Bad day to be an Angels fan.
In the span of three minutes, Lackey signed with the Red Sox and Halladay and Lee came off the market.
So it was with an open heart that a meal such as this took place.
Villa Creek's Mas de Maha opened us up to California wines. Before, we saw them as just too big, too forceful, too obvious without any subtlety.
Without any fun.
What was seen as not even an option, especially given our relative inexperience with some regions we loved and desire to explore those more, California, particularly Rhône blends, were suddenly on the table.
Food: Hanger Steak with Plantains, Tomato Salad and Rice
I was struck most with how Californian the meal felt. Something about nicely-charred, simple beef with simple rice and a Mediterranean tomato salad with acidity and fresh herbs that made it feel fresh, seasonal, clean and balanced.
And that's from a meal that should have felt mildly Cuban with the hanger and plantains.
Tomato salad made it. Cherry tomatoes, parsley, mint, red onion, pomegranate molasses, pomegranate seeds, thyme, lemon juice, peppers, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper - made and allowed to sit and marinate in itself. It's Turkish. Probably made the meal, at least for me.
Wine: 2006 Villa Creek Mas de Maha - $30 Binny's
Only inspired by Rhône blends, this one's 60% Tempranillo, 20% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre from Paso Robles.
Fine by itself but flat-out ridiculous with food. Bring a little Latin flavors to the plate and it's sublime. Dark purple in the glass and a hint of wet tobacco on the nose, it displays tons of dark plum with a great contrast of blackberry. Concentrated fruit. Tannins are there but never pronounced, serving to properly separate flavors. Wild herbs play in the background with a little smoke. Easy drinking.
A seamlessness to the flavors keeps us coming back. Everything flows so well.
Pairing: Might be our Definition of Perfect
I was a bit shocked that the acidity so prevalent in the tomato salad didn't kill the wine. Just a little hollowness on the mid-palate. The Grenache peeked its head out as well, bringing some black pepper notes.
Overall, the Tempranillo does the bulk of the work with its characteristic plum and cherry notes with a hint of vanilla (Spanish Tempranillo usually has cherry first). What you get with food is a grape that doesn't try to get in the way. Always enough acidity and tannins to hold up just enough with flavors to compliment a wide range of cuisine. Double down on that with Latin-influenced food-type stuff. Explosive and quite memorable.
A slight gaminess brought on by, I assume, the Mourvèdre played well with the beef alone. But with the beef and plantains together, all the elements of the wine came together and became a perfect expression, in our world, of a great wine and food pairing. Everything was elevated.
Really. It's exactly what you want from a pairing, especially for a mere $30.