Picking the right wine to go with a meal can be a daunting task in the first place, but Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein, four-time James Beard Award nominee, wants you to take a few risks and try something a little less ordinary. In his book Daring Pairing, the exciting new companion to Perfect Pairings, Goldstein teams up with thirty-six acclaimed chefs to highlight less conventional wine choices with perfectly tailored dishes. A “down to earth guide to wine’s less-travelled terrain”, Daring Pairings visits countries all over the world to explore their unique varietals, like Txakoli, the light-bodied, frizzante white from Spain’s Basque region, Greece’s obscure dark and fruity Xinomavro and the spicy, earthen Barbera from Italy’s Piedmont region.
Of course, it takes two to tango, and you need food to pair these spectacular wines. The chef-tailored recipes in this book are elegant without being fussy. Each one, from start to finish, would be equally as appropriate for a dinner party or a weeknight meal, but with Spring right around the corner, I want to share Loretta Keller’s offering from the book, Mushroom Salad with Warm Goat Cheese Toasts, which Evan suggests pairing with the versatile, slightly acidic Chenin Blanc. He also recommends a diverse list of Chenin producers, grouped by price range such as ‘everyday’, ‘premium’ and ‘splurge’ so you can tailor the suggestion to your own tastes!
So next time you’re perusing the wine section, keep Evan’s spirit of adventure and discovery in mind and pick up something you’ve never tried before! Salut!
Chenin Blanc and Mushroom Salad with Warm Goat Cheese Toasts
Makes 4 salad-course of first course servings
6 oz white button mushrooms, trimmed
1/2 cup crème fraiche
6 drops fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 celery stalk
4 slices coarse country bread
2 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, halved
1/2 lb fresh goat cheese, at room temp
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
1 Tbsp finely slices fresh chives
1/4 cup fresh chervil leaves
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup small-leaf arugula
1 cup mache
2 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 tsps fresh lemon juice
Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly slice he mushrooms, then place in a bowl. Add the crème fraiche, lemon juice, lemon zest, and a pinch each salt and pepper. Gently combine the ingredients, being careful not to break up the mushrooms. Set aside.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the strings from the celery stalk, then thinly slice the stalk crosswise with the mandolin or knife. Add the mushrooms and gently toss to mix.
Toast the bread slices, and brush one side of each slice with the olive oil. Drag the cut side of the garlic clove across the oiled side of each bread slice once or twice. Spread one-fourth of the goat cheese one each slice of toast.
Working quickly now, make the herb salad. In a bowl, combine all of the herbs, the arugula and the mache. Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice and toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper and toss again.
Divide the mushroom salad evening among 4 plates. Scatter the herb salad over the top, and place a slice of warm goat cheese toast on the side. Serve immediately.
Recipe by Loretta Keller found in Daring Pairings: A Master Sommelier Matches Distinctive Wines with Recipes from His Favorite Chefs, University of California Press, Los Angeles