Tuesday, April 5, 2011

#177 - Greek Chicken Quarters, Celery Root Skordaliá & Celery Mostarda With Two Whites

Not the best chicken.

It was 50 cents a quarter so you get what you get.

But mediocre chicken or not, what happened with everything around it become a meal that made us happy and full.

And celery mostarda could elevate roadkill in my book.

Food:  Greek chicken quarters, celery root skordaliá & celery mostarda with pita for dipping

Greek chicken quarters gussied up Greeky with an onion, parsley and lemon marinade, cooked under a brick. Came off boring and a bit fatty.  Meh.  But the marinade got into the skin nicely was what helped with the rest of the meal.

Combining the skin with the celery root skordaliá made for something delicious, an onion, lemon, celery root explosion in the mouth.  We began our love for skordaliá only about a year ago - that Greek garlic, almond, potato goodness - but the celery root version in place of the potatoes might be better.  Lighter, smoother, even a bit more complex and ingratiating to more subtle accompaniments on the plate.  Served under the chicken and in a big bowl for pita dipping.  Great stuff.

But the biggest joy of the meal came from the celery mostarda/chutney.  Celery stalks, sugar, sea salt and lemon juice with added mustard seeds and Aleppo pepper.  Magic.  Transparent, tiny dices of celery with a dark orange/green hue with a pleasing, just right citrus note and wee hit of heat.  Tasted necessary.  Tasted like the element that turned the tide of the meal after wrestling with the mediocre chicken.

Arugula, parsley, dill and tomato salad to finish.

Boring chicken, yes.  But in the end, the celery root skordaliá and the celery mostarda/chutney business, two food-type thingys we've never had, made for a meal that became entirely satisfying and two things that made it pretty memorable.

It's always good to eat food you'll remember two months from now.  That's why Food is Good.

Wine:  2009 Raventos i Blanc Perfum de vi Blanc ($20 - Red & White) & 2008 Orballo Albariño ($20 - WDC)

The last of our 2009 Perfum de vi Blanc.  The 2010s are out.  Drank in an attempt to mimic a pairing at Alinea four years ago, a shellfish, gooseberry and celery ice concoction in the shell.  Served with the 2004 then.  The 2009 settled down since we last had it with tapas last May.  The marshmallow-mandarin orange-fruit salad quality has turned into a light and graceful mandarin orange juice with a small touch of cream, finishing with more orange blossom.  The huge rose petal note from before has turned into a light white flower bunch in a great way.  Drier than I remember.  On the downslope but I enjoyed this incarnation more than I did a year ago.  More settled and thoughtful, like a middle-aged person that's rejected the stupidity that comes with a mid-life crisis with enough acid still hanging around.

The 2008 Orballo came off a little more boring two years out from release.  The sharp acid is fading and that's leaving the wine more jumbled and flat.  Still a big lemon note and good rocks but the acid isn't lifting it as well as before.  No more mouth-watering, rocky core. Still pleasant enough with that signature Orballo goodness that will also have a place in our heart but the 2009s and 2010s would be welcome at this point.

Pairing:  87  Mixed bag but some wonderful highlights to go with a few lowlights

The Orballo saved itself with its great mingling among the skordaliá and pita.  Tasted familiar and delicious.  The minerality perked up.  With everything else, the tiredness of the wine showed its face.

The Perfum de vi Blanc won the night, playing along with mostly everything, offering more, different citrus to go another with the celery mostarda/chutney business spread all over the plate.  Tasting like if anything was missing in terms of flavor in the food was filled more than adequately by what was offered by the Perfum de vi Blanc.  And that's one of the key elements anybody wants from a pairing.

It may be settling down but we reached for the Perfum de vi Blanc much more because it's still so good.

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