There’s an App for That Salmon Chip

Salmon Chip App

Photography by Simon Burn

Dabble’s libations expert Jameson Fink could never be accused of having a chip on his shoulder. On his appetizer menu, sure. But never his shoulder.

Everyday Champagne

The only thing I like as much as Champagne and popcorn is Champagne and potato chips. Crisp, salty snacks and bubbles forever. Homemade or store-bought, a single thick potato chip with a dollop of cream cheese, a few buttery flakes of subtly smoked salmon and a sprig of fresh dill just begs for bubbles.

Jameson’s Pick: Vilmart Grand Cellier NV

Beyond Bubbles

What? Bubbles leave you flat? Well then, let’s stick with France and reach for a Sancerre. These seafood-loving Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire Valley have an acidity that pairs perfectly with tangy cream cheese and fresh dill.

Jameson’s Pick: Gerard Boulay Sancerre Chavignol 2009

Salty Capers

Salt lovers may want to toss on a few briny capers, in which case I recommend heading straight over to Riesling territory. I’m thinking of the criminally underrated dry Australian Rieslings from the Claire Valley.

Jameson’s Pick: “The Merle” Reserve Riesling 2010

App for that Seared Tuna

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The App:
Seared ahi tuna with roasted serrano créme fraiche, shiso aioli and blonde frisée and citrus salad.

Jameson’s Pick: 2010 Pazo Señorans Albariño

I have acquired an unbridled fondness for Italian white wines, especially those from Campania. (Don’t worry France, I have not forsaken you.) Seared tuna, frisée, citrus? No problem for this ultra-pure and refreshing white, which accommodates zesty fruit, snappy greens, and seafood with aplomb.
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App for That Arugula Salad

App for That - Arugula Salad

The App: Arugula salad with parmesan cheese, chopped bacon and balsamic vinaigrette.

Jameson’s Pick: 2010 Hofer Gruner Veltliner (1L)

The start to nearly every healthy meal is a hearty salad and the perfect glass of wine.

Salad and wine may not be as classic a pairing as a tenderloin steak and Cabernet Sauvignon, but when summer’s heat rolls in this light combination is a cool choice. With peppery arugula, I look to Austria’s signature white wine grape, Gruner Veltliner. Gruner, as wine geeks affectionately refer to the grape, produces many lively wines that are vegetable-friendly. It might seem obvious that a name like “Gruner” (meaning “green” in German) would partner naturally with leafy fare and it does, but the green is also a reference to the freshness of the wine. (Though, with everything in the world of wine, there are exceptions to the rule and you’ll find some rare and costly Gruners fine enough to be aged alongside other, more famous white wines.)

When selecting bottles of well-priced Gruner you’ll come across many packaged in one-litre bottles, rather than the standard 750 ml size. Who wouldn’t want an extra third of a bottle of wine? This size makes a Gruner a great choice for parties, for sharing, or for cooking and keeping a few glasses for the cook. My choice, the 2010 Hofer Gruner Veltliner comes sealed with a bottle-cap top, so there’s no fussing with a corkscrew. Not only will a one-litre bottle of wine sealed with a bottle cap get attention at your next dinner party, it will also be enthusiastically consumed.

App for That Escabeche

App for That - Shrimp Escabeche

The App: Shrimp Escabeche with peppers and onions.

Jameson’s Pick: Domaine André Neveu Sancerre “Le Grand Fricambault Silex” 2010, Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2010.

As we finally enter the summer months and the weather gets warmer, I think about having the oven on less and eating outdoors more. What could be better than a cooling dish of escabeche (marinated seafood) with shrimp? Zesty with citrus, complemented by the crunch of sweet peppers and onions, and brightened with fresh herbs…all that’s left to do is decide what wine to add to the ice bucket.

Hopefully, you already have a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge. Not only is it a seafood-loving wine, but its citrous notes and slightly herbaceous, grassy flavours are particularly charming with escabeche and other light, fish dishes. Feeling fancy? Then look for a Sancerrewhich is produced in a region of France’s Loire Valley that—in my thirsty opinion—produces the finest Sauvignon Blanc in the world.

