Balance

Balance is the key to successful execution in food, wine, and even life in general.

I remember as a kid, my father used to say to me “Nita, too much of anything is never good.” So the little smart a$$ that I was, I would find examples that I thought would stump him… “Oh yeah, well how about too much fruit or too many vegetables!?” He would then go on to explain the effects of fiber and lack of on the digestive system… and I was pretty much done trying to stump him.

The next “balance” themed life lesson that I took from my father was when we had our first child. He told me that while life will change now, we shouldn’t revolve everything around the baby – instead, submerge the baby in our revolving worlds. Although the scale teetered quite a bit at times, we did manage to find a balance, and appreciate the advice to this day.

Now onto food and wine… Your palate senses 5 different flavor elements… salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami (my upbringing will remind me that “spicy” should be the 6th element but that’s something I don’t need to argue right now.) While all do not need to be present in a dish or a wine, a balance of two or more of these flavors is necessary to counteract an excess of any one particular element. In wine, acidity is key. Some of the best Riesling producers are the ones that are dedicated to making high acid wines – never cloying, always fresh. Without the acidity, we would feel like we are just drinking syrup.

I have a recipe that exemplefies the importance of balance. It’s really more of a condiment recipe – you can use it on everything from combining it in salads, topping your blanched vegetables with, a sprinkle over a grilled fish, or hearty pieces of meat. It’s a gremolata recipe – and it possesses qualities of sweet, sour, bitter, umami, salt, and even spice… Sprinkle it over the next dish that you think needs a lesson in balance!

“Kicked up” Gremolata

1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
zest of 1 large navel orange
zest of 1 large lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
salt (see notes)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Do not add salt until you are ready to sprinkle the gremolata on your dish. You can store this gremolata in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days – but not with salt. So set some aside if you want leftovers! I use this to top everything from salads, vegetables, fish, eggs, and meat. Sprinkled over braised lamb shanks is divine!!

Makes about 1/2 cup

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