We went for Indian food at a restaurant which I won't name Tuesday.
As we sat there, we were flipping out how much we loved it. Took two wines - the 2009 Crios Torrontes and NV Albero Brut - that we were iffy on with Indian but even the wines matched up well. Sweetness was working fine with sparkling, floral dryness was performing admirably with spice. Up was down, black and white. We loved it.
Four hours later...food poisoning. A lot of trips to the bathroom ensued. It's too bad because we freakin' loved the food. So much so that I might be up for giving it another go with a huge emphasis on "might."
So...we were leery about jumping back in to...well...food after that.
But it's about heart and passion, giving 110%, pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, being a gamer, doing what has to be done...
Screw it. We were hungry.
Food: Spanish skirt steak, onion-potato gratin and carrots in cumin-scented butter
The body needed some fat and we needed our version of soul-satisfying comfort food. For us, that's Spanish first, second and third.
Skirt steak marinated in onion, olive oil, parsley, garlic, soy sauce and lemon juice and grilled. All. Onion. In such a great way. I'm writing this three hours after starting the meal and it's still gloriously bleeding out of my cheeks - that sort of almost onion-garlic butter taste without the dairy that is entirely welcome.
Onion-potato gratin may be taking over for our standard Spanish tortilla. Instead of going through the torture of flipping a tortilla out of a scorching hot and brutally heavy cast-iron skillet, this one requires no flipping and is as good as it gets. From the New Spanish Table, a cookbook that completely belies any first impression from its almost cartoony cover. If you want to know Spanish cooking, from beginner right through advanced, and be told how to do it right and proper, buy it. Worth every cent. We've owned it for probably three years now and we're still getting great things from it.
Pure onion goodness oozed from the gratin and coated every inch of the potatoes. Bit of a crispy crust, beautifully cooked potatoes, and then, underneath, onions that turned into butter, (again, without the dairy) and a nice textural mix going from crispy to semi-soft to onion butter mush. Just great stuff.
Carrots steamed in water, chicken stock, thyme and finished with cumin-scented butter. Tasty and Mrs. Ney needed to justify the fat in the meal with something superficially healthy. Carrots will do.
Aioli also from the New Spanish Table, substituting 1/2 quantity sherry vinegar for lemon juice and smoked paprika added at the end. Great with the meat.
I think that's what I love most about Spanish food. Saffron and smoked paprika are of course wonderful. Serrano ham and manchego cheese are ridiculous. Tomato bread is delicious. Copious amounts of onion used in so many different ways is right and proper. Garlic = goodness. Chorizo's great. Their olive oil is fruiter, their dishes have a rustic feel with the perfect brightness in the right spots, their use of right amount of char and marinade is uniquely great. Piquillo peppers, marcona almonds, and on and on and on.
And there's so much more, oh, so much more. But any cuisine that has flavored mayonnaise for use on everything automatically wins.
Great meal made better by the fact that the idea of food in general made us queasy for much of the day.
Wine: 2005 Bodegas Jiménez-Landi Méntrida ($18 - WDC)
Grape: 50% Merlot, 35% Tempranillo, 15% Syrah
Region: Castilla-La Mancha
Located smack in the middle of Spain near Madrid in the province of Toledo, Méntrida, unlike most Spanish regions, has a fair amount of cabernet, merlot and syrah being grown. The region was mostly known for mediocre rosés for years but a few wineries, Bodegas Jiménez-Landi being one of them, has created a great track record for making solid wines of late.
Deep red in the glass. On the nose, grilled prunes. Nice plummy core on the palate with a bit of cassis and background red fruits. Initially, if given blind, I would have thought it was a cab. Slightly thicker texture and bit of a rustic red fruit bent with fading tannins, a wee hint of sweetness in the fruit and a touch of alcohol on a medium finish. A beginning of a stewed fruit quality that hasn't taken over yet. By itself, it was over-cooked black cherries.
And by itself, it was pleasant enough. Not particularly great or distinctive but not bad in the least. Probably done very soon but still making jokes as it gently passes away.
With the food, it kinda shined.
Pairing: 89 Matched up well while coming alive and staying right in line with the food
It was good to have you there, Jiménez-Landi. With the food, it took off, forming a nice core and broadening out gracefully with the meal. Never odd or disjointed in the least with the food. No bite of anything didn't play nice with the wine.
Best with the skirt steak alone. Good with the gratin. With the aioli and steak, not the best but just fine. It was even acceptable with the carrots.
It was one of those meals that we didn't have to think about the pairing because everything pretty much matched up in a proper way. The food wasn't greatly enhanced but we didn't expect much. It was Spanish food with a nice bargain Spanish wine; the kind of meal where we both said, "THAT...was just goooood."
And I don't feel like I should run to the bathroom. As per usual, home meals win in every way.