Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wine and Cheese Pairing

Last Saturday I sampled the new wine and artisan cheese pairing at the Kendall Jackson Wine Center. I love food and I have recently begun to experiment with selecting a wine that properly complements good food. I'm no food expert, and I'm less than a novice at wine pairing, but I sure am having a great time. They told us at KJ that chef Tracey had spent several months working on the wine/cheese pairing. It was time well spent. Her pairings, along with a condiment for each were delightful.

I'll tease you with a photo of the treats. Notice that I've already finished off the first pairing. My favorite was the second from the left, the 2008 Jackson Hills Chardonnay paired with Redwood Hill Farm California Crottin, a sharp meaty goat cheese with a condiment of raisin fennel jam. Now, I don't like raisins, but this was really good. That red stuff in the far right condiment tray is beet mustard. Normally I would never eat something called that, because I don't like mustard. But it was actually mustard seed and paired beautifully with its cab and cheese. There is also a dessert pairing not shown here. The menu for the pairing can be found at http://www.kj.com/ under the Events tab.

You may associate Kendall Jackson only with inexpensive grocery store wine, but you would be wrong. They make excellent (and expensive) smaller production wines as well. We are quite fond of, and have several bottles of the Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay ($30). This is the one that caused Larry to join the wine club. We also love the 2005 Highland Estates Trace Ridge Cab ($70), but alas, due to the price, we only enjoy this one at tastings or when it shows up in our wine club shipment. We've enjoyed their food and dessert pairings on previous visits and they always treated us like honored guests, even before we joined the wine club. If you're in the vicinity of Santa Rosa, stop by the Wine Center. I highly recommend the food pairing if only to taste the tea-brined pork belly slider on the food pairing menu. It is to die for! I know pork belly sounds nasty if you've never tried it, but we gave it a go in South Africa since it is one of their traditional specialties. What a delightful surprise. But South African cuisine will have to wait for another day.

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