Common Scents, Uncommon Flavors: 2 Recipes From DRIVEN’s November Wine Seminar

Sweet Potato RecipeOne would assume that during a wine tasting class, it’s all about the wine. But when DRIVEN creates a wine class, the food and the wine share equal space at center-stage. November 15th’s Common Scents wine event at GLG was no exception, and the proof was in our glasses and on our plates.

One attendee asked Michael a most inquisitive question during the event, and I’m so glad she did: “Were the recipes designed to match the wines, or were the wines chosen to compliment the recipes?”. As it turns out, the former is true, as it typically is for our wine events. The process of creating the seminar takes more than a month, due mainly to the grueling but delicious method by which we narrow the field of wines down to the final six. In the case of Common Scents, the focus was on wine aroma. Thus, the approach was to choose wines that historically have telltale aromatic notes which can be reproduced by presenting the herb or spice or other organic material known to possess that same aroma. Some wines fail to deliver, others pass with flying colors. Then we just need a little regional diversity, and voila….the 6 wines are chosen!IMG_4018

The food recipes then begin to fall into place, originating with the arsenal of gastronomic ideas that I keep filed away in my brain from decades of trial and success. I consider the aromas, the flavors and the overall weight of the wines when composing the recipes, and on the day of the event, my “test kitchen” is employed. For instance, the two recipes provided below….a Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Red Pepper Salad with its gourmet complementary Jalapeño Cilantro Relish, were designed to pair with a flashy, off-dry Gewurztraminer (and I think we nailed it!). Think of it as a mashed sweet potato spicy alternative, and try it at home.

Many thanks go out to all who attended our Common Scents event, and to GLG for generously hosting us. Bon Appétit!

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Red Pepper Salad

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 jalapeños minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 can black beans, well rinsed
6 oz cilantro relish (recipe below)

Heat oil in a large fry pan. Add jalapeños and garlic. Add red pepper after a minute (when you first smell the garlic). Sautee about 4 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and combine well. Add black beans and season with salt and pepper. Add cilantro relish. Combine well and enjoy either warm or at room temperature.

IMG_4049Cilantro Relish

1 large bunch cilantro, cleaned and large stems discarded
The juice of 1 fresh lime (2 oz)
4 cloves roasted garlic
1 large jalapeño, chopped
2 ½ Tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. Drizzle in oil and continue processing until a paste is created. Add to Sweet Potato Salad as directed above.

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