I’ve always been very impressed by the way Jim Barrasso, owner of Firefly Grill & Wine Bar has been able to come up with a unique, four course dinner paired with wine on a weekly basis. It takes a lot of planning and creativity to pull this off and it’s a great way to get introduced to new wine and food pairings. So when I decided to host event with the folks at KPRI to celebrate food, wine and music, Firefly was the venue I thought of first. Lick the Plate has always been about telling the stories of the culinary personalities in the area along with giving regular folks a chance to speak out on where they like to eat around town. Besides the wine, food, music and giveaways from KPRI, people who attend this event will be able to participate in an upcoming Lick the Plate on KPRI show by recording a few of their favorite restaurants and musical memories at the dinner! It’s going to make for a fun, interactive culinary celebration!
The following is part of a conversation I had with Jim recently about his process of creating wine dinners and pairing wine with food including our upcoming collaboration.
Having a weekly tasting menu paired with wine must entail a lot of planning and collaboration with your chef. Tell me about that process and how it comes together weekly.
Most of the time, Justin will create the menu and I will pair it with the appropriate wine. Some times I will have a specific wine I would like to use and we will create a dish to go with it. We communicate over the course of a couple of days.
Since Lick the Plate, KPRI, and Firefly are joining forces on one of these dinners with wines by Korbel and Sonoma Cutrer, take me course by course through that dinner, detailing each dish and the wine being paired with it.
The Korbel Natural being served during the happy hour is a great starter for this dinner. It is dry, crisp and has a light delicious flavor. We will be passing appetizers while everyone arrives. The 1st course of Seared Ahi with a jicama mache salad (a light soft lettuce green) with tangerine and mango balsamic will pair with the 2013 Russian River Ranches Chardonnay. The chardonnay has flavors of citrus that will balance nicely with the ahi and the light mango flavors.
The 2nd course of herb crusted Swordfish with lobster risotto and tarragon will pair with the 2012 Les Pierres Chardonnay. This chardonnay has the classic minerality that is present in this wine that will compliment the herb crust in the swordfish. It has a rich mouth feel that will pair well with the lobster risotto.
The main course of Glazed Pork Belly will be paired with the 2013 Russian River Ranches Pinot Noir. This wine has an earthy, dark fruit mid palate that will really bring out the fruit in the pork glaze and be complimented by the earthy mushroom in the potato gratin.
Dessert is white chocolate panna cotta served with the Korbel Sweet Rose sparkling wine. This wine is a blend of Pinot Noir and Zinfandel grapes picked early to maintain some acidity to balance out some of the sweetness. The wine has flavors of strawberry that will be accentuated by the strawberries in the panna cotta dish.
You are very immersed in the world of wine, what trends are you seeing these days? Are there certain varietals or blends that are getting more attention than others?
Some of the things we are seeing is a trend of people willing to try some unique varietals that they may not have tried before. We have been having a lot of success with varietals like Albarino, which is an aromatic white from Spain. I’m also seeing people trying more alternative reds like Petite Sirah and Malbec.
You pair wine with food on a weekly basis, and I know this is a tough question, but can you give me your top three, go-to wine and food pairings?
Some of my go to pairings would have to include a nice buttery Chardonnay and lobster, a smooth Pinot Noir goes so well with duck, and you can’t go wrong with a Syrah and lamb. You can’t go wrong with any of these
Get tickets for this fun and delicious celebration of food, wine, and music happening April 23 at www.kprifm.com then click on Lick the Plate Live.
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday – Friday during at 4:10 and 7:10 p.m. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (858) 395-6905.