Thursday, November 18, 2010

#131 - Harissa-Marinated Skirt Steak & Yuca Fries With '07 Santa Ema Merlot


Last night's wine didn't really taste like wine.

Very little tannin, very little depth, didn't change much and was a bit of a one-trick pony.

It was more like a wine-type beverage.

And we were TOTALLY okay with that.

Food: Harissa-marinated skirt steak, chimichurri, yuca fries with whiskey piri-piri mayo for dipping and an arugula-pomegranate seed salad

Planned for Tuesday, it happened Wednesday because of what happened in the note below (ordered pizza).

Medium to medium-rare skirt steak marinated for two days in harissa paste (hot chilies, garlic, salt, etc.). Good meat. Solid meat. The two-day marinade may have took some of the verve away from its skirt steakiness but it was tasty and welcome nonetheless.

Yuca fries (house favorite) makes any meal, this time with a whiskey-piri piri mayo that left a perfect hint of whiskey and heat that didn't overwhelm.

An arugula and pomegranate seed salad with a chimichurri drizzle to top it off.

Tasted South American good with a little more finesse; one of those meals that falls into the world of 'just good food.'

So meat marinade from the Maghreb and yuca and chimichurri from the Southern Hemisphere. Wine?

Quinta do Vale Meão Meandro was in the discussion. Zinfandel? Wine Spectator's inexplicable and continued love affair with Schild Shiraz was revealed again this week (the 2008 is #7 on the 2010 top 100 list) and we still have the '04 and '05 hanging around.

But...South American flavors and South American wine worked in the past (particularly here and here) and we had a cheapie with a bit of a buzz around it.

Wine: 2007 Santa Ema Maipo Valley Reserve ($11 - WDC)

If blueberry Whoppers existed, that's exactly what this wine tasted like.

All malted milk and milk chocolate with a swirl of blueberry juice, a touch of vanilla that became much more pronounced as the bottle opened up, a touch of cherry, a bit of pepper, some sage and more blueberry Whoppers.

Mostly, the milk chocolate note showed right away and quickly dissipated, transforming into what milk chocolate offers in the way of texture, turning into all malted milk with a ton of vanilla extract in the flavor profile with black pepper and a very secondary cherry note popping up now and then along with sage kicking up towards the end of the meal.

Sure, it was one note, very simple and bordering on weird. But we had absolutely no complaints.

Reminded me of the Flor de Crasto and its Mounds bar domination, the Bogle Merlot that's basically sage milk and the Montes Alpha that was all BBQ sauce - cheap wines that are great one-offs that shouldn't be thought about or critiqued too much. Just drink it and enjoy the wine-type beverage-ness.

Pairing: 88 Like a CSI: episode. Enjoyed it for exactly what it was

Nothing fancy. Nothing trying to be more than it was or could be. Nothing clashed.

Parker gave the wine a 90 and the estate put that on the bottle neck. To that, we say, "you go, girl." It's ten freakin' bucks and Parker throws that in your lap? Use it and abuse it.

For $10, I'd buy more for meals similar to this - food where we're sorta indifferent about the wine pairing (mostly anything would have been fine enough) and food where we just want a little meat and whole lotta yuca with mayo.

A quick note: Monday's Greek feast deserved a big write-up but frankly, it would have been long and frankly (who's Frank?) after the third bottle, the details began to get blurry w/r/t the intimate pairing details. Had a former co-worker over and the wine did flow.

Food: Yellow split pea dip with pita bread, spicy marinated cerignola and Castelvetrano olives and spiced pumpkin seeds to start. Chicken and skordalia with artichokes and fava beans for the entrée. Ouzo-lemon tiramisu for dessert.

Wine: 2006 Raventos I Blanc "L'Hereu Reserva" Brut Cava ($18 - Binny's), 2009 Skouras Moschofilero ($14 - WDC), 2009 Flor de Crasto Branco ($15 - Binny's), 2008 Valtea Albariño Rias Baixas ($17 - Binny's) and homemade Limoncello

All of us couldn't have loved the food more, particularly the yellow split pea dip, which we gorged ourselves on, leaving us full before the great chicken and skordalia, which drew the short stick on being able to fully enjoy it. Tiramisu = yes, please. I don't love tiramisu but this is some good tiramisu.

The wines played their role. Raventos Brut Cava is a favorite, this one a touch less vibrant than previous drinkings but still pretty. The Skouras showed more bitter lemon peel this time around and less depth. Good enough but forgettable. The Flor de Crasto Branco was ALL Portugal with a kaleidoscope of melon, green fruits and wet stones. Mrs. Ney freakin' Loved it. The Valtea Albariño was my favorite with a finer minerality and subtle citrus edge.

Fun food night with good company.

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