Food Pairing Profile: Mike Tesarek (Volume XIII)

The food pairing recommendations for Volume XIII: Make Wine, Not War are coming from a gentleman who has been critical to my own recent wine education as well as to the creation of this collection of wines: Mike Tesarek. As the Southern California representative for the Blue Danube Wine Company, Mike is on a crusade to introduce the virtually unknown (yet undisputedly delicious) wines of Central Europe to the United States. And as if that weren’t enough, Mike is also a partner in Sacred Thirst Selections, from whom we have sourced some of Le Metro’s most fascinating French wines.

I’ll be sharing Mike’s culinary suggestions here on the blog next week, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I hope this interview helps you get to know him. (He’s a good man, and thorough.)

Aaron Epstein, Curator

AE: Tell me about that pivotal moment when you decided to dedicate your life to wine. (Come on, we’ve all got one…)

MT: When I was working as a server in the mid to late 90’s.  I wanted to explore more than just the same domestic wines I served every night.  I have always wanted a challenge in wine and food and I wasn’t being challenged. Yet.

AE: What food(s) did you find most comforting as a child? 

MT: A tough one. The same foods over and over bored me. Shake and bake chicken, spaghetti, hamburgers were only a means to an end.  I was trapped with a desire to explore and did once I left Montana.

AE: And what does “comfort food” mean to you today?

MT: Sushi, Mediterranean cuisine, and variety and nuance in food in its freshest form.

AE: Do you have a go-to “house wine” that you always have stocked at home?

MT: Not at all.  I could drink a different wine in every single glass.  Comfort in variety.

AE: When you’re planning a meal, do you generally develop it around the food, or the wine? 

MT: I go both ways depending on the setting.  For dinner parties food is usually developed around the wine.  For a simple weeknight dinner I choose the appropriate pairing based on what is open already, as there is always something open. 

AE: Is there a dish that you’re famous for among your friends? 

MT: I rarely cook the same thing twice and love surprises in the kitchen as much as from the cellar so always expect the unexpected when coming to my house.  You will have wine and food off the beaten path.

AE: How do you decide where to eat when you’re traveling?

MT: Asking the locals is always the best way to go.  If language challenged I would do diligent research and pick a smaller restaurant with personality.

AE: What is your favorite place to shop for food? 

MT: Farmers markets are the best for me. Having grown up on a farm I appreciate the hard work it takes to be a farmer.  Tasting, conversing, feeling the honesty.

AE: Imagine yourself as a culinary ingredient or grape variety. What would you be, and why? 

MT: If I could choose only one it would be tough but… Riesling.  So versatile at the table with food.  It can be electric and tongue tingling dry or can create the best dessert wine ever.  A very transparent grape and a characteristic I try to emulate. 

AE: Would you consider your approach to food & wine pairing to be more scientific or intuitive? 

MT: The most exciting part of pairing for me is experimentation.  Trying all the wines with each food is fun.  There can be a little bit of both for me and the basis being based on the body of the food and wine being similar.

 

VIDEO: “Make Wine, Not War” Release

We’re kicking off our newest edition with our first-ever release video!

Here, Curator Aaron sheds a bit of light on what’s inside Le Metro Volume XIII: Make Wine, Not War. This collection is shipping on Monday, and there are only a couple of boxes left. So let us know if you’d like one!

Volume XII Food Pairings

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To be honest, in my own household it is unlikely that rosés this delicious will still be in the glass when dinner is served – especially during a San Diego heat wave. But I hope that you’ll do better than I at exercising the virtue of patience, as all six of these bottles will surely benefit from the companionship of food. Especially if you take the culinary advice of Jill and Steve Matthiasson, below, who provided the food pairing recommendations for this collection (as well as setting aside some of their own absolutely killer rosé for inclusion).

Here are the Matthiassons’ suggestions on what to pair with the rosés in Volume XII, and If you missed my interview with Jill and Steve last week, this link will take you there. Thanks so much to both of them for being part of this month’s Le Metro adventure! It’s been such a pleasure to have them on board.

Aaron Epstein, Curator

Matthiasson, 2013 Napa Valley Rosé: Delicate, savory, and slightly creamy, with herbs of provence and hard unripe fruits, this rosé is great with a vegetable fritatta, grilled veggies (even asparagus), sliced salami, lots of different cheeses, and classic light french food like dover sole almondine.

Arnot-Roberts, 2013 Rosé: With its musk-melon/honeydew character and intense salinity in the long finish, this rosé can stand up to summertime grilled foods, like veggies (spring onions, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes) with some char marks on them drizzled with olive oil, or roasted peppers on toast with burnt edges, or gilled fish or chicken. Heartier summer vegetarian dishes like bean salads, hummus, or nut spreads would be great with the Arnot-Roberts rosé, too.

Pasini San Giovanni, 2013 Chiaretto: Intense strawberry, a lot of concentration of sweet fruit in the palate, but a steely acid finish–this rosé can stand up to cured meats. It would be good with the classic prosciutto and melon, but almost any charcuterie would be great. Country ham with asparagus or simple sopressata with dried fruits, nuts, and cheese.

Domaine de Fontsainte, 2013 Gris de Gris Rosé: The interesting peachy character and softness of the wine makes me think about salads, especially salads with fruits and nuts. Its a fairly round rosé, with light body, and would be delicious with a spring salad, especially as local salad greens are getting a touch bitter as the weather warms up–the softness of the rosé would relax the bitterness of the salad, rather than accentuating it.

J.K. Carriere, 2013 Glass White Pinot Noir: A lovely delicate wine, like drinking a salad of barely ripe nectarines and citrus segments, and fresh oregano sprinkled on top, maybe a few rose petals. In fact that would be a great pairing. A really light and refreshing wine, nice on its own, or with simple pure food, goat cheese and baguette, fresh fruit, raw crudité, or al dente steamed vegetables with a little aioli.

