Wednesday, April 13, 2011

#179 - Short Ribs, Mashed Potatoes & Spinach With Two California Syrahs

(excuse me...kak...kaaaaak...glurp...kak-kak-kak)


Still getting the richness and cream out of my throat.


I think that's it.

Actually, this was food we both grew up on.  Richer food, low in acid, made more rich due to the fact that it was low in acid.  Just kinda sits there.

We liked this food overall.  Wasn't nearly as bad as the kaks portray.  We just don't EVER want it again and we won't.

Seriously, who eats like this all the time?

Food:  Short ribs, mashed parsnip-potatoes and spinach with Aleppo pepper

Good short ribs.  Savory and succulent without being sticky and fatty.  Probably the best short ribs I've had but I don't really enjoy short ribs because they're usually sticky and fatty.  A recipe from Around My French Table (page 254), a cookbook we've enjoyed, a cookbook that gave us the Best Tuna Ever but we're starting to think that we're going to be left wanting with some of its recipes.  This is the second time we've said, "Needs more acid."

Good meat, though.  Gene's Sausage Shop short ribs, braised in Trader Joe's California Syrah and cheap (that's kind) port.  Parsley, thyme, rosemary, star anise, bay leaves, carrots, onions, garlic, tomato paste, orange zest and so on.  Great balance and a flavor that stuck in our cheeks then gracefully went on its way.

Good parsnip-potato mash, made for heavy cream and butter.  Simple but good in its simplicity.  Creamy.

But putting the two together made for a gut-buster, food that made its presence known at every stage down to our stomachs and stayed around til last call.  And not the good kind of last-call reveler.  The kind that just won't shut the hell up.

Both of us thought the spinach, made with Aleppo pepper, nutmeg and balsamic vinegar, was the best part of the meal, mainly because it offered something close to an acid cleanse we were so desiring.

After stepping back, this was a meal with three elements made well, from a thoughtful recipe that tasted utterly French, but also a meal, when combined, made us want a nap.

Plus, when much of the meal was made beforehand, Mrs. Ney was in the kitchen entirely too long.  It would make anybody crankypants.

The wines made efforts and at times both were decent stuff, but like the meal, we don't feel a need to revisit such things.

Wine:  2005 Graff Family Consensus ($20 - FWB) & 2004 Joseph Swan Syrah Trenton Estate ($37 - Red & White)

The Consensus (90% syrah, 8% mourvèdre, 2% viognier) is a bit fruit bomby but right smack dab in the middle of transitioning to something more settled.  Sitting right on the fence.  Blueberry and raspberry everywhere but the dominating characteristic was one of cheap cocoa powder.  Some undistinguished herb play but good (at least interesting) segues overall with layers and movements from front to mid to finish.  Lowish in acid and some fading tannin making itself known, making the wine approach but never reach an impression of a boring flatness.  A little perk-up at the end (probably from the viognier) always kept it lively enough to enjoy it for exactly what it was - a bit of a middle-aged fruit bomb aging well enough.

The Joseph Swan was cracked for comparison and because we were both absolutely sick of looking at it.  More acid here, brighter, lighter but dominated by a cherry-blueberry cough syrup quality at its core that wasn't completely unwelcome but somewhat personality-free.  Missed the window, I think.  Seemed like at one time, this one was maybe quite elegant and balanced.  Still drinkable but not much in the realm of 'wanted'.  Not disjointed but certainly echoes of being on its way.

Pairing:  90 for the Consensus strictly as a pairing, 80 for the Joseph Swan

But that doesn't mean we'd ever want this meal again.  Good back-and-forth play with the Consensus.  The cheap cocoa powder quality turned into something a bit more, like an orange zest Ghirardelli chocolate bar playing with the orange zest in the short rib recipe.  Tasty stuff and generally remained quite welcome with most of the food.  Right and proper, if not exactly what we love.

The Joseph Swan's only saving grace was what it did with the Aleppo pepper in the spinach, becoming something almost close to a higher acid, fresh, bright, cleansing and satisfying presence.  Just never got all the way there.

The Consensus won the pairing night.  We almost went with a Lirac and probably should.  But then again, this wasn't food we enjoy.

Just as I was reaching the point of complete openness to California wines, two bottles with that California-ness reared their heads.  We like the possibility and what many offer.  We just haven't gotten to the point of ever craving it.  Still always seems like an experiment.  So many of them tend to blow their wad right away like a friend that can't ever keep a secret.  It just kills them that they're sitting on juicy info and have to tell someone now!  

Much like this much fat, heavy cream and butter, the word 'subtle' never enters the equation.

And that's never a good thing.      

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