Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#130 - Roast Duck And Onions In Date-Tomato Compote With '04 Hacienda Monasterio

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of this blog.

So...bully for us.

130 posts consisting of about 180 wines (most listed, some not).

Not bad.

We learned a lot about food and wine pairings over the last year, about what works and, more importantly, what works for us.

And last night seems like another lesson along the way.

Food: Whole roasted duck with pearl onions and chorizo in a date-tomato compote, barley-daikon radish seed rice, micro-green salad and pomegranate seeds

Whole roasted duck done the Mark Bittman way. Easy work, great recipe and we didn't love it.

Perfect medium-rare on the breasts, good enough juice, pretty skin. Just didn't love it. We missed something that comes with good duck and came to the conclusion that it was the separation of moist duck meat and beautiful duck fat. A bite came off somewhat flat and a touch too gamey. It didn't jump out at us as being something we wanted to keep eating by itself.

With a forkful of micro-greens, pomegranate seeds and a bit of duck, it touched the world of good but the duck needed a ton of help to get to the point of "good".

Pearl onions with chorizo in a date-tomato compote was the star of the night. Slightly sweet, chorizo with duck innards mixed with dates and tomato to add some richness. Great stuff.

A Trader Joe's rice blend of barley and daikon radish seed added an interesting diversion from the standard rice blend with its rustic, earthy quality.

But here's the rub. Everything on the plate carried with it the same weight. Low in fat, dark in nature, earthy but light, similar acid and similar umami. Everything stayed in the same realm of brightness and fat level.

So, while we enjoyed all the flavors, we missed the ups and downs, the contrasts w/r/t each ingredient and the, I guess, surprise. Maybe we needed something more substantially raw in the meal. Maybe we needed more of a fruit presence. Maybe we needed more fat, more contrast, more something.

In an attempt to tie elements of a meal together, maybe we got too matchy-matchy.

Or probably it's just that we don't really enjoy roast duck. It was just kinda...there.

Live and learn.

Wine: 2004 Hacienda Monasterio Ribera Del Duero ($30 - WDC)

Grape: 80% tempranillo and 10% each of cabernet and merlot
Vintage (WS): 96 - Hold - Powerful yet balanced wines, with deep, pure fruit
Made by Peter Sisseck of Pingus fame, this is the non-reserva blend.

Purple in the glass and fig on the nose. On the palate, we didn't get much in the way of fruit.

Certainly a minimum level of quality winemaking with this one with a admirable balance, nice acidity and bordering on elegant. We just didn't get much distinction.

Bit of smoke, a possible hint of black tea, some tar/tobacco blend, some spice and sweet fruit. Medium-bodied with a feeling that the wine desperately wanted to be bigger/more expressive. We just couldn't pin down what the fruit was or even wanted to be. Maybe a black currant angle and I got some hints of strawberry later in the meal but it was subdued as all get out. This one might be closing up a bit right now. Maybe it was an odd bottle. Hiding more than it was showing and both of us didn't feel compelled to reach for it.

Pairing: 83 Everything was less than we felt it should have been

In the end, it was the Contrast that we missed, resulting in a meal that didn't offer those undulations and surprises, those rides and changes. There was a lot of sameness on the plate, in the glass and together.

We would have thought the pomegranate seeds would have offered sufficient brightness, the micro-greens a raw element, the pearl onions and the compote a sweet angle, but nothing offered enough to jettison the meal out of a flatlined box of sameness.

And this was good food! We were happy and full. It just didn't jump.

It was one of those meals that informs us as to the importance of such things.

And whole roasted duck isn't our bag. We need more personality from our duck.

Live and learn.

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