Thanksgiving is turkey. Christmas is ham. New Year’s is reservations. That still leaves all manner of holiday dinners unaccounted for. To help you fill that culinary void, New York asked some of the city’s top chefs—Laurent Tourondel of BLT Steak, Suvir Saran of Dévi, Zak Pelaccio of 5 Ninth, and Deborah Snyder of Lever House—to create three dinner-party-worthy entrées and, of course, a dessert. We then asked a group of the city’s top sommeliers—Chris Cannon from L’Impero, André Compeyre from Alain Ducasse, Roger Dagorn from Chanterelle, Karen King from the Modern at MoMA, and Tim Kopec from Veritas—to recommend wines for each dish. The recipes are elegant enough to impress guests, yet simple enough to make at home. The wines vary in price, style, and origin. Together, the pairings should make any holiday meal more joyful.
Laurent Tourondel: BLT Steak
“Lamb is very French for the holidays—it’s festive, and served often,” says Tourondel, whose love and understanding of the meat is evident with this elegant roasted rack of lamb, elevated to new heights with the addition of the Parmesan crust. The garlicky baked tomatoes Provençal add a hint of acidity to cut the richness of the lamb, and Tourondel’s potato gnocchi are considered by his peers to be among the best in town.
Chris Cannon, L’Impero
Montefalco Rosso Arnaldo Caprai 2001 ($22)
A blend of Sagrantino and Sangiovese from Umbria. Great cherry flavor with a sweet, spicy, gamy component. Great acidity, and juicy.
André Compeyre, Alain Ducasse
2000 Château Le Gay, Pomerol, France ($65).
A beautiful vintage, dominant of Merlot from the right bank. Full-bodied but not too powerful with the delicate lamb.
Roger Dagorn, Chanterelle
Château Bouscaut Graves, Bordeaux 1996 ($30)
Left-bank Bordeaux, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with enough tannins (but not too much) to cut through fat of lamb. A good value.
Karen King, The Modern at MoMA
La Torre Brunello di Montalcino, La Torre, Montalcino, Italy, 1998 ($58)
The black-cherry fruit with the classic lively acid of Sangiovese grapes helps lighten the big, rich flavor of the lamb, while the wine’s forest-floor scents weave in with the herbs in the dish.
Tim Kopec, Veritas
2001 Pic St. Loup “Les Calades” Domaine Foulaquier, Languedoc, France ($22)
The large amount of Syrah in this full-bodied, spicy red marries well to the full flavor of the meat; the rustic character does particularly well with the rosemary and onions.
Suvir Saran, Dévi
(Adapted From Indian Home Cooking, By Suvir Saran And Stephanie Lyness)
Don’t be scared off by the exotic-sounding ingredients or the seeming degree of difficulty here. “En papillote” is nothing new—the Parsis have been cooking in banana leaves for the last 1,000 years. And Saran has adapted this recipe to use parchment paper or foil, enclosing the halibut fillets topped with the spicy pale green coconut-mint chutney, and simply baking in a hot oven for 10 minutes. “Get your guests to cut open the little parcels at the table, it’s a good wow factor as the steam bursts forth with the exotic aromas,” he says. The sweet and sour squash makes a great accompaniment to the fish, creating a perfect balance of the signature flavors of Indian cooking—sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and bitter.
Aura Verdejo 2003, Rueda, Spain ($16)
Bright tropical fruit—pineapple, papaya—and excellent acidity combine to make this a perfect pair with the spicy tropicality of the dish.
2002 Grand Burge Thorn Riesling, Eden Valley, Australia ($16)
A bright, clean and forward dry Riesling—old-world style to balance the complexity and spice.
Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2002, Marlborough, New Zealand ($21)
Light and dry, with gooseberry aromas. Refreshing.
Laurent-Perrier Rosé Brut, current release ($58)
Spicy food works well with champagne—the bubbles carry off the spice and take away some of the heat.
Manzanilla Papirusa Lustau Sherry, Spain ($12)
Dry, with a salty character. Served cool, it marries especially well with high spice. It’s not a timid wine, either—it won’t be dominated at all by this dish.
Zak Pelaccio, 5 Ninth
Pelaccio is a bit of a braising freak. “It’s great for the colder months. The oven is warm all day, heating up the kitchen, ﬁlling it with aromas.” He’s also a pork ﬁend. Thus, he felt a pork shoulder, with all the fat and muscle to keep the meat moist, was ideal for long, slow cooking. The maple-syrup glaze reflects his obsession with the tastes of his youth. “My cooking is based on nostalgia,” he says. Adding Thai chilies and coriander reflects his love of bold flavors and innovation.
Pinot Nero Riserva Sant Urbano Hofstatter 1998, Italy ($62)
The Grand Cru Pinot of Italy, the Sant Urbano delivers spicy, intricate layers of cherry and blackberry, smooth tannins and slightly bitter almond notes. Enormously complex, it delivers power and finesse, great acidity, and nuances that can stand up to the pork extremely well.
2000 L’Aventure Optimus Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California. ($45)
A big wine with good fruit and spice from the combination of Cabernet and Syrah. The texture is silky, and very persistent.
Villarei Albariño Rias Baixas 2003, Spain ($20)
German winter food needs lighter, fruity fare with good acidity and low alcohol, such as this dry, medium-to-full-bodied, aromatic white.
La Calice de St. Pierre Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2000 ($27)
Lots of peppery spice with some cooked-fruit notes that would go well with the sweetness imparted by the maple syrup. There’s also an earthiness that the dish mirrors.
2001 Gewürztraminer Herrenweg Turkheim Zind Humbrecht, Alsace, France ($40)
Very ripe and exotic fruits from the Gewürztraminer grape. These exotic notes work with the Asian ingredients like ginger and chilies.
Deborah Snyder, Lever House
Snyder’s complex seasonal American desserts are heavily influenced by the Greenmarket, with such unusual creations as sweet-corn ice cream. So it’s no surprise that she’s an unapologetic chocolate snob. “All chocolate desserts are only as good as the chocolate you put in them—we use only Valrhona,” she says. The coffee whipped cream pairs well with the chocolate and bananas, adds an extra spice layer, and is more sophisticated than plain whipped cream.
Moscatel Emilin Lustau, Xerez, Spain ($24)
The rich, raisin-y, oxidative, nutty quality stands up well to the chocolate.
2002 Domaine de la Casa Blanca, Banyuls, France ($18)
Slightly spicy, dark ripe fruit flavors. Not too rich in alcohol, which makes a very good balance with the chocolate.
Commandaria St. John, Cyprus ($10)
Made like sherry—from two local grape varieties, Zynestri and Zynomavro, one of them white, one of them red—but tastes more like tawny port. Served chilled, it’s great with any chocolate dessert.
Domaine de la Rectorie Banyuls 1998 ($30)
The dark-chocolate and spice flavors pair well with the dark chocolate in the dessert. Neither the dessert nor the wine is too sweet.
Banyuls Rimage Dr. Parcé, France ($26)
Late-harvested Grenache that has its fermentation arrested by the addition of alcohol (as in Oporto for port). Not as alcoholic as port, this sweet and plummy fortified wine marries well with the bitter and rich character of the sweet chocolate, and is a classic French complement to chocolate-based desserts.