Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Nov 14, 2008 05:01 PM

Foie pairing

I'm thinking of doing seared foie on a sunchoke veloute, and would welcome suggestions on pairing. I don't like the idea of Sauternes or similar wines early in a meal, which is where this course would be, and I don't really want a big red at that stage. Is Champagne the only real alternative? And if so, what Champagnes might work best?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Why are you thinking Champagne and what is "sunchoke veloute"?


    1. Oddly enough -- and I can't believe this is in my recesses -- I remember a post from Vinny Barbaresco about foie gras and an artichoke veloute, whatever the heck it is. Now, a sunshoke is also called a Jerusalem artichoke -- perhaps the recipes are related.

      Here's the post from VB and the link:
      "The one of best Foie pairings I've ever experienced was in 1997 in the restaurant at Hotel Le Cepe in Beaune, though on paper it would seem counterintuitve, it worked quite well... seared Landes Foies Gras over braised artichoke heart served with an artichoke veloute; a very rich dish indeed, with earthy notes and a bit of acid coming from the chokes. The wine was a 1978 Chevalier-Montrachet. The Grand Cru white Burgundy approaching it's 20th year proved the perfect mate for this savoury foie preparation."

      Something interesting about a Sauternes or a Loire dessert wine -- it doesn't taste sweet when it's consumed with the foie gras. The flavor changes when paired with the foie -- the fat cuts the sweetness, and the pairing is truly savory. It's one of those old pairings wherein a brand new third flavor is formed when the food is tasted with the wine -- neither element tastes the same.

      Other than Sauternes or that style of wine, I'd recommend a hard cider. I'm rather fond of the
      Chateau Hauteville Sydre (apple cider), which comes in varying levels of sweetness: Sydre, Sydre Doux, Sydre Brut Tendre, Sydre Brut and Sydre Argelette. This is a very good brand -- very sophisticated and elegant. Probably my favorite they make is their pear cider called Granite, and this may be the best with the foie gras. Both the pear and apple cider are 3.5% alcohol. It has some spritzy bubbles, and you can serve it in a Champagne flute, or other pretty glass.

      Calvados Brandy
      Pommard Burgundy
      Traditional reds from Reds from the Bordeaux/Gers regions -- the tannat grape, though it's a tannic red

      mfuller63, what I don't understand about your post is serving "foie ON a sunchoke veloute" since a veloute is a mother sauce and not a bed of something. Maybe you mean something like a puree.


      10 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine

        For whatever reason, "veloute" is commonly being used as a substitute for "soup" these days, or more particularly, a cream-bolstered puree. See various references to "sunchoke veloute" courtesy of the Almighty Google->

        The thinking is probably that nobody orders a "cream of ..." soup anymore because all that cream sounds so unhealthy, but a "veloute" just sounds so elegant ...

        (And on a completely unrelated side note, that Passionate Eater blogger seems way too bent out of shape over possibly being deprived of some mashed potatoes).

        Getting back to the wine issue, and assuming this veloute is indeed a creamy soup, perhaps a bubbly with a touch of sweetness?

        1. re: Frodnesor

          This is a long historical usage. "Velouté d'asperges" for example is asparagus soup thickened with crème fraîche and egg yolk. It is also the name of a sauce.

          And with such a heavy dish, I really don't see how a sauternes would be out of place. If you (the OP) are worried about overwhelming your diners palettes early in the meal, what on earth are you doing serving them this dish! No matter the wine paired with it, it's gonna be intense.

        2. re: maria lorraine

          The best foie gras "wine" pairing that I have ever had was at the Greenhouse, London, Mayfair. The seared foie gras was infused with apple, and was served on a slightly tart apple purée. The "wine" was a Late Harvest Canadian cider. I do not have the name handy, but might be able to pull it up from my review a few years back. This actually topped some major Sauternes from the heavy-hitters. One their own, I'm certain that they would have been better wines, but with this particular dish, I was overwhelmed and it is still my #1 foie gras and also #1 pairing.

          I'm trying to get my palate around the sunchokes though.


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            The sunchoke is a curious vegtable -- the single most "wind"-producing food there is!!

          2. re: maria lorraine

            Thanks for the recommendations. I really like the idea of the cider and will try a few to experiment. You're right of course about "veloute" but it's being used these days to mean a pureed soup with a bit of cream. Sunchokes are not related to artichokes so far as I know; they're the root of the sunflower, and delicious.

            1. re: mfuller63

              Yes, even though the sunchoke is also called a Jerusalem artichoke,
              it isn't related to the artichoke.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                and it isn't related to Jerusalem, either. {;>) The French call them Topinambours.

                The first time I was served foie gras it was accompanied by a small glass of Muscat des Baumes de Venise. I thought it sounded like an odd combination at the beginning of the meal, but it wasn't at all. In fact, it was sublime.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  Yes, that's awfully good with foie too!

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Excellent choice, brands most commonly seen in USA are Durban, very sweet, but lovely, and Chapoutier, lighter and nice as well. For me, best french maker is Bernadine, odd shaped bottle but is baby bear, not too sweet, and not too dry and flowery

                    1. re: ChefJune

                      This commonly where I'll go, with a b-t-g selection, as it is a tad more common, than a Sauternes. I also like the somewhat lighter style. Over the years, I have probably done more Muscat, and TBA's, than Sauternes, but that is possibly because of the b-t-g selections. This is also because I am often the only foie gras diner at the table, so even a half of a great wine will likely be wasted.


              2. Sweet works best, even before other courses, as the richness of the fois may overwhelm any regular wine. Always have used chenin blanc from the Loire, things like Bonnezaux or Cos de Aubances. If you really want to avoid sweet stuff, compromise and get something like a Huet demi-sec Vouvray, works well. If you want Champagne, also get a demi-sec. Little sweet, but should work fine.

                1. If it's sweet wines that you want to avoid, you might try some of the more oxidative dry wines to match the nutty character of the sunchokes. Consider a dry Oloroso, a Palo Cortado, Arbois Vin Jaune, or maybe one of the drier styles of Madeira.

                  1 Reply
                  1. A dry, muscular champagne -- think Bollinger -- would be excellent. For something completely different, try a top-drawer amontillado like Lustau's Escuadrilla.