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Cooking With Ash?

Tastes Like... Ash? has been one of the most popular features on WSJ.com for the last few days. After watching the video, I've learned that the concept of cooking with ash is an ancient one, but it appears that it is gaining renewed usage at among culinary geniuses such as Frank McClelland, Executive Chef at L'Espalier in Boston. I have always been a fan of Frank McClelland's cooking and recipes. His book, Wine Mondays, is one of my go-to resources for crafting a memorable dinner with accompanying wine pairings. It has also been a source of inspiration for new wine pairings for many other favorite recipes. The book is based on the restaurant's now 10-year tradition of pairing a selection of wines with a seasonally or regionally inspired five-course tasting menu of Chef McClelland's invention, which has become one of L'Espalier's hallmarks.

After watching the video feature on WSJ.com, I've been inspired to experiment with the recipe that Chef McClelland explains in the video. It looks fairly involved, but I can see this being a great way to spend an evening in the late summer, or early fall. I think the trickiest part will be smoking and charring the vegetables over applewood. However, I was disappointed that Chef McClelland did not offer any pairing suggestions for this culinary creation. As the man behind Wine Mondays (both the book and the restaurant event), it felt like something was lacking without a wine recommendation to accompany the dish. It's left me thinking of what wine I will choose to accompany the meal when I get around to cooking it. (I'm recovering from knee surgery right now, so I'm choosing to wait until I'm more mobile before attempting more adventurous recipes.) I'm thinking that I'll opt for a Syrah with some smokiness to play off the ash, or maybe a younger Bordeaux or California Cabernet Sauvignon as the more dominant oak and tannin found in younger wines could make for a nice pairing here. Lastly, I might opt for a Carignane from Southern France (e.g. the Languedoc, Minervois, Roussilon), due to the powerful tannin and earthiness found in these wines.  

In any event, I'll let you know what wine I end up choosing when I finally cook the dish. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions, or get around to experimenting with this recipe before I do, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section.

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