Category: Holy Grail

How to Drive Your Cabernet Franc Crazy at the Dinner Table

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Homemade côte de boeuf and sauce Choron.

Given this blog’s obvious indebtedness to François Rabelais, it’s long overdue that I sing praises of Loire Cabernet Franc — particularly Chinon.

Last Thursday, thanks in large part to Thierry Germain, I discovered the most perfect food pairing in the universe for Loire Cabernet Franc.

With a friend, we threw together an impromptu dinner contrasting two Loire Cabernet Francs from the same vintage: a 2002 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny “La Marginale”, and a 2002 Olga Raffault Chinon “Les Picasses”.

These are two benchmark Cab Francs from an excellent, sun-drenched, warm vintage. Thierry Germain’s Domaine des Roches Neuves “La Marginale” is his tête de cuvée wine, only made in the best vintages. A portion of the vines for La Marginale reside in the fabled lieu-dit “Poyeux” (of Clos Rougeard fame) in Varrains, and the other comes from other vines around Chacé; Olga Raffault’s Picasses is sourced from its own revered vineyard in the northwest of Chinon. Here are maps of Saumur and Chinon.

Saumur and Saumur-Champigny. 
Chinon and Bourgueil.
Chinon and Bourgueil.

Thierry Germain is clearly a bon vivant, and meticulous in all he does; he is one of the only winemakers whose technical sheets offer not one, but twelve different food pairings.

Côte de boeuf sauce Choron was Thierry Germain’s pairing suggestion for La Marginale that stole our hearts. We’d already decided steak was in order, so all that was left was figuring out what the hell a sauce Choron is. (Click to Read more)

The Magical French Salad that Pairs with Red Wine: the Salade Landaise

I moved to New York City from France. After living in Paris for two years and Bordeaux for seven years, there are some French things that I can’t even find in the consumer paradise that is New York City.  Maybe New York City’s French wine selection can outstrip that of Paris 1I have to buy the Richard Leroy’s Noels de Montbenault for French friends who can’t get it in Paris; hardly anyone in France seems to have heard of Auguste Clape … to cite but a couple, but …

The perfect baguette and accompanying pâtisserie? Maison Kayser has me covered, and merely basking in the dining room’s din of native French conversations whisks me straight back to France.

Truffles and scrambled eggs? Not happening here, to my knowledge; I may try to make that at home someday to accompany a stellar white Burgundy.

The thing I miss most is the salade landaise, and sadly, that’s not happening anywhere in New York City. (Click to Read more)

Three Ways To Cheat at Food and Wine Pairing

Hold the frankincense and myrrh, we can sub these instead...
Hold the frankincense and myrrh, we can sub these instead …

Getting food and wine to play together nicely is all about taking time to identify bridge elements: aromas that neatly connect food and wine. That char on your salmon; those shishito peppers in your omelet … it’s these details that make all the difference.

But there is a way to cheat. Just hijack a somewhat bland or “undetermined” food by slathering it in a bridge element. And with a dash of faerie dust, your chicken transforms into what suddenly seems like the one true love for your Bourgogne.

The two spice blends below are gifts fit for a god, and offer an amazing return for your time or money, as they help your red wines connect in a heavenly manner to so very many foods …


Just the smell of roasted hazelnuts (think Nutella or nocciola gelato) plus lemony coriander seed is already enough to change your life. But the way it interfaces with red wines is remarkable.

It will adorn lamb, roast chicken, lentils, soups, toasted bread with olive oil, and you may even snack on it uncontrollably. A very dominant “this is what we’re doing now” spice blend, to be sure; nevertheless highly addictive.

You’ll make it in 25 minutes, then sprinkle it on your food for months.

A word about fresh spices: you NEED to monitor your spices for bugs or mold. Inspect with your nose and eyes before using. If your spices expired over a year ago, throw them away and then buy the smallest amount of not already rotten, cheap bulk spices as you require them. Aflatoxin B1 (from mold) is one of the worst carcinogens, and (Click to Read more)