Thursday, June 3, 2010

#81 - Ostrich, Ravioli & Zucchini Cakes With '07 Gregory Graham Zin + 1

A Cleveland bent last night.

We finally exhausted the last of the prepared products bought at West Side Market in Cleveland during our two-day getaway two months ago, this time having smoked mozzarella ravioli.

From the sweet pea gnocchi to black bean ravioli to sauerkraut pierogi, each one has been quite delicious. The smoked mozzarella ravioli though may have been the best of the bunch.

We paired everything with a wine bought in Cleveland, a town seemingly flooded with cabernet, zinfandel and Italian wine. Mrs. Ney hit it on the head. It tasted like something we would have bought in Cleveland.

Food: Marinated ostrich, smoked mozzarella ravioli and zucchini cakes

Ostrich marinated in balsamic, olive oil, honey and rosemary. Seared with salt and pepper. It's strange that we haven't had ostrich since starting this blog as we used to have it pretty regularly. That will most likely change as last night's ostrich brought back one of those taste memories. Tasted like 2007, the time when we probably ate the most ostrich. Concurrent memories flooded back of the Sox being bad so nothing's really changed. I first had ostrich (in the form of wellington) at the now-shuttered Speakeasy restaurant on Devon in 2004 (now Uncommon Ground). We miss that restaurant a bit. Probably the first place that we loved when we moved to Chicago and played a big part in us getting interested in food-type stuff.

This ostrich was delicious, perfectly cooked and just lovely in every way.

With this meal though, it was the complete plate that made it better than the sum of its parts.

Zucchini cakes that Mrs. Ney thought were doomed while making them turned out kinda spectacular. Crispy on the outside, soft in the middle without being mushy. Salty in a nice sense. Great bite o' food.

Smoke mozzarella ravioli brought it all together. Nice hint of smoke with well-crafted ravioli. Nothing too big, nothing too subtle.

To use an overused phrase - it tasted quintessentially Californian. Bit of smoke, bit of earth, bit of salt, bit of fresh, nothing too heavy, nothing too delicate. Everything had a similar weight, playing in a similar range without ever becoming boring or monotone. Just enough change between bites. It was like the food was made for each other.

Wine: 2007 Gregory Graham Zinfandel Crimson Hill Vineyard ($25 - Vineyards Wine Merchant - Cleveland)

Dark red in the glass with lighter red edges. Very little nose, mostly a basket of raspberries left in the sun too long. On the palate, it offered an under-sugared raspberry syrup with some indistinguishable herbs, probably sage but only faintly. Nice tannins that kept it alive and somewhat playful.

An entirely serviceable zinfandel that brought a modicum of balance and openness. Nothing particularly exciting, though. Made us regret the fact that we forgot that a Seghesio, a zin in the same price range, was in the house halfway through the meal.

Pairing: 84 Did its job but that's about it

Initially thought about a shiraz or syrah to pair with the ostrich - as shiraz has been beautiful with it in the past - but settled on a zinfandel to mix things up a bit.

Best with the ravioli, very good actually. Good with the zucchini cakes and fine enough with the ostrich with a wee bit of bitterness popping up on occasion. But the one-dimensional fruit - all red raspberry - made it for a one-dimensional pairing.

Nothing bad about it but it was a bit like when we got a Ford Mustang at the car rental counter in San Francisco. In the beginning, we thought, "Hey, this will be a change of pace and might even be fun." And then ten minutes into driving it, we thought, "Well...we've driven this and don't have to do it again."

A quick note. Tuesday's meal of tuna Niçoise wasn't posted, mainly because it's been done on this blog a few times already. It's a top-fiver and if you disagree, I will fight you. Perfect meal with rosé. Beautiful with Bandol, great with weird Bulgarian rosé, might be perfect with Saintsbury Vin Gris of Pinot Noir - another wine post I didn't do. Great little rosé though.

This time, it was paired with 2008 Neuchátel Oeil de Perdrix Pinot Noir ($26 - Fine Wine Brokers). Tasted like everything pinot noir is - musty on occasion, wet earth, a bit of strawberry, those pinot noir fine tannins all wrapped in a lifting, refreshing rosé style. I don't recall having a rosé that was so expressive of the grape. Give this one a try. Swiss rosé of pinot noir. Nothing wrong with that and worked great (91 score) with the best salad/olio of goodness on the planet.

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