(Above: Champagne grapes are indeed very cute)
I was in Seattle last week for the Wine & Spirits Hot Picks tasting event, which was held at the historic Paramount Theatre in downtown. Like I did for a similar W&S event held in LA, I participated in a radio show in the days before the tasting (although this time I called in for a live broadcast). Anyway, the host asked me a common question: What’s the greatest food and wine pairing that you’ve ever experienced?
You think I’d have an answer to this one, but no–I just don’t think that way. I mean, there are loads of epic wine and food pairings that come to mind but I don’t really dwell on them. Too many more to look forward to, I guess. Why live in the past?
That said, one pairing immediately came to mind… Two years ago, I was hanging out in Seattle with Peter Liem prior to another W&S event, and we went to Matt’s In The Market for lunch. At the time, Matt’s was a narrow space with a fish counter and a few tables (it has since expanded to double that size). Hot food was cooked on a propane burner in the back; I think there was also a toaster in use. Peter, of course, brought along a bottle from one of his remote North American stashes: Louis Roederer’s 1983 Cristal.
1983, as Peter told me at the time, is considered an off year for Cristal (and Champagne), yet this wine was gorgeous. Better still, we ordered up a couple of fried catfish sandwiches to pair with it. Damn! Absolutely perfect combination…the Champagne was still very fresh at 23 years old, with plenty of zip left in it–bubbles, acidity–to cut through the rich fish and crispy batter. I can still taste it today, two years later. Now that’s bling!
(Above: The catfish at Matt’s is perfectly fried–crispy outer crust, the meat is fluffy and moist–and then generously served as a sandwich with aioli and greens)
I went back to Matt’s on this last trip, but alas, I didn’t have a bottle of ’83 Cristal with me. Matt’s has always had a good wine program, however, and the selection, I’m pleased to report, grew along with the remodel. Catfish sandwich ordered, we asked for a bottle of the delicious ’05 Muscadet Clos des Allées Vieilles Vignes from Luneau-Papin, a Loire Valley producer with total geek cred. Yeah, it kicked ass.
(Above: The marquee at the Paramount Theatre… not only did Wine & Spirits share the upcoming billing with NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, but also Billy Idol!)