by Fred McMillin
for December 9, 1999
The Valid Salad Problem
and the Balboa Solution
WineDay Reader: "I know it's difficult to pair
wine with salad. Give me a combination that
As the photographer says, "say cheese." Cheese
provides the easiest solution. It softens the
vinegar in the dressing, and bonds with the wine.
Recently I had a perfect example at the trendy
Balboa Cafe in San Francisco's Marina District.
The wine-wise hostess (I've discussed wine
sales trends with her in the past) Pat Kelley
Warm Spinach Salad, that included...
Pancetta (a salted, air-dried sausage from Parma, Italy)
And watch out: Red wine vinaigrette
The solution: A generous amount of crumbled Feta cheese (soft, white Greek cheese from ewe's milk).
We like a lightly herby Sauvignon Blanc with
such a salad...in this case, the very affordable
'96 Lyeth (leeth), North Coast.
Santa Barbara air racer and restaurateur Munro "Chip"
Lyeth began growing grapes in the Alexander
Valley (Sonoma County) in 1973. In 1981 he
built a handsome chateau-winery, and his '82
Sauvignon Blanc was judged "rich, clean and fruity...
three stars" by critic Anthony Dias Blue.
In 1988, "Chip" Munro was killed in a plane crash.
Today, the French firm Boisset U.S.A. produces
Lyeth wines. They are very popular restaurant
wines, receiving good reviews in such publications as
Restaurant Wine and the Nation's Restaurant News.
There are phrases like "a superstar within its
Plumpjack Balboa Cafe, (415) 921-3944, FAX (415) 921-3957
Boisett Wines USA, (415) 979-0630, FAX (415) 979-0305,
at the office of President Jean-Charles Boisset, (pictured).
When my wife and I returned to San Francisco after
three years in Teheran, we discovered an unheralded
restaurant with exceptionally creative food, The Balboa.
I believe the year of the discovery was 1975, and
I know the chef was the rising young phenom Jeremiah Tower.
While the Gettys subsequently bought the restaurant, the kitchen
still Towers above much of the competition.
About the Writer
Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history
for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine
courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College.
In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred
with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded
to American wine writers.