Pairings: herring and potatoes with Chardonnay


I can remember the first time I had herring and potato salad, a summer night in Paris, sitting at a sidewalk table. The cool vinegary tang of the pickled herring against the waxy yellow potato with the crunch of carrot and sweet onion was perfect with a sip of Chablis.

Recently I picked up some pickled herring at a Russian deli in West Hollywood (can’t remember which) and made “Herring and Potatoes” from former Chez Panisse chef David Tanis’ first book “Heart of the Artichoke and Other Culinary Journeys” (Artisan Books, New York, 2010, $35).

He suggests buying matjes herring in brine from old-fashioned delis. Or substituting kippers (cold smoked herring) or smoked trout.


The potatoes were fingerlings from Weiser Family Farms, fine-grained and the color of old ivory. (Tanis suggests Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold.) Here’s the directions, summarized: Boil them and “slice them thickly, sprinkle lightly with red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and drizzle generously with good olive oil. Let them sit for a half hour.” Then top the potatoes with the herring cut into wide chunks and previously marinated and chilled with thinly sliced boiled carrot, sliced sweet onion, salt, a drop of vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

I opened a bottle of Liquid Farm Chardonnay from the Santa Rita Hills, tense and minerally enough to pair well with the herring and potatoes. It was one of those unseasonably warm days (in February!). We sat outside, savoring the beautiful evening and this elegant and easy dish.


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