Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mid-August Mishmash of Meals


Still waiting...

Don't skip a spring vacation and then book your fall vacation five months ahead of time. The lack of a spring vacation, with all the attendant annoyances involved with that, along with the taxed anticipation that morphs into "GET HERE!" for the upcoming vacation is just too much. Screw you, time! Move it!

We're waiting, but it's almost here. Should be good.

A quick round-up today, mostly chronicled to make sure the Owen Roe Cabernet Franc gets a write-up. Oh, and to remind ourselves to not make Anne Burrell's falafel recipe. Too much work for too little pay-off.

Mexican-spiced roasted chicken with arepas-pupusas (still haven't figured out which one they were - they were a tweener - from La Unica), avocados, tomatoes, cheddar/Manchego, cilantro, other stuff. This was a build-your-own open-faced arepa-pupusa sandwich meal. Arepas-pupusas were the star. Meaty and crunchy-creamy, topped with a bunch of fresh business that made it taste summery, without the "God, I'm hungry!" two hours later. Served with a bottle of 2012 Quinta do Ameal Loureiro Vinho Verde ($14 - Perman). Perman Wine on Washington is a great shop and they'll be getting oodles of our money in the future. Craig, the owner, loves Portugal so we love him.

Buckets full of chrysanthemums on the nose and at its core with this one, rounded out with a bit of pear and lime leaf. Very pretty, with a subtle acid lift throughout. Tasted like we missed the best of the best here, though. Everything is there except for the electricity and freshy-freshness. It has electricity and is still fresh-ish, it just isn't electric (!) or freshy-fresh. Didn't carve out a place in the pairing due to that. Too subtle/delicate, and even a touch tired. It's the entry-level bottle and a 2012 so... Pedro Araújo of Quinta do Ameal is a loureiro master though, a grape we love, and we'll be mere miles from the estate in mere weeks. Hmm...

D'Artagnan bison hanger steak crusted with juniper, fennel seed, tellicherry and salt, seared a gorgeous medium-rare, served with sweet potato-carrot latkes and creamy braised fennel-onion salad. Meal of the week. Bison hanger that was so velvety and juicy, if a touch over-salted. Creamy warm fennel-onion salad underneath (mixed with leftover bagel-lox dill-basil cream cheese from two nights before) that blended perfectly with the bison, creating a bite of flavor that will be remembered for weeks. Each played off each other so well, even tempering the salt nicely. Sweet potato-carrot latkes with happy spice. This was a winner of a dinner, happy and Good.

Served with a bottle of 2009 Owen Roe Cabernet Franc Rosa Mystica ($45 - Binny's). Hour decant. Needed more, but following the evolution was nice. Blackberry and tobacco, earth and red licorice. Some weight here in the mouth, but it never came off weighty. Very much a wine with its own, subdued personality that finds no reason to tell his own story with just anybody, like a guy at the party that isn't overtly the life of it, but you find him, over in the corner, and you enjoy his intelligence, snarky comments, and the fact that he isn't loud like just about everybody else at this party you didn't even want to go to in the first place. He brings texture. Early on, you're sizing him up. He's sizing you up as well, and you appreciate that. Owen Roe is the goods. We have a ton of it and we need to drink it. Slid right in with so much of this meal.

Anne Burrell falafel with tahini, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, mint, pita and arugula, along with spicy carrot purée. The falafel recipe is long, labor-intensive, blows up the kitchen with dishes, and doesn't deliver a pay-off worth the effort. It WAS fine enough. We could taste every ingredient and it was fresh. But when you have a meal that, in essence, is throwing a bunch of stuff in a pita and you live in a neighborhood where you can't swing a cat without hitting a place where you can get falafel, it didn't feel worth it. Buy it, or go with the boxed (Ziyad brand, not the other one) version from Harvesttime. Particularly when you can make a tahini sauce that delivers such a depth of flavor that it steals the show:  the flat-out star of the Burrell grouping. And spicy carrot purée? Yes, please. Would I turn jaundiced if I ate it every day? The New Book of Middle Eastern Food is a gem. Use it. Page 89.

Started with a bottle of Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch ($15 - Independent Spirits) and very much liked its strut, dryness, acidity and expression. But it didn't offer much in the way of a pairing, stopping short when asked to go deeper with the food. So LaGranja Cava Brut ($8 - Trader Joe's) it was, and it was just fine, mostly because it wasn't being asked to be more than it was. This is BASIC Cava, but in a good way. Nice cut, happy acid, friendly wool-wrapped pear-like fruit. And once it came up to proper temperature, a completeness emerged that served the flurry of flavors in the pita quite well.


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