Monday, July 5, 2010

#93 - Thomas Keller Chicken & Lyonnaise Salad With Two Whites

Another winner-winner chicken dinner.

This time coupled with the Ravenswood fireworks show. We like our neighborhood. It's quiet, easy and friendly enough.

But one day a year, the entire neighborhood converges in Winnemac Park for the best fireworks show we've ever seen.

Totally illegal, completely unsanctioned and barely a cop around with the ones that are looking the other way. It seems around 20 groups of people spend the entire year shopping, hoarding and stashing away huge fireworks nearly as big as the ones used at Navy Pier, set up and space out around the park at dusk and just start firing away for four hours. The entire neighborhood packs the park, line the fences surrounding the park, bring their dogs, bring some booze, sit down and enjoy the hell out of it.

"Oh, it's very popular, Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads — they all adore it. They think it's a righteous scene."

And it's all very self-regulated. By the next morning every year, the park is magically cleaned of all the firework refuse. And every year, it gives us hope that people aren't so nuts.

Food: Thomas Keller chicken with Lyonnaise salad and Seeduction bread with Irish butter

Same chicken as before. Better (and easier) than Wine Can Chicken. This time with a little more salt and thyme. Moist, moist, moist with the extra salt drawing out tons of chicken skin flavor and the thyme bringing more of an herbal skin deliciousness. Probably the best of the three Thomas Keller chickens so far.

Lyonnaise salad consisting of frisee, thicker-cut bacon, poached egg, salt, pepper and white wine vinegar. It's one of my personal favorites. Not like the frisee offers much outside of a textural quality but something about egg yolk running into it and bacon that gets me.

Whole Foods Seeduction bread. Hearty bread with sunflower seeds, poppyseed, millet and what seems like a thousand other grains. It's the only bread at Whole Foods that ever really delivers the bready goodness when you're stuck in a pinch and have to buy bread there.

THAT was a great meal. Simple and freakin' delicious.

We kept it light and went with two whites.

Wine: 2004 Franz Hirtzberger Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Rotes Tor ($19 - WDC) & 2006 Királyudvar Tokaji Sec ($15 - Berkeley Wine)

Recommended by our favorite wine person at WDC, the Hirtzberger's been sitting around for a bit, waiting to be drunk. Looked great in the glass. Had a shimmer to it. On the palate, it's definitely transitioned into middle age. A huge, acidic brightness upfront with tangerine/Sunny D notes that immediately changed over to a smoky cooked/old peach, iron and white pepper core, finishing with a delicate touch of sweetness and white pepper again. In fact, the subtle hint of sugar mixed with a solid acidity played a graceful song throughout. Like listening to an older man who might smell a bit tell funny stories. The bottle went quickly because it was delicious. Worth the price and might even play above its price tag a bit.

I never loved grüner veltliner until I had a good one last year. This is a good one.

The 2005 Királvudvar Sec might be our favorite white wine. Probably is, actually. is.

Last night was the first time we dived into the 2006. We've enjoyed the hell out of watching the 2005 age as it's wandered beautifully into old age. The 2006 might end up having a much longer life. Vibrant and lively in the mouth, it's chockablock with orange blossom, a touch of cream and even a wee touch of sugar (more demi-sec than sec). Felt like more herbs and oil were hidden underneath its bright fruit core with a huge minerality and creamy orange dominating.

I only know Hungarian grapes from the Királyudvars we've had. This is a slightly different blend consisting of 70% Furmint and 30% Hárslevelu compared to the 80/20 split the year before. Might have been the reason this is showing a bit different than the 2005 along with the vintage upping the acidity compared to 2005. It's brighter and more vibrant, though maybe more straightforward right now compared to when we had the 2005 at the same time out from the vintage. Great stuff. Big fan.

Pairing: 89 Fine Fourth of July stuff

Nothing went wrong with any bite. Even with the dense, hearty bread, the grüner became something oddly delicious, offering some sort of smoky lentil note that we read about in a review of the Hirtzberger.

Each wine offered a different incarnation, a different place. With the grüner and its smoky notes, it became something darker and almost brooding, more introverted and thoughtful yet offering just enough acidic lift. With the Királyudvar, everything was more bright and youthful, more vibrant and light on its feet - all of it a distinction we might not have seen without comparing two whites against each other with the food.

And the addition of more salt and thyme seemed to really help everything along, bringing out everything that probably could have been.

We'll be following the Hirtzberger in some form and it's going to be nice to watch the 2006 Királyudvar evolve.

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