by guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes
James Beard Foundation Award-winning writers Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg are celebrating two anniversaries. Their book, The Flavor Bible, was published two years ago; their wedding took place two decades ago.
Among chefs, culinary students and sommeliers, their reputation is something more than solid. Chicagoan Belinda Chang, wine director at the Modern in New York, describes them as "the quintessential husband-wife pairing."
Dornenburg and Page may be atypically talented but, like other true foodies, they are generous. "They're true enthusiasts," Chang says. "They're not looking for everyone to fail. They want everyone to succeed."
That's a typical industry perspective, but Dornenburg and Page's generosity doesn't stop at the cellar or kitchen door. To celebrate the two-fold anniversary, they sent their friends copies of a later book, What to Drink With What You Eat - and, because a pairing book is useless without something to pair, a few bottles of Washington State wine. Here's Chang's succinct review of What to Drink With What You Eat: "genius."
Don't look for the snob factor - not in conversation with Dornenburg and Page, not in their books, (seriously: What to Drink with What You Eat includes ginger ale as a pairing) and not in the bottles. Oh, sure, the writers can go high-end, but we're in a recession here. Let's keep it real - and affordable.
There are worse things to do than pour a glass of wine and pore through this book. As you might guess from the title, there's a "What to Drink with What You Eat" section.
Here's fare for the Washington wines:
Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling 2008 ($21.99 at Binny's) serves well as an aperitif. It also goes with apricots, artichokes and asparagus. One letter into the alphabet, and the choices are broad. Riesling migrates across consonants and vowels. In a world written by Page and Dornenburg, everything does.
They offer different approaches. Another chapter is "What to Eat with What You Drink." Break out Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($11.99 at Binny's) with basil, bay, beef, braised dishes, dark chocolate, black currants, duck, pork, rabbit, rosemary . . . variety is the spice of wine.
Champagnes and sparkling wines beg for celebration. (There's something about that "pop.") Drink Domaine Ste Michelle Blanc de Blancs Methode Champenoise ($10.99 at Binny's) with caviar or oysters, or with Asian food, gougeres, pasta or - good news - dessert. Brunch is in the lineup. Sleep in and have a lazy breakfast in bed. That's a good enough reason to pop the cork.
Twelve wines to keep at home, after the jump
Dornenburg and Page have a solid reputation among professional foodies, but Chang says they're good for the rest of us, as well. The Flavor Bible is a powerful guide to building good recipes. What to Drink With What You Eat, Chang says, is good for "the home cook wants to know what to serve for the dinner party or the person who wants to impress the in-laws when they go out for a meal," and that's just the start of her list. Best of all, she describes the book as "fun." As to the authors, she happily confesses, "I love them very much."
What to Drink With What You Eat may win your heart. It's packed with information: input from experts, selection of beverages, pairing menus from restaurants around the country (including Alinea's from Oct. 19, 2005), recipes and desert island wine lists from people who know how to dream.
Here are Dornenburg's and Page's 12 wines you should have in the house, if you want to be sure you'll have a great pairing, whatever you want to eat:
Pinot Noir/Red Burgundy
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
There's a bonus beverage, bringing us to a brewer's dozen: hard cider.