Photos by Mariate Echeverry
This month we invited Chef Ferris Camp to be our guest for this column. Chef Camp studied at the New England Culinary Institute and honed his remarkable sommelier skills as apprentice to two well-known wine masters, Mark David and Roland Zachalius. Until recently, he was owner of the popular Gazelle Restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina. Chef Camp invited us to his home to try his cooking and sample a couple of his recommended wines. As he flipped hamburgers on the grill, we started this interview.
Pasajero: How would you describe your cooking?
Chef Camp (chuckling): I like to describe my cooking as Country Bistro.
Pasajero: Country Bistro? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?
Chef Camp: Not at all. It’s a fusion of terms. My cooking is earthy, like classic country cooking, but with quiet sophistication.
Pasajero: What can be sophisticated about hamburgers?
Chef Camp: First of all, the meat you use; and second, the ingredients. These hamburgers, for instance, have no beef in them at all. They are two thirds lamb and one third turkey. They are mixed and kneaded by me, and the special ingredients added.
Pasajero: What special ingredients?
Chef Camp (laughing): I don’t want to give away all my secrets to the readers of your magazine.
Pasajero: Let’s move on to the wines then. What wines are you serving today?
Chef Camp: With the appetizers — a selection of cheeses, scallops al pesto, and Serrano ham — I’m going Spanish, a Martin Codax Albarino 2005. With the hamburgers, we’ll drink a Chilean wine, a Cousino Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. Go ahead, try the appetizers first. I suggest the scallops. It’s one of my specialties, which I adapted from a famous Chilean Chef.
Pasajero (munching on a golden brown scallop bathed in a delightfully spicy pesto sauce): Hmm, scrumptious. Please describe the wines for the readers of our magazine.
Chef Camp: The Albarino I’d describe as crispy, with tones of freshly-cut grass and the salty aroma of the Northern Coast of Spain – and a long finish that explodes in your mouth full of citrus fruits, melon and herbs. Try it with the scallops, see what you think.
Pasajero (tasting the wine): Excellent. Great pairing with the scallops, too. What about price? Rating?
Chef Camp: Inexpensive. You can buy this wine at your local store for $12-$13 a bottle. And both The Wine Spectator and The Wine Advocate give it a rating of 88 points. Isn’t that a bargain? Here try a piece of hamburger.
Pasajero (chewing): Outstanding. I never knew lamb and turkey could taste so good.
Chef Camp (handing Pasajero a wineglass filled with Cousino Macul): Now you can try the red wine.
Pasajero (sipping): Excellent pairing with the hamburger. How would you describe this wine?
Chef Camp: This is a classic Cab from beginning to end – well-structured, with notes of toast, cedar and black currant followed by spice with layers of flavors and that long finish that mutates in your mouth with the typical Cabernet Sauvignon concentration of slightly bitter tannin. The Wine Advocate gives this wine a score of 90 points, and you can buy it at your corner wine store for around $15 a bottle, which is a great value.
Pasajero(taking a deep breath): No question about it. Anything else you’d care to add for our readers about wines? This food smells good. I’m getting hungry.
Chef Camp: Just drink what you like, and don’t be overly concerned about whether you should drink a white because you’re eating seafood or a red because you’re eating beef. Drink whatever tastes good to you.
Pasajero: Thank you.
Chef Camp (carrying a sizzling platter of hamburgers to the table): Let’s eat.
For next issue, we’ll sample Italian wines. Until then, enjoy your travels with Aeropostal and your wine everywhere. I don’t mean to be abrupt, but right now I have something of an emergency. Hey, don’t eat all the hamburgers!