Sometimes, good enough is actually welcome...
...welcome because of what didn't happen to the food and wine compared to what did.
It wasn't great. The wine was a little short and a little muddled but there was much to recommend, like watching a perfectly pleasant little movie that never made you feel like you wasted your time while watching it even though you probably wouldn't ever dare to watch it again lest the shine wear off quickly or you find a reason to absolutely hate it.
Last night's pairing was akin to watching the movie Once.
Food: Skirt steak with pickled onions and pickled jalapeños with yuca fries and a arugula/parsley salad with pomegranate seeds and Lola steak sauce
Salt-sugar-coriander-ancho chile powder-rubbed and marinated Paulina skirt steak with pickled onions and pickled jalapeños on top and Lola steak sauce to drizzle over the top.
I had a completely random, out-of-the-blue Lola Bistro hanger steak craving and Mrs. Ney mimicked it, substituting skirt. We've had it at Lola twice now (chronicled here and here) and it's why food is good. Topped with Lola steak sauce that brings a beautifully silky, low-level acid that ties the pickled elements to the meat in a great way. And more pickled elements will be showing up on the plate in the Ney house with attempts to marry them with silky sauce. Just great stuff that made the skirt come off very light, clean and fresh.
Yuca fries with spicy mayo for dipping = staple and it had been awhile since the last time we had them.
Arugula and parsley salad with pomegranate seeds. Pomegranate because they had to be used up and pomegranate was in the wine tasting notes. Parsley because it's become oddly essential in our world and is freakin' delicious with skirt steak. Who knew?
A meal that completely satisfied the Lola hanger craving and made us feel happy. And easy-squeezy to make. Not fancy-foo-foo.
Wine: 2005 Colonial Estate Envoy ($20, down from $40 two years ago - WDC)
Grape: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre
Region: Barossa Valley in Australia
Vintage (WS): 97 Ideal weather made balanced, generous wines
We bought three bottles of this one two years ago after a 50% markdown was too irresistible to pass up at Wine Discount Center. It's shown a dramatic arc in the last two years of drinking them.
Close to finished now as it's lost most of its interesting depth and the fruit has turned from a more intense darkish fruit to something resembling macerated red fruits that have sat out for a bit.
Short finish and the fruit isn't particularly lively but the structure was still there, if hanging on for dear life. A bit gamey on the nose showing slightly dried dark cherry on the palate mixing with something a bit tobacco-y. Had a very abrupt, Frank Costanza-like "stop short" halfway down, leaving the finish a tad empty and hollow with a very slight perk-up way down at the bottom.
Fine enough but we're glad it was our last bottle. Fun to see how it matured but it's old and gray now and dangerously close to smelling like an old person who pushes ribbon candy on unsuspecting visitors.
But for all that, it was a gamer with the food.
Pairing: 88 The old dog still had some game in those creaky legs
With tons of pickling and big skirt flavors on the plate, the wheels of the bus never really fell off and even slightly enhanced some things.
It was kind of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. With the skirt and pickled jalapeño with a touch of sauce, the wine's fruit dominated in almost pretty way. Add some pickled onion in the mix and...not so much. But with the former, the wine was better and the sauce's inherent goodness really shined.
Overall, the wine was probably best with the yuca fries and mayo, something that showed itself to be true in the past with Australian wines. They're a nice match with Australia's more fruit-forwardness but this was a more subtle GSM compared to a Shiraz and it still produced the same effect. Something about the crispy element mixed with a little spice forced the wine to reveal itself very early in the mouth. It woke it up and even seemed to take a few years off it.
It may have been ever so slightly dull at times and we wouldn't do a match with this wine's vintage again but a lot could have gone wrong and it didn't.
I tried to watch a few minutes of Once a couple of months ago on HBO and had to turn it right away. Something was being destroyed. My memory of the experience of watching it the first time was being rotted and I started to see it through a more critical eye. The pairing last night, I suspect, would have a similar effect if we did it again.
We found a nice place with the wine and food and we'll just leave it right where we left it.