22. December 2004 · Comments Off on As If My Life Wasn’t Complex Enough. · Categories: General

One of the comforts in being well past one’s mid-thirties, and the simplicity of college “kegger” parties, is the steadfast knowledge of what wine to pair with what cuisine. But now it seems that the modern metrosexual must also know the correct “soft” beverage:

At the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif., the perfect beverage matters as much as the food. Thomas Keller, the chef, insists on it. Paul Roberts, his wine and beverage director, makes it happen.

For the pasta, Mr. Roberts’s usual arsenal of aged white Burgundy or pinot noir wouldn’t do. The diner didn’t drink. Instead Mr. Roberts measured out a small, perfect glass of Clover Stornetta whole milk, shaken until it was good and frothy.

That’s right. Milk.

The drink’s cold foam proved a perfect textural contrast to the hot pasta, its dairy fat conspiring with the butter to carry the flavor of the truffles.

Throughout a succession of dishes during a fall meal at the French Laundry, Mr. Roberts poured the unexpected. Lobster fricassee needed the tart effervescence of Meyer lemon Gus soda pop. Coho salmon roe sprinkled over a buttery porridge called for a wineglass filled with chilled chamomile tea. Foie gras took well to Boylan root beer. “The root beer has a wonderful herb cream thing that’s going on but with a little bitterness to keep the palate clean,” Mr. Roberts said.

The diner who chooses not to drink is often left out during a multicourse meal, resigned to ponder the merits of an expensive bottle of water. No one wants to say, “I’m Bill W., I’m an alcoholic, and I’ll have the tasting menu.” Neither does a pregnant woman want to sit by nursing a seltzer while her husband sips his way through the Napa Valley.

Should I insist on sniffing the milk bottle’s cap, to assure it’s not spoiled?

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