Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#202 - Turkish Beany Surprise, Explorateur & Asparagus Salad With An '07 Cab Franc

We nearly went to Cleveland yesterday for the annual Lola mini-vacation.

After some cocktails and a bit of wine Monday, it sounded like the best idea ever.  Then, fifteen minutes later, not so much.

So a 'vacation' downtown for the day, something we haven't done in years, substituted and probably exceeded a trip to the Cleve, especially given the ten hours in the car that would have been required.

Xoco for lunch (delicious), Sable Bar + Kitchen for cocktails right after (really delicious) and an early dinner at Purple Pig (Crap! That was good!) made for a pretty great getaway during one of the most gorgeous strings of weather days in Chicago in years.

On Purple Pig, a vintage 2005 Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia Cava made for a largely good pairing with the food but alone, so wonderfully funky, it made our minds dance with visions of what we could whip up at home that would slide right into the spritely yet deep funk this one offers.  Great stuff here.  Entirely reasonable $52 at the restaurant and $15-17 on the webbywebs.

Monday's meal that led to the downtown vacation also had some revelations.  One, Turkish Beany Surprise made two days before for an impromptu Meatless Monday turned out to be an awesome idea.  Mrs. Ney was leery of such things, or at least bored by the idea of it.  Two, (whisper) I think I like cabernet franc.  Like...a lot.  Three, eat your cheese two months past the expiration date every time.  It's what Jesus wants.

Food:  Turkish beany surprise, asparagus salad and Explorateur cheese with Pugliese bread

Zeytinyagli Barbunya, a Turkish bean dish from The New Book Of Middle Eastern Food (page 327), or Turkish Beany Surprise in this house.  We don't speak Turkish and I won't embarrass myself by trying, though 'barbunya' is a fun word to say.  Borlotti beans soaked overnight and mixed with onions, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes, sugar, Aleppo pepper, dill and parsley, minus the tomato paste again to keep it lighter.  If something can be light and hearty at the same time, this dish is it.  Every ingredient can be tasted, every ingredient delicious.  It's one of those dishes that explodes and the flavor congeals together beautifully solely because of the herbs used.  The dill and parsley are in the driver's seat more than any dish I think I've ever had, steering things in great directions.

Asparagus salad.  Finely chopped asparagus and red onion with walnuts, lemon zest, Aleppo-infused extra virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.  The result looks like a collection of tiny nuts and bolts and taste comes off like spicy, earthy, greeny, gardeny love.

Explorateur cheese with Pugliese bread.  Two months past expiration, it's a cheese that confirmed yet again our love for triple creams.  Buttermilky and smooth with background hints of gnarly.  Richer but never overpowering in the least.  Probably falls in the middle of the upper tier of cheeses in our world, really liking what it offered, especially with the wine.

No expectations for this meal.  It was beans, asparagus, cheese and bread.  But oddly, halfway through eating it, both of us were shocked how much we kept wanting so much more.

Wine:  2007 Couly-Dutheil Chinon La Baronnie Madeleine ($22 - WDC)

100% cabernet franc.

Right out of the bottle, flat, limp, subdued and uninspiring.  Tasted like fresh-ish liquid compost, not that I've had such a thing.  Hour decant to see where it would go and it certainly went.

Once it got going, a rather nice structure showed up, with light dark cherry mostly being dominated by a huge wet leaf-rain gutter and older tobacco quality with the most green vegetal core we've ever had.  But not so much green pepper or such things, more like someone mostly stripped a zucchini of its skin, leaving a few strands on the body - green vegetable flesh with only hints of the obvious green part.  Ever so slightly fading acid but still plenty around to help and a teensy shortish finish but long enough to offer the goods.  All the stuff that makes cabernet franc delicious, if not the most singular and individual personality but still tons to like.

Good stuff, nice stuff, liked very much what it offered but it needed food to get there.

Pairing:  89  Freakin' cab franc.  Get the right food and it's an exquisite beast

That came from the structure and layers that showed with the food.  The tannins weren't performing any particular function at all when drunk by itself.  With the food, all sorts of proper, big-boy layers perked up, becoming something with function, tastiness and surprise.

We both kept reaching for the Explorateur and wine match as it showed best together.  The wet leaf quality became a bit too pronounced with the Turkish Beany Surprise but still stayed in the realm of acceptable with the asparagus salad and wine showing a bit better than that, shockingly.

The wine fielded things quite well overall.  The Charles Joguet remains the benchmark for cab franc in our limited experience with the grape but this one served up nice surprises all around.  

Much like the last time we had Turkish Beany Surprise and cab franc, the joy came in how all the elements stayed in a similar weighty realm, medium-bodied on the plate and in the glass, allowing everything to explore the finer points within that realm.

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