Paul and I occasionally visit Philadelphia for various reasons, and when we do, we always enjoy the incredible vegan restaurants in the city. Vedge is always a favorite, but Charlie was a Sinner holds a special place in my heart. My first visit was when my sister planned part of my bachelorette party there. Remembering being there with about ten of my closest friends always makes returning a special treat. I had the vegan ricotta toast on that first visit and I’ve been to Charlie at least four times since then and always get this dish. It’s rich and creamy and comes with slightly charred French bread. Unlike fancier versions of ricotta toast, this one is just the basics; cheese spread on toast, with a garnish of parsley. I’ve never really considered what wine to pair it with while at Charlie because there is usually a table full of food and in those situations, it hard to make pairing decisions. I tend to just go with my favorite wine on the list or a light-bodied red that will pair well with lots of food.
For my home pairing, I used the “Cashew Ricotta” recipe from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, changing it only to substitute the basil with one and a half teaspoons of black pepper. (This is the recipe that includes both cashews and tofu. I won’t copy it here but it’s all over the internet already) I don’t recall the version at Charlie tasting of basil or another herb, and I love the addition of black pepper in cheeses.
Pairing recommendations for ricotta cheese are white wines ranging in style from high acid Italian Pinot Grigios to aromatic and off-dry (and also high acid) Rieslings. I went with Pinot Blanc from Oregon. Known for a bracing acidity, I assumed it would go well with a rich and creamy cheese. Also, I’m not a huge fan of Pinot Grigio and did not have any Reisling on hand.
Pinot Blanc is the white-berried mutation of the Pinot Noir grape and has been produced in Oregon since the late 1980s. This 2014 from Eyrie Vineyards was lemon-gold in color with medium acidity. The acidity was not as high as I expected, but this is possibly because of its age. It was a delicious wine, very well balanced with notes of peach and pear and a lovely finish. It complimented the ricotta well, the cashew cream highlighted the acidity in the wine. I recommend the pairing but will try this recipe with a tangy Reisling next time.