Provence Roses Prove Their Food Pairing Panache
Dry rose and the south of France, particularly in the coastal region of Provence, go hand in hand. There, it is considered the ideal lunchtime, seaside and all-occasion wine and Provence is also home to France’s oldest vineyards and the world’s largest producer of rose wines. A combination of clay-limestone soil, mistral winds, and sunny, hot and dry climate lend themselves perfectly to this sometimes under-rated and narrowly perceived wine.
Although exports (and coinciding sales) of rose to the U.S. have been steadily increasing since 2003, it still carries with it (especially in sultry Charleston) the perception of being a cool, light, crisp wine for summer aperitif sipping. Vins de Provence and McCrady’s joined forces in a recent media lunch held at the restaurant to permanently retire that limiting cliche and enlighten those in attendance on the power of pairing Provencal roses with food.
It’s All in the Grape
Contrary to another common misperception, a true rose is not a blend of white and red grapes, but is made from red/purple grapes. Unlike a Burgundy, however, roses have very brief contact with the skin, before being strained and fermented. The result is a a gorgeous pale pink wine which pairs beautifully (and suprisingly) with almost anything. McCrady’s Banquet Chef Lucas Weir and Vins de Provence put together a convincing and delectable, five-course lunch of pairings. Here are some of the visual highlights.
It’s interesting and worthwhile to note that all of these bottles were very reasonably priced, and most fell just around $12 per bottle. And, they’re even pretty enough to keep around as table art.
As one of the reps at the event pointed out most eloquently and accurately, “Even though they’re all pink, they’re not all the same.”
Bon appetit! Remember to drink some rose at every meal and any time of year. You’ll be astounded how well this wine works with food when properly paired.
Many mornings, I awake dreaming of cheese. It’s a strange admission, but it’s true. I believe my love of cheese goes back to my French years. Nearly every day of every seven of those years began with a toasted baguette and a layer of broiled, stinky, fabulous French cheese, drizzled with a bit of honey accompanied by a steaming bowl of cafe au lait. Not a bad way to start the day, non?
A few days ago, one of those sneaky cheese dreams jump-started my day, so I decided it was time to finally check out goat. sheep. cow, a ten month-old cheese/wine/charcuterie shop I’ve heard a lot about but had not yet visited. Subliminally, I think it’s because I was afraid I would be disappointed. Instead, I was utterly delighted.
Aptly named after the three milk-bearing animals whose milk is used to produce cheese (and just down the door from Dog & Horse art gallery – I kid you not!), the petite and cheerful space completely recalls a Parisian boulangerie/fromagerie. This particular block of Church Street, in all of its colonial splendor, is dappled with sunlight and draped with cheerful window boxes.
The exterior of the shop has an appealing Parisian patina, as well.
But, it’s what awaits inside that will give any cheese lover multiple reasons to beam. Gleaming cases stacked with well-labeled cheeses of every kind from all over the world tease with their endless edible possibilities – fondue, sandwich, casserole, quiche, or straight out of hand. Owners Patty Cohen (husband Mike, a certified sommelier, handles the wine side of things) and Trudi Wagner were on hand to hand-slice the cheese, kindly offering tastings to help me make what was becoming an agonizingly difficult cheese acquisition decision.
Ultimately, I walked away with small, neatly wrapped wedges of Brebis, Raclette, Nuvola di Pecora and Rosso di Langa. But, that was just the beginning. The shop also sells beautiful, golden, firm, oven-fresh baguettes tucked into brown paper sleeves in a brimming basket near the front door. The bread is shipped in from New York and baked off at the shop to ensure not only freshness but authenticity.
So, I picked up a baguette, a bottle of Burgundy, and a small packet of whisper-thin, freshly sliced Finocchiona, a lovely Italian cured charcuterie laced with tiny points of fennel seeds. I decided to take my cheese cache home to make a sandwich. Sandwiches are not prepared in-house, but really, there is no need. Grab some cheese, bread, and wine and do as the French do and head on out to one of Charleston’s many lovely, nearby parks on one of Charleston’s many lovely days, and have a picnic.
