Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Vindication and VIN-dication

Two of my classes today were International Cuisine and Culinary Adventuring: Oregon Wine Country.

In the International Cuisine class, we were assigned one of two tasks: Cooking a dish fro tonights covered region, or test-cooking one of the dishes for the Ren Room menu for the term. I was assigned a Ren Room dish -- a dessert, specifically a Pear Tart Tatin from a Jamie Oliver Recipe. As most of you who read me may know, I'm not a baker -- in fact, pastries and baking are my Achilles' Heel.

I nailed it. It came out looking gorgeous, and tasting heavenly. When I brought over the presentation plate for the menu photo shoot, I almost cried, I was so thrilled.

Then in the Culnary Adventuring class (an electve pass/no pass class class where passing requires that you show up), the instructor let me share something I saw on the news recently:

Riedel Crystal has developed a new varietal stemware specifically for Oregon Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is the grape found in Burgundy wine, so for a long time that's been the kind of glass recommended for Oregon Pinot, but our terroir is entirely different from Burgudy's. Now, the validity/necessity of a new glass is already being debated, with some thinking it's just a marketing gimmick, and others arguing that there really is a difference in the experience of the drinker depending on the glass. Personally, I'm still not enough of a wine expert (which is why I'm taking this class as a start -- a chef should know wine) to contribute to that debate, but I do know one thing -- either way, Riedel woudn't bother unless Oregon Pinot had become a significant part of the market -- something also backed up by the fact that Benton Lane, a winery about half an hour from here, was named to Wine Spectator's top 100 Pinot Noirs of the World list.

We really are blessed here in Oregon with an abundance of wonderful, fresh foods -- seafood, fruit and nuts and berries, free-range livestock, artisan cheeses, and some of the best wines and beers in America, and now, the World. As an aspiring culinarian, one of the things I desire to do is develop a cooking style that highlights the food and drink of my birthplace, a place I consider as close to heaven as I'll get this side of the Veil.