Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Farmers Markets, Unique Wines and a Dash of Serendipity

Since posting my last article, where I threw out that the next articles would feature food pairings with the unique wines that I had picked up on my July sojourn to the vineyards of Loudoun County, I pondered “what on earth were these pairing going to be?” Especially the Rkatsiteli. I tend to skew towards the analytical side of the fence when faced with a dilemma. Translation: I can easily over think, over research, over complicate things and then be paralyzed by indecision.

Ponder, ponder, ponder …and weeks rolled by. Truly, it was Rkatsiteli that had me really stumped. Finally, in an “I give up moment” it dawned on me that Rkatsiteli reminded me of a spicier Sauv Blanc. Brilliant, the needed light bulb moment and then nothing. Sigh, I  still was having an uncreative moment and was really not coming up with ideas for the pairing. I chalked it up to being a long week at work and that I would put it on the weekend to-do list and head home from work. Since it was Thursday night, I figured I had a good buffer of 24 hours until the start of the weekend and maybe my creative juices would flow.
Like many that work in DC, my main form of transportation for my daily commute is the metro. Normally, I am on auto-pilot when I walk to the metro in the evening… basically same path every day.  On the occasion I change up my normal walking route I usually stumbled across something cool or fun and this time was no different. In an attempt to break out of my uncreative rut, I decided I would walk a slightly altered route to the metro. I am glad I did because  I came across the Penn Quarter Farmers Market. I had forgotten about this framers market and what a delightful gem to stumble across. An afternoon framers market on the way home from the office is something that my inner slacker could really embrace. 
I love farmers markets, especially the one that is about twenty minutes from my home on Saturday mornings. What I do not like is the up early on a Saturday morning to venture across the sleepy suburban sprawl to the farmer’s market, where it seems that every red lights conspires to slow my progress. Finally, as I close in to the desired destination there is the jockey for position, stalking to quickly snatch up the prize and that is just to find a legal parking spot somewhat near the farmers market. Sometimes this is all a bit much for my under-caffeinated brain early on a Saturday morning.

As I wandered through the Penn Quarter Farmers Market looking at all the fresh and wonderful local food items, I began formulating pairing ideas, not just for the Rkatsiteli but for all three wines. As I scooped up fresh produce, cheese from a local dairy, crab cakes and empanadas I left the farmer’s market content that I now had ideas on what to pair with my three unique wines.

Number 1 : 2011 Chrysalis Vineyards AlbariƱo paired with beef empanadas and avocado.
This wine was a gem with its dry crispness that balanced out the buttery-ness of the crust of the empanadas. The Chrysalis AlbariƱo displayed all of the true characteristics of the varietal with its flavors of citrus, apricots, peaches with a hint of almond. The wine has a tarty clean freshness that complimented the empanadas and cut through the creaminess of the avocado.

Number 2: Cana Vineyards 2012 Rkatsiteli paired with Maryland crab cake and a roasted tomato goat cheese mixed spring green salad.

This wine is an elegant dry wine with a nose of fresh flowers and herbs that are balanced by hints of pear and apple, crisp acidity and a zingy finish. The wine was able to balance out the creaminess of the goat cheese and sweetness of the roasted tomatoes, while brightening the flavor profile of the crab cake.  
Number 3: 2012 Delaplane Petite Manseng paired with cayenne and curry popcorn.
This particular pairing nearly confounded me as much as the Rkatsiteli. I really did not want to go the normal route with the off-dry wine and pair it with an Asian or Indian dish. In doing research, I came across this pairing recommendation from another Virginia winery that produces Petit Manseng and thought I would give it a whirl. A little out of the box for me (as I am not a big popcorn fan), but it proved to be a delicious stretch for me. The tangy off-dry wine was the perfect match to disarm the heat of the cayenne and compliment the spiciness of the curry.