Friday, January 14, 2011

Ronnarong: Sherry & Thai Success

Tuesday night, there were plenty of happy diners at Ronnarong, a Thai restaurant in Union Square, Somerville.  I was the host for this month's edition of Thai Tapas Tuesday Series, pairing Spanish Sherry with Thai dishes.  The event went very well, and the attendees gained an appreciation for dry sherry. I had fun talking about the basics of sherry while also relating anecdotes from my prior trip to the sherry region this past September. 

As I have said before, Spanish sherry pairs well with a wide variety of cuisines. But too many have the mistaken perception that all sherry is sweet so they rarely consider pairing sherry with dinner. Dry sherry though is very interesting and delicious, and can pair well with lots of foods. This event was an opportunity to show the versatility of sherry, to introduce people to its possibilities, and it was successful with a number of attendees telling me they would now be seeking out sherry.

The evening began with a tapas of fried vegetable Thai roll and then moved onto three classic Thai dishes: seafood lad nah (mixed seafood with asian broccoli, wide noodles, and oyster sauce), beef with Ronnarong's red curry, and a larb (very spicy ground chicken dish).  All of the food was quite tasty, spiced well and it was a nice sampling of the restaurant's cuisine.

We began the evening, pairing some Manzanilla with the Thai rolls and lad nah.  Manzanilla can only be legally produced in a single city, Sanlucar, in the entire world, making it a special wine.  I love its taste, which often reminds me of a briny green apple. We had three Manzanillas, including from producers Bodega Hidalgo La Gitana, Pedro Romero and Barbadillo Solear. It went well with the crunchy Thai roll and the seafood in a savory sauce, and the La Gitana seemed to be the favorite of the three for the attendees.

With the beef and red curry, which had a bit of a hot spice to it, I chose to pair it with Amontillado, and we had bottles from Lustau and Barbadillo. Amontillado seems like the best of both worlds, a mix of the best qualities of fino and oloroso, and it is very food friendly.  This was also the top pairing of the evening, with lots of raves.  The Amontillado was able to tame the spice of the dish, and was not overpowered by the curry. The restaurant may even add Amontillado to their wine list after seeing how well everyone enjoyed this pairing.

The lab, a very hot and spicy dish, was paired with an Oloroso, and again we had examples from Lustau and Barbadillo.  Though people did like the Oloroso, it didn't work as well as hoped, being more overwhelmed by the intense heat of this dish. It probably needed a bit of a sweeter sherry, maybe a Pale Cream or Medium Sherry to better combat the spiciness.  The Oloroso would have worked with the red curry, but it is a fine balancing act, where the dry sherry works well with some heat, but not too much.  

It was great to meet the attendees, and there were plenty of interesting food and wine conversations, and not just about the sherry and Thai. I was glad to see all of these adventurous people, willing to try something new, willing to put aside their preconceptions.  Thanks to everyone at Ronnarong for helping to put this event together, and I recommend that you check out their restaurant.  Plus, you might see me there again in the near future, hosting a Sake pairing dinner!

Ronnarong on Urbanspoon

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