For every one evening that I really put some effort into cooking dinner with groceries that I specifically gathered for the meal, I’d guess there are about five nights that involve some combination of salad/cheese/bread/wine, depending on what’s on hand, one of my layered bowl concoctions that typically include leftover brown rice, quinoa, or similar, topped with whatever I can forage from the fridge or pantry, or takeout or delivery something.
Don’t misunderstand me, that’s not a confession, and I’m not apologizing. In fact it usually works out to be something pretty tasty and reasonably balanced. It just doesn’t really amount to a recipe or considered pairing that I could pass along with a straight face, and I rarely pause to take photos of the plates. But it does occur to me that these quick pairings might be of interest to those of you who also don’t have the time or energy to prepare a full blown three-course menu every single night of the week!
So I’ve gathered up some notes from recent evenings and am presenting them here. Who knows, these Quick Pairings may turn into a regular thing…
Some blue cheeses with California Chardonnay
I saw something somewhere about pairing Cashel Blue with California Chardonnay and it intrigued me, since I typically think of red wine with blue cheese. I liked it so much that I played with a few other pairings, and so began my Shropshire blue obsession, lasting for several weeks as I merrily paired with a range of California Chardonnays. I really love the way the rich, fruity wine brings out the creaminess in the cheese and also smooths out the pungency.
Cashel Blue + Mayacamas 2007 Chardonnay Napa Valley ($55): Lovely cheese from County Tipperary, Ireland. Creamy, sweet milk flavor, understated blue tang. Amazing pairing with the wine, which is one of my favorites. Elegant, Burgundian structure with California fruit. Find it!
Shropshire Blue + Calera 2012 Chardonnay Mt. Harlan ($34). My current favorite blue cheese, with a signature fudgy texture, it’s a smooth, mellow, perfect blue. The wine is ripe and fleshy, with apricot, melon, pretty citrus and smoky, spicy oak notes. Find it!
But when it comes to Stilton…
Stilton still works best with reds for me — whether Port or, recently, paired with the always-gorgeous Robert Craig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Affinity (2009 vintage, $50, Find it!) and a handful of pecans and dried blueberries.
Delicious, if random Greek white wines
Roasted veg salad topped with crumbled feta + Gaia 2011 Santorini Thalassitis ($25). I routinely use up odds and ends of vegetables (like potato, sweet potato, carrot, onion, green beans, red bell pepper, whatever) by giving them a rough cut and tossing in a roasting pan with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then blitz at 400F or so until thoroughly roasted. Here, I ate a serving at room temp with some crumbled feta and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. It’s an easy approach to a vegetable-intensive meal. As for the wine, it’s seriously mineral-laden and tart, with loads of bright green apple and firm, white nectarine flavors. Ends with touches of lemon curd and dried floral notes. Lots of wine for the money. Find it!
Sashimi + Tselepos 2011 Moschofilero Mantinia ($18).
I toted this wine along to a friend’s house who happened to be offering a selection of sashimi. (He’s way more chefy than I am!) It turned out to be a delish pairing. It’s a big, bold wine, with plenty of floral and bone-dry mineral notes accenting the an array of citrus flavors. (And no, I cannot pronounce anything other than the vintage…) Find it!
And then there’s been pizza…
Who doesn’t like pizza? Whether it’s everyday delivery or tart-like creations that bear little to no resemblance to anything from Italy…
Cheese pizza + Candoni 2012 Chianti ($11). Super simple, everyday Chianti that pairs perfectly with super simple, everyday cheese pizza. Sometimes, you just need the basics… Find it!
Pizza with anchovies and black olives + Bersano 2010 Dolcetto d’Alba Coldelfosso ($20). Just a great pizza wine, with all its bright, tart red berry, blueberry, and dried floral and herb notes. Find it!
Cornmeal crust pizza topped with leftover stewed white beans and topped with Caesar-ish salad + Davis Bynum 2011 Chardonnay Russian River Valley River West Vineyard ($30). I really do put all manner of things on the Vicolo cornmeal pizza crusts that I keep stashed in the freezer… This time it was a dab of leftover sage-and-garlic-flecked cannellini beans, then topped with a quick Caesar-like salad that consisted of baby arugula tossed with olive oil and grated Parmesan, plus an anchovy or two. If you’ve never tried topping your pizza with salad, give it a shot. (I mean after it comes out of the oven, of course…) The wine is gorgeous, full-bodied, structured, with smoky oak accents to intense, dried pineapple, silky tropical melon, and bright citrus flavors. Find it!