If you’re throwing a patio party and need larger quantities and great value, choose a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. I am mightily impressed with these refreshing, and refreshingly priced, white wines. Consider too, a country like Chile, with over 6,400 kilometres of coastline, knows a little something about seafood and making wines to match.
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There’s an App for that Platter

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Long before iPad, burgeoning party throwers spent hours pouring over sticky-thumbed cookbooks in search of the perfect bite to feed wine drinking guests. Since every party starts with an appetizer, Dabble wine expert Jameson Fink shares some inspired pairings.

Asparagus: Nothing sticks in my craw more than the old saw that asparagus is ‘difficult’ to pair with wine. Boo. A crisp, grassy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like the 2009 Spy Valley is a perfect complement.

Portabella Mushrooms: The earthiness of mushrooms cries out for Pinot Noir. Look for a bottling from Oregon such as the 2009 Evesham Wood or a Burgundy like the 2007 Robert Chevillon to produce a fine match.

Swiss/Gouda with Dried Apricots/Apricot Jam: I love a cheese board with an assortment of dried fruit and preserves. With firm, milder cheeses such as Swiss and Gouda, I’m thinking German Riesling. My pick is the 2009 Leitz Dragonstone, which has a zippy character that cuts through rich dairy, and brings wonderful fruit and a touch of sweetness along for the ride.

Sliced Turkey and Chicken: Think dry French rosé is just a summertime porch-pounder?  Au contraire. A slice of a rustic loaf of bread, dab on some garlicky aioli, and top with sliced chicken or turkey to achieve rosé nirvana. I recommend the 2010 Commanderie de Peyrassol.

Individual cheese plates hold a tasty assortment of meat, cheese, dried fruit and jam; allowing guests to easily hold an appetizer while mingling. Look for small wooden boards at the dollar store.

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App for That Pâté

There's an App - Pate

 

The App: Chicken Liver Pâté and Toasted Bread.

Jameson’s Pick: Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Cuvée Vielles Vignes Beaujolais 2009.

It’s hard to overstate the comforting decadence of a beautifully made pâté. Is it only the heartiest wines that can handle this French classic?

Absolutely not. Surprisingly, a lighter-style red with some zip, like a well-made Beaujolais, easily cuts through all that richness. And when you have some traditional accompaniments like cornichons or spicy mustard, often a wine that has a good amount of acidity is the perfect bridge from the substantial pâté to its refreshing complements.

The quality of Beaujolais from producers like Chermette makes me want to beat the drum for drinking Beaujolais year-round. Cru Beaujolais cellars beautifully, if you have the strength to resist its considerable charms. (The bottle pictured is the Nouveau, which drinks surprisingly well, but I recommend the Cuvée Traditionnelle Vieilles Vignes as an introduction to Chermette’s wines to enjoy while your Crus are tucked away for a few years.
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App for Those Deviled Eggs

App for that - Deviled Eggs
The App: Devilled Eggs and Sardines.

Jameson’s Pick: Gruet Brut NV.

I’d call deviled eggs a guilty pleasure, but I feel no guilt about enjoying them. A tray of deviled eggs is a party on a platter, bringing back waves of nostalgia of being a child at potlucks and adult cocktail parties. Now, as an adult myself, I can enjoy a drink along with the deviled eggs being passed around.

With the ultra-rich filling of egg yolk, which depending on your preference is mayonnaise, sour cream, or creme fraiche, I suggest something to combat the heaviness.

I’ve always been a fan of Chardonnay and eggs and also I think a Chablis is lovely. But since we’re being festive (this is a party, after all), I say bring out the bubbles. Since I like my wine to be a bit of a conversation-starter, I’m picking a sparkling wine from New Mexico. Yes, New Mexico. Gruet produces a quality sparkling wine at a fantastic price for over two decades. The high elevation vineyards keep the grapes cool, creating a lively sparkle in the glass. Now, when is that tray of deviled eggs coming around again?

App for That Pizza

There's an App - Pizza
The App: A thin crust pizza with tomatoes, red onions and cheese. Oh my.

Jameson’s Pick: Felsina Chianti Classico 2008

Like many, I initially thought Chianti came in a straw-wrapped bottle that, when empty, you stuck a candle in to adorn the kitchen table of your first apartment. Since that time I’ve come to appreciate Chianti as an underrated gem that delivers quality and the ultimate in food and wine comfort when paired with any red-sauced Italian dish. With apologies to spaghetti, when I think red sauce, I think pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza?

