Wednesday, February 3, 2016

when is mardi gras

Trying to fight the winter blues? What this challenging winter calls for is some fun, and nothing is more fun in February than a Mardi Gras party.

Mardi Gras has French roots. The first known Mardi Gras was celebrated in Louisiana by early French settlers in 1699. Throughout Louisiana's history, political and social unrest and even war did not stop Mardi Gras celebrations. It later became known as Carnival and became a legal holiday in Louisiana in 1875.

With Mardi Gras's French heritage, we thought it would be appropriate to pair this cuisine with French wines. Let's see what works.

Wine Basics

The classic Mardi Gras dish is Jambalaya. With this hearty and spicy dish in mind, I chose Vouvray and Alsatian whites to pair with this dish. My concern was to find French white wines with sufficient body and fruitiness to stand up to this bold dish. Both work well and are worth a try.

Vouvray is an appellation or region of the Loire Valley of France. It is located on the western side of the country, between Paris to the north and Bordeaux to the south, and is along the Atlantic coast. Loire Valley is internationally famous for its whites made from Chenin Blanc grapes. Chenin Blanc wine can be complex, round and balanced, and offers wonderful acidity. This acidity makes this a very food friendly wine. This age-worthy wine is known for its pear, melon and apple notes.

In contrast, the Alsatian region of France is located in the northeast corner of the country on the border with Germany and makes, almost exclusively, white wines. The most important grapes are riesling, pinot gris, gewürztraminer and pinot blanc. Alsatian whites are famous for their acidity and bold fruit flavors, and are generally fermented in stainless steel tanks (so the true fruit flavors come through). I prefer the complexity, aging potential and bold flavors of riesling and gewürztraminer wines Both food friendly whites have lean, mineral characteristics. Riesling is also known for its peach and citrus notes while gewürztraminer offers honeysuckle, litchi nuts and gingerbread flavors.

Food Pairing
When developing your Mardi Gras menu, start with a pot of jambalaya on the stove. We recommend that you do not over spice this dish, as your guests can season to taste. Other dishes to consider include steamed crawfish, red beans and rice, sweet potato casserole, po' boy sandwiches, a Mardi Gras tossed salad (for fun, add purple cabbage, shredded carrots and golden raisins to green lettuce, for a salad with classic Mardi Gras colors) and top this menu off with a King cake or the classic Bananas Foster.

when is mardi gras


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