the pairings weren’t spot on, but most of the food was delicious, and the hosts and hostesses of the event were wonderful.  A couple performing Latin tango during the lunch added visual and aural elements to the already sensory-filled brunch.

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Things happened quickly on Friday, and Randall Grahms’ keynote began and ended in a whirl.

The whites and roses Live Wine Blogging was my first experience at rapid tasting (and spitting!), and since I only had my iPhone, I tweeted my impressions:

  • A memorable wine was the Alexana Pinot Gris from Dundee Hills.  The wine was bright, clean, lemony.  The winery is higher end and only available to a few states.
  • The Johan Chardonnay (Willamette) was aged for 18 months in French oak, and bottled unfiltered.  High acid and delicious, I noted it would pair well with certain cheeses and fruit.
  • Benton Lane came to Table 13 and served a Pinot Gris.  Benton Lane is known for it’s pinot noir.  The pinot gris would stand up well to salads, pear fruit, and salmon.
  • Merryhill Winery, a family owned and operated winery, poured a Rose of Sangiovese that had Best of Show in Sonoma County.  This rose screamed picnic as I envisioned cured meats and cheese on a red-and-white checked tablecloth on sunny Mt. Tamalpais.
  • An Argentine Recuerdo Torrontes had great acid.  I was thrilled to learn it was available in California.

In summary, I loved the sauvignon blancs, Pepi (origin?) and Decibel (NZ, Hawks Bay) that were crisp, not too cold, and acid bouncing off the tongue.

The tasting ended with a Gloria Ferrer Va De Vi which would be a stellar picnic wine in case rose´ wasn’t desired.

Within a half hour after the whites and roses live wine blogging, the buses in front of the hotel began to fill with passengers going to mysterious destinations.  I vacillated between going and not going, and finally jumped on Bus 8 where there were only two remaining seats left in the entire caravan.  I think I made the best decision.

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We sat in heavy traffic for a short time, and then got off the freeway onto a little country highway.  We traveled for about an hour, maybe a little more, when we were stopped by a police break in the road.  What was going on?

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Lo and behold, it was a planned stop by the Carlton Police.  Welcome to Carlton, Oregon!  First stop, Carlos & Julian!

(…. to be continued….)

What Food Goes with Wine? (Dos Fincas, Malbec, 2010)

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I love food.  Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I can talk about it constantly.  Who produced it, where it was grown, is it local, where is it purchased, and on and on.  I also love wine, and the idea of a perfect marriage between wine and food.

Earlier tonight, I was remembering an event.  I was out to dinner with my ex husband.  He and I were huge lamb fans, and never lost respect for restaurants that served the retro mint gel with the meat.  We would pore over wine lists to find the *right* depth of wine for our lamb dish, depending on how it was to be prepared. 

One night, he had chosen either a barbera or a sangiovese (remember, this was in the mid 90’s also, not today!).  Evidently, the wine choice plus the direction to omit the mint gel got back to the chef.  The chef came to our table to compliment us on our wine choice and to talk with us about pairing meat with wine.  It was an amazing experience, and one that made me believe that food and wine pairing isn’t just “what you want to drink” or whatever the other nonsense is, but an actual science. 

Sadly, I lack a degree in chemistry so I can’t say what *really* happens between flavors and alkalinity and acidity with certain meats, and the mix with wine tannins, and sugars, and companion sauces, but I wish I could!

My inability to express how it *should* be when wine and food are companionably together is similar to the scene in Ratatouille when Remy is trying to explain to Emile about the dancing flavors when strawberries and cheese are eaten together.  Singularly, they are amazing flavors, but together, they are a symphony (sorry for the cliche’).

After speaking with a client today about the fruit-forward aspects of malbec, I decided to get one for dinner.  I had done a precursory search on Google, and discovered that yes, malbec can be served with pork. 

I made my pork, thinly sliced loin steaks, topped with slices of yellow onion, olive oil, adobo seasonings and paprika.  I felt the seasonings would be good with the malbec.

The pork came out great, very moist, and I was enjoying the wine with it.  However, I noticed the wine was more interesting, more palatable than the pork dish (served with asparagus), and I also realized I have a bit of a dilemma.

