Tuesday, April 13, 2010

#60 - Shrimp, Bacon & Black Bean Ravioli With A Northwest Wine Bent

Sort of an impromptu Northwest wine tasting for Tuesday.

Much cussing came from the kitchen for this meal as timing three items to be finished at the same time in our crackerbox of a kitchen is Freakin' Annoying.

Two items? Fine. Three? Breaking point and shouldn't be expected from any rational, breathing individual.

Food: Carrot and chipotle-marinated shrimp with black bean ravioli and a thai-lime cashew pesto and chard

So much for revisiting shrimp a few years from now. Maybe shrimp has been given short-shrift in the Ney house. I can see the appeal. Still more as a vehicle for a good sauce (or maybe needs a spectacular sauce) but there's a place for that, certainly more than I ever wanted to concede before the last few weeks (stupid seafood sausage - it's a gateway drug!).

Shrimp done in a carrot tropical juice blend and chipotle pepper reduction that was pretty hot when we tasted it by itself but mellowed out in the cooking process. In fact, it was what tied everything together in my book. Slightly overcooked shrimp. Initially, they were supposed to be wrapped in bacon but that went to hell as the bacon was of the thick-cut sort (from Czuchraj's Meats at West Side Market in Cleveland) and became soggy. Mrs. Ney crisped it up and put it on the side. Shrimp eaten with a piece of the crispy, smoky, meaty, charred bacon was quite delicious.

Black bean ravioli also from Ohio City Pasta at West Side Market in Cleveland were pretty tasty and, if they were available in town, would be consumed by the dozen. Nicely subtle spice. Thai-lime-basil cashews from Trader Joe's turned into a pesto sauce with sesame oil, extra virgin olive oil (ain't writin' EVOO), rice vinegar and cilantro then put over the ravioli.

The pesto worked well with the ravioli but oddly was better with the simply prepared wilted chard with a little onions.

Mrs. Ney gave a warning right before eating, saying, "We might be ordering a pizza."

Piffle. Turned into a quality meal. Tasted very Northwest with its jumble of sllightly disparate flavors that oddly work together. And that, rather accidentally, played right into the wine.

Wine: 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling ($20 - Binny's), 2007 Gypsy Dancer Pinot Gris ($19 - Binny's) and 2007 Acabela Albariño ($17 - Online)

First off, the owner of Gypsy Dancer winery in Willamette Valley, Oregon (and founder of Archery Summit), Gary Andrus, passed away in January of last year.

Personally, I was just getting into his Gypsy Dancer Pinot noir line and both of us really liked the Pinot gris. I first had the Pinot noir on our first trip to Lola and, while it maybe wasn't worth the price tag, I always distinctly remember everything about it. Wonderfully big dark fruits with an underlying earth note but clean, minty finish. Huge and round.

I couldn't remember exactly if I liked the Pinot gris as I hadn't had it in probably a year. Upon first sip, I remembered. Good stuff. Big peach flavors here with a touch of apricot maybe and a solid acidity and quite graceful. Right now, it's dying with an almost brown tint showing up in the glass. The previously vibrant peach has turned to dried peaches. No syrupy quality and still quite elegant, maybe more elegant than before in many ways. Just when you think it's going to become too big or out of whack, it playfully pulls back. Still alive. It's too bad this is our last bottle.

We waffled back and forth on the best wine of the night between the Pinot gris and the Eroica Riesling. This Riesling is a 10-year collaboration between Washington's Chateau Ste. Michelle winery and Dr. Loosen, the revered German winemaker from the Mosel region with the vineyards in Washington state. Their 2000 select release received rave reviews (along with a huge price tag), including a 98 from Wine Spectator and Parker declaring that Eroica is the finest non-dessert Riesling produced in the U.S.. I first read about it only a week ago. Very faint green/yellow in the glass, almost watery. Done in the Kabinett style so the sugar wasn't expected to be pronounced. Off-dry but very tight. Reviews say this should blossom and I can see it. Right now, it's very restrained but elegant with a faint hint of pears and flowers and some sort of 'it' factor that demands a bit of respect.

We weren't blown away by it but buying one more and giving it a couple years might be a good idea. It's just so tough when Prager, a Riesling we know and love, has a decent amount of options sitting in the basically the same price range and show a more mineral quality and more interesting fruit. Nice change of Riesling pace, though. Very clean.

The Abacela Albariño from the Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon fell short of expectations. It's done. This was a Mrs. Ney favorite right after release while I didn't have any feelings about Albariño until a bit later (read: Didn't know enough about them). The acid was gone (especially with food) and the fruit was simple (turned into watery lemonade with food).

Overall, it was nice to get back to Northwest whites. Something about them scream spring with their pure, clean and pretty fruit.

Pairing: 86 Worked just fine trying each one with a different bite

Both of us settled on the Riesling as the best pairing with the shrimp and bacon while the Pinot gris showed best with the ravioli and pesto. A mixed bag otherwise but still interesting to try all three with each flavor on the plate. The food turned out to be dating below its level of attractiveness with the wine (funny given the pizza salvo) but we were full, happy and pleasantly tipsy by the end.

No complaints at all.

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