Wednesday, April 21, 2010

#64 - Tuna Niçoise And A Bandol vs. Bulgarian Rosé Beatdown

Tuna Niçoise has increasingly become the follow-up meal to the un-follow-up-able (my high school English teacher just rolled over in his grave. Is he dead? Crap. Now I have to find that out).

It followed Blackbird last October. It followed dry-aged filet with the 1964 Heredia, the best wine I've ever had, in February.

It follows things of that level because it would be silly to try to match them or try to follow them up in the least. Tuna Niçoise's deliciousness lies in the freshness along with the gargantuan mountain of food on the plate that takes two hours to eat.

You can pick and choose from 5,000 different combinations of bites. It's all very democratic.

In that democratic vein, two rosés to taste, sample and compare seemed appropriate.

Food: Tuna Niçoise

Same preparation as in February:

"Clean you out!"

Seared rare tuna with cherry tomatoes, black olives, capers, green beans, potatoes on arugula with olive oil drizzled everywhere and two hard-boiled eggs for me.

Just a big abundance of food that never gets old. Acid from tomatoes, bitterness from arugula, brininess and earthiness from the capers and olives, carb hit from the potatoes with great, fresh Whole Foods tuna and lots of it.

We have it six to twelve times a year. Kind of resets the food clock with its mountain of fresh goodness.

This time, it was served with "Seeduction" bread from Whole Foods, a hearty, dense, dark wheat bread with a big, nutty flavor. Didn't go with the tuna niçoise but we didn't care. It's great stuff.

Topped off with bacon-maple gelato from Gene's, made in Indiana with bacon cured in-house at Gene's and served with waffle galettes. That's good eatin'.

Wine: 2008 Domaine de la Bégude Rosé Bandol ($20 - Vineyards Wine Mercant - Cleveland) & 2006 Slavyantsi Rosé Rose Valley Bulgaria ($12 - Gene's Sausage Shop - Lincoln Square)

The Bandol rosé had the typical, well-crafted rosé color in the glass. Shimmered a bit. A nose of strawberries and raspberries. On the palate, it was what Bandol rosés are, sort of the essence of red wine stripped down and lightened up. Meaty with an almost sanguine quality. Dry, long finish that kept changing as it went down, ending with a meat juice and alcohol note. Nice, pleasant, lighter, a bit different. Liked it. Bandols are good and we should drink more of them.

But the Bulgarian rosé (no info or pic on the webby-webs) was oddly more interesting, probably because it was Bulgarian, came from Gene's Sausage Shop, was a four year-old rosé and didn't suck in the least. Very dark pink in the glass. Green olives on the nose with a huge alcoholic hit right away. Made from cabernet grapes, it opened up nicely as it was given some air. Probably liked it better because of what it did with the food.

Pairing: 86 A flurry of food and wine choices to pick from

By itself, the Bulgarian rosé wasn't anything special. With the food though it turned into strawberry shortcake with every bite. Surprised us completely. Any combination of the tuna Niçoise, be it the bitterness of the arugula, the brininess of the capers and/or olives, the acidity of the tomatoes, it was strawberry shortcake. The wine had a cabernet backbone and was still kicking quite nicely for a four year-old rosé...from Bulgaria...bought from a sausage shop.

We reached for that much more than the Bandol even as the Bandol was an entirely pleasant wine that was probably better from a technical wine standpoint. It just didn't offer us much in the way of surprise. Paired nicely, didn't get thrown off its game in the least but we couldn't let go of the Slavyantsi that offered strawberry shortcake where there previously wasn't strawberry shortcake.

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