Mouthfeel is one of the buzzwords that it bounced around whenever someone is talking about pairing food and wine. Usually that term, which refers to the physical sensation one feels in the mouth, is attached to a wine and used to describe tannins or acidity. But it can be used to describe a food you’re eating, as well. For my money -- and we’re usually talking a pretty good bit of money for it -- there is no food with a more luxuriant mouthfeel than foie gras, the fatted liver of a duck.
It’s one of several indulgences on the menu at the Venetian Room, one of only two remaining restaurants in Central Florida that still features old school elegant fine dining (Victoria & Albert’s being the other). Maitre d’ Todd Skaggs says the restaurant, whose food is under the direction of chef Khalid Benghallem, features Hudson Valley foie gras that is quickly pan seared to lock in the moisture. It’s placed on a bed of smoked corn polenta with grilled mango and drizzled with a thick balsamic syrup. The plate is garnished with prosciutto di Parma that has been flash fried to give it a salty crispness.
So if the Venetian Room’s foie gras appetizer is my dish, What’s My Wine?
We can go one of two ways, says Skaggs. Because the Venetian Room is often a place for special occasions, and foie gras itself is something people indulge in only occasionally, Skaggs says he often recommends Veuve Cliquot Champagne to keep things festive. The yeast and the carbonation, or bubbles, help cut through the fat of the foie gras as well as provide a good match for the balsamic drizzle.
But the still wine he most recommends with the fatted duck liver is the 2006 Hugel Riesling from Alsace. “It’s a bit on the dry side,” says Skaggs, “but what we like about that is that it’s a good match not only with the foie gras but also with the mango.”
So Champagne or Riesling, your choice. But just to be safe, you might want to try both.