Thursday, June 14, 2012

#284 - Farmers' Market Jubilee

Two Lincoln Square Farmers' Market-driven meals with two adult wines.

Huge haul of veggies for a mere $14! And we have a boatload of snap peas left!

Meal #1 - Indian Carrot Salad. Recipe here (another Jamie Oliver recipe). Last eaten here (wanted a bigger Oregon pinot expression with the wine there and got it with this one). A base of Minnesota wild rice topped with ground lamb gussied up with garam masala and mixed with carrots, carrot greens, cilantro, mint, sesame seeds and topped with pomegranate seeds. A dressing of olive oil, lemon, cumin, shallots and ginger drizzled over the top of the massive mound of mouthwatering goodness.

A pretty perfect blend of spice and earthiness with this meal, edging more towards earthy with that earthiness brightened up by the zing in the dressing and pomegranate seed pop. This was a huge plate of food that never felt like too much because of its freshness, vacillation and interplay of flavors. Coriander in the garam masala led the spice march with the carrot greens (a product that has the evocative smell of whacking weeds in Iowa on a hot August day) taking things down to a garden-y quality without making it taste too Garden-y!

Just great stuff that made us feel so clean.  And the wine helped make much of that happen.

Started with a 2011 Crios Torrontés, thinking the floral notes would jump and jive with the spice, allowing the floral notes to counter it. Nope. Flat stuff with the food. Cracked a 2009 A to Z Pinot Noir. Marginally better but with the superlative flavors in the grub, something better, something more substantial felt needed. So we went big-boy wine.

The 2008 Angela Pinot Noir ($45 - Vinic), a favorite (clafoutis!) pinot from Oregon, shows much different than our 2007 experience two years ago (almost to the day). The 2007 was much more gregarious, more fully expressive, more expansive. The 2008 plays in a different world and I don't know if it's better or more interesting. Just different. Very composed, almost to the point of shyness. Singular core of very black cherry soaked in warm cola. Nice farm-fresh, just churned earth, some roses, a touch of herbs and spice. This was more defined, though, by its structure. Such a pretty ride to follow down to the finish, a 30-second pause-and-relish finish highlighted by a mineral and iron note. Not a wine swirling with a basketful of lush delights. It's more like a proper gentleman firmly sticking to societal rules and mores while only occasionally giving nuggets under his breath. Needs a bit of time, I think, to flesh things out but very enjoyable now. Should be interesting to see where this goes. More Russian River than Oregon currently.

The intriguing part with the pairing came with comparing the three wines and what they did to the food. Crios = flat. A to Z = tremendously average. The Angela brought all the flavors in the food into harmony, allowing us to taste everything put in the food and, more importantly, allowing us to taste the interplay between elements in the food. The wine helped coax that out, turning it into a meal more heightened, lifted and three-dimensional. The coriander and sesame seeds turned into drivers, taking the food to new places of greatness.  Pairing Score: 92

Meal #2 - Dubliner Irish Cheese and Onion Pie with Kale Salad.

Recipe here.

So bizarre with haven't had a Left Bank Bordeaux in the three years of this here blog. It's just hasn't been our bag. When this recipe presented itself and with the glut of Left and Right Bank Bordeaux clogging up our cellar, drinking at least one of them seemed apt. Good Day for it to boot. Nice chill in the air last night.

Sautéed big salad onions (with a bit of nutmeg added) and Dubliner Irish cheese stuffed into a savory pie crust, turning it all French lunch bistro. The star of the dish was the crust. Delciously golden and buttery. It's been awhile since we went French. This made us miss that, even if it was more French-inspired than French proper. A salad on the side of wilted red winter kale cooked up with garlic, whole-grain mustard, Aleppo pepper and oregano leaves; aged balsamic drizzle to finish. And the entire huge bunch was $2! Great greens here.

So....savory pie with salad on the side. We rounded out the bistro feel with a Left Bank wine that's been sitting around for years. The 2003 Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac ($66 - WDC) is going to force us to drink more of the Left Bank stuff that's sitting around, bought during a Bordeaux jones that quickly faded, until now. Opened only a half-hour before drinking but liked where it was. Licorice, currants and Venezuelan dark chocolate led the way but the loveliness came from the high-quality, nutrient-rich, dark, dark, dark earth at its center. Another adult wine made to contemplate a bit. Wonderfully subtle changes throughout, going from one small enjoyable story to another. Tannins were still a touch loud but never got in the way.

Can't say I would want to follow this Rothschild second-label effort (story here) - it feels like the arc might not be worth the dollars - but this one rejuvenates my interest in Bordeaux in a way.  This wasn't anything superlatively great, it was just darn good, helped so much by drinking it with food that drew it out. Best with the kale, amping up the earth and chocolate to great effect, but the pie made for a reverse goodness. The tannins perked up too much when taking a bite then a sip. But backwards, taking a drink and then taking a bite of the pie made all the flavors in the pie mix and meld so beautifully. Delicious Frenchy stuff. Pairing Score: 90

Finished with shortbread, bananas and Nutella mousse. While quite good, bananas and heavy cream might not be the best way to finish a meal featuring kale, if you know what I mean.

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