By: Denise Clarke
What is it about comfort foods that make them, so, comfortable? Is it a personal thing that we bring with us from childhood or maybe a food that we ate while going through tough times? I guess, if that would be the case, then spam would be on everybody's must have list and how do you do wine food pairing with spam?
My definition of a comfort food is something we crave to eat when we want to cocoon ourselves in the comfort of "food love", perhaps a good home cooked meal or memories of that special dish prepared lovingly by a friend or family member. Food high in sugar or carbohydrates, filling our bellies and nourishing our very soul seems to fit the bill. I guess you could almost call it a guilty pleasure.
One of my favorite comfort foods around the holiday season is ham and cheese scalloped potatoes. My Mom used to make this every year when we had leftover ham from Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, potatoes were always plentiful around the kitchen.
This rich, wonderful casserole is a mixture of potatoes sliced thinly, bite sized pieces of ham, onions, peppers and canned cream of mushroom soup. Dotted with real butter and sprinkled with grated cheddar this is one of my guilty pleasures. It is easy to put together and I have even learned to use my kitchen mandolin to thinly slice the spuds. The most difficult part of the whole dish is to wait for it to cook in the oven! The last time I made this treat, I paired it with a crisp green salad and unoaked Chardonnay from Heron Hills, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York. This is a crisp white wine which reminds me a lot of Pinot Grigio, one of my faves, and it pairs well with a lot of food.
After a busy day of holiday shopping, what could be better than to call up your local pizza parlor and order a double pepperoni pizza with thin crust and have it delivered directly to your home. Set your table with cloth napkins, light a candle and pair this with inexpensive Chianti served in your best crystal wine glasses. This is definitely a guilty pleasure delight!
The night before any big holiday celebration try treating your self to warm from the oven, double fudge chocolate chip brownies. The cake portion of the brownie will be moist and the dark chocolate chips will still be gooey, OH MY! Pair this with a full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and it will bring out the best in the chocolate as well as the wine. Total decadence!
I could, of course, go on and on about the joys of wine food pairing with comfort foods, but I am sure you get the idea. It is easy and fun to do.
Remember, comfort food does not mean low rent! You can live large with comfort food and your favorite wines with just a little experimentation. So, go out there, use your imagination and let wine food pairing be a part of your life. CHEERS!