Mushrooms and cheese are a pretty perfect pairing for me. I'm very fond of both. But, there was more than that to the pairing concept here. In the April issue of Food and Wine, Shea Gallante of Manhattan's Cru suggested wine pairings for several of his dishes. All of them were extremely tempting, especially the pizza with charred cherry tomatoes and pesto, but I chose to first try the mushrooms and leeks with pecorino fonduta. The wine pairing for this was a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo because its tannins would make this cream- and cheese-filled indulgence seem lighter.
The intro to the recipe states: "Gallante makes this dish at Cru with morels that are poached in butter then topped with pecorino fonduta, Italy's fondue." Well, knock me over with butter-poached morels. If only it was April and I was in Illinois where my uncle used to give us bags full of hand-harvested wild morels. They may be the most delicious mushroom there is, but I don’t think I've met a mushroom I didn’t like. Since it's September and the Austin Farmers' Market is the best I can do right now, I chose some locally grown, beautiful, oyster mushrooms. They were added to sauteed leeks and garlic and cooked until the liquid was evaporated, and chopped rosemary was added. I always thought thyme was my favorite herb with mushrooms, but I may change my mind because rosemary was just right on this occasion. The mushrooms and leeks received a tiny drizzle of balsamic vinegar and then a rich, luxurious bathing in pecorino and parmigiana cream fonduta.
Grilled bread, this delicious fonduta-covered melange, and a good Italian, tannic red wine. I don't think I even have to describe how good that was. The wine did cut the richness of the dish, and its earthiness was very nice with the mushrooms and the rosemary. The combinations here, oyster mushrooms, pecorino and parmigiana cheeses, rosemary, and the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, were well-matched all around. This will definitely appear on our table many times over in the coming months and beyond.