San Francisco’s famed Vietnamese restaurant, the Slanted Door, published a cookbook last fall. It's a striking glossy book, filled with recipes from the kitchen over the past twenty years.
The Slanted Door has been one of my favourite spots to dine in San Francisco. Charles Phan’s food is delicious, and the view from the Ferry Building across the Bay is epic, but what struck me most during my first visit, six or seven years ago, was the wine list. I saw a selection largely of esoteric picks suited to the cuisine and it was very much not about what the masses were drinking. There were deep selections of Riesling, Sylvaner, Gruner Veltliner, Albarino, Gamay and Pinot Noir. These were the days when the buzzword was Malbec, and while you could find a couple bottles from Southern France, or one carefully selected Californian Cab, the spectrum was focused on whites and light reds. There were thousands of other restaurants in the city where you could drink teeth-staining reds; I appreciated how their devotion was always to the cuisine.
Over at Eater, Charles Phan gives a lesson on how to make a Vietnamese chicken broth and some very tasty chicken noodle soup (which he eats while watching golf or to cure hangovers). The Vietnamese broth differs from a French chicken broth in the use of roasted onion, ginger, fish sauce, and the umami of dried scallop or shrimp.
In keeping with the Slanted Door's wine pairing mentality, for a white that would fit quite nicely in their list, I'd reach for Luckett Vineyards' 2012 Ortega. It has a touch of sweetness and spice to match all the flavours in the broth. For a lighter red, I would look for a pretty and elegant Pinot Noir with a lot of baking spice notes like those found in Prince Edward County. Check out Rosehall Run's 2011 JCR Pinot Noir or Keint-he's 2011 Portage Pinot Noir.
Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.