Monday, October 31, 2011

#231 - Two Birthday Meals

Insert Jack Benny joke here.

Like...for the condition that must exist before the joke starts ad infinitum.

For a birthday such as that, two of the classics, or new classics, or...heck, just two meals that we've come to immensely enjoy seemed apt, right and proper.

Italian lunch and sort of Cuban dinner.

And sandwiched between both meals was an Iowa loss to Minnesota so Happy Birthday to me, indeed.

Lunch:  Marinated mozzarella and kumatoes with baguette

There are virtues to marinating your own mozzarella, sure.  But when Trader Joe's sells a mini-bucket of it using entirely acceptable olive oil and various herbs with pretty darn decent mozzarella for a reasonable price, we're good.  Fine stuff here.  Gives everything you're looking for in a tidy little package.

Mozzarella dumped into a bowl, sliced kumatoes added and let sit to come up to room temperature and marry.  Baguette for the various utilitarian functions that baguette serves when cheese, tomatoes and oil are present.

It's a clean lunch, a favorite lunch, a light lunch that never feels too light and a lunch that always satisfies.

Served with another new favorite, the NV Cantina del Taburno Falanghina Spumante ($20 - Fine Wine Brokers).  Tough one to find around town.  Delicious beast.  This drinking showed a loss of some of the complexity that we loved in the past but Mrs. Ney attributes that to a tiny splash of white wine vinegar added to the mozz-kumato bowl.  More upfront with less of the streamlined length and little perks of unexpected flavors (like cinnamon oil and almonds) that we loved previously.  A lot of peach, lemon, lime spritz and watermelon this time, less pitty than before, less smoky, less play in the darker realms but a touch here and there and less of a long finish.  Still tons of delicious goodness with the bubbles still offering a zippy and refreshing body, though.  The main joy came from the bubbles.  Still tons of vitality, doing what good bubbles do.  Two more left.  It will be interesting to see how this performs in the next two or three months.

With the food, it more than adequately filled in the gaps, bringing a lift and pleasing contrast to kumato darkness and herby oil.  Pairing Score:  90

Dinner:  Hanger steak with a fig and black olive salsa, yuca fries with piquillo mayo and mesculin salad

Another favorite.  Medium-rare hanger steak, from Paulina Meat Market.  Incredibly tender meat, probably the most tender hanger steak we've had.  Paulina Meat Market is a wonder.

A fig and black olive "salsa" to match up with the Old World wine I tried to jam into the pairing because I wanted it.  Solid salsa that played with the meat in interesting ways, creating a rather new flavor and might be tried again.

Yuca fries with a piquillo pepper mayo for dipping.  We haven't had yuca fries since late May and that's a crime.

A mesculin salad to finish because the arugula and mâche looked like crap around town.  We'll forgo salad if this is our only option in the future.  Don't see the point of mesculin as it offers little in the world of goodness or...point.  Nothing in the way of refreshing bitterness or planty cleanse.

Very good meal here that would have been great with a New World, fruity wine.  New World tempranillo and an adjustment on the salsa would have made for something so much better than what we got.

Served with the 2005 Gourt de Mautens Rasteau Rouge ($35 - Howard's).  I loved this one at Blackbird in April of 2010.  Chicago wine shops loaded up on this only to see it sit on the shelf untouched at the $60 price tag.  Some lowered it as the distributor dumped their huge allocation at a discount price.  Blame the economy.  CDP will move at $60, Rasteau...not so much.

Intriguing and very nice were the only adjectives we could muster for this drinking.  Going through a more shutdown phase right now, showing tons of secondary flavors but not much less.

Lean and dry but a touch juicy on occasion, showing charred licorice, violets, some iron-rich blood, horse manure and earth mostly, with the fruit buried, buried, buried.  No decant, only an hour and half open-and-sit as it showed pretty well right after the pop and we didn't want to kill it.  As we got into it, a decant may have been warranted but everything seemed so backward and odd in its evolution that a simple wait and see for a few more years with this one is the prudent play right now.  It's in a confused phase, I think, needing more time to find its voice.  A touch of the oak beast as well about halfway through.  Jumbled was the word of the night and we didn't compulsively reach for it throughout the meal.  New World was the play as anything vaguely Cubany has proven to us in the past.  Pairing Score:  84

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