Green Curry, Red Wine?

Today’s guest blogger is Jennifer Oakes, our new salesperson in the retail shop.

While the Bay Area is known for its fabulous cutting edge farm-to-table cuisine, after having recently moved back here from a metaphorical food desert, I’m finding myself a bit overwhelmed by the vast number of options when it comes to eating out. As a result, I’ve reverted to my safety zone—the sometimes-shady underworld of “ethnic” restaurants.

I don’t feel there’s a legitimate reason only to drink light, uncomplicated bubbly beer when you go to a hole-in-the-wall (or better) Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, or Ethiopian restaurant. If you want to drink wine, and if you’re lucky, most Chinese places will have an inexpensive Gewurztraminer, some kind of Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc. But why settle? Most places won’t object if you bring your own wine and if they do charge a corkage fee, it’s likely not going to be anywhere near the $20-40 most “fancy” restaurants charge.

I recently went with a friend to a tiny spot in Oakland’s Chinatown, known for it’s wide menu of congees, or rice porridge, which can contain anything from pork and seafood to offal and a “thousand-year-old egg”.  What does one drink with “thousand-year-old egg”?  In my case, I brought a bottle of the 2011 Coteaux du Loir “Cuvée du Rosier” from Pascal Janvier, thinking that if I could enjoy a cup of jasmine or Pu-Erh tea with the congee, I would certainly be content with a wine redolent of earth and faded roses.

I asked the solicitous waiter if it would be okay if we drank the wine we brought. He looked a bit concerned and said he’d be right back—I assumed to ask a higher-up about corkage fees or some other outside-alcohol rule. He returned a few minutes later, still with a questioning look on his face, offering us two plastic teacups, as that’s all they had to serve it in! Happily, we accepted and enjoyed a great meal with just the right wine.

There are so many great possibilities for what to serve with occasionally spicy ethnic dishes—Alsatian or Loire whites with Asian food, Fié Gris or a light Beaujolais with Mexican or Salvadoran food, or my recent favorite—the Abbatucci Rouge Frais with Indian goat curry. Just remember: You don’t have to settle for the beer du jour at your favorite local joint, but you might want to bring your own glasses along with the wine.

Leave a Reply