Thursday, June 30, 2011

#203 - Tuna Niçoise With A 2010 Les Pallières Rosé

Tuna Niçoise as a meal presents something akin to alchemy.

Given 15 different elements in their mostly unadulterated forms on a plate, the joy comes in combining two or three or four or more of the elements to see what new flavor presents itself.

The result is a cavalcade of distinct flavors created entirely by you, in the order you like, wonderfully beholden to the micro-craving you have in the second before taking a bite and culminating in one of the most clean, refreshing and wanted feelings of satisfaction right after putting the napkin down for the final time.

It's been upgraded from a top-fiver to one of the top-three meals in my world.

With rosé, it might be perfect because as a pairing, it's a function that you can manipulate and correct as you eat, finding the best collections to keep the wine right where you want it if you starts to gradually run off the rails.  Too much onion in that bite with tomatoes, green beans and a bit of tuna?  Use less in the next bite and suddenly the food-wine combo becomes something so much more.

And with rosé, you get a wine straddling both wine worlds: refreshing and crisp like a white with the guts and depth of a red.  A good one is a chameleon adaptable to multiple environments.  Tuna Niçoise offers a bevy of different food environments and the Les Pallières is certainly a good one.

Food:  Tuna Niçoise with LaBrea baguette and butter

A's Do Mar oil-cured tuna imported from Portugal, bought at Bari ($8).  Skipped the rare tuna this time in favor of a cheaper alternative and it might take over for rare tuna in future Niçoise preparations, or at least go into the rotation.  Surprisingly great stuff.  Serves to give the quality tuna taste to the overall meal without having to give too much attention to the more expensive and time-consuming rare tuna cookery.  Just shred it up like duck confit and spread it all over the plate.

The usual preparation for the rest of the salad for the most part.  Grape tomatoes, baby potatoes, onions, green beans, Niçoise olives, capers and two hard-boiled eggs for me with a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, white balsamic, basil, oregano, thyme and dijon, all over mâche.

LaBrea baguette, the famous San Francisco bakery product, now inexplicably being sold at Harvestime, served with butter.

Silly.  It's just silly.  It's a silly meal giving everything we could ever want from food.  It seems to always pop up the day after some great food day, right after Blackbird one time, right after dry-aged filet and '64 Heredia another, this time following a very nice Xoco-Sable-Purple Pig downtown vacation.

That makes for a great food weekend for us.  This one was no different and the wine this time participated in bringing such things.

Wine:  2010 Domaine Les Pallières Au Petit Bonheur Rosé ($20 - Binny's)

From the same great Kermit Lynch co-owned house that offers these delicious offerings, we didn't know a rosé even existed from Les Pallières until yesterday and we've never had a Gigondas rosé so win-win all around before we even took a sip.

Lighter pinkish hue in the glass and surprising for the depth it offered.  A skeletal strawberry, a touch of watermelon fruit structure always playing in the background but dominated by spikes of more upfront, typical Gigondas raspberry grenache fruit.  Sorta perky at first but the shock came from the length it had, bringing a slow, welcome and delicious red wine-like burn the went on for at least 30 seconds.  This one hangs around, presenting teeny-tiny small spikes of something echoing roses, brush and licorice on occasion but mostly staying in the refreshing rosé world.  Great balance between the two worlds.  Dryish with enough pleasing, friendly acid to accent the red wineness of the grapes.

We continue to be shocked at everything Kermit Lynch has his hands in making.  Stunning value and tons of versatility w/r/t food.

Pairing:  90  Rosé and tuna Niçoise.  Find it, know it, love it!

Of late, in the last year or two, a Niçoise and rosé pairing has been a chance to try the less-known rosé world with great results.  A Bulgarian rosé two Aprils ago.  A Swiss Oeil de Perdrix two Junes ago.  A Saintsbury Vin Gris of Pinot Noir (no write-up) was probably the best Niçoise pairing we've had.

This one was more of a reminder.  Fewer pairing surprises in the nooks and crannies, just continued joy and utterly welcome flavors from the combination.

Tasted like summer, tasted like love, tasted like a deconstruction and reconstruction of every flavor we want and tasted like a meal and pairing we will never tire of in the course of our time on this Earth.


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