Now that this website is fully up-to-date, it’s time for me to catch up on my blogging.
Since Le Metro Volume II, back in July, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented wine professionals in the country to develop food pairings for our monthly selections. While originally intended to help you make the most of these special wines, this has grown into a gratifying exercise in community-building and a really fun way to explore the many approaches one might take to pairing food and wine.
This week, starting with our current release – Vol VIII: Valleys of Valpolicella – I’ll be working backwards and introducing you to these folks who I’m proud to call my friends.
For our January pairings, I decided to keep it close to home after all of the holiday craziness and capitalize on the deep expertise of my business partner Tina Morey, Le Metro’s Ops Maestro. Tina has a decade of experience under her belt as a professional pastry chef, and is one of the most thoughtful wine professionals I know. Working with her is immense fun, and every conversation leaves me with new food for thought. (Pun totally intended.)
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…)
TM: The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington. We sat at a communal table, spoke and laughed with folks from all over the country, listened to a classical guitarist and was completely in the moment. The 1910 Madeira at the end of the evening was mind-blowing but I can’t explain why. The highlight for me was the professionalism and ease that each and every staff member elicited. I wanted that confidence, that knowledge, that sense of complete trust of each member’s ability at any given time during the evening. The wine was part of the entire experience, but it fit so seamlessly it never stood out, but floated from course to course so that it was the entirety of the evening, that sense of totality that has remained with me for years.
AE: What food(s) did you find most comforting as a child?
TM: Toast. Honestly, my childhood is a blur, but what stands out is dark toast spread with salted butter. My bread choice has evolved since then, but most mornings I still enjoy dark toast with unsalted butter and my homemade berry jam.
AE: And what does “comfort food” mean to you today?
TM: Unplanned, simple, seasonal meals.
AE: Do you have a go-to “house wine” that you always have stocked at home?
TM: Anything sparkling, usually under $20.
AE: When you’re planning a meal, do you generally develop it around the food, or the wine?
TM: Since I have many types of bottles in the house, 9 out of 10 times I match the wine to the food–I like to cook seasonally. However, being a Sommelier, it’s fun and many times required to develop a menu around the wine.
AE: Is there a dish that you’re famous for among your friends?
TM: Too many! I’m not boasting, it’s just that I trained as a pastry chef so I’ve been doing this awhile. A few standouts are Butternut Squash Lasagna, Citron Tart, Riesling Poached Pear Cake, Rosemary-Infused Chocolate Cake and Spicy Bucatini.
AE: How do you decide where to eat when you’re traveling?
TM: I eat atrociously when I travel alone for work. When I’m traveling with my husband, he likes to choose so I let him.
AE: What is your favorite place to shop for food?
TM: I’m a big believer in family-owned specialty markets—they are the pulse of any community and should be revered! I think that comes from growing up in a large Italian family in New Jersey.
AE: Imagine yourself as a culinary ingredient or grape variety. What would you be, and why?
TM: Saffron. Rarely seen, used sparingly. When applied correctly, will knock your socks off! Aglianico. I’ve always been fascinated with this grape—the name rolls off the tongue and it’s somewhat of a dichotomy. Furmint. I like that the grape can go either way: dry or sweet. There’s somewhat of a choice involved. Furmint vines bud early and ripen late, which allows the grape to develop such concentration and complexity.
AE: Would you consider your approach to food & wine pairing to be more scientific or intuitive?
TM: Intuitive, but since I’ve been trained in the wine industry, the scientific plays a huge role in how the intuitive is processed and interpreted.