Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#226 - Two Meals And Two Wines

Last night's wine was an example of a wine made so much better by the fact that both of us wanted nothing but California syrah.

Rare thing, that; wanting California syrah to such a degree.  Sometimes, satisfying a yen jettisons the opinion of a wine from the "yeah...good stuff" realm into the "that's the best thing I've ever had in the history of history!" silly superlative world even if it merely shows typical, open and proper.

The key came in the non-fancy fancy food with flavors on the plate we haven't had before, which was the goal of the meal.

And what flavors they were.  The collection of Iberian peninsula cookbooks continues to amaze.

Food:  Spicy Azorean garlic-roasted pork with fideos, black olive gremolata and pickled onions

From The New Portuguese Table, a cookbook that, along with The New Spanish Table and Pintxos, has informed many of the flavors in this house for the better part of the last year (with TNST a bit longer than that).

(Pg. 137) Whole Foods pork shoulder.  Serrano, peri peri peppers, garlic, paprika and salt blended into a paste with red and white wine stirred in, coating the pork shoulder in the liquid and then tossing it in the oven at 375 degrees, season with salt and pepper and let it roast for an hour, turning the pork often until the center reached 150 degrees.  Finished in the Latin tradition of "tinga" to crisp up the edges of the shredded pork.

Fideos pasta made with tomato soup and chicken stock for liquid, parmesan/bread crumb crust finished under the broiler.

Gremolata of black olives, cilantro, mint and orange zest and Michael Symon pickled onions served on the side.

About $4 for each plate of food and the flavors in this meal surprised the pants off us.  The garlic in the pork became an example of what garlic can do, expanding and intensifying the spices into something we've never had before.  The pork was just pork but it was good pork, serving quite admirably as a vehicle for the recipe.  Adding the onions to the pork broadened out the flavors into an explosion of goodness and the addition of the gremolata turned it into everything about What We Like.  Just a jumble of familiar unfamiliarness.  We couldn't have loved this more.  A lot of pauses and gasps.

The fideos offered something more bright and less deep in flavor to balance out the beautiful depth in the pork, also expanding out with the addition of pickled onion.  Light (er) but punchy.

The meal tasted like Latin BBQ expert's son moved to some small village in the Azores for a few years, then took his craft to Madrid and opened a restaurant.  And it was DE-licious! ...

With the wine served to complete the meal in Every Way.

Wine:  2005 Sanguis Bossman ($50 - Flickinger)

Had this at Blackbird a few years ago and my mind was blown.

Sanguis never repeats the names or blends of its wines.  The Bossman was a 2005 syrah blend and there will never be another Bossman.  This one was a very limited production, only 120 cases made from the Bien Nacido, Westerly and Tres Burros vineyards (99% syrah, 1% viognier).

Only a half-hour decant as the decision to drink the Bossman came late in the wine choosing process.  Double decant to move things along and it worked beautifully, quickly rounding out the jagged edges.

An echo of a jammy note early on settled down nicely, turning into herb-rubbed blackberry and flint with minerals as its driver.  Oil-cured black olive drizzled with a splash of orange juice at its core with a medium finish.

A very good wine by itself but nothing I'd want to drink by itself for long.  It's a big one.  But what this did with the food was extraordinary, turning into something like the effect of a drill sergeant coming in to a disorganized but talented group of soldiers and whipping everyone into shape.

Pairing:  95  Both elements were very good on their own.  Together, they were exceptional.

We knew this was going to be a good pairing pretty much right away.  It was when we delved into the mixing and matching of the gremolata and onions with the pork and fideos that it turned into something absolutely stellar.

The pork with the gremolata and a sip of wine was a flavor 'experience,' almost perfect stuff with every flavor added to the pork and gremolata showing its face and turning the wine's finish into something loooong and delicious with matchy-matchy flavors in the best, most broad way possible.

The pickled onions less so with the pork but with the fideos, the wine started to show a flash of focused red fruit and minerals that was surprising and wonderful.

A buffet of food and wine flavors back and forth made for a meal that surprised for sure.  But I can't recall a recent meal where the wine and food...not necessarily needed each other...the meal would have been good with a ton of different wines...more burst right through the technical food and wine match and into a unique and wonderful place that will be remembered.

The meal freakin' floated on air.

A Quick Note That Deserves More Than That But We've Written About These Elements Before:  Greek chicken, artichokes and skordaliá and NV Tselepos Moschofilero Amalia Brut Methode Traditionelle ($25 - Binny's).

We've had this Greek sparkler before with a stupid-great lunch of Lidia veggie salad, Greek feta and Michigan blueberry honey with pink peppercorns.

We also had a suspicion that a love affair with this wine was going to ignite and this meal confirmed it.  So much so that I'm starting to think it could sit right alongside most of our favorite Cavas.

Greek chicken marinade/coating of garlic, oregano, olive oil, lemon, white wine, onion, salt and pepper.  It's a favorite.  Skordaliá made with potatoes, almonds, roasted garlic, evoo, red wine vinegar.  The star of the meal was the artichokes done up with ras el hanout, preserved lemons and mint leaves.  Made me sort of love artichokes, something I don't and haven't but will and do with this preparation.  Greeky and sorta great food here.  Tasted complete and heart-warming.

Greek wine, Greek food.  Yes, please.  We liked this bubbly last time for its open and pleasing expression.  Less fruit-forward this time and better.  A huge nose of herbs.  Rosemary and oregano.  That hung around throughout, only gradually giving way to a meyer lemon, pear and something a touch orange-y this time.  More rounded and put-together than last time, I'd say.  More complexity with something like limestone popping up with the bubbles so properly backboning the wine.  First had a version of this one at Taxim, which I now want after writing about Greeky flavors and while we liked it then, love wasn't a word used to describe it.  This was its best showing yet.  Love is becoming a word to describe it now.  Just silly great with the chicken and artichokes, much less so with the skordaliá but a pairing that worked (s).  Greek food and Greek wine.  Just do it because it's good.  Pairing Score:  92  

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