Thursday, March 31, 2011

#175 - Flatiron, Portuguese Potato Skins & Rapini With '04 Schild

Happy New Year!

Opening Day christens the beginning on my year as I settle in for roughly 500 hours of following a softball team in the LA Angels along with five fantasy teams, down from 13 just three years ago.

So that's progress.

More progress happened last night.  Well, not so much progress, more of a reminder that wine is BFFs with food and many times, it absolutely needs it.

Cracking a bottle of red just to drink has become foreign to us.  The same is true with most whites outside of some bubbly, an occasional Muscadet and whatever is hanging around in the fridge and probably should have been drunk a week ago (I can report that Retsina, after a three weeks in the fridge, crossed the Rubicon into Pine-Sol so much more than it was pop-and-fresh).

Last night's Schild Estate Shiraz demanded food, needed food, died without it and reaffirmed our commitment to the Truth:  Who cracks a bottle of big red wine and just drinks it?

Especially for anything over $25, it seems to us it's like buying a fancy car and never taking it out of the garage.

Food:  Flatiron steak, Portuguese potato skins and rapini

Paulina Meat Market flatiron rubbed with salt, brown sugar, smoked paprika, roasted garlic, cinnamon and wee bit of coffee, cooked medium-rare.  Just came through the back door at Paulina.  Wasn't even out in the case yet and we could taste it.  Fresh meat ("heh-heh," - B&B back this summer).  And kinda tasted like bologna.  Or mortadella.  Something about it came off like blended, seasoned, packed meat product in a way we utterly enjoyed.  Still retained its beefiness, something we somewhat missed lately as we try to consume less red meat things, but there was a hint of fancy luncheon meat to it in a great way.  Also had one of those rubs where every ingredient could all be alternately tasted.

Portuguese potato skins, from The New Portuguese Table, was a recipe Mrs. Ney has been staring at for months.  A bundle of fresh herbs (parsley, mint, rosemary, marjoram) are dumped into a pot of oil and very slowly heated up, infusing the oil with the herby essence.  Herbs are strained out, the oil cooled down and the brought back up to deep fry the potato skins.  More, fresh herbs are deep-fried in the leftover oil, crushed and sprinkled generously over the top.  Mayo for dipping.  Didn't fully crisp up like Mrs. Ney wanted but freakin' great stuff here and will be tried again at a future time.  Earthy was the aim of the night to contrast with the expected fruit bomb nature of the wine and the potato skins played their part with the skins cut and herbed up to emphasize such things.

Rapini blanched, blended with Aleppo pepper and finished in the meat sear pan to get the leftover rub and meat char into the greens.  I don't know what and when it happened but rapini has become something actually wanted in my world.  Bitterness toned down beautifully by the good blanching.  Had a bit of a popcorn edge to it.

A pretty great meal.  Tasted like we got back to something.  Red meat, of course but something more as well.  We're sort of the conventional opposite of most people when it comes to seasonal cravings.  Big meals that go with big red wine are craved in the summer and light fare with spice accents to go with interesting whites/bubbly in the dead of winter.

Felt like we kicked off that season last night.  Much like Opening Day, let the games begin.

Wine:  2004 Schild Estate Shiraz Barossa Valley ($30 - 20/20)

Didn't decant.  More people on the interwebs had better results lately not doing so.  Grilled herbs and meat and virtually no fruit initially on the nose.

Bloody as all get-out to start, iron and salt blowing up but mingling nicely with a sort of melted down black cherry Lifesaver quality with underlying blackberry jam.  Concentrated but not thick.  A meal in the glass nonetheless, though, with salty and sweet vacillating back and forth.  Loved, loved, loved its sanguine nature that stayed throughout the entire meal.  Never big, long enough finish with toned-down acid that played its part and an occasional and proper vanilla hit from the oak that popped up at proper times.

This one got huge press when it was released for its impressive body and concentration for a fraction of the price of similar Barossa offerings at a time when Australian shiraz was just ending its peak (and bloated) popularity.  We didn't especially love the 2005 Schild Estate Shiraz last April.  Liked it, didn't love it.  This one, the 2004, garnered superlative ratings from multiple critics and it showed.  I was never particularly fond of the couple of Schilds we had (2003, 2005).  This was different.  Great stuff.

But alone, by itself, without food, it was a disjointed mess with oak and tannin everywhere and raspy, uninteresting fruit.  Outside of some Rhônes we've had, I don't think I can recall a wine that desperately needed food more than this one.

Pairing:  94  Delicious!  Every element of food and wine goodness showed up

We angled for a contrast between the earthy notes all over the plate and the presumed fruitiness in the wine.  What we got were two elements that stayed in the same realm of dark and delicious with only underlying notes of contrast.

The bloody notes in the wine picked up the smoked paprika, cinnamon and salt beautifully on the meat rub and took a bite-and-drink to great places.  The brown sugar served as a great bridge to the subdued jammy notes in the wine.  The herby potato skins with deep-fried herbs brought out some very welcome bitterness in the wine, turning it into more of a well-rounded number that tasted of an entire bundle of fruit, branches and all, grilled over a enormous flame; wild and bucking like a big burly wine can and sometimes should be.

Let the summer of big meals with big reds...begin!

No comments:

Post a Comment