Charmed by Chenin…

An impromptu trip to the farmers market a few weeks ago resulted in a vibrant, fresh, and delightful dinner with the family. We wanted to compliment a trip to the fishmonger with appropriate, seasonal sides. Everything screamed summer – from a gem lettuce salad with shaved radishes in a grainy mustard vinaigrette kissed with honey… to charred corn with aged feta, green onions, and chili… to tarragon dressed lobster salad in brioche buns! We ate well, but the one dish that “wowed the crowd” was the Corn dish.

I had an unoaked Chardonnay to pair with the meal, as I felt that the lobster rolls were begging for some yummy White Burgundy… But I also decided to open up one of my favorite Chenins from the Loire Valley. The mineral and citrus tones of the wine made for the “Pairing Hero” of the night!

Here’s the recipe, followed by the description of the wine that we had:

Charred Corn Salad with Green Onions, Chilies, and Aged Feta
Serves 8-10 as a side dish
8 ears of fresh white, yellow, or mixed corn
6 scallions, finely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 large (or 2 medium) jalapenos or serranos, seeded and minced
Small bunch cilantro, chopped (leaving bottom stems for another use)
8 oz (or more to taste) of barrel aged feta packed in water, drained (you can use Cotija cheese instead if you cannot find the barrel aged feta)
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise (optional)
Aleppo Pepper (optional)
Kosher Salt

Remove the outer dried husks of the corn (not husking entirely – just the outer dry part) and cut the silk that is hanging off the top of each cob. Grill the corn in their husks on a prepared grill until they are charred in spots and cooked through. Let cool slightly.

While the corn is being grilled, start to prep the remaining ingredients if not already done and combine the scallions, garlic, chilies, and cilantro into a large serving bowl. When the corn has cooled slightly, take the husks off (as well as any corn silk that may have stuck onto the cobs) and cut the kernels off into a bowl (you can cut the corn directly into the bowl with the other ingredients to save cleaning an extra bowl. The corn will still be slightly warm.)

Mix the corn salad so that all of the ingredients are well combined. Now crumble the cheese and fold in gently. Add the mayo and Aleppo pepper if using (I find that the mayo gives it a slight richness and the Aleppo gives it a vibrant fruity heat without being too spicy.) Taste and add salt if needed.

The corn dish as well as the lobster rolls paired brilliantly with one of my favorite Chenin Blancs from the Saumur region in the Loire Valley. The sweetness of the corn brought out the slight acacia in the otherwise bone-dry wine…

Chateau de Breze Saumur Blanc Clos de Midi 2017 – The historic “hill of Breze” is where Chateau de Breze is located. It is the tuffeau limestone rock that makes up the soil in this region that gives the wines their unique balance between tension and generosity. 100% Chenin Blanc, this wine bears the freshness of a young Sancerre, but the unmistakable charm of Saumur Blanc. Beautiful and discrete tones of honey, dried apricot, lemon, and herbs… Dry and lovely, this is made for food…

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