My favorite part about living on the California Central Coast — besides the proximity to the ocean and the mild winters — is living in the heart of wine country. I barely new anything about wine until I moved here. I knew there were white, pink and red wines, my knowledge barely extended beyond that.
After living in wine country — Paso Robles Wine Country specifically — I now know what varietals I prefer (for reds I like petite sirah, zinfandels and cabernets and for whites I prefer viogier and albariño) and what characteristics I like and what I don’t like (I don’t care for peppery wine, but would rather have a heavy, fruit-forward one).
So it’s no big surprise that when I get a call in the late morning asking if I’d like to attend a wine and food pairing in preparation for Valentine’s Day for later that day that I said “yes.”
LXV Wine owner Neeta Mittal is really the heart and soul of the winery and tasting room. I first experienced LXV’s wine and along with its spice pairing three years ago when I went to First Saturdays in downtown Paso Robles (an art and wine event that included a few wineries and art galleries) with a friend. LXV was one of a few wineries on the tour, so we went in for a wine tasting and got the the spice pairing for a reduced price. I had never been to a place that paired spice with wine.
That visit led me to pitch story about the winery’s wine and spice pairing to Edible SLO a year later. It wasn’t until a year after that that I was assigned to write the story. (Click here to go to the Holidays 2015 issue, the story begins on Page 24.) I had just arrived for an extended stay in Japan when I got the assignment, so I conducted the interview with Neeta via email and Skype. I’ve interviewed thousands of people over the last 20 years, and there are a few that stand out — in both good and not-so-good ways. Neeta is one of the good ones.
A few months later I returned home from Japan and one of my first stops was at LXV. The day after Christmas with my parents and brother. It was the last stop after a day of wine tasting. After two other wineries, my parents were wined out, but came along for the ride. I had been hyping up LXV, and was prepared for my family not to feel the same (isn’t that what always happens when you tell people how wonderful something is and then when they experience it, it isn’t; or they don’t just find it as appealing?). But from from the moment we arrived, my mom was hooked.
Even with my parents not tasting, Neeta and her staff made sure everyone was taken care of and brought them a plate of goodies to nibble on. My brother and I became wine club members that day. Because of the wine. Because of the Indian food lunches and dinners available only to club members. Because of Neeta.
I could go on about the wine club and all the times I’ve been since joining the wine club less than two months ago, but I won’t. Instead I’ll tell you about the wine and food pairing I went to on Monday, which just happened to be my birthday.
An Aphrodisiac Pairing
Neeta invited a few journalists for the special tasting, but said it didn’t matter if I wrote about it or not. She just wanted us to have a good time. And we did. I stayed after the tasting was over with a couple of other women just talking.
The two hours before, Neeta treated us to five of the different wines LXV produced, along with cheese, meats and other food that will be on the tasting menu for Valentine’s Day — starting today through Monday.
Neeta blended her Indian culture and the Kama Sutra for the Valentine’s tasting menu.
“Aphrodisiac foods generally have some things in common, regardless of where they come from,” Neeta said. “They stimulate pleasure centers, for example via intoxicating aromas. Some are rich in amino acids that help build strength and boost performance. Honey with its sweet and pleasing, provides a sugar boost and contains some zinc, which helps support healthy libido.”
Now, Neeta did temper that you won’t have a response from your libido if you’re not with the right person, so no worries about having a response to the food and wine.
The Spiritual Laws of Love: An Aphrodisiac Pairing
Summer Satine: Viognier
Fromager D’affinois (cheese with truffles)
Naan with Ghee
Heart Note: Rosé (Sangiovese)
Barnier Black Provencal Olives
Reserve Sangiovese: Brunello
Uni Pasta (uni is sea urchin)
Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Pork and Pistachio Pate
Smokey Blue Cheese
Bone Marrow (this was actually really delicious!)
This was a fabulous food and wine pairing, particularly picked with lovers in mind.
“The whole idea is to have fun,” Neeta said as we were going through the pairing. If you love food and wine, this something I recommend. There are always tons of choices for special events such as this. As a quite and reserved person, I like going places where the people are more outgoing. I want to chat with others and have a good time, I’m just not the most outgoing, so I need a little encouragement.
For more information on upcoming events at LXV, click here. And if you ever want to go for a wine tasting at LXV, hit me up. I’ll take any excuse to go wine tasting.