Applewood Bacon Flatbread, $11
Balaban's may have a French accent, but it's also a tapas bar, where you will you find an array of French-, Spanish- and American-inspired shareable dishes.
I wanted to pick something versatile from the menu that could be enjoyed for lunch or as a shared appetizer at dinner. The flatbreads seemed like a great avenue for this, and as soon as I saw the words "bacon, truffle and blue cheese," there was no doubt in my mind what I was ordering.
True to St. Louis style, the pizza's cracker-thin crust is cut in squares. Diced pears are hidden in mascarpone, layered with applewood bacon and blue cheese and the whole lot is drizzled with truffle honey. It's a remarkable joining of sweet and earthy flavors as well as crisp and gooey textures.
2010 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier, Calif., $7 by the glass
Balaban's offers a wine-pairing suggestion with each dish, so I found it appropriate to begin with the restaurant's recommendation.
This blend of Chenin Blanc and Viognier was a smart match. The wine emulated the pizza's pear notes offered subtle sweetness that offset the blue cheese. I found this to be an enjoyable and well-thought-out pairing.
2010 Mer Soleil "Silver" Chardonnay, Central Coast, Calif., $8 by the glass
Deciding next to play with the earthy tones of the flatbread, I turned to Chardonnay - not the big, buttery kind, but the un-oaked, softer version with essences of citrus and tropical fruits. This interesting wine comes in a ceramic bottle, enhancing its sweet mineral aromas and flavors. This was the best pair for the mascarpone and truffle honey components and was well balanced all around.
2010 Chateau Mourges de Gres "Fleur d'Eglantine" Rosé, $7 by the glass
Although I thought a red wine - even the lightest of Pinot Noirs - would be too much for this endearing dish, the rosé on the list was definitely worth looking into.
Bright cherry and strawberry aromatics lead to an extremely dry pink wine. Juicy with structure and even a hint of tannin, this was clearly the perfect fit for the bacon. The fruitiness was not lost in the truffle or blue cheese and even played well with the sweet pears.
Balaban's Wine Cellar and Tapas Bar, 1772 Clarkson Road, Chesterfield, 636.449.6700, www.balabanswine.com
STLwinegirl Angela Ortmann gained a passion for all things epicurean by working in the luxury restaurants and hotels of St. Louis and San Francisco. Through her event and consultation business, she is dedicated to enhancing your food and wine experience.