Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#182 - Lamb, Spicy Carrot Purée & Onion/Tomato Ragout With '07 Antica Terra

Five days, my butt!

Two weeks ago, we opened a 2004 Joseph Swan Syrah and two weeks ago minus one second, we dismissed it as too cough syrupy.

Using a Wine Preserva wine preservation disk - little plastic round stoppers made for restaurants and their wine-by-the-glass programs - we shoved one down the bottle and tossed it above our sink to let it sit there, staring at me as I did dishes and wonder why the heck I haven't dumped it yet every night.

The disks are made for keeping the wine from oxidizing for 'up to five days.'

It's been two weeks and it was delicious.  Better than when we first had it by miles showing much more distinctive and typical syrah qualities of concentrated dark fruit, herbs, smoke, tobacco and leather.  Where were you two weeks ago, my friend?

With last night's meal and the other times we've had spicy carrot purée, it should probably be listed first in the description of the meal as it's been the leading act in two recent great meals (well, except for the fregola - consider it 1a in that one...well...1aa because the Hobbs and fregola pwned [look at me, I'm all internet-speaky] the night but you got my drift).  It's that good.

Food:  Spicy carrot purée, lamb and tomato/onion ragout with pita bread

North African Feast.  Well-made large flavors all over the place.  Medium-rare lamb marinated in onion, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, cinnamon and cumin - pan-seared and finished in 425° oven.  Melty, tasty lamb that actually took a back seat to everything else, serving as an accompaniment more than starring.

Because the star was the spicy carrot purée (did I mention that?).  1.5 pounds carrots, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, harissa, roasted garlic and cumin seeds.  So creamy, perfectly spiced and just bang-my-head-on-the-coffee-table fantastic.  Tasted like Love.  With a bite of lamb slathered in the purée, it tasted like flavors that people have been eating for centuries.  Ancient, delicious and un-improvable.  Pita bread for dipping with the leftovers.

More ancient and delicious flavors existed in the ragout. Pearl onions (frozen), can of Muir Glen roasted tomatoes, dried cherries, orange juice, garlic, ginger, orange zest, coriander, cumin, cinnamon stick, lemon thyme and bay leaves with parsley over the top.  The orange elements in the dish became vital to the overall enjoyment of the meal, adding a brighter citrus acid to go along with the tomatoes and mingling with the lamb and purée beautifully, making everything feel complete.  Something about the ginger as well.  Made the ragout seem to want the purée to mix with it with the spice level in the ragout tasting like someone has been tinkering with it for years and finally nailed it.

Mint leaves drizzled over all the food.

North African flavors driven entirely by spice abounded with very little (bad) fat and small portions of meat.  All for $20 and ended up tasting like it was exactly the meal we wanted at that specific time.

The wine didn't really have a chance but developed quite well over the course of the meal.

Wine:  2007 Antica Terra Pinot Noir ($43 - WDC)

No decant, just opened 15 minutes before the meal.  Could have used it.  Should have, actually.

Nose of a basket of darker berries smelled right next to a grass fire.  Closed and uninteresting at first but deeper and directed by an unidentifiable spice angle.  The great thing about good pinot noir comes from its quick development.  Good ones change so quickly, sometimes with segues and transitions so quick that the wine is completely different from one sip to the next with very little connection.  This was one of those.

The spice turned from undistinguished to prevalent darker cinnamon, allspice and clove on a dime, mixing with a very creamy cherry, a touch of blackberry and a muddy earth and sticks river bank element.  Very long finish that lingered nicely with a fine balance overall.  Smoother tannins already but plenty there to think this one has many years ahead of it.  Medium to fuller-bodied with a focused dark fruit concentration at its core mixing with some gnarly herb bush notes.  Jumped back and forth often, sometimes coming off bigger and darker with other times going more light, almost milky and peppy.

At $43, both of us felt that a bottle a vintage was our limit but good stuff nonetheless.  Made by Maggie Harrison, an assistant winemaker at Sine Qua Non for almost ten years so the pedigree is certainly there.

Pairing:  90  Food won but the wine did a good job of trying to keep up

After a bite of lamb with spicy carrot purée, asking for a wine to match and enhance its deliciousness almost seemed greedy.

The pairing's moderate success came in watching the wine transform into something delicious when there were few early expectations and the fact that much of the wine's specific spices played in the regional ballpark of the North African flavors on the plate.

Nice stuff, wouldn't do the pairing again.  We wanted more in the pairing as this wine begs for more simply prepared food where the wine can play more of a role in the combination.

Has the guts and is delicious stuff but needs to be a bigger fish in a smaller, less explosive food pond.

But with food this good, the fact that the wine never struggled to keep up made for something good enough in our world.

No comments:

Post a Comment