Challenging Elements: Grapefruit

Published on: March 17th, 2011

As a chef, there’s nothing you can eliminate from your repertoire,” said Edmund Vogel, chef at Zucca in Louisville. He handled our challenge of grapefruit—not a favorite fruit of his—with great aplomb.

Vogel’s dish started with perfectly seared sea scallops on a bed of pancetta-braised leeks. The scallops were then topped with a pink grapefruit and fennel balsamic slaw and served over a white grapefruit fig reduction. Elegant and beautifully plated, the dish hardly looked—or tasted—like the work of someone not fond of one of the main ingredients.

The key to this dish, according to Vogel, was in finding balance.

“I was looking to balance the bitter with the sweet and savory flavors,” he said, “but I didn’t want to cancel it out, because it’s an important component of the dish.”

We loved the way the sweetness of the figs and the saltiness of the pancetta did just that, giving the tart grapefruit a set of different flavors off which to play. Even the mild tastes of the leeks and the fennel manage to come through, providing even more flavor notes for the palate to explore.

These aren’t particularly traditional matchups by any means, but the varied flavors of the dish gave the tongue a lot to taste and the taster a lot to consider with each bite.

In the same vein, the wine chosen to pair with the dish wouldn’t be considered a particularly traditional pairing either, but the sweetness of the Micheele Chiarlo Moscato d’asti Docc was a bright and amusing foil to the many flavors on the plate. A dessert wine from northwest Italy, it has a little hint of bubbles and quite a lot of sweetness to balance the bitter notes in the grapefruit.

“It’s like the dark chocolate of wine,” Zucca owner Sara Martinelli told us. “It’s really a dessert experience.”

Zucca Italian Ristorante is located at 808 Main Street in Louisville. The Seared Sea Scallops will be available as a special through the month of March. For more information visit zuccalouisville.com or call 303.666.6499.

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