Not being able to analyze wines like an expert, you know the type that spouts "exhibits gorgeous floral, cherry, tobacco, spice, and roasted Provencal herb-like notes"; I am forced to invent something else. My first attempt, "Computes elegantly along fractal fruit boundaries"; naah! too geeky and even I cannot decipher what it means. The next version "Widening spreads between expected and actual amortized time-variant alcohol contents"; sounds like I am constantly imbibing even while writing. Like a drowning man grasping at straws, and making no secret of my amateur status I finally proclaim ---"Food + Wine = Music". Ok maybe not as revolutionary as the theory of relativity, but it does express the sound principle of always pairing wine with food.
The question still remains, which music ?; and not being an expert at classical Western or classical Indian, the choice automatically reduces to English Pop/Rock or Hindi film songs. Take something like "We don't need no education" by Pink Floyd, I just cannot see this being paired with any food much less wine (maybe some narcotic substance, but I am not going there). Hence by elimination, I am left with Hindi film music; but as you will see it is not such a bad choice.
A) Grilled Vegetables + Champagne = Asha Bhosale's Aao Huzur Tumko
Bubbly, frothy, effervescent, is that Champagne or Asha Bhosale singing Aao Huzur Tumko. Never mind, the adjectives fit both and this is my reason for the pairing. Grilled Vegetables just add to the fun, the great thing about them is that you can select any of your favorites.
I start with chopped cauliflower and julienned onions , a little oil and just a few spices (you can add more if you like); throw them on a charcoal grill and cook for about 10 - 15 min. Then I add julienned red, yellow, orange, green peppers (capsicum); and cook 5 more minutes. Finally I throw in some coarsely chopped tomatoes and cook just a few more minutes. Take them off the grill, and serve with champagne as the appetizer; do not forget the song in the background. You may just roast these vegetables in an oven if you do not want the hassle of a charcoal grill, or even make them on the stove using a grill pan. Other vegetables can certainly be added or substituted; eggplant, green beans, mushrooms all go well.
Substitutes for Champagne --- a simple Chardonnay (Barton & Guestier appx. $12), Non-Alcoholic sparkling wine, fizzy apple juice.
B) Salmon Au Poivre + a Red Burgundy = Kishore Kumar's Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhaana
Kishore Kumar belts out youthful romantic songs that upon further inspection prove to have a lot of depth and cannot be easily copied. Same with a Red Burgundy, and when paired with that Salmon; your Zindagi will be a lot more Suhaana.
Squeeze the juice of a lemon on a 1 - 1.5 lb piece of Salmon, and add 1 - 2 tbsp Olive oil. Liberally coat with cracked fresh pepper and extremely thin slices of one garlic clove. Cut another lemon into thin discs, cover the Salmon leaving some space between them, and marinate for at least an hour. Then put it under a 400 deg. F broiler for 10 min or until you are satisfied that it is cooked. You may also grill it over charcoal or on a stove using a grill pan. The lemon slices ensure that the salmon remains moist and tender, and this technique can be used with chicken as well.
Substitutes for Red Burgundy --- any Pinot Noir from say California or Oregon, Beaujolais
Substitutes for Salmon --- Tuna, cod, sea bass, even mild tandoori chicken.
C) Dijon Lamb Chops + a Red Bordeaux/Chateauneuf du Pape = Mohd. Rafi's Tere Mere Sapne Ab Ek Rang Hai or Mukesh's Kabhie Kabhie Mere Dil Mein Khayal Aata Hai
Complex, multi-layered, amazing depth that improves with age; characteristics of a good Red Bordeaux or a good Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Do I need to further elaborate upon the pairing, I would argue that it is self-explanatory.
Marinate Lamb/Mutton chops in Dijon mustard, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, parsley (can sub a little coriander), salt & pepper, for at least a couple of hours. The adventurous may also add some dry red wine. Grill/Broil/bake to taste, I usually do about 5 -7 minutes each side.
Substitutes for the wine --- Australian Shiraz, any Syrah (Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a Syrah blend), any good dry red wine
Substitutes for the chops --- A mildly spiced mutton/lamb cutlet, even a good steak.
D) Alphonso Mangoes + Sauternes = Lata Mangeshkar's Lag Jaa Gale
What is sweeter, Lata singing Lag Jaa Gale, a fresh ripe alphonso mango or an excellent Sauternes ? I say go with all three together, this is possibly the best dessert combination.
Substitutes for the wine --- Canadian IceWines, possibly Sula's dessert wines.
Substitutes for the mango --- pears (fresh or poached), strawberries, with nuts & cheese.
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