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Pair Food & Wine Like The Pros At La Cabane Bistro

Pairing wine with food is truly an art – it requires skill, experience and an excellent palate. Many people play it safe, sticking with rules like ‘white with fish’ or ‘red with steak’. And while there’s nothing wrong with tried and tested strategies, more adventurous tipplers may prefer to play with unconventional combinations.

For an array of playful pairings, we turned to one of Hong Kong’s most beloved wine bars and French restaurants, La Cabane Bistro, where co-founder Cristobal Huneeus and Chef Kenny Yip offered up their insights.

Scanning their cellar full of natural wines (that is, organically or biodynamically produced wines with no additives) the experts chose three bottles to serve with popular dishes: pork pâté dumplings with Szechuan oil and Comtéemulsion; roasted asparagus with egg mimosa and herb crumbs; and foie gras and duck breast pâté en croûte with pickled mushrooms.

“If you want to bring out umami in your dishes, natural wines are the best way to go,” says Huneeus. “Since the wine-making process is back to basics, with no intervention, you get these beautiful wines with more intense flavors and real, unadulterated layers.”

The Dish: Pork Pâté Dumplings, Szechuan Oil & Comté Emulsion
Paired it With:
2015 Jean-François Ganevat Vin Jaune (Savagnin Ouille) from Jura, France 
The Tableware: BOMSHBEE Tinge Porcelain Dinner Plate, O Wine glasses and Chime Flatware Set

As one of La Cabane Bistro’s signature dishes, Chef Yip’s pork pâté dumplings with Szechuan oil and Comté emulsion bring together Chinese and French influences. “The flavor profile is mildly spicy, thanks to the oil, fruity and savory because of the Comté. But it also has sweet and salty undertones bursting through in waves,” says Chef Yip. “It’s pretty much the best of both worlds.”

To pair with this complex dish, Huneeus pulls out a bottle of Jean-François Ganevat Vin Jaune, a straw-hued “yellow wine” that is “tangy, bright, light, open and very clean on the palate,” says Huneeus. The wine comes from the same region as the Comté, which may be why it pairs so well together. And while the wine stands up to the dish, it’s in no way overpowering.

The same goes for the tableware. Chef Yip chose our BOMSHBEE Tinge Porcelain Dinner Plate for its rustic texture and colour. It provided the contrast he was looking for – the vibrant orange Szechuan oil, creamy comté sauce, and beautifully browned pork dumplings pop against the ash-grey porcelain backdrop.

The Dish: Roasted Asparagus, Egg Mimosa & Herbs Crumbs
Paired it With: 2017 Gut Oggau Grüner Veltliner Mechthild from Burgenland, Austria
The Tableware: BOMSHBEE Eclipse Round Serving Platter with Wood, Chandelier Eidos, O Wine glasses and Chime Flatware Set

You could enjoy La Cabane Bistro’s roasted asparagus with egg mimosa (akin to a fancy French version of deviled eggs) and light-as-air herb crumbs for brunch, lunch or dinner. And though it works for every meal, it sadly doesn’t work with every wine.

“Asparagus has earthy, grass undertones with some bitterness, which blends harmoniously with the sweet and fatty creaminess of the egg mimosa and the herbs aromatics,” says Chef Yip. “But with such strong flavours, it can make it hard to find a pairing, because we don’t want the asparagus to outshine the wine.”

When pairing wines with asparagus, Huneeus suggests skipping those with pronounced tannins or bold, oaked whites. Instead, he goes for a dry, crisp wine like 2017 Gut Oggau Grüner Veltliner Mechthild. 

“Anything that helps to balance the richness of the sauce and the strength of the asparagus works,” Huneeus says. “And this wine – which an ‘orange wine’ – is especially fitting, as it’s very refreshing with great length and citrus fruits on the nose. It really enhances the dish.”

To plate the asparagus, Chef Yip chose our BOMSHBEE Eclipse Round Serving Platter with Wood, which he says provides an extra layer of intrigue, thanks to the tiered structure and mixed textures. “I like the two-tone style of the serving platter because the asparagus looks great on the wood and then the second level is visually exciting,” adds Chef Yip. Then he shaved cheese into the Chandelier Eidos glass to create a flower-like effect, which almost tricks the eye. “It adds some height and an elegance to the whole presentation.”

The Dish: Foie Gras & Duck Breast Pâté en Croûte & Pickled Mushrooms
Paired it With: 2018 Jean Foillard Morgon Eponyme Charmes (Gamay) from Beaujolais, France
The Tableware: BOMSHBEE Tinge Porcelain Dinner Plate, O Wine glasses and Chime Flatware Set

Foie gras and duck breast pâté en croûte with pickled mushrooms is one of La Cabane Bistro’s most quintessentially French dishes – not to mention a popular choice among its local patrons.

“It’s a technical, complicated dish… we import the pastry dough for the croûte and foie gras from France, and it takes around two days to prepare,” says Chef Yip. “But it’s certainly worth it.”

Huneeus, who is half-French and half-Chilean, agrees. “This dish is a labour of love, offering a beautiful balance of meaty and daintier flavors.” The key to its success is to keep the ingredients cold during the preparation process and taking extreme care when folding and filling the dough.

To do justice to this time-intensive creation, Huneeus recommends a Gamay – specifically, a 2018 Jean Foillard Morgon Eponyme Charmes – which balances the richness of the pastry and foie gras,  stands up to the meatiness of the dish, yet still tastes elegant and delicate.

“Gamay is an impressive, underrated grape that’s long been overlooked in favor of its posh, big cousin Pinot Noir. But finally, Gamay is finding space in the wine world,” says Huneeus. “Some Gamay wines are bigger, rounder, fruitier; others are more delicate. This one is delicate and complex with a vibrant ruby hue. It’s from a Grand Crus vineyard in Beaujolais with.”

If you can’t make it to La Cabane Bistro – or don’t have two days to spend in the kitchen – Huneeus suggests pairing a bottle or two of Gamay with a platter of saucisson (dry-cured French sausages), cold cuts, pâté, and bread to recreate the experience at home this holiday season. Bon appetit!

Photo Credits: Ben Marans Photography


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