Back at home, I halved a generous length of the fresh, delicious baguette, spread it with a generous layer of Dijon mustard, and stacked it with the nutty, sweet Italian cow/sheep Rosso di Langa with a layer of charcuterie, poured a glass of wine, took a bite, and was back in that cheese dream all over again. Except, this time it was real.
You, too, can satisfy your delicious cheese (and wine, and bread, and charcuterie, too) dreams at goat. sheep. cow. Fabulous service and a winning location render it just about perfect.
goat. sheep. cow
106B Church Street, downtown Charleston, SC 29401
Book Giveaway! Food Lovers’ Guide to Charleston and Savannah – The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings (Globe Pequot Press, December 2011)
A free signed copy of this, my latest book, is promised to the first person who correctly identifies the two thinly-veiled puns in this post relating to the types of animals in this shop’s name. Hint: The first is cow-specific and is closely followed by a goat-specific pun. Leave your answer in the comments section and I’ll get back to the winner ASAP. Good luck!
Bull Street Gourmet has a way of following me around, or maybe it’s the other way around. When I lived in Harleston Village, in the heart of College of Charleston country several years ago, the original corner shop, rife with gourmet sandwiches, other-worldly chicken salad and nicely priced wines, popped up to the delight of many, including me. A small, casually elegant space, it fit (and still does) the neighborhood’s culinary needs nicely and in a price-range that was friendly to all, especially student budgets.
Last fall, young owner Justin Croxall bravely flexed his entrepreneurial muscle and expanded, in a big way, adding a much larger location near the corner of King Street and Broad Street in the heart of downtown and just a few blocks away from my new (well, new/old) house. It was a smart move, and one that was done very well. This stretch of King is growing with smart little shops (like Heirloom Books across the street) and increased foot traffic with accompanying appetites. And, aside from nearby Fast & French and Brent’s, there are precious few places around to satisfy them.
The “new” Bull Street is bigger and brighter than the old one and has a lot more to choose from. Visitors can grab a basket and shop from a vast array of imported cheeses, wine, pasta, sauces, fresh fruit and vegetables and more, all arranged on sparkling stainless steel shelving. Fresh bread is delivered daily from Normandy Farms and Bull Street knows how to fill them. The smoked duck club ($10) is stuffed with juicy, deeply-flavored duck confit, smoked duck ham, smoked gouda and pickled onion and finished off with the peppery bite of arugula. The celebrated chicken salad, made with chicken roasted in-house and cut into fat cubes is just as good at this location, with the crunch of roasted almonds and the bite of dried cranberries all bound together with a pale pink, punchy, cranberry salad. A cornucopia of salads and soups are also on the new menu here.
However, what I love most, are the breakfast sandwiches. An artsy crowd can regularly be found here in the early hours of any given day, sipping coffee and breaking into these warm, made-to-order beauties. The BYO breakfast sandwich ($6) can be made exactly the way you like. You pick the bread (croissant, bagel, biscuit or English muffin), you pick the way you want your eggs cooked (scrambled, hard, poached, egg whites only if you like), and you pick your meat of choice (my favorite is the salty, thick country ham), and you pick your cheese of choice (cheddar, Swiss, provolone or gruyere). They come out of the bright, spotless open kitchen hot and ready to start your day.
The tables are constantly cleared and cleaned by the friendly staff who get the food out in a hurry, but without leaving customers feeling rushed.
It’s hard to leave empty-handed with a fat choice of excellent condiments, pickles, olives, and imaginative sauces, like a bright green walnut pesto to toss in imported pasta from Bull Street’s well-stocked shelves.
Bull Street also has an extensive catering menu and the Super Bowl is just days away. Indeed, Bull Street Gourmet has a history of being in the right place at the right time and doing things right every time. I’m personally very happy to have them in the neighborhood.
Bull Street Gourmet & Market
120 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401