Eating and drinking is a completely subjective encounter and should be based upon personal preference alone. However, Erin Thomas likes to eat, drink and share her opinion on finding your epicurean zen in Seattle-area dining.
Redmond’s Southern drawl and sparkling wine from Willamette Valley.
TV’s queen of Southern cooking, Paula Deen, has been slightly under fire for her recently public struggle with diabetes and her weight-inducing style of cuisine. The woman loves Crisco, deep-fryers and bacon, all for good reason – all are delicious. Noted also for her innuendos, quotable utterances and a son who cooks quite the opposite of her, Paula makes a point: “I think no matter what the occasion may be, you can never go wrong by showing up at the dinner table with a hot plate of fried chicken.”
Redmond chef and Southern girl, Lisa Dupar, agrees and is riding that gravy train all the way to the bank.
The tenured chef and caterer of Atlanta roots fell in love with food and farming with her extended family in South Carolina and after high school, she scored a culinary apprenticeship at the Westin’s Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta. From there, she packed her bags and dream to ship out to Zurich, Switzerland, where she worked her way through the kitchens of Europe.
With the offer of a position at the Westin Hotel in Seattle in 1981, Chef Dupar spanned the globe to expect the role as the hotel chain’s first female chef. A few years later, she opened her first solo project, Southern Accents, a restaurant focused on the down-home comfort classics from her childhood backyard. From there she launched her catering company, Lisa Dupar Catering, which ties her cooking background with the fresh, local products of the Northwest.
Pomegranate Bistro and its lounge addition of POMBAR is Dupar’s latest instillation to her culinary portfolio, with a menu that melds Pacific Northwest cuisine and classic comfort food. With a high-functioning coffee and pastries bar in the morning, quick yet quaint lunch service and a dinner bill of fare extends into the bar for late night munching and sipping, Pomegranate also provides for private parties, events and hosts rotating series of cooking classes.
Like the upcoming Turkey Day Boot Camp, the three-day series which, for $69 a class ($30 off the total if you book the full series), whips at-home chefs into shape in time for the big day with a class focused each on starters and sides, one on the meat course including duck and ham and the dessert section of the menu. All classes include Chef Dupar’s picks of red and white wine or nonalcoholic beverages, as well as the recipes to take home and rock on Thanksgiving.
Dupar wanted to give her loyal patrons a little more to take home when she released her first cookbook, Fried Chicken and Champagne, in 2010. The following year the book, which mirrors Dupar’s style of Southern-girl-who-city-dwells, won the prestigious International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) “Award for First Book: The Julia Child Award Winner.”
Eating: Lisa’s Southern Fried Chicken ($19) — A plate that would make a Southern grandmother beam with pride, this chicken is dredged in buttermilk and coated with several sleeves of hand-crushed saltine crackers then fried to succulent refinement. Backed by a house-made three potato salad in an orange-bacon dressing and slaw, this chicken is simple, focused and damn good. One might say with a twang.
Drinking: Sparkling Wine — The varieties that classically make up the Champagne are actually three – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and the lesser known, Pinot Meunier. Champagne isn’t so much a style of wine, but a wine and a region itself. To slap the title on the label, the wine must be grown, produced and bottled in the French region of Champagne. Everything else is titled “sparkling wine.” That ranges from domestically (Oregon, Washington) to internationally (Cremants, Prosecco) and can be as broad as using Syrah (seen in Australia hugely) to Parellada (for Spanish Cava).
Bubbles and fried goods are a match made in heaven. Despite the high-brow beverage to low-brow grub ratio, fried food with sparkling wines blow generic pairing options out of the water thanks to its hedonistic appeal and overall mutual likeability. The hefty texture and flavor of the fried chicken goes hand-in-hand with the bright and (sorry) bubbly acidity in sparkling wine, giving strong, lifting legs to a dense dish.
The Specifics: Argyle Winery 2008 Willamette Valley Brut ($27) — Comprised of 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Chardonnay from Oregon, this sparkling wine is produced by the eccentric and dogmatic winemaker and Oregon sparkling pioneer, Rollin Soles. With 20 years of experience, Soles has racked up quite the cachet with 11 hits in Wine Spectator‘s Top 100 Wines of the World for Argyle Winery and many a mentions from national and regional press. His wines prove his prestige.
The 2008 Brut spends three years resting on the lees (the leftover yeast left from fermentation to create a creamy texture) so it is all about the mouthfeel – silky smooth and an easy, delicate mousse (the intensity of the bubbles). The nose is light with pear, apple and brioche sweetness to it, which transfers to the palate in a rich, yeast flavor along with citrus, pear and honeysuckle.
Try it, you’ll like it.