Guest beverage pairings for Lazy Bear

Where the magic happens

We had a great time this weekend playing guest sommeliers for Lazy Bear! If you haven’t been to one of their underground dinners yet, GO. These guys are working on opening up a full-on restaurant–and once they do, it’s going to packed all the time. You really owe it to yourself to eat David’s food before it becomes impossible to get a reservation.

In the meantime, here’s the scoop on the menu and the pairings we chose.

AMUSES: Bacon cracker with egg yolk and chives, asparagus soup
Bubbles always start things off on the right note. The Deligeroy Cremant de Loire is a fun mix of chenin blanc, chardonnay, and cabernet franc. Full of complexity and a chalky finish, it’s a perfect wine for getting to know each other and a few opening amuses.

FLUKE with Meyer lemon, pistachio, and kalamata olive
David prepared the fluke in a fairly classic crudo style–sliced raw, with a bright lemon oil and some crunchy salt flakes on top. We went clean and fresh too: the 2009 Fefiñanes Albariño, from one of the oldest wineries in Spain’s Rias Baixas region, offers strong minerality and citrusy notes that enhanced the delicate flavor of the fish while providing a nice foil to the salty olive puree.

Delicious magical radishes

RADISH with chicharrones, honey, and grapefruit
Most people, I’d venture to guess, have only eaten radishes raw. But when you saute them in lardo fat and honey, then toss them with grapefruit and top them with crumbled pork skin chicharrones, they taste a lot like spicy turnips that have been dipped in MAGIC.

Pork goodness and honey sent me off to develop a slightly sweet, rum-based cocktail that would underscore the sweet/spicy notes in the dish but not overpower the radishes. Following the Caribbean tradition of using local rum for Dark & Stormys, we came up with this extra-gingery version using rum made right across the bay.

Agua Libre Extra Stormy
1 ounce St. George Agua Libre Fresh Squeezed Pure Cane Rum
2 ounces Reed’s Extra Ginger Beer
1/2 ounce ginger simple syrup

Infuse the rum with fresh chopped ginger root for 2 days for a little extra kick. To make the simple syrup, simmer equal parts cane sugar and water with chopped ginger root until dissolved, then cool and strain.

Combine all ingredients and stir, then garnish with a lime wedge and serve over whiskey ice cubes. Makes 1.

SMELT with fiddlehead ferns, buttermilk ranch, and angry bear sauce
Fried fish and some delicious dipping sauces call for beer. We actually found this one on accident, when Dan ordered a pint of it at Boot & Shoe Service. Serendipity!

Linden Street Brewing

Linden Street Burning Oak Black Lager is brewed in Oakland and sold solely through restaurants and bars in the Bay Area. It’s made with dark malts, so it looks like a stout or a porter–but it’s brewed like a lager, so it comes out around 5% alcohol and tastes like a slightly roasty, supersmooth version of a light beer. Definitely order a pint if you find it on tap. It’s awesome.

SAVORY PEAS with Benton’s ham and morels
Sometimes you just know that a particular wine will work with a course. Recently, we had tasted the 1998 Thomas Fogarty Late Disgorged Blanc de Blancs, which is an amazing wine, full of savory, earthy, funky notes with a long finish. At the time we thought “ham!” So, when we saw this course, this wine was instantly what came to mind. It ended up going wonderfully with the layered fresh pasta, peas, ham, and morels.

PINK GROUPER with fried artichokes, saba, brown butter, and endive
Artichokes are notoriously tough to pair with wine. They contain a chemical called cynarin that can mess with your perception of sweetness–so we wanted to choose a wine that was pretty far over to the dry side of the spectrum. Our choice: a Herederos de Argüeso Amontillado sherry with enough acidity to play off the saba, plus a great nutty quality and just a tiny hint of sweetness that complemented the brown butter and the meaty fish.

RABBIT roulade and scrapple with favas, carrot, scallion, and tare
Rabbit is a great wine food because you can go in so many different directions with it. David wanted to keep the course light, so we opted for gamay–a fun, fruity grape that is way underrated. The particular wine we chose, the 2010 Paul Mathew “Turner Vineyard” from the Sonoma coast, was light without being thin. It delivered a hint of spiciness on the nose and ripe, fresh fruit that harmonized nicely with the plate.

SWEET PEAS with yogurt and mint
Peas for dessert? It sounded weird, but David made believers out of us. He left the peas fresh and prepared the yogurt three ways (panna cotta, frozen, and a light cream), then drizzled the whole thing with mint oil and sprinkled it with dehydrated pea dust. The result was a phenomenally light, refreshing dish that in no way read as a plate of vegetables. David, if you’re reading–I’m putting in my vote now for this one to appear on the future restaurant menu.

Peas for dessert

But what to pair? Peas, yogurt, and mint: any one of these ingredients is difficult to pair with on its own, let alone all together. We ended up finding a beautiful Moscato d’Asti from La Caudrina that stood up to the subtle sweetness of the dish, but without overpowering any of the flavors in it. The peach on the nose and the tiny bubbles were a crowd-pleasing way to end a fantastic evening.

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