This week finds me in San Diego, California where I grew up. And more specifically, it finds me in “La Jolla By The Sea” as my hometown La Jolla is known.
La Jolla doesn’t actually lie “by the sea.” In fact, it’s on the ocean. The Pacific Ocean, to be precise. And here in La Jolla, and San Diego in general, there are a lot of great seafood restaurants (as one would imagine).
Last night my friends treated me to a teppanyaki restaurant. What is teppanyaki, you ask? It’s a style of Japanese cooking: A chef prepares your food, seafood and beef, on a hot griddle right in front of you as you dine. The word teppan means griddle or grill in Japanese.
As the chef distributed seared scallops and shrimp, salmon and steak, all roughly chopped after grilling and served together, I couldn’t help but think to myself: Wouldn’t a slightly chilled bottle of Barbera d’Asti be perfect right now?
In the world of fine dining today, it’s considered a no-no to pair red wine with fish or seafood. But when you visit Piedmont where Barbera d’Asti is one of the most widely consumed wines, you’ll quickly note that the Piedmontese pair red wine with everything — including fish and seafood. Even though they produce a substantial amount of white wine, the locals generally drink red wine exclusively. And because they live only an hour and a half from the sea (depending on where in Piedmont they reside), they are accustomed to eating a lot of seafood. Just think what Piedmontese cooking would be without anchovies and tuna! And just think how Piedmontese regularly pair red wine with vitello tonnato, made with the above two fishes!
Barbera d’Asti is particularly suited for meals like my meal last night because it’s not a tannic wine by nature. And not only would it have been great with the grilled seafood last night, it would also work great with all the fatty, oily fish from the Pacific Ocean that people in San Diego eat. I’m thInking of mahi mahi, tuna (and tuna belly), grouper. This last fish, generally grilled but also braised, is particularly good with Barbera d’Asti (yes, I’ve had it paired with Barbera d’Asti many times).
So the next time you plan to fire up the grill and cook some great meaty, fatty, oily fish (like the ones above), reach for a Barbera d’Asti. Chill it slightly before serving. You will thank me!