Simple Wine Pairings with Seasonal Menus
By Frank McClelland and Christie Matheson
As with most renowned chefs, Frank McClelland—chef and owner of GAYOT.com's Top 40 restaurant L'Espalier—could have easily penned a masterpiece of a cookbook, a coffee-table tome complete with artistic photos and elaborate recipes that very few would successfully attempt at home. Instead, McClelland, along with Christie Matheson, has produced Wine Mondays, a practical cookbook based on his popular Monday food and wine prix fixe menus at the restaurant.
More casual and playful than the restaurant’s regular dinner menu, Wine Mondays focuses on seasonality as well as finding the perfect marriage between wine and food. The cookbook presents sixteen menus from throughout the years, four from each season, each with four courses and wine pairings. McClelland lists the dishes and wine pairings exactly as they were served that particular Monday, but notes that some wines may no longer be available and suggests alternatives. Each menu revolves around a food or wine theme, such as "Bordeaux" or "Picnic Basket Goodies" or "Italy." There are enough appetizers, entrées and desserts in Wine Mondays to mix and match your own menus, and most of the dishes can easily stand alone.
McClelland's signature New American style shines through in Wine Mondays’ dishes, which are surprisingly simple, though some familiarity with French culinary technique is certainly helpful. Recipes such as Pot-au-Feu of Poussin with Spring Vegetables and Foie Gras or Seviche of Striped Bass with Lime-Cucumber Salsa sound fancy (and wordy) but are not hard to make. McClelland emphasizes fresh, seasonal produce and proteins, mostly organic and locally sourced whenever possible.
Wine Mondays might not make it onto your coffee table, but it certainly is a functional cookbook, one that will be used over and over again in the kitchen—a masterpiece of its own kind.
Endive, Roasted Red Pepper and Black Olive Salad
¼ c golden raisins
1 navel orange, cut into sections, juice reserved
¼ c balsamic vinegar
5 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t mustard
1 t minced garlic
1 t chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 heads endive
3 red bell peppers, roasted and quartered
½ c pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 six-ounce ball buffalo mozzarella, sliced lengthwise into 5 pieces, then cut into strips
6 large multigrain crostini
Combine the raisins, reserved orange juice and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Let the raisins soak for 30 minutes. Drain the raisins and set aside; reserve the marinating liquid.
Whisk the olive oil, mustard, garlic, basil, marinating liquid, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.
Cut the endive heads in half and then slice them thinly into sticks. Add the sliced endive, roasted peppers, olives, onion, orange segments and soaked raisins to the bowl and toss.
Add the mozzarella strips to the bowl. Toss again. Divide the salad among six bowls and top with crostini.
To drink: Pair with 2004 Mastroberadino, “Nova Serra,” Greco di Tufo, Campania or a Pinot Grigio
Reviewed by Nancy Huang