La Dolce Vita: Plenty of matching opportunities

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Last week provided us with a couple of chances to pair wine with food, and one delightful surprise that simply appeared on our table.

One of my favourite easy dishes to make is linguini with clam sauce. Not the thick, gooey white sauce that you might find at the Old Spaghetti Factory but a nice, easy one that uses nothing much more than white wine, clam juice, spices and lot and lots of clams. For a dinner to feed four I use a large can of clams. You just can’t have too many clams, in my opinion.

For this meal I kicked it up a notch by adding fresh clams to the linguini just as it neared the al dente stage. When the mussel shells opened I strained with the pasta and added them, with a half cup or so of the pasta water, to the sauce. I mixed the works together over a heated burner until the sauce was partly absorbed, then served it with a simple salad.

For the wine, I turned to a Viognier from Ruby Tuesday, the delightful Naramata winery that we fell in love with last year.

Viognier is like the little cousin to Riesling. It’s fruity but less crisp and acidic, easier to drink without food but still nice with it. The Zero Balance has a nice hint of orange to it. The pairing was delightful.

On Saturday night we celebrated our wedding anniversary with dinner at the new Kootenay Thai Restaurant in Creston. I mentioned to Angela that I planned to ask owner Anthony Kwan to just bring us a meal with his favourite dishes. Perhaps he is psychic, or just extremely perceptive because he brought a bottle of wine to our table and told us he had our meal planned, if that was okay with us. The wine was a 2007 Merlot from Sandhill, one of my favourite wineries. The winemaker, Howard Soon, is a friend, the Hong Kong native told us. Red wine doesn’t come to mind immediately as a match for Thai food, but the spiciness of the Merlot stood up nicely to the many tastes of our meal. We thoroughly enjoyed our spring rolls with sweet chili sauce, rice with pineapple, cashews and prawns (beautifully presented in a hollowed half pineapple), garlic prawns with carrots and broccoli, and, the piece de resistance, a whole deep-fried fish from Malaysia with three-flavour sauce. When we finally finished a dessert of deep-fried bananas and coconut ice cream we felt like we would need to roll home.

Finally, on Sunday it was Easter dinner, featuring baked ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted yams and peppers, green salad and a fantastic coconut lemon cake for dessert. The wine selection was easy. I opened a bottle of rosé (from Zero Balance, the eerily appropriately named winery in Naramata. It’s one of the Holman group of wineries that was under receivership last time I checked, and we’ve enjoyed all of the white wines we purchased there last June) and we sat with our guests on the deck to enjoy the last of the day’s sunshine. Part way through dinner I opened another rosé, this time from Creston’s Skimmerhorn Winery. It’s been one of our favourites since the first vintage. The crisp wines went perfectly with our meal and the company, as it typically does, made everything about as good as one good hope for.

Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.