What's My Wine with Peri Peri Prawns?

Written by Scott Joseph on .

One of the signature dishes of Bram Fowler’s is the peri peri prawns, named for a spice from his native South Africa. Fowler features the dish on the menu at Journeys of Alaqua, where he is the chef and owner, along with his wife, Geraldine.

“Peri peri is a spice that comes from South Africa,” says Fowler. “It’s a very small, very hot chile pepper. I import them and crush them down to a Peri-Peri-Prawns_150pxpowder.” Fowler says he buys the biggest prawns he can find locally and seasons them in salt and the peri peri powder. They’re pan-seared in a bit of oil, and then he adds some white wine and butter. He turns the heat way down -- “Almost off” -- to let the butter melt slowly around the prawns. He serves them on fluffy basmati rice with lightly sauteed julienned zucchini and carrots.

So if peri peri prawns is my dish, What’s My Wine?

“I would serve it with a chenin blanc,” says Fowler. Because it’s a South African dish he prefers a wine from that country. He says the Graham Beck 2009 chenin blanc, called The Game Reserve, is perfect because it has just a bit of residual sugar but isn’t too sweet. He said the spiciness of the dish needs a touch of sweetness to offset it, but a too-sweet wine would overpower the prawns. A chardonnay or anything with forward fruit in its taste would also work. (For the record, he usually uses chardonnay or sauvignon blanc when cooking the prawns.)

Here's a link to Fowler's recipe for Peri Peri Prawns.

What's My Wine? Shrimp and Grits From The Ravenous Pig

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Shrimp and grits is something of a dish du jour, appearing on menus throughout Central Florida as a way of taking homey hominy and elevating it to something wonderful. It doesn’t get much loftier than the version served at The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park.

Dedicated as they are to using Florida products as much as possible, chef/owners James and Julie Petrakis purchase the grits from
Shrimp and Grits from The Ravenous Pig. (Photo: The Ravenous Pig)
C&D Mills in the Panhandle. The corn is stone ground to produce a coarse texture, which keeps the grits from becoming soupy. For the shrimp, they use sustainable Laughing Bird Pink Shrimp from Cape Canaveral. The dish also has kernels of corn, cherry tomatoes and sauteed chorizo oil. It’s topped with a quenelle of green tomato chutney.  It’s a dish I often enjoy at the Pig.

So if shrimp and grits is my dish, What’s My Wine?

What's My Wine? Creamy Cracked Conch Chowder from Norman's

Written by Scott Joseph on .

CONCH_CHOWDERAmong the many wonderful things to be sampled from the menu at Norman’s, the exceptional restaurant owned by celebrity chef Norman Van Aken at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes Resort, the creamy cracked conch chowder is a standout of a starter. It’s a cream-based soup with coconut mild and saffron, which both add levels of richness, plus crunchy bits of diced peppers, onions, potatoes, corn, carrots, celery and poblano chilies. There is also a bit of orange flavor, and the chowder is garnished with shaved coconut and a cilantro leaf.

So if the creamy cracked conch chowder is my soup, I turn to Norman’s sommelier, Yusuf Yildiz, to ask, “What’s My Wine?”

What's My Wine? Garlic Grilled Black Tiger Shrimp From Emeril's Tchoup Chop

Written by Scott Joseph on .

Today we initiate a new column -- What's My Wine?

Jeff Kundinger; photo by Kevin Kroczynski

Part of the enjoyment of a fine restaurant meal is pairing the food with the perfect wine, one that will complement the flavors and spices of the dish. Food can taste good on its own, and a wine can be enjoyable if you sip it alone. But when you put the two together in the right combination you take them to new sensorial levels. Finding that right combination without expert guidance can be daunting when faced with a thick wine list.

I’m at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop eating chef Greg Richie’s Garlic Grilled Black Tiger Shrimp, a new addition to the menu that features big, fat juicy shrimp served on a Chinese-style crispy noodle cake with a lemongrass infused wild mushroom crema.

There’s a lot going on there, so to find the right wine among all the cuvees on the restaurant’s wine list, I turn to general manager and resident wine expert Jeff Kundinger to ask, “What’s My Wine?”