Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.
~ Dion Boucicault
Time and tide wait for no man. Another year has shot by and I have grown even grayer. A good friend has a theory that we are passing through life on a constant paced conveyor belt with events quietly passing us like an endless stream of billboards on a cross country road trip. As a Chef, I used to measure time by the expiration dates on heavy cream cartons. Each container was good for a month and it just seemed a relevant measurement of time given my occupation. As I grew older, my father actually stopped lying about his own age and started lying about mine. Somehow thinking if I was younger he would be younger. Time never slows, it just keeps going on.
February is rapidly approaching and with that comes the annual International Alsace Festival held each year in the scenic Anderson Valley of Northern California. Winemakers from across the globe gather at the Boonville Fairgrounds to share their mostly white varietals with hard to pronounce names like Gewurztraminer, Riesling and Cremant d’Alsace with wine enthusiasts. Lisa and I make the trip to participate in the fun and festivities by conducting a food pairing demo then serving 300 guests bite sized portions of whatever I make. My demo falls during the break between the end of the technical conference and the beginning of the Grand Tasting on Saturday when people’s hunger is peaking.
For thirty minutes I am fortunate enough to share my love of food culture with a small intimate group of wine lovers. Food needs wine and wine needs food. In recent years I have cooked everything from the very classic Choucroute Garni to the more obscure Moroccan Sea Scallops with Preserved Lemon Farrotto. This year I am making seared Steelhead with Aromatic Sea Salt served on a pool Cauliflower Puree with a Caramelized Onion Butter.
Gewurztraminers and other Alsatian varietals tend to pair with foods that have some spice and opulent richness. The slight residual sugar of the wines offset spiciness in the guise of spices rather than raw heat like that from a jalapeno or ghost pepper. Warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamon and moderate levels of white pepper marry well. The bright acidity present in the wine begs for a certain level of fatness in the food. Cheese like Munster or even Epoisse work great. Rich fishes like salmon, steelhead trout, lobsters or scallops pair extremely well. The sauces need to be rich and creamy.
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- Aromatic Sea Salt
- 4 – 6 ounce pieces of Steelhead Trout or wild Salmon
- 1 recipe Cauliflower Puree
- 1 recipe Caramelized Onion Butter
- Melt butter in a Teflon pan till light brown and bubbly.
- Season Steelhead Trout with aromatic sea salt on both sides and brown in pan.
- Flip over and brown on other side. Let sit in pan while you plate the dish.
- Spoon warmed cauliflower puree onto center of plate.
- Pat steelhead dry and place in center of cauliflower puree.
- Spoon Caramelized Onion Butter over.
- Pour a big glass of Gewurztraminer and enjoy!
- 1 Head Cauliflower
- 2 ounces Butter
- Sea Salt and Pepper
- Trim the stem off a head of cauliflower then cut into thick slices.
- Put in a pot of salted water and boil till super tender and soft.
- Drain well, then puree in a food processor till very creamy.
- Add two ounces of butter and season with sea salt and pepper. Reserve.
- 1 Shallot, diced
- 1 T. Vinegar
- 1 cup Gewurztraminer
- ½ cup Heavy Cream
- 4 oz cold Butter, diced
- ½ Sweet Onion, sliced thinly
- Bring shallot, vinegar and Gewurztraminer to a boil and reduce by fifty percent.
- Add heavy cream and boil for five minutes.
- Whisk in cold butter, check seasonings, and strain.
- Saute sliced sweet onion in butter till golden brown and soft. Add to sauce.
Enjoy the recipe! Better yet come visit me at the 2015 International Alsace Festival in Boonville, California and enjoy the wines and food and fun! Buy your tickets today online at: http://www.avwines.com/alsace-festival/