Wednesday, August 1, 2012

#294 - More Than Just Hanger, Potatoes & Green Beans With '07 J. Bookwalter Protagonist

Olympics grub and juice.

I've found myself watching more Olympics coverage than I ever imagined. Basketball, tennis, water polo, rowing, kayaking, gymnastics, tons of swimming, volleyball, beach volleyball and whatever else NBC has put in front of my face (except for the moment of silence for the Munich victims. And the 7/7 victims. NBC tells me what's important in life).

Also, if you're a liberal like me but don't understand that tingly feeling you get in your special place when you see an American athlete accomplish something he or she has been training for their entire life. If you feel it somehow reinforces America's imperialism, Salon has you covered. Because it's what they do:
"However, I’ve outgrown the lust for an overpowering victory that has us, medal-count-wise, leave everyone else in the dust. I’ve outgrown it because while I know our athletes deserve our support and respect, I also know that the same respect is due all the competitors from all the nations at the games — and respect is something wholly different from complete conquest." 
Salon is like sports radio. They lecture morons.

Food:  Hanger steak, potatoes, green beans and onions

Second half of the Whole Foods hanging tenders purchase used for yakitori cubes two weeks ago. So...freezer meat but so much more. Hanger marinated in olive oil, worcestershire, balsamic vinegar, parsley, garlic and lots of black pepper, seared medium rare. Something happened here because the beef took on a silky delicious almost paté quality, deeply rich in beefy goodness.

Potatoes roasted in rosemary. Green beans and (Michael Symon's) balsamic-pickled onions cooked off in the meat pan. Didn't want the green beans until we ate them. Onions turned into a critical element, serving as a bridge between everything.

Roth Käse Moody Blue cheese six weeks past its sell-by date, because that's when cheese gets good and this one was. Less blue cheese-y, more aged cheddar-like. Putting a bit of this cheese on...everything...made each bite better. Wonderful accent and seemed important.

Basil and parsley over everything.

It's just meat and potatoes but "It was the best, Jerry! The best!"

Tasted complete and the wine helped in that endeavor.

Wine:  2007 J. Bookwalter The Protagonist Red Mountain ($20 - Binny's)

Marked down from $40 for some inexplicable reason, it's 69% merlot, 13% cabernet sauvignon, 13% cabernet franc, 3% syrah and 2% petit verdot, but this was not, in any way, merlot heavy. It achieves its blendy-ness in every sense.

Luscious, friendly and giving, this is very good for $40 and the freakin' steal of the year at $20.

Offers a darker red fruit basket, most I had trouble nailing down, but currants and an naturally-sweetened, home-brewed dark cherry liqueur note showed most often. Mostly savory from beginning to end with nice earth, good balance and lift while drinking well right now.

We loved two elements most though. First, a Szechuan peppercorn lift that kept this wine soaring for such a long time. Just when we thought it started to show the smallest hint of an awkward pause...VOOP!...such a great little acid-driven, peppercorn-inflected perk. A right and proper pencil lead note led off the mid-palate, stroking a double to right and set the table for the Szechuan peppercorn to shine in the middle and the finish just kept surprising. A wee-tiny alcohol separation at times but nothing that ever got in the way.

Bought this wine during an odd clearance at Binny's, the same trip where we wrangled two Palmina wines for half off, the nebbiolo and barbera, both of which also made us curse that we didn't buy more.

Stupid Washington reds. It's a world we didn't know at all two years ago and now they feel essential.

Pairing:  94  The wine felt entirely necessary to the pairing success

All glove-y.

No struggle here in the least as the wine worked like a savvy interior designer that shows you the plans, you say "I don't know" and then they do the room in ways you couldn't even imagine from the designs.

The meal was complete by itself with the balsamic notes in the beef and onions playing with the cheese in great ways and the overall cookery making it taste so deliciously elevated.

The wine brought the unexpected, the plot twists, the glitter and the third act.

We didn't need anything else.

Two quick notes: 

Monday lunch of crab cakes and fennel-arugula salad with 2011 Villa Creek White ($30 - winery with shipping).  70% Grenache Blanc, 30% Roussanne. We had no pairing ideas for a grenache blanc-forward white from California, especially after being underwhelmed by the Sanguis white Rhône blend. Expected some overbearing wax here and didn't get it in the least.

Pear and green melon juice with subtle minerals, admirable touch of wax mixed with white flowers and delicate all-around with refreshing acid. Pretty stuff served with simple crab cakes not loaded with all of the stuff that typically bogs down crab cakes.

Pairing goodness as the food and the wine played nice in kinda fancy ways. Pairing Score: 90  

Monday dinner at Tanoshii. Second time for us and shame on us. Once a month. Should go in the monthly rotation with Semiramis and Hema's. Take the advice of everyone that goes. Sit at the bar, don't order from the menu and let Sushi Mike feed you. Turned an ordinary day in something not ordinary at all.

Brought two wines, the 2010 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken ($22 - WDC) and the NV Schloss Gobelsburg Brut Réserve Austria ($30 - WDC). We asked for the spicy road and that killed off some of the loveliness of the Selbach-Oster but mineral deliciousness abounded by itself with great finesse. The Schloss Gobelsburg, a 70% grüner veltliner, 15% riesling, 15% pinot noir blend, was stupid great and paired the same. Definitely grüner veltliner but golly this was complex, refreshing and chockablock with sparkly integrity. Tasted like an rarely-tasted exploration into grüner veltliner.

Big winner here. Buying more.

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