We Shall Overcome -- Or, What to Pair With Scissor-Trimmed Dumplings

Tomorrow, it's barrel-sampling time, with our dear new old friend Matthew Rorick returning to the garage to join in the fun. We'll finally get to have that long-awaited dinner, where we'll re-create a pairing we originally experienced as a (double) double-blind feast. 

This secret food-and-wine pairing was our best ever. It absolutely rocked me. I couldn't write about it here, though, because, along with the transcendent nature of the meal and wine together, was the absolute certainty that it needed to be shared before it could be fully explained. Who else but Matthew? Tomorrow's the night!

Visitors From the South

We did have the pleasure of welcoming my mom and dad, Chris and Larry, for a quick visit this past weekend from Florida. They'd expressed interest in joining us for a (double) double-blind food-and-wine dinner, so I put Jody on food duty (I know, I've got to start cooking again one of these days) and went to find the wine.

As far as what I wanted, I already knew; I was going to the only place in town where you can buy a mere one of Matthew's wines -- the Forlorn Hope Rare Creature Mil Amores. I've yet to taste the Wine of a Thousand Loves for myself, but really; click the link, read the description, and tell me you wouldn't wait half an hour outside a wine shop that should have been already open to buy it. Sadly, after my 30 minutes of awkward hanging-out in front of an obviously closed wine shop next to a security-guarded ATM on a Sunday morning, no one showed up to open the place, and I was forced to go to plan B. 

Implementing Plan B

I had no idea what Jody was making, but I still wanted a personal connection between the wine, and the dinner, and us. I couldn't have my Mil Amores. So, while I had to settle for the grocery store selection, I still managed to pick up a bottle in which the grapes were carefully managed by Lino Bozzano, the very same vineyard manager who tended our own Grenache and Syrah vines:

2008 Laetitia Estate Pinot Noir, Arroyo Grande Valley, CA

Our other Central Coast winery friends haven't even bottled their 2008 Pinot Noir yet (which, incidentally, we helped sort and crush in October 2008). I was surprised to see this wine already on store shelves. It mixes 10 (ten!) different Pinot Noir clones and sees 11 months of barrel time.

I got lots of cherry fruit and a hint of Vicks Vap-O-Rub initially, which wasn't quite what I was looking for. The eucalyptus thing blew off, though, and Jody called it as a 2007 (because, again, who would think the 2008s were already on the shelves...) Central Coast Pinot Noir. He enjoyed the spicy notes and found the acids to be nice and high.

The Food, Dramatically Rendered

What do you think when you hear "Chicken Soup with Dumplings?" Easy peasy? Quick little whip-up tasty munch? Here's how it went in our kitchen:

(picks up two-page printed-out recipe on counter)
"Once the dumplings have cooled, trim any uneven edges with scissors" ... wait, this wouldn't be a Thomas Keller recipe, would it?

Of course.

I'm linking to the recipe here, and using the beautiful picture from the cookbook, so you can really understand what "Chicken Soup with Dumplings" means in Kellerland. 

Photo by Deborah Jones/Artisan Books - via online.wsj.com

I should also tell you that -- as Jody likes to use recipes as guidelines, not roadmaps, a la our Canadian gustatorial comrade Rémy Charest -- he substituted whole-grain mustard in the dumplings and did some other things I don't really know about -- and the soup was amazingly sublime.

And I trimmed each and every little quenelle-shaped dumpling. With scissors.

The Pairing

Once our very young wine opened up a bit, it paired quite nicely with the super-savory broth of the chicken soup. With fresh minced parsley sprinkled on top, the food and wine began to mesh like soft rain on a window screen. So many clones in the Pinot Noir; so many flavors in the soup; a parquet floor full of dancers, skirts swishing on the turn, moving in unison to the same song; out of many, one. Simple on the first perception; exceedingly complex in the execution.

(Still, though, the vague longing for what might have been.)

See you next week - let me know what you think of things!