Wines for La Cabane de Sucre
Wines for La Cabane de Sucre – You know that Spring is around the corner when daylight saving time arrives and we start hearing about St Patrick’s Day. Another gastronomic event that marks the beginning of Spring is the official opening of sugar shack season ( cabane à sucre).
Ever since my arrival in Quebec in 1994, I go to la cabane à sucre only once a year. As you know, it is a intense celebration of sugar, salt and fat and my body cannot handle that too much. However, I do enjoy very much the food such as delicacies such as pea soup, meat pie, scrambled eggs and oreilles de crisse and of course the sumptuous maple syrup based desserts.
A few years ago, I discovered a sugar shack where you can bring your own wine. From my past experiences, most people in la cabane à sucre have only water or milk. For me, this does not really work since I am not a milk drinker and frankly having only water in a restaurant is just very odd. I can’t recall the name of the shack right now but it will come out in a few days. Actually, I designated my wife to do the research.
What wines can you bring in a sugar shack?. When considering your choices, keep in mind the combination of sugar-salt-fat mentioned above. I strongly suggest that you consider fruity wines unoaked with a good acidity. The proper wines will aid your digestion and relieve some of that food coma that will hit you once you leave the table!!
In addition, a cabane à sucre going out is by nature a very social outing. I recommend bringing easy drinking or pleasure wines that don’t require too much contemplation. The last thing you want is to find yourself isolated in the table corner sniffing wines and taking silly notes.
Now for the recommendations. For the Canadian pea soup, I recommend to try the Relax Bubbles ( SAQ # 13466926, $13.95) which is an equal blend of Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. This German sparkling wine is medium body and fruit forward recalling pear and khaki fruit. It has just the right amount of sweetness to handle the rich mouthfeel of the soup. It will also fare well with the homemade pickles, coleslaw and cretons present in the sugar shack.
For the omelets, pork rinds, ham, and fries, why not have a Canadian wine?. The Henry Pelham Pinot Noir 2016 ( SAQ # 13470722, $19.80) will help you wash down all that greasy food with its lovely juicy, racy mouthwatering acidity and pretty flavours of tart cherry, cranberry and fresh earth. My second choice will be the Finca de los Padrillos Pinot Noir 2015 ( SAQ # 13425956, $17.95). It is a pretty Pinot Noir from Argentina with smoky red fruit nuances and cracked black pepper. Medium body, it will be perfect especially with the smoked ham and bacon.
What wine to have with Hot Chicken Sandwich?
Last week, I went to eat at St-Hubert with my wife’s family to celebrate the birthday of my niece. I ended up eating a hot chicken sandwich which is one of my favourites dishes from the Quebec comfort food category. Traditionally, I have enjoyed this dish in the past with a Pepsi soft drink but that evening as I was eating my gravy drenched sandwich, I wondered what wines would be good with that.
Later last week, I decided to create my own version of Hot Chicken Sandwich. My sandwich started with some shredded cooked chicken. Many recipes call for leftovers, or for a rotisserie chicken, but if you really want your gravy to shine you could do what I did: simmer a whole chicken in a quart of chicken stock and enough extra water to cover, along with ingredients like cracked black pepper, bay leaf, onion, carrot, and celery, until the meat is pulling away from the bones. Then remove the chicken, cool it and shred it, reserving the liquid for making the gravy and peas.
For the gravy, I made a roux, and used my chicken poaching liquid instead of beef broth that many recipes call for with paprika, homemade ketchup and other spices. This resulted in a thick and savory sauce, much more than I needed for my sandwiches (though I did find a use at the end for the remainder).
For the peas, I sautéed them with some garlic and butter, using that to heat the drained peas, then finishing them with some black pepper and a bit of the remaining poaching liquid.
Now, it was time to put together the sandwich. I started with a piece of buttered white bread. I used my homemade white bread, but you could go with a normal bread available at the supermarket. You don’t need to toast it, just butter a piece of bread and put it on your plate.
Then I covered the bread with a good thick layer of poached shredded chicken. After, I putted the top slice of buttered bread on and added ladle more gravy on it. The gravy should cover the sandwich and spread out onto your plate. then scatter a good sized spoonful of peas over the sandwich
A comfort dish like Hot Chicken Sandwich needs a rich generous wine. A inexpensive Roussillon or a Corbières will handle well the dark and rich gravy. For instance, the Mas Janeil Le Petit Pas 2016 Côte du Roussillon 2016 ( SAQ # 12561198, $16.60) really shines with this dish. Fruit driven and generous with spicy flavors of licorice, smoke, cumin and plump tannins. This wine is a blend of Carignan, Syrah with Mourvedre made with the Carbonic Maceration method. This vinification technique allows the twine to keep fresh and helps bring out the aromas of these Mediterranean grapes.
My second wine choice was the Jean-Noël Bousquet La Garnotte 2016 ( SAQ # 11374411, $10.65). From the Corbières wine area in the Languedoc, this wine always overdelivers in quality for the price it commands. A southern blend of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache, this is a darker and richer wine than the Petit Pas. If your sandwich has more brown meat than white, this wine will be terrific with it. I loved its blue and dark fruit nose seasoned with roasted garrigue herbs, cacao and other spices.
Well, that’s about if for the week. For those who are going to La Cabane à Sucre, I wish you a merry time with your friends and family. Keep tuned for my next column on what wines to have with your Easter menu.