Monday, March 5, 2012

#258 - Anise-Flavored Volatile Compound Salad With '11 Kim Crawford SB

Technical stuff above.

That technical stuff comes from Taste Buds & Molecules by François Chartier, a molecular sommelier-type person that did the important, mind-numbing legwork that led to the beginning of understanding the essential aromatic and flavor components of food and wine on a molecular level.

I can already tell that I'm going to be reading this book again.  It's a technical wonder, sometimes refrigerator manual dull, but it successfully makes sure that you get tasty nuggets at critical points to keep your interest (and keep your eyes open).

Ultimately, I've been left with a feeling that my eyes have been pried open, willingly, to the molecular joys of combining foods with wine in the same molecular realm.

It's important work, critical work, and after having this meal based on a recipe found in the first 50 pages, it's a freakin' magical work.

We got something rather over-the-top ridiculous.  I've written about the joys and not-so joys on having food contained in a small box of flavors on this here blog numerous times.  This is something else, something oodles more, something that redefined what a flavor box really is, at least to us.

This was an anise-flavored volatile compound explosion!

Food:  Smoked trout, yellow beets, sheep feta, green apple, fennel, cucumber, pea shoot, mint and caraway dressing

We've never had anything like it.  Check that.  This was Ubuntu food.  Smoked trout made it dinner food.  Caraway dressing (caraway seeds smoked in olive oil, mixed with mayo and white wine vinegar) made it fancy, fancy, fancy.  But that sells it short.  This was about combinations - combinations that explored every level of some crazy small delicious box.  But that sells it short.  This meal was about shoving your elbows into that small box and pushing everything out to its broadest realm, announcing your presence, gettin' all ego-driven and sending out a flurry of goodness delving into every possible degree contained in that realm.

After watching "If A Tree Falls..." last night, a line from that documentary fits.  I'm still confused (about the molecular particulars involved) but it's at a higher level.  We now know this realm intimately and it will inform our eating and preparation going forward.

Green apple + fennel + trout = delicious.  Pea shoot + fennel + yellow beets = wondrous.  It just kept going.  This meal was about choosing, about the freedom to get what we wanted at that particular second and it never (Never!) brought about any sort of salad fatigue over the hour and a half it took to eat it.

Great bright earthy sweetness brought by the yellow beets, enhanced by the fact that the other ingredients didn't offer that.  Great salady-greeny goodness brought by the pea shoots not offered by everything else.  Interestingly, the green apple acid was neutralized by the other ingredients enough to allow the apple to simply bring delicious texture to the dish.  Fennel brought the anise earth, smoked trout brought an ample meatiness.  And the caraway dressing tied it all together in the best spicy-earthy-bitey-anisey-creamy sort of way.

Fancy, fancy, fancy!  Not cheap in the end but rather earth-rotational changing in our food world.

And the wine, the wine featured in the picture of the recipe and a wine we had on hand, was, textural, something close to perfect.

Wine:  2011 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough ($15 - Trader Joe's)

Frankly, the fruit wasn't the juice.  Lime, apple and Sunny Delight.  Meh.  More concentrated than previous years but respectable - even quite good at times - background notes of dark flinty notes with wavy bright grass and rocky acid that mixed with the flint nicely.

Fine enough, needed food and the food we had made this wine a thousands times better compared to on its own.

Pairing:  94  The food was better than the wine but the food made the wine so much more glamorous than it was

I can't accurately describe it with words.  Just do it (can I get sponsor $$ for saying that?).  The success came in the texture.  So perfectly in synch, with an acid in the wine that so...perfectly...matched what was ever so slightly needed, an acid that was different than what was offered from the food, an acid that refreshed but a refreshing acid that wasn't present in the wine by itself.

This meal turned Kim Crawford fancy, amping up its mineral, flinty core that I didn't think it had without the food.  The food was the expert in the room but the Kim Crawford with the food wasn't really playing catch-up.  It brought something, something quite nice in its texture and acid.  Would love to try a Pouilly-Fume with this food but something about this food's New World-ness makes me pause.  I don't know.  Possibly wanted more minerals but that's talk that approaches gliding the lily.  

I can't get into r-carvone, estragole, s-carvone and menthol compounds because I don't really understand it outside of seeing the charts and going with it.  But we had a pairing that left us confused (and satiated so greatly) but at a higher level.

I'm making up a new word:  That was magi-fancy!

Best food in months.

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