In our new installment of Back-and-Forth, Brian McClintic and Geoff Kruth take on 10 simple dishes and pick the first pairing that comes to mind. Feel free to argue the point, disregard, write off, cheer, question...or just add your own honest opinion in the comments below! We welcome the discussion.
First, a few words of advice.
How about this? Every food and beverage pairing recommendation from now on comes with an asterisk: Sancerre and chèvre*. Sauternes and foie gras*. Equally effective with people: Ike and Tina*. Some marriages work, some are beyond counseling—some poor would-bes get left at the altar. Terrine, for instance, with a red berry compote doesn’t quite make it with Sauternes. Moreover, if that Sauternes is 1811 d’Yquem, I’m probably going to want to pair it with my mouth and...not anything else. Context is king. And it extends beyond the table. Delicacies like caviar and foie carry with them certain social assumptions. As does green chile pozole. Take a look at your surroundings. Where are you? Who are you with? Currently, I’m on a train to SLO watching a dude eating Boulder potato chips and slamming whisky out of a mini-bar bottle. And it just seems very okay. If it were a bus, I’d recommend Fig Newtons and a handle of Beam.You want to talk three Michelin stars? Let’s talk three Michelin stars. Two memorable domestic experiences I've had involved Eleven Madison and The Laundry. I was at the bar at EMP in the Wilson era. He knows it’s my first time. He is also very much a sommelier, and the hat was on as things started coming out. “I chose this because of this... I chose that because of that...” It was geek status for eight courses. And why not? I’m by myself at EMP, and Dusty’s on fire. At TFL, I’m with five dudes, and it’s part pleasure but mostly business. I told Eric, “I want these five bottles. Can you just make them work where appropriate and fill in the gaps because I’m about to talk about some stuff for four hours straight?” And while we are engaged in our little man world, Eric and Mikayla went full ninja and made it rain. Same social context, different situation—different experience. Both, amazing.And in the end, what else is there but the experience? That is why we’re in this industry, isn’t it? To color those moments for people. If that’s the goal, then there are no rules in love and war, and every decision has one of these behind it: *. And who knows? You may end up with a baby named North West. That being said, Geoff and I are going to do our little song and dance. And someone will say, “Ooooo, I love that pairing!” or, “Ooooo, I don’t.” About that, I have this to say (as inevitably, all roads lead back to Tina): “What’s love...got to do...got to do with it?”
If you haven't seen Into the Bottle yet, there's a scene on food and wine pairing. It opens with me saying, "A lot of food and wine pairing is BS; a lot of food and wine pairing is overthought.” Then—with some throw-you-under-the-bus editing—Brian says, “You want to say food and wine pairing is BS? Okay... But that's like saying peanut butter and jelly is BS.”The question I was actually answering was whether or not I think a lot of food and wine pairing is overthought. I still maintain that it is. Too many ingredients or too much complexity? Just give me some Vermentino. That's not to say food and wine pairing isn't important; we are sommeliers after all. When you hit it just right, both the food and wine taste better. But when you overthink it, you tend to make things worse.So what's my advice? Simple: eat a lot, drink a lot, and pay attention. Also, if you’re going to take risks, do it on your own dime.
Here's our Back-and-Forth on 10 simple dishes. Unlike the movie set, this website is my home turf, so I get the last word on each paring.
This was great, I'd throw down some Brunello with age with that strip steak, how about some GSM with that Burger.