In our never-ending quest to eat from food trucks as much as possible, the staff recently got tacos from a regular favorite, Marination Mobile. As I am trying keep my cholesterol from reaching quadruple digits, I ordered the tofu tacos. (They describe the tofu on the menu as “sexy” but I can’t go there. I did eat four of them, so it certainly has undeniable appeal. There will be a second date.) They have a nice refreshing cabbage slaw and a creamy, tangy sauce. I’m not sure what the tofu is marinated in but it was really good. (My efforts to get Marination to divulge the ingredients was unsuccessful. Though they did reveal to me on Facebook that the sauce was “Nunya Sauce–as in nunya bidness.” That’s cold.)
Marination did, however, offer what I thought to be a great wine pairing, a Sancerre. A racy, zesty Sauvignon Blanc with a bit of richness would be great with the slaw and the creamy, uh, “Nunya” sauce. Especially with a squeeze of lime juice. I think it could even handle a bit of the pickled jalapenos. If you got a little spicier (and I did with some Sriracha) I think an off-dry German Riesling or Washington Riesling would work, too. (For the local wine, I’d go with Poet’s Leap.) But I’m leaning towards Marination’s pick or maybe a dry Riesling, like one from Australia.
While tasting (and enjoying) the 2010 Oxford Landing Cabernet Sauvignon, I perused the flowery prose on the label but was most intrigued by the last sentence: “Vegan and vegetarian friendly.” If you’re wondering how meat or dairy is involved in your wine, it has to do with a clarification process called fining. (Winedefinintions.com has good overview of the process) You use a protein, such as egg whites or isinglass (aka fish bladder), to attract unwanted particles that could make a wine cloudy or affect its color. The goal of fining is to make a wine more stable, especially if it is exposed to heat. (Useful if you’ve ever left wine in the trunk of your car, but I know you’ve never done that on a hot day, right?) A clay, bentonite, is a popular alternative. This is not to say you’re going to see a egg white or a fish bladder floating in your wine; these are removed, too, once their work is done. And you’ve got to think, considering the size of wine tanks, that there are negligible amounts of these fining agents that make it all the way to your glass. But I’m sure to many vegetarians and vegans it is a matter of principle and, if animal products are being used in the process of making wine, that needs to be disclosed.
A brief side-note on fining: there are many winemakers who find the process anathema. While fining (and filtering) remove unwanted particles from wine, many feel something important is also fined and filtered out: flavor. You’ll see a lot of bottles proudly displaying “Unfined and Unfiltered” on the label; you’ll either have to decant the bottle or keep it upright and pour carefully when you get close to the bottom.
Interestingly, Australia’s wine labeling law for the internal market mandates that if dairy is involved in the processing of wine, it must be noted. This diagram of a wine label shows a “Produced With Milk Products” notice. And while certainly there is a marketing aspect involved with noting your wine is vegan and vegetarian friendly, I think the more information you get on a label about what’s in the bottle, the better.
A couple other things to like about Oxford Landing:
They respond to your queries on Twitter:
@esquin Yep – all are wines are #vegan friendly. Lots to choose from too! Cheers from Oz!
If the battery on your smart phone dies, they have the tear-off tag to remember the wine.
Oh, I guess I should tell you how it tastes. Quite good and a bargain for under $10! Breaks the stereotype of “fruit bomb” Aussie reds. It’s medium-bodied and easy-going. Very versatile! A worthy red to pull from your quiver of available daily drinkers.
I’ll be looking out for more wineries who are highlighting their vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness and would love to hear from more wineries who are doing so. In the meantime, Barnivore is a good resource. Are you interested in seeing more rigorous wine labeling?
I can’t make it through my farmers market these days without getting broccoli, cauliflower, or some exotic variant like Romanesco. (Especially the latter, because it looks so cool. And it’s a fractal.) Though we all probably have recurring nightmares of steam-table vegetables at school, all mushy, bland, and lifeless, I encourage you to (re)discover Romanesco broccoli via roasting. All you need are three ingredients: Romanesco broccoli, salt, and olive oil. Here’s the technique. (Don’t sweat it.)
Preheat your over to 400 degrees.
Slice the broccoli lengthwise into fairly thin slices. You’ll have florets (and bits of florets) everywhere as well as slices of stem; that’s OK. (Don’t discard the stem; it’s tasty.)
Toss in olive oil to coat, put in a single layer on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Put the baking sheet on a lower rack in the oven.
Check often; you’ll want to toss the pieces around to make sure they cook evenly. The florets and pieces of floret get nice and crispy and, when the root pieces are tender and slightly browned, you’re done!
Now while you are eating this straight from the oven (the sheet pan is your plate), what wine should you pour into your glass? Excellent question. I love Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, or even a good-quality, dry sparkling wine. I would say this goes for all salad greens and green vegetables; even asparagus. I’m still mystified that the old saw about asparagus being difficult (as if it were a petulant child) to pair with wine. It’s good with all the above whites, and I’d add a dry, unoaked Chenin Blanc to the mix.
Some of my favorites we have on hand:
2008 Gerard Bouley Sancerre $24.99
2008 Hiedler Grunder Veltliner Loss $15.99
2009 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc $13.99
NV Adami Prosecco $14.99
And two more esoteric picks that are my all-time favorite whites in the $20ish range; both are Italian. The more I drink wine the more I love Italian whites, especially from the North.
2008 Abbazzia di Novacella Kerner $21.99
2009 Vietti Arneis $22.99
So what are your favorite wines to pair with vegetables? And are there any foods you find difficult to match with the right wine?