I love drinking wine as a cocktail (read: by itself).  I like beer occasionally, but don’t feel the desire to pair a beer with food.

I love to cook, and believe that a great  meal can be enhanced by a great wine.  But how does one go about pairing great wines with great food than to keep trying different things? 

Again, like I said at the beginning, I love food.  Should I find a meal or type of food that I am wild about, and try to pair it with many different types of wines to see which has the best fit?  I feel the answer to my question is scientific after all.   

I’m going to contemplate the possible answers to these questions, and keep track of my findings.

Tonight’s wine:  Dos Fincas, The Wines of Carlos Basso, 2010, Malbec

Notes: 8/4/11, at home, listening to Lee Morgan (Tom Cat, 1964)

Dos Fincas, the Wines of Carlos Basso, 2010, Malbec, Argentina
Alcohol: 14%

Appearance: Dark purple with narrow purple rim.
Nose: medium intensity, light spice (tea?), with a final note of violet
Palate: good fruit, not as heavy as I anticipated for a dark wine, mild finish.  The extra .5 percent alcohol caused a reduction in the intial flavor, which is unfortunate. 
 
I’m not in love with wine, so probably won’t try to cook/pair a food around it in the future.
~H

Codice 2008 vino de la Tierra De Castilla with pasta with garlic & red onion tomato sauce

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I’m not new to drinking wine, nor am I new to wine tasting at wineries.  I am however new to tasting wine and writing about it.  I’ve never written a legible wine note before in my life.  Even though Eric Asimov suggested wine writers resist writing tasting notes for a year, I felt compelled to learn how to do it nonetheless.
 
I decided when I began this blog over a year ago that Iwanted to explore how wines are paired with foods, so DeLong’s pocket wine tasting terms did nothing to help me determine what wine would be best suited for what food.
 
A brief search on Google this afternoon revealed pairing advice on DrinkWine.com (no author noted on site):
 
Match the weight & texture of the food to the weight & texture of the wine

Balance the intensity of flavors in the food and wine
Example: A mildly flavored food like roast turkey pairs well with light-bodied white and red wines like sauvignon blanc and Beaujolais, but in the context of a Thanksgiving dinner featuring stuffing, cranberry sauce, and other strongly flavored side dishes, an intensely flavored white like gewürztraminer or a rich, fruity red like syrah or zinfandel would be preferable.

[I disagree with the second example above, and had an amazing magnum of  Cotes de Ventoux for a Thanksgiving dinner a couple years back.   The wine didn’t seem to pale at all next to the more substantially flavored side dishes.]

Balance tastes
 The five basic tastes are sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami (the recently discovered fifth taste found in savory foods like mushrooms, tomatoes, soy sauce, and aged cheeses and meats). Salty and sour tastes in food make wines taste milder (fruitier and less acidic), while sweet and savory (umami) tastes make wines taste stronger (drier and more astringent).Example: A simple cut of beef tames the tannins and brings out the fruit of a young cabernet sauvignon, but chocolate (which some people enjoy with cabernet) will accentuate its tannins and diminish its fruit.

Seasonings, such as salt, lemon, vinegar, and mustard, can be used to achieve balance in food-wine pairings, either to make the wine taste milder (salt, lemon, vinegar) or stronger (sugar or umami ingredients).

[This is what I did tonight with my tempranillo.  I wanted to pair its slightly sweet, light fruit with my acidic pasta sauce, which included onions and garlic.]

Match flavors
Flavors are combinations of tastes and aromas, and there are an infinite number of them. You can fine-tune food and wine pairings by matching flavors in the food and the wine.Example: … Grilled steak in a pepper sauce will go beautifully with a peppery zinfandel.

Counterpoint flavors
Sometimes, the best choice is to counterpoint flavors rather than matching them.Example: Pairing a spicy dish like Jamaican Jerk Chicken with a high-alcohol red wine may seem logical, but, in fact, the heat in the dish will ignite the alcohol in the wine to produce an unpleasantly hot, harsh impression. A better choice is a low-alcohol, fruity wine like riesling or gewürztraminer, which will both frame and tame the spicy flavors of the dish. 

