Tuesday, February 22, 2011

#164 - TK Chicken, Pea Risotto, Kumatoes & Radishes with '08 Vacheron

"It was the best, Jerry! The best!"

Tons of fine, right and upstanding pairings lately but none blew us away.

In fact, since the glory that was Moroccan-inflected tuna with Ponzi/Ken Wright one month ago, it's been two easy weeknight meal pairings - meatloaf and sauerkraut pierogis with a cheap Trader Joe's gewürztraminer and sopa seca with a cheap Calina Carménère - that impressed us the most.

Oh, yeah. Dak Bulgogi with a cheap Trader Joe's Vouvray demi-sec was some pretty great stuff as well.

Makes me think I should stop getting all snotty about the Trader Joe's wine selection.

But I digest. Last night. Back on the horse with a meal that tasted like a cleansing spring rain.

Food: Thomas Keller chicken with English pea risotto and kumatoes topped with radishes

The usual TK chicken, salt and white pepper with thyme sprinkled on top after cooking. Taken out five degrees earlier to keep the breasts moist (huh-huh). The usual result. Skin that could be sold on the street next to a crack dealer and take home similar coin. Fantastic leg and thigh meat with breast meat that was above serviceable.

Risotto made with Trader Joe's English peas (producto de Guatemala), onion, chicken stock, tarragon and mint, finished with parmesan. Here's where the spring rain came in. Tasted like everything that comes with the anticipation of exiting winter and entering the utter joy of spring, greening grass and the months of city smells left dormant for months under a blanket of scrotum-shriveling snow and cold and awakened by a constant, two-day, 50 degree, light rain.

Heaping mound of risotto that tasted like Hope. We're not sure the Englishness of the peas (producto de Guatemala) dramatically changed the dish but they were entirely welcome nonetheless. The pea essence, thrown in three minutes before finishing, still took over as the dominating but easy-breezy presence in the starchy-oozy run-off. Glorious stuff.

Kumatoes topped with razor-thin radish slices. Got an Oxo mandoline for Christmas. First time we've used it. While the thought of cleaning the thing made me initially wonder if it would feel worth it, that went away after the first bite. The paper-thin aspect brought about the exact desired effect - a radishy hint with every bite without overpowering anything else with its radishy radishness. I love radishes but they can be a bully at times. Worked beautifully with kumatoes doused in salt and left to sit for an hour and a tarragon-mustard-shallot vinaigrette with the whole composition lending a dark "meaty" quality to the rest of the plate.

This was What We Like. Both of us fell in love about two bites in.

We could have ate this meal with any wine and been completely satisfied but the wine brought it to places we didn't expect.

Wine: 2008 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Blanc ($30 - Binny's)

Grassy notes with a sauvignon blanc provide a good match with the impetus of the meal, the English peas (producto de Guatemala). We figured we'd like it. Just not this much.

Minerals were what we wanted and that's what we got.

Pretty in the glass, a pure, pretty, light straw yellow with greenish traces. Simple nose of flint and a delicate lemon-lime peel right away with it becoming more complex as it warmed up, turning to an orchardy-type nose. Or what a grocery store smells like as the air-controller hits you as you walk through the automatic doors on a rainy day. Or dumpster juice...but in a great way.

Dry, fresh, delicate and confident on the palate, bringing some great light touches of lime peel intermingled with lemon spritz and a wee hint of grass clippings that transition to something like big rocks halfway down. The finish is what we loved the most. A small, beautiful touch of something like peach skin mixed with flint, limestone and an acidity that wasn't necessarily mouth-watering but served more to bring everything together for a graceful and balanced coda. It was a finish that immediately summed everything up with a concentrated hit of everything that came before. Great. Stuff.

Fully-certified biodynamic Sancerre done very well. Couldn't have loved it more.

Pairing: 94 Like Spring Training (Opening Day is 37 days and five hours away, BTW)

Came off like a day where you didn't expect much of note to happen and everything, very organically, turns into this glorious and easy day of heavy and fun activity done in the manner and nature of when, where and how you want.

Peas and the wine made everything stand up straight and get all right and proper while the radishes turned the wine into something oodles more complex, offering more orchard-grocery store-dumpster qualities that made for some delicious stuff in the glass and on the plate.


We have a lot of friends/co-workers in our life that don't really care to get how food and wine go together. This meal would have turned even the most skeptical of the lot.

Without much expectation, it turned into Exactly What We Wanted.

Oh, yeah. For everything? About 50 bucks.

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