Pairing Perfection: Bacon Truffle Macaroni and Cheese and a 2005 Crozes-Hermitage

15 Nov

            There are few things in life more satisfying than reaping the rewards of persistence.  I’ve been putting a lot of effort into my sommelier class and was discouraged last week when I applied some things I had learned about food and wine pairing and achieved disappointing results.  This week, the tide turned and I couldn’t be more pleased.

The "Maj Girls" in Rome

            I play mah jonng every Wednesday.  My mah jongg group is a foursome of longtime friends.  We each have 21 year old daughters and have shared both the joys and heartbreaks that go along with the experience of raising kids. We’ve played mah jongg over lunch for the last 10 years, travelled together and shared a passion for good wine.  Corny as it sounds, these are the kind of shared experiences that create bonds of steel.  I love my “maj” friends.  Last week was my turn to host our maj lunch, so I decided summon my courage, cast aside the mantle of food/wine pairing defeat and try again.  A nip of fall was in the air and my wounded ego needed comfort.  I decided to try a new recipe for Bacon Truffle Macaroni and Cheese.  I wanted to add some tartness and textural contrast to the creamy savory flavors of the mac and cheese, so I decided to complete the menu with an arugula, apple, fennel and walnut salad.

            Then came the time to choose a wine.  The flavors that came to mind when I started thinking were truffles, cheese and bacon.  The bacon set off a bell in my mind because I learned in my class this week that bacon is an aroma marker for Syrah based wines from the Northern Rhone region of France.  But I was concerned about the truffles as I got into trouble with them in my previous effort.  So I decided to research the Northern Rhone to find out if truffles grow there on the premise that regional foods often pair well with regional wine.  When I discovered that the Northern Rhone Valley is, indeed, truffle territory, I chose a 1995 Crozes-Hermitage.

2005 Crozes-Hermitage

            The meal was a tremendous success.  The food was delicious, even if far from fat free.  As a funny aside, in my note to the maj girls, I invited them to lunch so that we could all have heart attacks before we moved our enlarged back-sides to the game room to play mah jongg.  And the wine paired beautifully with both the mac and cheese and the salad.  Its weight was perfect and the flavors complemented both the earthy, savory main course and the lighter acidic tastes and nutty flavors of the salad.

            Nothing inspires me more than success.  I can’t wait to try another new dish and pair it with a new favorite wine.


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