I love experimenting with food -- tasting things I have never had, pairing food with different wine and finding new favorites that I never thought I would like.
Last week I received samples of a great line of ravioli from Nuovo Pasta, which normally supplies just restaurants, but the public can buy it through Marx Foods, a gourmet food purveyor. It was funny, the box it came in was huge and I thought I was getting ravioli to eat for weeks. When I opened it, I realized it was the ice packing that caused the box to be so large. However, two boxes of various ravioli were my present. So we decided to bring it to our friends' place and cook up some ravioli and try it out with various wine.
What a great experiment. Throughout our meal, which also included our main course of sauteed shrimp (marinated in dark rum, maple syrup, cayenne, sweet chili sauce, garlic and lemon juice) and grilled pineapple, we opened bottles of Columbia Valley Milbrandt Vineyards 2007 Traditions Pinot Gris, which was bright and effervescent with notes of green apples; a 2007 Spanish Tapeña Rosé (a blend of 55% Monastrell, 40% Garnacha and 5% Shiraz), which had a full mouthfeel with tart and crisp raspberry and cranberry; and a 2005 Juniper Canyon Chardonnay from Monterey (CA.), which had hardly any oak, was crisp, acidic and delicious with notes of Granny Smith apples and pears.
The Milbrandt is available at online for $12.99; while the Tapeña and Juniper Canyon are both currently on sale at CostPlus World Market (2844 N. Broadway, 773-477-9912) for $8.97 and $9.97, respectively.
The thing that was so great about all the different wines was they went well with the pasta because inside each ravioli was a different surprise: lobster-squid ink and egg pasta; veal bolognese; crab & lobster; cremini & portobello; goat cheese and roasted tomato & herb and about half a dozen others. Great flavor and beautiful colors that you can buy directly from Marx Foods.
Along the same lines of experimenting with food and wine, I recently went to Feed in Humboldt Park -- my first time there but definitely not my last. This chicken-focused spot serves up huge portions of rotisserie chicken, pasta, pulled pork sandwiches and lots of other yummy bits of comfort food. Knowing we'd have chicken, I brought along an awesome bottle of 2007 Tormaresca Chardonnay. If you're a fan of buttery, oaky Chard, you may not like this. But if you like your wines crisp and done in an Old World style, you'll love it. It has some citrus on the nose and has a color of golden wheat, and on the palate it is just lovely: slight acid, citrus and pineapple. It's a great wine for shellfish and seafood but went really nicely with the chicken and tangy spiciness of the pulled pork sandwich. Best of all, it's a great deal: only $10.99 at Sam's Wines and Spirits.
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