Coq Au Vin and Cru Beaujolais, A Pairing

I’ve embarked on a new wine studies journey with the goal of becoming a certified sommelier. The task involves a heavy amount of studying, tasting wine {perks!} and learning the harmonious art of food and wine pairing. For me, each step requires a sensorial activity where I can experience what the books tell me. Luckily, wine, itself, is a sensory experience, especially when paired with food. This is a journey I can’t tackle alone, fortunate for me, Scott has been in the wine industry for more than a decade and I take advantage of his expertise each step of the way. 

When I told Scott that I had finally made the decision to pursue a certification in wine studies his eyes lit up, he has nagged me for years about it but I didn’t see the need as I wasn’t working with wine or intended to do so. This year I started working at a wine-focused restaurant in the guest-serving side of the spectrum rather than the kitchen, which is a shift in mentally, but also un uphill battle of information and new knowledge. Wine is now a part of my everyday life, at work or at home.  

As part of this journey, on the weekends Scott and I are going to prepare a dish and pair it with a wine, using regionality, flavor profiles and intensity to create a rewarding meal with an educational angle. This week we cooked coq au vin, a traditional French dish, and paired it with a Cru Beaujolais from Château du Moulin-À-Vent, both from the Burgundy region in France. 

The Dish
Coq au vin is chicken stewed in wine, most notably red wine, although it can be cooked in any wine. Coq au vin’s history had a male chicken or rooster as its star in French country fare, and the recipe was first published in L’Art du bien manger, by Richardin Edmond in 1913. Because the rooster’s meat is tough it isn’t a highly priced protein as it requires long cooking for little meat, nowadays recipes use chicken, which is tender in comparison and takes 30-40 minutes to stew. 

As always when it comes to traditional French food I resourced to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, whose directions are precise and well-researched. And as always Julia uses butter to cook everything, including the bacon to help render the fat to brown the chicken. The main ingredient in the recipe, beside the chicken, is the wine, and it’s here where the first decision on the pairing begins. Julia suggests using either a red Burgundy, a Beaujolais, or a Chianti, wines which are naturally high in acid, to cook the bird and to drink. Because the flavors of the wine concentrate as it cooks, yielding a deeply flavored sauce with a good balance of acid from the wine and fat from the butter and the bacon, we started with a vibrant Cru Beaujolais with cherry and dark berry notes, great for drinking as well as cooking. 

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Orange and Rosemary Chicken, A Recipe from Provence

We had two oranges sitting on the dashboard of the car soaking up the almost 90 degree Provençal weather. The sunflower and lavender fields were all dead, “Oh yes, too late for that!” our AirB&B hostess told us over a glass of chilled rosé on her back patio.provence backyardWe had left Chamonix-Mont Blanc the day before to continue our “Tour de France” near Lyon on the town of Vienne. Continue reading Orange and Rosemary Chicken, A Recipe from Provence

Colombian Arroz con Pollo: A Country’s Addiction to Rice

I’m addicted to rice, it’s time to admit it. I’m not looking for a recovery plan, although it would be interesting to go to rice rehab if it existed. It doesn’t, I looked it up.

I grew up eating rice everyday — yes everyday. Lunch, dinner, and sometimes breakfast if the meal consisted of leftovers, or calentado, as we call it in Colombia, which is leftover lentils or beans mixed with rice and topped with a fried egg, and sometimes slices of avocado. Rice is an important ingredient in the Colombian pantry and intricate part of life; in 2013, rice consumption per capital was 111.5lb.

colombian arroz con pollo and fried plantains

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Drowning My Colombian Sorrows in Cumin

I was 25 years old on my first encounter with snow. For a hot-weather creature snow is one of those mysterious phenomenons one wishes to experience, to play with, to go down on a sled; like in the movies where children are laughing and dogs are frolicking, and a feeling of joy seems to burst out of every pore. A dream!

Miserable fall from my big cloud of expectations.

A real tumble, when faced with the realities of snow. The stuff piles up like unwelcome confetti flying around the house after a kid’s party.  It falls and collects around the house like the fat in my muffin top.

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French Cassoulet and The Holiday Season

The living room feels empty, a funny idea since it is like that for eleven months out of the year. The tree is now gone, and with it left the holiday season. I love the holidays but I realized this year that I follow no traditions. Wait, let’s try that again, I don’t follow many traditions. Alright, try again. I follow just a few traditions for the holidays. The tree is my favorite one. I love taking the dusty box out of the basement and the multiple boxes of ornaments, I know what you are thinking “No real tree?” no, not here. tree ornamentsIn Colombia, where I grew up, the tree was a plastic apparatus kept in an attic, or if you were rich then a new one came every year carrying all the new decorations, like in fashion. But that is not the kind of tree I love. I love our tree, the one filled with memories of generations past, of places we have been lucky to visit, and of dear friends who have contributed with ornaments that tell who we were at the time and who we have become.  Continue reading French Cassoulet and The Holiday Season