Wednesday, March 17, 2010

#49 - Lamb & Yuca Fries With A South Hemisphere Syrah Tasting

Continuing the tasting theme...two syrahs from Argentina and Chile.

And as a pre-dinner drink, a sparkling Chardonnay from Argentina that sucked balls.

But that's really the only negative from last night's meal.

Food: Lamb, yuca and mâche with a fig compote and garlic mayo

Rack of lamb was back at Trader Joe's ($12), something that serves to get your lamb fix without blowing the bank. Good stuff, plenty of it, fresh, not too lamby and cooked perfectly. Four lollipops each, seared in olive oil, lavender and rosemary with a fig compote to spread on as desired.

Yuca fries were the impetus of the meal. It was odd to search this here website and see that we've only had yuca fries once since its inception. Our first exposure to yuca fries came at Sabor a Cuba just a few months after moving to Chicago and it's been a love affair ever since. Last night, we had a heaping mound with garlic mayo for dipping. The love affair continues. Great crispiness. As the meat juice ran into the mâche, it made for a nice topper to the meal.

Won't be four months between the next time yuca hits the table.

Wine: 2006 Luca Syrah Laborde Double Select ($22 - Binny's) & 2006 Montes Alpha Syrah ($18 - Binny's)

The Luca had to be drunk and the Montes Alpha had to be re-visited.

For the Luca (5% malbec), thinnish purple in the glass, fig and blueberry on the nose. Initially, I suspected this was going to be the star of the night but that changed with much of that having to do with how integrated and expressive it...wasn' the night progressed. Not the most complex wine in any sense, it tasted like a French Rhône attempting to play up to a New World style. Not in any over-the-top way, just a bit.

Fruity, juicy with nice, subtle fig and a medium body. A little pepper and smoke with a wee hint of chocolate. The finish stopped abruptly at the mid-palate and had virtually no distinguishing finish. A little wood, nothing too distracting. Still enough tannin and fresh, juicy fruit to go a couple more years. After reading the notes, it made me think this was drinking very differently two years ago. No toast or discernible mocha and it felt like the body has begun to lose its vibrancy and nerve. I still enjoyed it for what it was and routinely reached for that when eating the lamb.

The Montes Alpha (5% cabernet, 5% viognier) was an entirely different story. Deep maroon in the glass, all beef jerky and BBQ sauce on the nose. A big, burly wine. Could have been a less jammy zinfandel or a huge zinfandel losing its zinfandel-y-ness. Lots of BBQ sauce, fig and burnt buttered toast on the palate. Very little fruit upfront. Plum and wild, dark fruit played in the background. This was all smoke. And not in a bad way, just simple. This one's a great partner with ribs on the grill.

Of the two, we probably liked the Montes Alpha the best as it was exactly what it was trying to be. I wanted to like the Luca better for its effort to be something greater (oddly close in style to the Domaine Des Tours Vaucluse in many ways, just less French), but I didn't.

For the price, both were...yep, good enough. No complaints. But I'd buy the Montes Alpha again. The Luca, not so much.

Pairing: Back and forth made for some good stuff

I don't think, if we had this meal with either of these wines alone, it would have been as good. Both wines didn't have enough of that 'it' factor. Together, though, not too bad at all.

It was the vacillating between the two that made it nice. The Luca worked just fine with the lamb, probably better than the Montes Alpha, but the latter was stellar with the yuca and the salt while being an overall more pleasurable wine. Tasted like a summertime picnic at the park when you use the park-installed grill on the side of the road.

While the food very much played better than the wine in every stretch, the wines had their moments. Some were quite nice.

For record-keeping purposes, I'd like to catalogue Monday night's meal at Ceres' Table. Another good dinner again.

Appetizers - Crab Louie, Rabbit Confit Gnocchi and Romaine
Entrées - Boar Strozzapreti Pasta and Roast Chicken Breast
Dessert - Peanut Butter Terrine and Crazy Crepe

Wine Bottles - 2008 Sella & Mosca Vermentino & 2008 Mea Culpa Samling Slovenia

The pairings weren't anything worth noting. The vermentino was like a more simple muscadet. Nothing special. The Slovenian wine was better. Played like a stripped-down Hungarian white in the best way possible. Lots of orange blossom, bordering on sparkling orange creamsicle. Light. Good. It was the first Slovenian wine we've ever had and I'm more apt to try another after this one, which is the best thing I can say for it right now.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, though. Ceres' Table is the best restaurant in the Andersonville/Lincoln Square food world at the moment.

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