Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Project 5: Understanding the Potato

Potatoes are a wonderful product that chefs in restaurants and cooks at home get to use in everyday meals. There are a vast variety of potatoes that are all distinguished between one another. Color, taste, nutritional value, and texture of potatoes are only a few of the characteristics, but despite their differences they all share a common history. Regardless of the common idea that potatoes came from the Irish, extensiveresearch has shown that the potatoes true origin is from Peru, South America. Potatoes originated in the high Andes of Peru some 8,000 years ago, because of this the U.N. announced in December of 2005, that the year 2008 was the International Year of Potatoes.

Peruvian gastronomy is one of my favorite types of cuisine. The different dishes from coast to
highlands show an extraordinary way to express the many different ingredients, techniques, and Peruvian history in each dish. Peruvians are well known for the their seafood, corn, and of course potatoes among many other wonderful ingredients. Peru has the largest variety of these three ingredients over anywhere else in the world. Peru has over 1,000 different species of seafood, 35 different varieties of corn, and over 3,000 native potatoes. Due to the climates and soils that they need to be cultivated in, many of these can only be grown in Peru.

I decided to make a menu using five varieties of potatoes, all cooked in different ways and used in six dishes. Moving from the Pacific coast to the Incan highlands, I created a menu to showcase the differences in Peruvian cuisine. I believe that Peruvian cuisine will be the next cuisine fad for the world over, and that there are still many things to be revealed in the culinary environment. Through the printing on my menu and the photos I have taken you’ll be able to appreciate the influence of Peru in my style of cooking. Although Peru has a plethora of potato products their geographical location in South America has rendered them unable to produce wine very well. For that reason, I wrote a wine menu from different countries around the world. From old world to new world wines, I believe I put together a menu striving
towards perfection of matching my menu in the best ways. A nice sweet Riesling from Alsace France became a beautiful way to start off, the balance between the two acids and a nice accent of mineral that blended with the fish. For the Causa, I stayed in France because of this one wine that I think is brilliant with this dish, a 2004 Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux witch married this dish, its acidity is more round but enough to match the grapefruit, it has a nice salinity for the brine as well as mineral, unlike a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, this wine says old world. Heading south to Rioja Spain, to match the scallop with a White Rioja, its cream
finish fits the scallop and the sauce very well, it has a nice taste of apricot and lemon zest, great for giving the dish freshness, this wine has a great deal of earthiness for the potato and provides great balance for all the ingredients. Crossing the Atlantic to California into Monterey, I selected a Pinot Noir. It has a hint of sea like flavor from the wind blowing off the sea into the vineyard; witch goes very well with the soy flavor in the onions. It’s very crisp and has a nice salinity. This dish is very light and I wanted a light wine to match it, through this wine I found a good feel of earthy to combine the onions and the rest of the dish. Choosing a
wine for the pork belly was not easy, because of the pomegranate witch gives a lot of wines a weird taste to them, I had to pick wisely. Back to the old world I chose a Piedmont from Italy, witch contained a full tannin feel to it with the richness of the pork belly, it has a lot of earthiness witch bines the potatoes and the pork as well as it being very tart to cut the fat and match the salsa criolla. For the final pairing I chose a more balanced wine, but still off dry for desert. A Sauvignon Blanc from Aconcagua Valley, Chile, its sweetness and acid really balances out the entire dish from the corn sauce and the cream and lime, to the earthy background of
the potato and saffron, this wine really finishes off the meal of a great pairing.

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