The hardest part of a pizza night is getting everyone to agree on the toppings. The bad news is, this is an argument that can get heated. The good news is, Chianti, a smooth elegant red with a perfect style-to-substance ratio, is versatile enough to go with whatever ends up adorning your pie. Veggies? Meats? Both? No problem. Chianti is the pizza peacemaker.
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App for That Beef Tail

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The App: Wagyu beef tail, mission figs, pistachios and demi glace.

Jameson’s Pick: 2009 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha.

When you add sweet figs to expertly grilled beef, I crave a wine loaded with rich red fruit. I liken Spanish Grenache (“Garnacha”) to a super-charged Côtes du Rhône, plenty of muscle to handle bold and broad flavours. Not feeling so fancy? Make it a burger with fig jam and bacon along with this juicy red.

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App for That Toast

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The App: A selection of toasts prepared by Melissa Nyffler, chef and owner of Dinette in Seattle.

Front to back: Rapini pesto with Beecher’s sharp cheddar and Mama Lil’s spicy pickled peppers; La Quercia proscuitto with fig and anchovy spread; and smoked sardine with peperonata and Laura Chenel goat cheese.

Jameson’s Pick: 2009 Pazo Señorans Albariño

Wine Expert, Jameson Fink

Challenged with an assorted array of ingredients, you’ve got to pick one bottle of wine that works with all three toast appetizers. First, it’s ok to panic a little. Then, take a deep breath and think, ‘What do all these toasts have in common?’

Eureka, it’s salt!

Sharp cheddar, prosciutto, and smoked sardines require a refreshing pour to cleanse powerful, and salty, flavours.

Time for an Albariño, a refreshing grape from Spain’s Rias Baixas region. Perhaps the fact that its grapes grow close to the sea explains its affinity with salty foods.

Ponder this (and more) as you alternate between sips of this bracing, lively dry white wine and bites of savoury toasts.

There’s Really an App for That: Trufflehead

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I’m interested in any app that will get cooking novices young and old away from Angry Birds and into cooking birds, so it was my pleasure to take Trufflehead for a spin. The cooking app, whimsically named for the ‘valuable nuggets of information beneath the surface of every recipe, was designed by Dr. Deborah Chud. ‘The possibility for a healthier generation of people is a reality,’ Dr. Chud believes, ‘and that generation is more attached to their iPhones and iPads than bulky laptops or books.’

To get started you select a dish from one of the main categories. I enjoyed the whimsical, breezy, and humorous tone to the text that introduces each recipe. It gets you to relax and have fun in the kitchen, even if it is the most anxiety-inducing room in your home: ‘Calamari (a.k.a. squid) are mild-flavored sea creatures that dream of an afterlife in which they’re bathed in marinara sauce.’

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The recipe details include tabs for ingredients, instructions, and equipment. I love all the clickables that will, for example, give you a balsamic vinegar primer, walk you through cutting an onion into rings via a slide show with audio, and take you to see a photo of a carving knife. You can even view all the nutritional details of each recipe.

The reference section has everything from an extremely useful table of standard measurements to guides to help you understand the impact of your food choices.

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I had a lot of fun clicking my way through Trufflehead. It’s a testament to the thoughtful design and ease of use that makes it fun to browse. I did, however, find myself accidentally pressing the Recipes and Reference button when I was trying to hit the forward and backward arrows to scroll through recipes. The tiny arrows are a little too close to the bottom for my clumsy fingers. And I’d like the recipes in the alphabetical index to be clickable. But these are minor quibbles. Anything that, like Trufflehead, helps demystify, educate, and even entertain aspiring cooks is a welcome addition. And now excuse me while I run out to get a wine for that Balsamic and Sweet Onion Pot Roast….

Big thanks to Trufflehead for providing Jameson with the Trufflehead app for review. This new healthy cooking app for the iPhone and iPad can be purchased through iTunes.

To read Jameson’s column, ‘There’s An App for That’ in Dabble, check out Issue 6 Feb/Mar 2012.