Eat, Drink, Love: Matthias and Filipino Food Pairing
Hold me like you hold the bottle
When you pour its juice –
Firmly gripped, yet still with tenderness
And the most adoring attention.
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Meet Matthias: He personifies everything that I envy – mathematically and scientifically gifted, well read, extensively traveled, speaks three languages fluently, cultured, tall, and good looking. The bastard also plays the guitar and has a big1… you know, dreams for himself and the world. Despite such envy-inviting attributes, I am very fond of him, for he is super nice, thoughtful, and enjoys the interplay with food and wine just as much as I do. He also serves as the perfect dinner date for an intimate home-prepared2 meal.
Our pre-dusk talk about Chianti leads us to BevMo, where we seek a good bottle with an attractive price point. After Matthias selects a bottle, we venture into the beer aisle where he excitedly finds a beer made close to his home in Belgium. He decides to get beer, as well, so I could taste it; and instead of getting one bottle, he ends-up getting two, because of this interesting Sacramento city ordinance3 prohibiting the purchase of just one bottle of beer. With twisted arms, Matthias buys two beers and a bottle of Chianti from a region close to where he went to school in Italia.
Since the wine and beer are reminiscent of places close to Matthias’ heart, I decided to pair with food close to mine: Filipino cuisine. Almost immediately, a problem becomes apparent: I don’t cook Filipino food. Just as quickly as the problem appears, the solution manifests: We are buying dinner. And so we are off to South Sacramento, where the Filipino stores and restaurants reside in the minority ghetto.
Our meal begins with Pancit Bihon4, a light Filipino noodle dish made with laser thin translucent rice noodles. Pancit is a traditional Filipino comfort food that symbolizes long life and good health; and is therefore, a staple dish at Filipino birthday parties for its symbolism. There are various ways to make Pancit, with common recipes featuring pork, shrimp, and veggies. Matthias’ chosen beer – Duchess de Bourgogne with its light, fruity flavor, and refreshing citrus aftertaste pairs perfectly with Pancit.
Matthias meticulously pours the Gabbiano Chianti into the decanter and deciphers the code for the lock that guards my heart. With an unlocked heart, the palate recognizes immediate bursts of cherries, blackberries, and ripe plums with a peppery and woodsy ending.
For the second dish, we enjoy Caldereta, a hearty meat stew. The recipe tenderizes beef or pork on tomato sauce, and is incorporated with potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, and liver spread or liver paste, for that earthy texture and flavor. The liver inspires a Silence of the Lambs-themed pairing with Chianti in cheeky reference and in flavor profile.
The third juice calls for a local Wine Country intervention: Berghold Vineyards‘ Petite Sirah from Lodi, California. This full bodied wine features perky dark fruit and ripe raspberries that tapers with deep tannins and a hint of smokiness derivative from its 18-month stay American Oak.
It was the right time for Barbeque, and with Filipinos, Barbeque means pork or chicken slices on skewers kabob-style. The recipe marinates the meat at least overnight on vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, spices, and other ingredients. On the grill, the aroma previews the heavenly coexistence of sweet, savory, and spice in this dish. The inevitable sporadic charring, along with the delicious flavor complexity of the meat pair sinfully with the Petite Sirah.
Dinner ends and my love affair begins; not with Matthias, but with a newfound world of Filipino food pairing with Italian and California wine and Belgian beer. This orgasmic love will last a lifetime.
- Get your mind out of the gutter
- More like, “home designed” meal, as I just reheated purchased food that night.
- In 1996, Sacramento City Council enacted a new set of rules tied with a liquor license. Conditions included a stipulation that “sales of beer and malt beverages shall be in quantities of not less than a six pack.”
- Pronounced “pan-sit bee-hohn.”