My partner and I are hosting a couple this weekend for what is supposed to be a wine dinner. There will be four of us. I’m doing the cooking and wine supplying, and I’m hoping for a little guidance in navigating dietary restrictions. To accommodate everyone, I have to avoid all meat, dairy, shellfish, and anything fried. Fish is OK. Shrimp is OK. Eggs are OK.
I was really hoping to serve a few bottles that were different from each other, but these restrictions are cramping my style! Happy to take any suggestions of food or wine. I was thinking three bottles- a sparkling to start, a white, and a red. I’m a pretty good and adventurous home cook, so I’m open to anything. Also open to dessert suggestions.
So, what would you considering cooking and what wines would you pair with it? Thanks!
Chilean Sea Bass with miso - either Sous vide and then carmelized in the broiler, or baked and glazed - with a big chard.
Saffron rice on the side.
Or, baked halibut over the best accompaniment ever: the night before, peel, seed, and slice cucumber into “smile shaped” slices, cut a mango into small cubes, and stir both into the yogurt over night. As you bake your halibut, make couscous and then serve with couscous on the bottom, then the yogurt blend on top of that, and the fish up top - also with a chard.
My #1 choice for the main course in this kind of instance is oeufs en meurette, and it’s not even close. The Serious Eats recipe is here. For a full-on vegetarian version, I would use some dried porcini and/or morels. Rehydrate in hot water as usual, and save the soaking liquid to use in place of the stock in the recipe, and saute the rehydrated mushrooms to augment or replace the button mushrooms. And obviously skip the bacon. This works fantastically with younger pinot noir, but also pretty well with a lot of other reds if you want to go that route. It’s a long cooked dish, but the sauce will hold on the stovetop on low, giving you some margin for error in timing your dishes. And if you have sous vide, the eggs are easy and will also hold.
As for the rest of the meal, I’d do salad + starters with bubbly, as so many others have said. Then perhaps a lighter fish course with a fresh vegetable. There are lots of choices here, you can match the saucing to what wine you want to serve. My personal favorite is white fish in a meuniere sauce, with a really acidic white like Falanghina or Rueda or even the mildly spritzy Tzakolina (a hint of lime juice in the sauce for the latter). Or a butter-heavy version of the sauce with Chablis. Timing is finicky there, but the sauce comes together very, very quickly so you won’t be out of the conversation for long.
I think it’s funny that people are suggesting wines without knowing what will be served. The restrictions given don’t necessarily exclude any style or category of wine, nor do they steer me in any specific direction. I say that as someone who eats vegetarian most of the time. I do eat dairy, but avoiding it is easy enough. Being an adventurous home cook is great. There have been thread in the past on vegetarian menus. I would search for those here and in Epicurean Exploits. If you want to serve aged Bordeaux or Northern Rhône or anything else, it’s not difficult to find a vegetarian dish to go with it. For categories like what I mentioned, that dish will probably require more work than just cooking a steak and some sides.
I like these first two suggestions for simple, savory vegetarian foods that will go well with savory reds. I’ll get a bit more general so you have some things to think about.
People forget that plant based foods can be high in umami. They can. Think about mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, soy sauce, miso, black garlic, beans, black bean paste, red wine, tempeh, vegetable stock/broth… I’m sure there are quite a few more, but that’s a good list to start with. Maybe you’ve made dishes with some of these ingredients, or can think of recipes that call for 2-3 of them together. Braising and cooking for a long time are your friends. Red wine reductions are great and go with or in so many things. I think you would do this anyway, but even more than with a lot of meat dishes, tasting and adjusting seasoning is important. Some ingredients like beans and tempeh can really soak up a lot of flavor. Remember your acid/salt balance, for dishes where that’s relevant.
Are there specific wines you’d like to serve? I often start with the wine and figure out a dish to go with it.
Just out of curiosity, what kind of diet prohibits shellfish but allows shrimp? Is it an allergy issue? In addition to curiosity about that, I am wondering whether lobster and/or crab might also be options (i.e. is the dietary distinction between bi-valves & crustaceans)?
Also thinking there are a lot of pasta options, at least for a good side dish. While not being able to use cheese is somewhat limiting, that’s not so much the case with a seafood-oriented dish…like an anchovy-based “baugna cauda” sauce (made from oil, butter, anchovys, garlic) over pasta and roasted cauliflower florets…Also, mushrooms present a lot of options for a pasta side.
I’m not familiar with Bengali, but Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food is a great idea, and these wine suggestions would work well, especially the reds. I also like aromatic whites like Kerner, (dry) Riesling, Albariño, and Moschofilero with foods from these areas.
middle eastern with trimbach cfe is great. All the lemon and garlic and spicy stuff hit with it. Boil rice w fish stock, turmeric, bay leaves, coriander, cumin, etc. Hummus with a good deal of garlic-chili sauce (the sriracha looking one), lemon, garlic, evoo… consider leaving out tahina. Olives, grape leaves, cucumber salad, maybe a heavily marinated white fish. Shrimp since it’s allowed. zaatar and sumac dusting as a garnish. Very visually appealing and most of the ingredients cross over between dishes which makes shopping and prep easier.
starter idea that wouldn’t be too outside the same box: chanterelles and carrots in pan for a bit, minced garlic and shallot til aromatic, deglaze w white wine, throw in parsley, thyme, rosemary, simmer down and touch with honey or agave at the end.