It is with a mixture of excitement and happiness that I write this first of many blog posts.
Before we put our kitchen aprons on, let me share a few things about me, myself, and I and this delicious collaboration with 209 wines. Truth be told, I moved to Lebanon roughly 7 months ago and since then been on a journey to discover Lebanon through its flavors and culinary heritage. With only a few Lebanese words under my belt, I embarked on my journey that led me to 209 wines, and since then, we have been continuously exchanging our love for that undeniable culinary creativity that is seen in both the winemaking, now the spirits as well and our reemerging agriculture and "mouneh".
And with that said, every Sunday, I will be sharing a recipe that highlights Lebanese products but with a slight twist, inspired by my various nationalities; Swedish, French, Italian, and of course Lebanese - paired with Lebanese wine, or sometimes arak, or even whiskey from 209 wines.
Let's put aside that belief that white wine only goes with fish, red with meat and rosé for sunsets, let us show you just how fun food and wine pairing can be.
So let's kick this Sunday off with our first meal, my kind of risotto, warm, hearty, and yet not a cement bomb.
Carrot Risotto with Labneh garnish, paired with Bybline Echo.
Ingredients - for 2 servings
150g rice ( risotto rice, arborio rice, Italian rice, even Egyptian works - it has to be starchy, no basmati or jasmine)
4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil, I use Mesk oil
4 large carrots/ 6 medium, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
Thick Labneh - I used the goat labneh from Terroirs du Liban (read notes for this)
For the carrot purée
In a pan or casserole over medium heat, add the chopped onion, garlic, and carrots with a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper. Once they start to caramelize, add 500ml of water. Let it cook until soft. We will be using the water for the rice.
Once the vegetables are ready, you'll want to purée them until smooth and transfer the water to a bowl for later.
For the risotto
In a pan, on low heat, add the rice with a pinch of salt, stir, add a drizzle of olive oil, start increasing the heat to medium. Now you'll start adding the vegetable water, in small quantities. Add a soup spoon, let it evaporate, always leaving a couple of drops of liquid, add another spoon, let it evaporate. Continue like this for 15min until the rice is soft but still has a chew.
Set aside the rice, let it rest with still a little liquid left.
If you want a creamier purée, you can add some of the Labneh in it. Turn the heat back on; low and slowly add the puréee into the rice. Plate it, garnish with an "almond-shaped Labneh" and one last drizzle of olive oil.
For the Labneh, you want one that is thick enough to make the shapes. The goat will have a stronger taste, more pronounced taste than cow milk but both work. If short of time, Labneh balls work just as well.
One could go with a white, of course, however we decided to go with the less expected choice; a red. When it comes to rice and pasta, the pairing aren’t based on the on the starch, but rather on the other ingredients you use. There is a difference between fish, meat and vegetables, those are what influences the wine choice. The Bybline Echo
, with its subtle aromas and medium body, hugs the flavors from the risotto by balancing out the subtle garlic and creaminess of the Labneh, highlighting the earthy sweetness of the carrots, ultimately creating an idle marriage for the taste buds.