Was it Sicilian?
Certainly Mediterranean but with an inland French bent.
Maybe Californian? That cuisine seems to co-opt anything that borders on the rustic and fresh.
To me, it tasted like Avec.
Food: Mustard-garlic chicken breasts with anchovy farro pasta and kumatoes with olives
Quick and easy Jacques Pepin mustard-garlic chicken breasts cooked under a brick à la Mark Bittman. Juicy, enough depth and stayed right smack dab in the same flavor range as the rest of the plate.
Winner of the night: Farro pasta mixed with anchovies, capers, aleppo pepper, toasted bread crumbs, lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil and parsley. Stellar stuff. HUGE anchovy hit in the best way, never turning fishy and toned down by the bread crumb filler and lemon zest. Perfect heat with oodles of aleppo pepper added. To use an overused word, just freakin' fantastically balanced, the kind of stuff I could eat again today and tomorrow and be utterly satisfied.
Kumatoes (second time in 10 days and eaten with another from the Guiberteau family of wines) drizzled with white balsamic vinegar and gaeta black olives. New favorite weird hybrid food-style substance. Darker tomato deliciousness with an almost plummy flavor that turns bright and low-grade acidic.
Kind of a shock. Mrs. Ney thought little about this meal and turned out like a plate full of Mediterranean joy.
And the wine did its part.
Wine: 2006 Domaine Guiberteau Saumur Rouge ($30 - Red & White)
Grape: 100% cabernet franc
Vintage (WS): 85 for cabernet franc - very rainy, leading to unripe grapes
Mostly indifferent to cab franc due to the few we've had that were rather ordinary, this one will force me to think about it in the future. Toss the vintage report out the window with this producer (see a two great write-ups over at Wicker Parker).
Dark and brooding raspberry pile here that tasted like a splash of cherry juice was spread over the top. Flowery (dried rose petals) with fine earth (kinda loamy) and herbs intermingling and an enormous amount of beautifully fine, twiggy, woody tannins dominating the entire background in the best possible sense. Made me truly understand the use of cabernet franc in a Bordeaux blend and what it offers w/r/t structure and finesse. Nice transitions that bordered on elegant. Given the little experience I have with cabernet franc, if asked, start here.
And it constantly changed in respectable ways with the food.
Pairing: 89 Enjoyed what it brought immensely
Had no real plan with this meal so we simply took the suggestion from the Jacques Pepin recipe on pairings. Loire red and we had one we didn't really care about.
No complaints in the least.
Stayed pretty much itself without food, which we liked, and kept in line with the chicken and its medium-depth of flavor with a touch of flavor punch (I'm practicing my Sandra Lee non-descriptive descriptiveness). Liked it.
But with the the anchovy-farro pasta, it sung. Intensified the aleppo pepper to a large extent, separating it out right away with everything popping up later. Got to explore the complexity of the tannins with the pasta as they changed and glommed onto different flavors in the wine with slightly different combinations of bites.
Nearly identical acid levels in the kumatoes and the wine made it compatible, if not spectacular (a bit too much one-dimensional earth and twigs) but with a bite of chicken and kumato, the wine tasted surprisingly like a handful of red apple peel.
Changed and surprised, those are the two words that kept coming back.
We'd do it again in a second.