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Odd Pairing Adventures: White Burgundy & Grilled Lamb

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I was out the other night with a pack of sommeliers (and my erstwhile colleague Kate Krader) for that once-in-a-while get-together that we have, the purpose of which is to eat cheap food and drink high-end wine. This has led in the past to the not-entirely-surprising discovery that Quintarelli Amarone goes pretty darn well with the cowboy steak at Hill Country (which is effectively most of a cow, seared) and the somewhat more unpredictable discovery that '98 Jermann Vintage Tunina goes well with the duck tongues at Fuleen, which I wrote about here

Anyway, this time Bernie Sun, wine director for all of the Jean-Georges restaurants and a man of as noble spirit as he is skilled with grill tongs, hosted us all at his Upper West Side apt., which happens to have that key grilling necessity, a back yard. We were not an army, but we did eat the food of an army, including a long-bone steak that looked like something one Cro Magnon would use to whomp another Cro Magnon on the head with, a pile of merguez (or was it andouille?) sausages, a small bay's worth of shrimp, a Wagyu ribeye that utterly failed to meet the "cheap food" criteria but was mighty darn delicious, some vegetables to which I paid no attention whatsoever, and—key to this rambling account—lamb chops.

The weird thing was that the wine that without question went best with the lamb chops was a 2001 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles 1er Cru. Of course, wearing my normal pairing hat (it's blue, with stars on it), I would never think to pair aged white Burgundy with grilled lamb chops. But wearing my "it's open, so that's what I'm drinking, and plus it's Leflaive, and I'm no fool" hat, I did so anyway, and it was fabulous. Something about the deep spiciness and savory qualities of this white seemed to intensify the flavor of the meat in an uncanny way. Nor am I out of my mind; or at least if I am, then Arnaud Devulder of Lever House, who agreed with me, is out of his mind as well. And I know Arnaud, and he's sane. So there you have it.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.