Bubblicious Food Pairings with Gabrielle Hamilton and Anthony Giglio

by Laura Grimmer

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday November 1, 2013

One basic rule of food and wine pairing is, "If you like it, then it's a good pairing." Another rule could be, "Nearly everything goes well with bubbly." And when you've got an award- and Iron Chef-winning chef in the kitchen and vintage champagnes on the table, who can argue with that?

A recent session at the New York City Wine & Food Festival brought home that potential truth when celebrated chef (and inadvertent comedian) Gabrielle Hamilton of New York's Prune teamed with Anthony Giglio notable wine guys and @winewiseguy on Twitter, to pair some of Hamilton's unique dishes with sparkling wines from France and Italy.

Hamilton first opened Prune in New York's East Village in 1999 and has since been named by the James Beard Foundation as the Best Chef in New York. And that was after beating Bobby Flay on "Iron Chef America" on The Food Network. She basically rocks.

The wines presented in the session were pretty spectacular, too, including two vintage champagnes. Non-vintage champagnes are what most of us drink most of the time, with vintners blending different vintages to produce consistent bubbly for the masses. Only the best producers make vintage wines, taking all the juice from one harvest and creating bottles unique to that year. They're a bit special.

A Multi-Course Extravaganza

Hamilton's first dish was Grated Radish and Trout Roe with Brown Butter, which Giglio paired against a vintage 2005 Nicolas Feuillatte Blanc de Blancs Champagne. The Blanc de Blancs is made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, giving it the lightness and acidity of a white wine. The nutty butter echoed the yeasty notes from the champers, and the bubbles diffused the trout roe's briny pods. It was a lovely combination.

The second pairing matched a 2005 Ferrari Perl Ros from Italy with Parmesan Dumplings in Capon Broth with Bone Marrow. Though Italian, the Ferrari is made in the traditional mthode champenoise with traditional Champagne grapes (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier), making it an interesting sparkler to compare and contrast. The dumplings were decadent, and the ros brought its Pinot Noir influence to balance the poultry with its brioche-like qualities.

The tasting stayed in Italy for the third bite, marrying the Mionetto "Il" Lambrusco with Grilled Pigeon with Parsley-Shallot Butter and Liver Toasts. Lambrusco has been tainted by its ill-fated relationship to those stalwarts of the 1970s, Cold Duck and Riunite. Today, these wines from the Emilia-Romagna region fairly burst with flavor and lusciousness. It held up well with the pigeon and liver, adding a fruity element to the game.

The final pairing was the killer of the flight: A 2005 Henriot Brut Millsim with Soft-Boiled Pumpkin with Brewer's Yeast and Ginger. The creamy, subtle flavors of the Henriot were luscious yet balanced by medium acid. The refined mousse melted the pumpkin, creating a delicious mix of sweet and tart. It was a perfect finale for Hamilton's handiwork.

Luckily, Hamilton's recipes will be available in 2014 with the publication of her cookbook with recipes from Prune. And her story can be yours today with her memoir, "Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef" (Random House, 2012).


Laura Grimmer is a private chef and trained sommelier based in New York.