Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Riesling, Cheese and Bite-Sized Treats c/o McCrossen's

Back in April - how has it been that long, I ask you? - I really enjoyed going to the monthly cheese/wine/food pairing at McCrossen's. I imagined it becoming a regular part of my life. But, alas, life made things a little complicated. Or, rather, McCrossen's made things more complicated by stubbornly scheduling the events on days when I was going to be out of town, moping, or poor. All to say that it wasn't until last Thursday that I finally made my way back to McCrossen's monthly event. L. - McCrossen's General Manager and wine expert - has been excited about Rieslings for what feels like months. I think, in fact, it has only been one. So the theme of this tasting was basically all Rieslings all the time. Or "Summer of Riesling." The first pairing went a little something like this: Riesling "Golem" from Misfit Wine Co. paired with Evalon LaClare Farms goat cheese and Grilled Sea Scallop with radish, uni, and red miso. Let's talk about the scallop for a minute. I often find uni to be too much. Too much of what I don't know. Too much uni, I guess. But somehow this uni, with this scallop, paired with the wine...it just plain worked folks.
And the Riesling was not so overwhelmingly sweet. Lauren was so enthusiastic while talking about each wine, and about the diversity of Riesling in particular. I'm not usually a fan because the typical Rieslings really are just too sweet for me...but this one wasn't.

Next up was the Riesling "RS20" Mac Forbes, paired with a La Serena sheep's cheese and a Spicy Calamari salad. There was a time when I thought that if a cheese wasn't creamy or blue, then it didn't have a lot to offer me. I was so totally mistaken. This cheese. This cheese was funky. L. and I ended up sitting with two total strangers for our meals, which at first weirded me out - I hate having to make small talk with people I don't know, but in actuality our eating mates (who didn't know each other either) were delightful.
I couldn't manage to take a good photograph of the calamari salad. I liked it well enough, but it wasn't really a standout dish for me or anyone at the table. The cheese, on the other hand, got rave reviews.
After that came a Meddersheimer Rehingrafenberg "Quarzit" Reserve (try saying that once, fast), paired with Comte Essex and Duck Confit Orreciette with geiser, caramelized onions, and foie gras breadcrumbs. This was, hands down, the table's favorite food of the night. So many things going on, and going on so well. I took the bowl and slurped up the gravy and didn't feel bad about it at all. And the cheese. Ugh. So good.
The last pairing was founded on a Dr Hermann '09 Riesling "H". Along with a blue goat's cheese - Cremificato Verde - and Roasted Drya Aged Sirloin with jersey tomato salad. Swoon. The cheese was potent but unlike any blue cheese I've had - and technically I think it was actually green. The wine was more of a typical Riesling, and while it did pair well with the food, I didn't really dig it. Too sweet for me.

But the sirloin. My goodness. It was so rare. I loved it. K., one of our table friends, wasn't used to such rare meat and I don't think it was her fave...but for me it was just delightful.
What a great experience. I think I liked the first event more - in terms of the diversity of wine selection - but it was really interesting and edifying to sample a number of different types of Riesling and see how surprisingly well they could pair with foods traditionally paired with heartier reds (steak? duck?). And while I gave L. some weird looks when first approached with the 'why don't we make this a table for three...actually four' I'm so glad that my face didn't stop progress, K. and K. were excellent tablemates. K. actually ended up buying a bottle of Malbec and sharing a glass with each one of us, which was so super nice of her and fun to boot!

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