The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2012

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Page 124 of 132

PAIRING Sipping with Spices W alk down any street in New Orleans and it's impossible to escape the effervescent atmosphere of the town. Once you get past the beads, beer and Bourbon Street, there's a profusion of restau- rants of all stripes and prices, with unbeatable dining opportunities on every corner. Brennan's has estab- lished a beachhead in the city, and Emeril Lagasse touts an international menu at his NOLA restaurant. But no one does New Orleans like K-Paul's chicken and andouille gumbo paired with a 2008 J. Lohr Tower Road Paso Robles Petite Sirah. "The 2007 Byron Santa Maria Chardonnay worked well with the gumbo because its creaminess and viscosity subdued the overall intensity of the gumbo's seasonings. However, the 2008 J. Lohr Tower Road Petite Sirah was able to enhance the wonderful peppery bite from the andouille sausage," says Beverage Manager Yvette Bechet. Paul Prudhomme, the undisputed king of Cajun, in his K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen (416 Chartres Street). The doors first opened in 1979, when Prudhomme and his late wife, K, were focused on a cozy, 62-seat venue. The classic New Orleans cuisine and superb ser- vice quickly transformed K-Paul's into a destination restaurant. Executive Chef Paul Miller is constantly pursuing new flavors and exciting experiences for the diners who come through the door. "We will always strive to provide a unique dining experi- ence," he says, "based on our knowledge of spices and fresh, quality local products." To keep up with Miller WE CHALLENGE SOME FAVORITE WINES TO MATCH UP TO THE BOLD CUISINE OF K-PAUL'S LOUISIANA KITCHEN by Dick Rosano / photos by Brian Huff the texture and foundation with onions, green peppers and celery, then relying on garlic and Prudhomme's special spices to evoke K-Paul's signature flavors. The aromas are so mouth- watering that you would steal the bowl from the next table if you didn't order this dish for yourself. "The smokiness of our andouille sau- sage and our spices balanced with the richness of the chicken and vegetables create a wonderful flavor balance with our dark roux," says Miller. "With the bold flavors of our cuisine," explains Bechet, "generally we know that bigger The K-Paul's triumvirate (left to right): Carl Crowder, Vice President of Restaurant Operations; Paul Miller, Executive Chef; and Yvette Bechet, Beverage Manager. constantly updating the menu, Carl Crowder, Vice President of Restaurant Operations, and Yvette Bechet, a native New Orleanian, meet with wine representatives daily, exploring new wines and retasting wines on the list to pair with Miller's dishes. "We recognize that we each have different varietal favorites," admits Miller, "but we almost always agree on wines which will best pair with our food." To test their skills, we chose a particularly difficult recipe from their abundant list of possibilities. Chicken and smoked sausage gumbo features chicken and andouille sausage, creating 124 / the tasting panel / may 2012 California wines work well." For this recipe, a full-bodied Chardonnay from Chalk Hill, Ferrari-Carano or Groth would be perfect. The menu at K-Paul's used to describe four or five wine pairings for each of the most popular dishes, but now "we prefer to let our waitstaff interact with our diners on the pairing issue," says Crowder. But he says the Rombauer Chardonnay is "consistently our top selling wine by-the-glass." For the recipe for K-Paul's chicken and smoked sausage gumbo, see

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