February 9, 2011 in Food

Culinary cupid

From wine and chocolate to champagne and cheese, let the food romance begin
Story By Lorie Hutson The Spokesman-Review

Hallets Chocolates with Earl Grey tea

 Chocolatier Kari Kane at Hallets Chocolates in Spokane likes to pair some of her family business’ handmade chocolates with a cup of Earl Grey tea. Try Mighty Leaf Earl Grey Tea with one of Halletts dark chocolate Champagne truffles ($1.50/each) or a dark chocolate orange brandy truffle ($1.50/each). Stop into Halletts coffee house, 1007 E. Trent Ave., for an Earl Grey tea latte and one of those chocolates (or one of the amazing array they keep on hand).

Cremeux de Bourgogne with Champagne

 Kate Allison, cheesemonger at Saunders Cheese Market, says any triple cream cheese will taste amazing with your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine. She especially likes Cremeux de Bourgogne ($27.99 per pound) with Bollinger Champagne ($49.99 and up) if you want to splurge.

 The soft-ripened cheese has cream added into the curd until it reaches 75 percent butter fat. It is very spreadable and can be served with a cracker of your choice. “(The cheese) is slightly salty and very luscious and that is why they pair so well with sparkling wine. It just cuts through the creaminess and the fat,” Allison says.

 Saunders also offers small wheels of Brillat-Savarin ($12.99) or Mt. Tam ($20) triple cream cheeses. And if you want to keep the wine a little closer to home, Allison suggests a sparkling wine made in Spokane, Mountain Dome Vintage Brut or nonvintage sparkling wine.

Unibroue Quelque Chose with Dolfin Au Lait Chocolate

 Here’s a pairing for those who are a bit more adventurous: Wine steward Drew Smith, with Spokane Wine Co. inside Huckleberry’s on the South Hill, recommends warming the fruit beer and serving it hot with Dolfin Au Lait ($3.89) chocolate.

 Smith says he tried the pairing at a previous tasting at Huckleberry’s and tasters thought he was crazy when he pulled out the warmed beer and began pouring. The Quelque Chose ($15.99/750 ml) is a strong cherry ale brewed in Chambly, Canada. “It was spectacular,” he says.

 To warm the beer, open the bottle and place the bottle upright in a saucepan partially filled with warm water.

 Smith will be trying more beer and chocolate pairings Saturday afternoon during a tasting at the bistro inside Huckleberry’s. This time he’s making all of the chocolates himself. The tasting is $5 and will be held from 2 to 4 p.m.

Porter with Belgian Lambic

 At Daanen’s Delicatessen in Hayden, Idaho, proprietor Mark Daanen says he likes to pair two different beers for a celebratory and romantic drink. Pour a fruit-infused Belgian Lambic Framboise or Kriek ($11.95 for 750 ml) into a glass half filled with Black Boss Porter ($4.50/17 ounces). You can adjust the brew to taste by adding more porter or more lambic if you prefer. The chocolately nuances in the porter will work nicely with the raspberry flavor of the framboise or cherry flavor of the kriek, Daanen says.

Brachetto d’Acqui with Chocolove

 Rocket Market wine steward Matt Dolan says you’re sure to send your tastebuds swooning with a sweet dessert wine from Italy paired with a chocolate bar that has fruit in it. Try a Banfi 2006 Rosa Regale ($21) and a bar of Chocolove Raspberries in Dark Chocolate. Or, maybe Chocolove’s Chilies and Cherries in Dark Chocolate, or Chocolove’s Cherries and Almonds in Dark Chocolate.

 “There’s a love poem inside each bar, and they are high quality and a great price. How can you go wrong with that?” he asks.

Whether you’ve found your perfect match or you’re still searching, celebrate the day dedicated to love with food pairings made in heaven.

For Valentine’s Day we talked to local wine, chocolate, beer and nutrition experts to gather recommendations for culinary matches that just work better together.

Many of these pairings are wine and food combinations that can be easily picked up at the store.

Others include a recipe and will require a little more work. Some will help you and your sweetheart stay on track with healthy eating goals. Others may sound downright strange.

Look for several more pairings and recipes inside today’s Food section on page C7.

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