Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Ode to Gourmet Grocery Stores (and wine, of course!)

We have a gourmet grocery store in Tacoma (and the greater Seattle area) called the Metropolitan Market and it is a magical place where you feel so happy that you empty your wallet on needless things like caramel lace cookies and five dollar creme brule desserts that come with free shaped rammakins. About once every few weeks I need something so obscure that I have to go to the Met to find it - like Japanese rice flour for mochi or coconut milk, instant polentas or pre-made tapenades. And about once every few weeks I walk out of the store with whatever obscure item I needed and about forty dollars poorer.

Because yesterday was a part of one of those weeks, I want to write a mini ode to the Met (and don't worry, their wine selection is included here!). Ben and I consider the store our special occasion/fancy/treat store. If I'm having a bad day, it's inevitable he'll suggest that we go to the Met and get a picture sugar cookie (they're always seasonally or event-themed by shape and coloring - fall leaves, Oscar figurines, peaches). And if we want a fancy 22 oz. beer that we can neither afford nor find anywhere else, it's to the Met for an 9% Black Boss Porter in tiny bottles or a regal looking bottle of unpasteurized Trappist monk-brewed Trippel Ale.

When you first walk into the met you're greeted on the right by pastries, and petit fours, decorated cakes and bursting eclairs. On the left, a whole host of hydrangea flowers and potted orchids with gigantic purple sprays. And directly in front of you: every single kind of bread and cheese you'd ever want. They have plates of cheese for tasting - 26 month Goudas and Asagio Parmesan wheels and giant stinking hunks of french blue cheese. The bread wraps around the cheese like a happy food shawl, rosemary breads and little loaves stuffed with garlic - all for about $4-6 a loaf and baked fresh. It's a scary place to walk around in when you're hungry.

After winning some money from a wine contest I entered on (yay!) and deciding to celebrate with... well, wine, we went into the Met to get some cheese to pair with it. They have this amazing little basket in the cheese section where they throw the ends or irregular cuts of their cheese loaves. And you can get a great piece of cheese to try for $1-3. We ended up picking out an English White Cheddar, that 26 month aged Gouda, a French Raclette (a soft cheese that was a bit stronger than brie), and finally an Emmental (a cheese from Switzerland). We added to that the Met's marinated mushrooms and a loaf of French bread and then a wine I'd bought there a while back and hadn't had a chance to drink.

I had been hearing great things about the 2009 Perrin & Fils Côtes du Rhône Reserve and, eager to branch my wine tastes into France a bit, had picked it up. I was worried that the wine would be a bit too spicy and rustic for my tastes, but after opening it up and drinking it next to all of these fantastic cheeses, I fell in love. This wine, for about $10.99 at the Met (it ranges from $9-$15), was everything you'd want in a pairing wine. It went well with cheese, and the salmon I later had for dinner, but I can see it as being a delicious addition to a pork meal as well. The wine smelled extremely peppery and acidic, but the bouquet softened considerably when I actually drank it. Though the pepper and spice remained a prominent feature of the wine, the tannins were smooth and the wine was hardly acidic at all. The finish was remarkably smooth for such a spicy wine. I would highly, highly recommend this wine, especially as a great initiation into the Côtes du Rhône region.

No comments:

Post a Comment