Contributed by Cecilia Bandalan – It was a cold winter day in San Francisco, and I had just turned twenty-one years old. I was also dating a French guy from Marseille here on a temporary visa working at a biotech company. Prior to dating him, I had very little experience with wine. After meeting him, we would drink wine at the end of our workday, but nothing he bought really lit a fire in me. He tried explaining the flavor notes; even paired some with cheese and charcuterie, but it still never excited me. Not until the day of my birthday.
He insisted that we eat at a French restaurant to get this one particular dish called Tournedos Rossini, which is a filet mignon pan- seared in butter, topped with a seared piece of foie gras, drizzled in a black truffle demi glace. Our waiter also suggested I get a Cote du Rhone to pair with this dish. Now, at the time I had no idea what foie gras was. When my French boyfriend told me that it was duck liver, I immediately pushed the dish away. He said, “Cecilia, trust me, foie gras is one of the greatest luxury foods in the world, have an open mind and just try one bite.” So I sliced a beautiful medium-rare piece of filet as well as a small slice of the duck liver, moved my fork full around the black truffle demi glace and took a bite. It was absolutely amazing. I chewed for a little bit, swallowed, then took a sip of the Cote du Rhone wine, and I kid you not, I lost track of time and very briefly forgot that I was on a date.
Not only was the dish amazing, but I remember starring at my wine glass wondering to myself, “Why is this red wine so damn delicious?!” I swirled it around to see if someone poured something in my drink because I could not believe how incredible this dining experience was. After swirling the wine around a little bit, I stuck my nose into the glass and took a big whiff, and from there it just all made sense. I understood the magic of pairing good food and even better wine. Ever since I was hooked on food and wine.
I never stop looking for incredible wine and food pairings. I am also constantly trying to give myself “wow” moments where time stops. It truly is an exciting subject to study in college and it is a wonderful career to have. As a current tasting room associate, I feel overjoyed when I see that “wow’ factor on a customer’s face when they taste a first sip of the wine I am presenting to them. Overall, I am very passionate about wine and cannot see myself working in any other industry. Wine is magic!