[I personally have done both pairings above, and so I can agree with the Thai food/gewurtzraminer pairing.]
 
Tonight it was more important to me that I have something I wanted to drink, versus something that was completed tied into what I was eating, especially after what happened this past weekend.  
 
The pasta was conchiglione, and the basis for the sauce was a mid tier brand.  I added some of the tempranillo, some EVOO, some seasonings, red onions and fresh sliced garlic.  I served the pasta al dente.
 
The tempranillo was just what I wanted:  sweet, juicy, not too heavy.  It was perfect with the sauce because it *wasn’t* complementing the sauce; it was a nice contrast. 
 

Linda Blakely 2008

Notes: 8/2/11, at home, listening to J. J. Gray & Mofro, “Georgia Warhorse.”
Codice 2008 Vino de La Tierra de Castilla.
Alcohol: 13.5%
Appearance: Medium purplish/ruby with wide ruby rim.
Nose: low intensity, young, spicy, dark fruit (cherry?)
Palate: mildly tart on the tongue, first notes are mildly jammy, fruitywith a quick finish.
 
I’m concluding this wine would have been perfectly paired with a black cherry reduction sauce over pork loin and roasted root vegetables. 
 
The idea of pairing wines with food has always been an interesting vocation, an idea that needs more food for thought. 
 
While writing and thinking about this post tonight, I began thinking of oysters on the half shell.  A couple years ago, my friend Doug and I went to an oyster bar on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.  I remember walking there and he telling me that champagne is what is supposed to be paired with oysters.  We ended up having beers with our oysters.
 
Now I’m curious to see which wine would be best suited for oysters on the half shell.
 
~H
 

Know yourself…

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This past Friday I was in San Francisco and stuck my head in a wine store/bar.  I wanted to see what GSM blends were available, and what the price range for any blends may be. 

The gal that helped was great in pointing out two — a Tallulah 2007 GSM with the fruit from Amador Valley and a Gigonda Paillere et Pied Gu Cotes du Rhone.  She mentioned the Tallulah, a fruit-forward blend, would be best for just drinking whereas the French wine was more subtle and would be best suited with food. I purchased the Gigondas.

I figured I’d get home and cook something for dinner, and began planning in my head what I wanted to create.  I was leaning towards pasta with a red sauce and lots of garlic. 

The traffic was miserable, and it took me an hour to get to the foot of the bridge from the 280 interchange.  Needless to say, by the time I got home to San Ramon, I was wiped out, hot, tired, thirsty and not thinking of no longer thinking of  cooking dinner.

After deciding to order a pizza, I called up for my favorite, a vegetarian pizza with a white sauce and lots of zucchini, onion, bell peppers and garlic.  After I had opened the Gigondas and was drinking some with my pizza, I decided I had made a mistake. 

I love a fruity, juicy, but mysterious wine, and realized that I as much as I love pairing foods with wines, I don’t want to *have* to drink a certain wine with food;  I want to be able to just drink wine.  No restrictions, no conditions, no necessary accoutrements. 

I wrote an email to the owner of Vin, the shop in the West Portal area of San Francisco where I’d bought the wine, to get the name of the alternate wine, the one I’d regrettably left behind.

He replied late that night:

Hi Helene,  I hope the screenshot below makes it to you as it has more information on the Tallulah. This is from the Tallulah website.  In short, “GSM” is a bit of industry slang for a Rhone-styled blend consisting of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.  This GSM is very different from the French Cotes du Rhone that you purchased today.  Tallulah is definitely more fruit-forward whereas the French is more subdued, drier and has an earthy.  Not to over-simplify, but I feel the Tallulah is better suited for a cocktail party (and is always a hit) and the French Cotes du Rhone is well suited for an elegant dinner.

Just one guys opinion…

He clearly understands that most wine drinkers are drinking wine to drink it, not to pair it with a food.  While I love drinking wine with my food, I also love drinking wine for the experience of drinking it alone.

In the future, I will be less impetuous when buying a wine, and I will remember that even though it may be paired with food, the wine I choose must be one I’d enjoy by itself.

~H

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