In the video above, two of Canada’s most respected food and drink writers, Lucy Waverman and Beppi Crosariol, discuss their new book The Flavour Principle. It’s packed with delicious recipes that are paired with wine and other drinks, based on 11 key flavour categories.
The two writers are also weekly columnists for the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. They share their tips on pairing and some surprising insights they discovered while writing the book that make it different from other cookbooks and pairing guides.
You’ll question your assumptions about red wine and cheese and find out why texture and weight also help to make heavenly matches.
Natalie: Joining me today is two of Canada’s best known and most respected food and drink writers, Lucy Waverman is the author of eight cookbooks, she’s the food editor of the LCBO Food and Drink magazine, and she’s a weekly columnist for The Globe and Mail Newspaper. Beppi Crosariol has been The Globe and Mail’s wine and spirits columnist for 12 years now. His recommendations frequently causes stock outs in liquor stores across the country, such is his following. Welcome to you both.
Beppi: Thank you, great to be here.
Lucy: Thanks Nat.
Natalie: Well let’s dive right into the reason why you’re here. I’ve got your book. Do you have a copy of the book that you’ve co-authored?
Lucy: Right here.
Natalie: Excellent. The Flavour Principle. So congratulations on this and let’s dive in. How did you come up with the idea of the book, the seminal ideas, where you were and what you were talking about?
Beppi: Shall I start? As I remember it, the evening was a little foggy to me because I think I had more to drink than Lucy. I was driving home from Lucy’s house, Lucy was driving, thankfully. And on that short drive, you know we’re always talking about our favourite chefs and what other cookbooks we’ve purchased and looked through, what restaurants we’ve been to and we thought “Boy wasn’t she making a wonderful dish and wasn’t that pairing with the anchovies and the veal chop and the earthy mushrooms. Weren’t the mushrooms great, what made it great?
Should we be doing a book and what should we be doing a book about? There seemed to be this intersection and we thought about it, thought about it. And we thought, what makes a dish, what it is?
Like all the different processes in particular that might be going on in the recipe and there’s usually one overarching. Seems simple to us now but probably wasn’t simple to everyone. You know there’s usually one overarching element in a dish, it kind of defines it. We thought of those central flavours or at least flavours that came to our minds, not just bitter, salty or sweet but things like nutty, things like tart, things like creamy, even yummy. And we saw that as a…
Lucy: A jumping off-point I guess.
Beppi: Yeah, a kind of connection with the world of drink or beverages, whether that’s beers or wines or cocktails, and we thought that would be a great pivot because we tend to think pairing beverages and food in that sense. I think, I start with, if it’s an earthy dish, will an earthy drink pair with it or something that’s earthy pair well with it as a contrast?
Natalie: And Lucy, in your experience, having written cookbooks before, and even pairing books, what is it about this one that makes it different from what you see out there? Whether it’s other cookbooks or other food and drink pairing books?
Lucy: Well first of all, we take a global attitude towards food. This book is globally influenced; it has food from many different countries, although all the products, you can buy everything locally. So that’s the first thing. We try to think of food in a more expansive way.
Secondly, looking at flavours. As for me, I go out and eat something I say, “My God, that’s the best taste that I’ve had forever.” Taste and flavour of course are related, right? We wanted to produce recipes that have that kind of flavour in them. When we started thinking about it, we were able to winnow it down to eleven flavours of food, I mean, yes there’s more, these are the ones we thought were very important. And then, I started to develop recipes around those flavours.
To give an example, creamy. People think of creamy as ‘got to have butter in it’, ‘got to have cream in it’, whatever. Not true, because when you think about creaminess it’s a texture as well as a taste and risotto is creamy and there’s no cream in risotto. Or with sweet, that’s another one, people think “oh well must be a chapter full of desserts.” Not at all because there’s so many sweet spices like cardamom, cinnamon, (inaudible), things like that. You can mix together and you can produce food that has a sweet flavour, but it’s a sweet-spicy flavour, not necessarily sweet-sugary flavour, right?
Natalie: Right, exactly. And then Beppi, to you – while we’re on that, on the creamy risotto and the sweet spices, what would be the wine pairing – or the drink pairings more broadly, what you would put with those dishes?
Beppi: I think about it in two ways and I think there is the focus on the flavours because you can get really geeky with the food and wine pairings and think “wow, there’s 14 different things going on in that dish. I’m panicking here, what must I possibly come up with that would pair with all of that.” I think the idea is to do that kind of (inaudible) and to just leave all the extraneous stuff aside and think about it in one way and with something like you mentioned, was it sweet spices?
Beppi: I think one of the most beautiful pairings of all is not something traditional. Let’s say it’s something with a more Indian-inspired dishes, like curries that are not necessarily hot-sweet, hot spice. I love things that are. I think you do too Natalie.
Things that are very aromatic like white wines from Alsace, like the Riesling, the Gewurztraminers, even (inaudible) is a killer with Indian inspired curries. So that’s a bit of a contrast, other than the complement, you’re using something that is a bit of the opposite.
Natalie: And then back with the creamy risotto, what would you put with that?
