Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Coloring Outside the Lines at the Seattle Wine & Food Experience

If you are careful, and stay inside the lines, you will color a pretty picture.  That is what my Mom used to tell me when I was a kid.  Straying outside the lines used to mean you were sloppy and lacked coloring skills.  Now, as a grown up, coloring outside the lines has become a metaphor for creativity, innovation and making new discoveries.

I took my sloppy coloring skills to the SWFE  at the end of February and had a blast.  This was my first year attending and I can say with confidence that I will be back again next year.  The event was a delight for all your senses and I put mine to the test sampling food and wine pairings that attempted to break out of the “that’s the way we always do it” mold.

Frolik’s Duck confit taco included strands of lemon grass that seemed to be calling out for a nice dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.  Instead, I paired this delicious duck taco with the Cinsault from Robert Ramsay Cellars.  The Cinsault’s dark earthy notes and cedar spices worked to bring the subtle gamey notes of the duck more to the forefront. 

Andaluca featured a roasted vegetable tagine with Moraccan couscous.  A typical complimentary wine might be an Oregon Pinot Noir.   I wondered, “How would the roasted veggies stack up against a bolder red wine?”   

This dish paired excellently with the Cabernet Franc from Pondera Winery.   The earthy, herbal notes and hint of citrus in the Cab Franc were a fine compliment to the tomato-based tagine that included roasted sweet potato, carrots, golden beets and eggplant.

Ray’s Boathouse offered up a smoked sea scallop skewer that also included a poached prawn and pickled cherry tomato.  On the food pairing front the sweetness and acidity of the tomato worked well with the smoky notes of the sea scallop.  What wine goes with seafood?  If you stay inside the lines it must be white wine.  I went way outside the lines here and grabbed the Dusted Valley Syrah to pair up with the sea scallop.  

The Dusted Valley Rachis Syrah featured notes of dark fruit, blueberries and smoky cracked pepper backed by dusty dry tannins.  You might anticipate that the dark fruit, and smokiness of the Syrah would overpower the sea scallop.  Not so.  The cracked pepper from the Syrah was an excellent compliment to the smoky character of the sea scallop.

Bell & Whete were on the scene with a caramelized pork belly with sour beer braised cabbage and pickled mustard seeds.  The crew used a blowtorch to help bring out the perfect amount of glazed caramel sweetness on top of the pork belly.   
I tried out the Purple Star Riesling as a compliment to the rich, savory flavors of the pork belly.  The Riesling started out with sweet notes of green apple, pears and melon.  Uh-oh!  Too much sweetness when combined with the caramelized glaze?  No.  The sweetness was complimented by an excellent dry finish and streak of acidity that was a dynamite compliment to the savory pork belly and created an overall freshness in the experience.

To wrap things up I went with a pairing of Treveri Cellar’s Blanc de Blanc Brut sparkling wine with Salty’s shrimp and cheesy grits.  The grits were packed with rich white cheddar cheese and complimented by a light salsa. The jet stream of tight bubbles and crisp acidity from the Treveri Blanc de Blanc released the notes of sweet red peppers adding just the right flair of sweet spiciness to the mix.
There you have it, a few of my experiments from last months’s SWFE that turned out well.  This event is like a playground of food and wine waiting for you to jump in and challenge your senses while letting your imagination run wild.  Go ahead and try something out of the ordinary, color outside the lines.  It really isn’t that dangerous and I’m sure you will discover something new, unexpected and delicious.

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