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Classic Malaysian dish with a wine that goes well with spicy foods

Our Wine of the Week, Gnarly Head 2011 Pinot Grigio ($10), is a great quaffer to have around for the holidays. With its pretty acidity, it is a refreshing counterpoint to the rich flavors of a traditional Thanksgiving feast, especially the sweet potatoes and winter squash. It is also outstanding with cornbread dressing, polenta dressing, grits dressing and traditional bread dressing with chestnuts.

When you first pour the wine, you'll notice warm aromas of honeysuckle, orange blossom and a whiff of Meyer lemon zest. Meyer lemon and honeysuckle are mirrored on the palate and mingle with other subtle flavors, including white peaches and nectarines, ripe green melon, fresh ginger and the slightest suggestion of jalapeno. These flavors are buoyed by a mineral foundation, like wet cement or river rocks, a characteristic that keeps each sip refreshing.

The wine works beautifully with spicy foods, as the fillip of ginger and jalape? engage with the flavors of, say, Southeast Asian curries, and the lively acidity serves to balance the heat. The wine never turns bitter, as heavily oaked chardonnays do in this context. Winter squash in green curry is an extraordinary match.

For today's recipe, I'm veering away from holiday foods -- so many of us prefer our favorite family recipes year after year -- to focus on a classic Malaysian dish, laksa, that is still not common here, though it is absolutely delicious. Ingredients are available at most Asian markets.

Lemak Laksa

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 small yellow or white onion, chopped

12 to 16 cloves garlic

1 stalk lemongrass, thick part only, thinly sliced

1 to 2 ounces commercial chile paste, by taste


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