Beppi: In that sense I think of it as, one of the main things I think about, and maybe also sommeliers and wine experts think about when they’re pairing, is weight. You know if it’s a light dish, you pair it with something lighter in body.
I think of creamy, I tend to think of creamy wines because you really want to match that texture. And with creamy risotto, I love things like Chardonnay. They can even be oaky Chardonnay, or delicate lighter styles of Chardonnay from St. Burgundy, from Ontario and even from Okanagan, the north of Okanagan, or the Kelowna region where they have this brisk temperature that produce these nice, tense Chardonnays but always with a bit of creaminess underpinning it.
Natalie: That’s great. And Lucy, was there a pairing that really surprised you that worked? You didn’t think it was going to work but it was brilliant?
Lucy: Well there were several, but the thing that I found fascinating was Beppi’s insistence of not drinking red wine with cheese.
Natalie: Was this a point of contention?
Lucy: It may be. Yes.
Beppi: It was, we had the gloves off for a while.
Lucy: We had always drunk red wine with cheese, we had always felt it was a great way to carry over the wines that we had with the main course and Beppi said “ Oh, absolutely not. You want to try white wines with cheese”. So reluctantly we did.
So we found that white wines with cheese brought out the cheese flavours that red wines masked. That there was lightness to the wine, to the cheese, it was fun. And with the heavier red wines that we’re drinking with cheese, we didn’t taste the cheese.
We got hooked on it and now that’s all we serve with cheeses, white wine. And that was Beppi.
Natalie: Oh, happy ending.
Beppi: This goes back, there was a bit of history before the book. We were on a cruise, a Globe and Mail cruise, and we were doing a demonstration. I wanted to raise a point with an audience, with these people who are well steeped in food. It’s funny, I know that I don’t win a lot of friends when I say that red wine and cheese are kind of at war with each other.
And we did this presentation with a lot of food, and then we had some cheese, and we asked the people “what do you think of this dry red wine with the cheese”? And most people say, ‘yeah, it goes really well with each other’.
But then I snuck a sweet wine into the tasting and say: “why don’t you try that salty cheese with a sweet wine” and everyone was going “a white dessert wine with cheese? You’re crazy.” And I think I converted, we converted, half the room. The other half still wasn’t sure.
But I know Natalie, you must be familiar with University of Davis, the California Davis Study, the big wine school did with it. Kind of had all these trained tasters a while back, and proved, much to the dismay of a lot of people who love red wine and cheese. You know, cheese tends to mess with flavour and the nuances of the red wine.
Natalie: Yes, they’re tough. They’re tough, they’re mouth coating, there’s so much going on, it’s not just the flavour. It’s the weight, it’s the texture, and it’s everything. Alright, that had a happy ending.
How about a pairing, again back to you Lucy then, that did not work. It’s just a disaster and why didn’t it work?
Lucy: Well I hate to say this but I don’t think we ever had that, did we?
Beppi: Nothing too – I think because there weren’t that many catastrophes in terms of, you know I’m trying to think if there was really…
Natalie: What about the bacon Jell-O?
Beppi: Ahh, yes. I’m a fan of playing with bacon, like a lot of people, the flavour of bacon.
Natalie: Not a lot like it in Jell-O.
Beppi: No but I get to work in, Natalie, I get to work in, Lucy let me put in, a cocktail drink which is bacon washed bourbon, which is wonderful.
Beppi: Where you take a bottle of bourbon and let it steep in bacon fat and then filter it out and then you get this, I think really complementary – you know – the wonderful sweetness of bourbon and smokiness with the bacon.
Lucy: Yes, yes. I mean I’m not the ultimate person who made these decisions but bacon Jell-O I just couldn’t go for.
Natalie: You had to draw the line somewhere, Lucy.
Lucy: The bacon smoked bourbon actually was delicious.
Natalie: It sounds amazing.
Let’s wrap up this part of our conversation right now and share some excellent tips. I’m sure people are really going to want to dive into The Flavour Principle, your new book. But we’re going to come back again and ask you some more questions about food and wine pairing, the book itself. So thank you for joining me for this part.
We’ll post part two of our chat in the next few days.
It’s beautifully illustrated with mouth-watering pictures of the dishes that Lucy has researched from around the world, then tested relentlessly in her kitchen so that you can depend on them.
Beppi provides glorious drink matches, savvy tips on buying glassware and stocking your bar and cellar, and marvelous anecdotes that make this book more of an entertaining kitchen friend you’ll keep open on the counter rather than on the shelf. It’s a great holiday gift for others, but don’t wait to treat yourself sooner.
Lucy Waverman is a leading Canadian food writer. Author of eight cookbooks, she has won numerous culinary book awards and honours. She is the food editor of the popular Liquor Control Board of Ontario magazine, Food and Drink (600,000 readership), and writes a weekly column for The Globe and Mail’s Life section and a bi-weekly column in its Style section.
Beppi Crosariol has been The Globe and Mail’s wine and spirits columnist for twelve years. His columns regularly cause a rush on liquor stores across Canada as avid readers run to buy up his recommendations. His readership is broad, covering both the establishment and younger urban drinkers who want guidance on wine and great tips on less expensive bottlings, served up with candour and humour.