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Spending free time chasing down bowls of pho in Huntington Beach and slurping ramen off Sawtelle Boulevard (not right off the street of course!)only just began to feed an insatiable hunger for Asian soups, I’ve had lately, whetting my appetite for more. This isn’t anything out of the ordinary for me, oscillating between what I believe is the nexus of American food—the hamburger—and then breaking, craving giant bowls of soup that are synonymous with sustenance on an interim basis. I’ve only documented a few of my Asian experiences but I would love to add another to the annals of my wine & burger blog.

A Friday ago I visited Tatsu Ramen for take-out.  I had a flute of Gewürztraminer (of the Alsatian variety), chilling in the fridge that I hoped would be a surefire pairing with the spicy and salty broth; a brief night off for the German Rieslings.

When I had the items in their to-go containers, I was given instructions on home assembly before I was free to leave–they knew I wouldn’t read them. Once home, I selected a glass bowl, working the contents, submerging the noodles with chopsticks while I poured the 2010 Boeckel Gewürztraminer into my glassware.

I gave the ramen a few more minutes to come together, sniffing the aromatic white wine for that typical ginger ‘n lychee scent. The lychee was prominent, as were the white flower petals, but the ginger and other signature spices were muted.

My bowl of ramen grew indignant; jealous after I showered the wine with attention, and its savory aromas usurped the higher registered aromatics of the wine. It was an invitation to eat.

I readied the chopsticks, shoveling noodles, pork, garlic, green onions, and soft-boiled egg down the hatch. I would pause to take in a sip of the Alsatian wine, which did not seem at ease working side by side with the spicy soup. The two were at each other’s throats from the start. It wasn’t a horrible pairing but there was visceral tension. My choice of Gewürztraminer wasn’t terribly complicated on the palate, dry, medium-bodied with a similar arrangement of flavors (following the nose) on the tongue. It was pretty and carefree where the ramen was hardworking, hearty and with enough spice to bring one’s eyes to water. The eternals of food pairing dangled tantalizingly.

I might’ve had more success with a sweeter wine (Spätlese Riesling with greater acidity too!), neutralizing the capsaicin spice and salinity of the broth with a dosage of sugar for contrast. However the meal was not a total bust, it just failed to reach a satisfying cadence and harmony. With no shortage of do-well ramen joints, this mismatched experience served as another chance to get things right in the next burger hiatus.

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