Tag Archives: red wine

Culinary Olympics

We’re down to four chefs! Kevin, Jennifer, and the Voltaggio brothers — these chefs have been the strongest contenders from the beginning (and maybe in the history of Top Chef) , so no big surprise really. But over here at S&C, we often like it when things work out like they’re supposed to.

Later today, we’ll be *live blogging* part one of the finale. But first, let’s quickly recap the last episode where the chefs where challenged to create a Bocuse d’Or dish. A few comments:

  • I was so happy to hear Padma say, “Welcome back,” to Jennifer after tasting her seafood turducken-esque Quickfire dish of Calamari Steak, Scallops, Salmon, Shiitake, Shiso with Rice Noodle Salad.
  • What the hell is Michael Voltaggio’s problem? His arrogance is out of control. His comment, “The food Kevin cooks is what I cook on my day off.” What? He sous vides lamb on his day off? Really? What a jerk.
  • Who gets the gold medal this round? It was sweet justice that Kevin won the challenge with his simply-prepared-but perfectly-cooked lamb.

Kevin’s Confit of Lamb Saddle with Baked Asparagus
and Sherry-Glazed Beets

For the drink pairing — I’ll admit, I’m not getting too creative on this one. But I’m not sure anyone would drink anything other than red wine with lamb. Jordan MacKay, over at Chow.com, even says so. Check out his article, “Lamb and Red Wine: They’re perfect together.” His recommendation — Rhône reds (particularly Syrah) often have an earthiness that compliments lamb’s meaty flavor. Yet, Pinot Noir offers a fruity contrast that may be more interesting.

posted by Ms. S&C

Vegging out

Last week’s Top Chef episode was all about vegging out, in one way or another.

For the Quickfire Challenge, the cheftestants created a TV dinner, inspired by an iconic television show. Kevin won the challenge with his Soprano’s meatballs with polenta.

For the Elimination Challenge, the chefs created vegetarian dishes for guest judge Natalie Portman. Kevin, Michael Voltaggio and Eli were the faves. (Mike Isabella was not.) Kevin won again. And, Micheal Voltaggio came off looking like an ungracious jerk. Even Tom Colicchio thought so. Read his blog for great behind-the-scenes insights.

kevin_vegKevin’s Vegetarian Dish: Duo of Mushrooms, Smoked Kale,
Candied Garlic and Turnip Purée

Kevin’s vegetarian dish reminded me a lot of Moosewood Cookbook‘s Warm Salad, which I make at least once or twice every winter — and, I drinkfairhillsred red wine with it every time. True, I drink red wine with most dinners, but I particularly love it with hearty kale and mushrooms. Since eco-friendly Natalie Portman was guest judge for this episode, and since October was Fair Trade Month, I’m going with the Fairhills Bus Stop Red for the drink pairing. I picked up a bottle at Whole Foods for less than $10. It was also highlighted on the Whole Foods blog, telling us that the wine is a product of one of the world’s largest Fair Trade projects, a joint venture between exporter, Origin Wine, Mendoza Vineyards in Argentina and Du Toitskloof Winery in South Africa.

The Fairhills Bus Stop Red is a dryish, medium bodied wine, with aromas of berry fruit and chocolate and hints of plum. Meatballs or kale, it should go great with either of Kevin’s dishes.

And, what makes the wine taste even better? Proceeds are dedicated to purchasing a school bus for the children of the over 800 farm employees and communities of San Martin, Lavalle and Medrano in Mendoza, Argentina.

posted by Ms. S&C

Pigging out

The Pigs & Pinot episode of Top Chef made things easy for Ms. S&C’s recap and drink pairing. During this show, the cheftestants drew knives to select a part of a pig to use for a dish, then paired it with a pinot noir — all for a Charlie Palmer (who also was guest judge) and Food & Wine charity event.pigI was pleased as punch that my favorite four chefs created the four best dishes. You know who they are by now: Jennifer, Bryan Voltaggio, Michael Voltaggio and Kevin. If these are not the last four chefs standing when this season comes to an end, then there’s something wrong in the world. (Ash was the chef sent home, but how cat-food-pork-rillette Laurine survived, I don’t know.)

Kevin, (who loves pork so much that he has a pig tattoo), won the challenge with his pork leg pate. The wine he chose to pair with the dish was the 2006 Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, from the Willamette Valley, in Oregon.

TC_porkpateKevin Gillespie’s Pork Leg Pate with Mushroom Salad
and Pickled Cherries

I’ve personally always loved pinot noir (even before watching the movie Sideways). It is often my go-to red wine, mostly because I think you can abandon the age-old tradition of pairing red wine with red meat, and drink it with fish and poultry dishes. When researching the Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, I was happy to discover that the wine was $36.99. While that is still quite a bit more than I typically pay for a bottle that I’m drinking at home (usually I go for something in the $12, or less, range),  it is an acceptable price point for a special  occasion dinner at home. Wine.com highlights the wine’s black cherry, raspberry, truffles and cola/mocha components. Considering Kevin’s pork dish includes cherries and mushrooms, it appears he made a smart and tasty decision. But, that’s the kind-of chef he is.

posted by Ms. S&C