J. Lasalle, NV Premier Cru Brut RoséThis rustic fruity champagne, full of raspberry, earth, and yeast, would be great with a quiche, or bruschetta, old school baked brie, or crudités.

Jill & Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines

 

Food Pairing Profile: Jill & Steve Matthiasson (Volume XII)

Now that we’re more than one year into Le Metro, I can officially say that one of the most gratifying parts about this whole project has been the opportunity to not only share the wines made by winemakers whom I admire, but to also collaborate with them creatively.

Volume XII: Stop and Smell the Rosé has provided me with the chance to work with one of the most respected wineries in California (and, of course, to drink their wine myself!) and it is with immense pleasure that I introduce you to Jill and Steve Matthiasson.

The 2013 Matthiasson Rosé was the first wine selected for this collection – in fact, my faith in the Matthiassons is such that I chose to include the wine before it had even been bottled. I hope that you enjoy the wine as much as I do, and that this interview helps you get to know the people behind it.

Check back here next week for Jill and Steve’s food pairing recommendations for the wines from Volume XII!

Aaron Epstein, Curator

Jill & Steve Matthiasson

AE: Tell me about that pivotal moment when you decided to dedicate your life to wine. (Come on, we’ve all got one…) 

SM: I became very interested in alcohol and food as a teenager—alcohol to get into an altered state, and food because I was into cycling and gardening, and that connection between nutrition, healthy produce, and European traditions gelled. By college in the 80s I was into wine, which was the natural progression given those interests (which grew to include reading the beatnik writers, who loved their wine), but I came to “dedicate my life to it” a few years later, after working in my first vineyard, which caused everything to come together. Standing in the vineyard, my path was clear.

AE: What food(s) did you find most comforting as a child?

SM: The top of the list would be tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese baked with sausage and tomatoes, and the Icelandic dessert Panakukker, which are buckwheat crepes filled with jam and whipped cream.

AE: And what does “comfort food” mean to you today?

SM: The classic “comfort food” formula of familiarity combined with simple flavors and lots of fat and umami really works for me. I don’t think it’s cultural, it must be how we are wired. Nature, not nurture. I truly believe that wine “balance” is more physiological than cultural as well, which is why I think the current low acid/high alcohol trend is a fad, and that we will return to balanced wines. 

AE: Do you have a go-to “house wine” that you always have stocked at home? 

JM & SM: In our case we almost never have the same wine twice—the world of wine is so diverse that each wine moment is an opportunity to learn and explore. That said, we go through a heck of a lot of our own rose’ every summer. It’s low alcohol and refreshing, which is critical for  a house wine. 

AE: When you’re planning a meal, do you generally develop it around the food, or the wine?

JM & SM: We try to keep enough different wines on hand that we can plan the meal around the produce that happens to be fresh, seasonal, and available at that moment, and choose the wine accordingly. Tonight was grilled fava beans and lamb chops with a big salad, so we chose a Northern Rhone-style California Syrah. 

AE: Is there a dish that you’re famous for among your friends? 

JM & SM: We love to get people together over an entire animal. An asador lamb, or a pig in the Caja China, or a goat in a pit. Friends bring sides and wines, and we eat and drink our way into the night. 

AE: How do you decide where to eat when you’re traveling? 

JM & SM: Our situation is a little specific, since we like to experience restaurants that carry our wines. Within that group of options, however, we rely heavily on word of mouth from people in the restaurant business. We love places where people in the hospitality industry get excited to eat—the food is usually unpretentious but incredibly well-executed.

AE: What is your favorite place to shop for food? 

SM: In order: the garden, direct from farmers, the farmers market, ethnic shops, independent specialty markets, and finally high-end grocery stores like Whole Foods. When I go into a normal supermarket I get completely disoriented…where is all the food??

AE: Imagine yourself as a culinary ingredient or grape variety. What would you be, and why?

SM: This is a tough question. I posed it to our younger son Kai, and he said bread dough with lots of nuts. I had been thinking curry powder.

AE: Would you consider your approach to food & wine pairing to be more scientific or intuitive?

SM: All of my cooking, winemaking, and food and wine pairing is intuitive, but is based on a scientific understanding of what is happening. I’m a big believer in establishing a solid basis in the fundamentals of how things work, and then using that foundation in an intuitive manner. So for food and wine pairing I think about the nuts and bolts, like acidity or bitterness in the wine or the food, but then let my imagination guide which wine to reach for within the general “scientific” parameters I’ve considered.

 

Aboveground, and in Balboa Park!

Spring has truly sprung, and our rosé collection is making its way to Le Metro subscribers across the country. As usual, however, we’ve held back some wine to share with you over dinner here in San Diego. Where better to sip rosé than outdoors, in the heart of Balboa Park?

We invite you to spend the evening with us on Saturday, 5/31 at The Prado Restaurant at Balboa Park to enjoy the selections from Volume XII: Stop and Smell the Rosé accompanied by San Diego sunshine and a delicious rosé-inspired meal.

Dinner will run from 5:00 to 7:30 pm – tickets are $85 each (all in – tax and tip included!). They may sell out quickly, so click here to purchase your seat now. We’ll see you soon!

We’ve  partnered up with Uber to get you home safely from Le Metro events. If you’ve never ridden with Uber, use promo code LEMETRO to save $20 on your first trip. (Or signup here.)

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Welcome to Le Metro Wine, where wine and art make a classical pairing through our pioneering wine zine. Receive a free digital download of this limited edition offer and begin your wine adventure today! Ready your palate, Open your mind!

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