Mrs. Ney last used the recipe for chicken with 40 cloves of garlic for guinea hen a few months ago. We had a bottle of 2007 Vin de Monsieur le Baron Chateau de Montfaucon with that meal, making for a meal of Frenchy-French on crack and It. Was. Stunning. One of the best bottles of wine this year. And a very good meal.
This was better. Something about the chicken being just chicken that allowed the GARLIC sauce to be some darn delicious. Chicken is a vehicle. A great vehicle. When used well, like here, it elevates food to long, slow, meandering specialness.
Garlic utterly IN the chicken. Sauce that's ALL about garlic. Tons of softened garlic that's delicious simply to pop in your mouth all by itself. And Pugliese bread to dip, dunk and drag through all of it.
Simplified tomatoes Provençal using yellow Campari tomatoes, herbes de Provence and breadcrumb topping, roasted off. Elderflower cheese that's been around awhile on the side.
This was "Hot Damn!" good. One of the best dinners this year. Feed this to a Frenchman and that'll be one happy Frenchman.
It's funny how if I did a top-50 meals list, chicken in various forms would occupy 10-15 spots.
Chicken. Vehicle. For all that is good in the world. Like garlic here.
The wine fell short.
The 2012 Scholium Project Rhododactylos Lodi ($27 - Vin Chicago) is 100% cinsault is a blanc de noir and went through malolactic fermentation. The 'white from red' was what hooked us. Pretty to begin. Pink-ish hue to its mostly white shimmer. Nearly exotic. Backwards in a good way, opening with mostly texture, white flowers and spritzy refreshment without the spritz, finishing with a gooseberry-peach skin depth, lift and interestingness. Didn't taste like a gimmick. Didn't taste like an experiment. Nicely balanced, but very delicate. Its window of good, unfortunately, only lasted about 15 minutes, turning rather flat and featureless after that. During its first 15 minutes, it jumped with the garlic and chicken in happy ways. Less so with the tomatoes. We needed more, though. It crawled back into its shell way too early to buy more and follow.
Cracked a 375-ml of the 2006 Chateau Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge ($30 - Binny's) to compensate. Big Winner. Gorgeous nose of very alive figs and raspberries. Taste of round red fruits and roasting herbs. The oak was a touch too "Hello!" for me at times but I reached for this more than the Rhododactylos in the second half of the meal. Silly good with the garlic punch and surprisingly great with the yellow tomato business, showing its acid face in a nice way.
This is a once-a-month chicken dinner, easy. Stunning stuff.
And if you don't like garlic, I don't know if you like food.