• October 2010

Finding The Perfect Wine

By John Peters
Wine Director, and
Chef Stephen Sands
Co-Owner and CEO
Culinaria Cooking School
Opening this month in Vienna, VA

As I’ve said before, half the fun of drinking wine is discovering what works well together.

For this five-course meal, Chef Stephen Sands and I have put our palates together and come up with wines that will bring out the gorgeous flavors of each dish. Salud!

Enjoy this fall feast from Culinaria Cooking School

  • Crabmeat, Corn, and Cumin Salad in Endive Boats
    Pair with: Albarino from Rías Baixas
  • Halibut Fillets with Tomato-Lemongrass Sauce
    On the side: Spicy Sauteed Broccolini with Garlic
    Pair with: un-oaked Chardonnay or Chablis from Burgundy
  • Lychee-Coconut Sorbet with Mango and Lime
    Pair with: Semillon Sauternes

Crabmeat, Corn, and Cumin Salad in Endive Boats

Pair with:
Albarino from Rías Baixas

Located in the northwest corner of Spain, Rías Baixas is a region in Galicia that produces bright, crisp fruit, making this wine an ideal complement to the crab and sweet corn. And its fresh fruitiness softens the cumin heat. Prices range from $10 to $22 per bottle.

What you’ll need:

6 oz. crabmeat, picked over, well-drained
2 cups frozen corn (fresh, if available)
3 cups finely chopped red onion
2 T. chopped mixed herbs (tarragon, parsley, basil, etc.)
3 cups mayonnaise
1 T. orange juice concentrate
1 t. grated lemon zest
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 heads Belgian endive, separated into individual leaves or spears
1 T. fresh parsley for garnish

Here’s how:

1. Mix the first four ingredients together in a medium bowl. Next, prepare the dressing for the crab by mixing the mayonnaise, orange juice, lemon zest and lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne together. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate. Gently blend the dressing into the crab and corn mixture (can be made up to 1 day ahead, kept covered, and refrigerated).
2. When ready to serve, carefully separate the spears from the Belgian endive. Place a well-rounded tablespoon of the filling into the endive spear, sprinkle with parsley and paprika, and serve.

Main course:
Halibut Fillets with Tomato-Lemongrass Sauce
with Spicy Sauteed Broccolini with Garlic

Pair with:
An un-oaked Chardonnay or Chablis from Burgundy

What you’ll need:

2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
3 T. olive oil
2 pounds plum tomatoes, chopped (canned are better when not in season)
6 stalks fresh lemongrass, rough outer layers removed
salt and pepper, to taste
6 halibut fillets (6 ounces each)

Here’s how:

1. Remove the outer tough layers from the lemongrass. Take the lower 6” and chop coarsely.
2. Cook the shallots in 1-2 T. olive oil over medium heat until translucent, then add the garlic. Add the tomatoes and lemongrass, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a low simmer until the tomatoes fall apart and form a chunky sauce, about 20 minutes.
3. Place the sauce into a blender and blend until smooth. Pass the sauce through a fine mesh sieve, pressing hard on the solids and then discard the solids. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed.
4. Brush the halibut fillets with the remaining oil, and season with salt and pepper. Sear the fillets on both sides in a large skillet over high heat. Move the seared fillets to a sheet-pan fitted with a rack, then place into a 350-degree oven until opaque throughout. Remove from the oven and let the fillets rest for 2-3 minutes. Place on warmed plates and serve with the sauce.

On the side: Spicy Sauteed Broccolini with Garlic

What you’ll need:

1 large bunch, broccolini (about 1-2 pounds)
3 cups olive oil
2-3 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. anchovy paste
3 tsp. dried, hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 cups pine nuts
2 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Here’s how:

1. In a large pot of boiling, slated water, partially cook the broccolini until crisp tender. Drain and place into ice water to halt the cooking process, then drain and dry.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat until hot, but not smoking. Saute the garlic until fragrant and light golden, about 1 minute. Add the anchovy paste and hot pepper flakes, and saute until well-mixed, then add the broccolini and toss to coat.
3. When the broccolini are heated through, add the pine nuts and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the broccolini are tender throughout; remove from the heat, add the parsley, and serve.

Lychee-Coconut Sorbet with Mango and Lime

Pair with:
Semillon Sauternes

With the sorbet, you’ll want a botrytized sweet wine with its tropical fruits. A sticky from Down Under like a Semillon Sauternes makes a perfect pairing.

What you’ll need:

1 20-ounce can of lychees in syrup
2 cups well-blended sweetened cream of coconut (preferably Coco Lopez brand)
3 T. fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 large firm-ripe mangos, peeled and sliced
1 T. superfine sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest

Here’s how:

1. Drain the lychees, reserving the syrup, then puree the lychees, cream of coconut (do not use coconut milk or coconut cream), 3 cups of the lychees syrup, and 2 T. lime juice in a bender until smooth.
2. Place the leeches/coconut mixture together into ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
3. While the sorbet is churning, toss together the mango, lime zest, sugar, and remaining (1-2 T.) lime juice to taste.
4. Serve scoops of sorbet over the macerated mango slices.

About John Peters
Director of Wine, Culinaria Cooking School

A three-decade veteran of the wine business, he first worked with his father and brother to found Wide World of Wines in 1982. John ran the retail business through 1989, hand-selecting wines from vineyards all over the world. John then went to work for Continental Liquors until 1994, and from 1997 to 2003 he was the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Manager for DeLoach Vineyards. John is frequently invited to speak about wine at the National Press Club, the Decanter Club, The Greenbrier, The Homestead, and the French and Australian embassies in Washington, DC.