Thursday, March 15, 2012

#261 - Company, Food, Dogs & Wine

Company is nice, especially good company.

Good company makes for a breezy five hours of chatter while watching the dogs do funny/stupid stuff.

And eat frankly spectacular food.

The last time (bottom of post) one member of the 'company' came over, yellow split pea dip and ouzo-lemon tiramisù took the night.  We ate well then.  This time beat it, offering three elements in particular that expanded our food world in great ways.

Menu:  Roasted tomatoes and anchovies over feta, asparagus and radish salad, lapsang souchong-smoked lentils under duck and pomegranate seeds, rosemary farro & buttermilk poundcake topped with candied kumquats

Starter:  roasted tomatoes and anchovies over cow's milk feta drizzled with olive oil & asparagus and radish salad, served with 2010 De Falco Falanghina Beneventano IGT ($13 - WDC)

Wanted sheep's milk feta but couldn't find it in a cursory look around the neighborhood and it might have made a difference to serve as a vehicle for the stunning roasted tomatoes and anchovies, which couldn't have been better.  Great vacillation between the starters, with the asparagus-radish salad offering something fresh and greeny while the tomato-anchovy topped with basil got down and dirty without going too deep.  Baguette, fig jam and marinated olives to accompany. A feast alone.  The De Falco brought its typical citrus, minerals and acid and falanghina typicality, this time showing a wee touch of more flatfish orange deep in the background but still bringing the refreshing goods, mixing with the asparagus and radish nicely and offering an acid wash over the tomato-anchovy (not great but good enough).  Pairing Score:  86

Main:  Medium duck and pomegranate seeds over lapsang souchong-smoked lentils with rosemary farro

Intrigued by a tea-smoked dried figs recipe a couple of weeks ago (bottom of post), we couldn't find the lapsang soughing in a...cursory look around the neighborhood, settling on an Aztec sweet chili tea.  Meh. With the thought being, "We'll try lapsang souchong sometime."  The time was now with one of the guests supplying the L-S tea.  Crap.  Simple lentils cooked in the tea with the result being such a delicious, earthy, cigar smokey taste that it steered the main dish in wonderful ways.  Fancified it.  Took duck and pomegranate seeds, a long-time favorite, and brought it to a world that will influence future duck and pomegranate seed meals.  Dark, smoky wonder lifted by the pomegranate while retaining its identity while the duck served as a referee in the middle.  Shockingly balanced, a flavor explosion and entirely new.  Lapsang souchong, you are a delicious beast.  Rosemary farro as a side.

With this main entrée, we had nice wine but wine that made us feel like the good pinot noir needed to be on the table.  The big guns.  The top dogs.  The food was that good.  And the tea wanted tea.

The 2008 Yamhill Valley Pinot Noir McMinnville ($18 - WDC) plays in the darker realms of fruit and earth while retaining an acid that, at times, dooms Oregon pinot in this price range.  With other Oregon pinots in the mid-teens, you can taste an arduous process at work, trying to impart a character while keeping a balance. Not the case here.  This one feels free and nearly effortless, bringing a free-flowing back and forth between giving earth, herbs and a blackberry-cherry blend while finishing lighter, spritely and kinda fun.  It's a fun wine.  Big surprise here.  The 2009 Ponzi Tavola Willamette ($19 - WDC) was less so.  Had it with a rather strange lamb curry, carrot raita, naan and rice spread a month ago and it steered the ship in pleasing ways.  Loved it, actually, as the food was on the lighter side and the wine's character was offered a chance to take the stage and excel.  This time, the big tea presence in the food left it a tad lost with where to go, what to do and how to show.  Still quality stuff on its own, just didn't find its stride, becoming a touch muted.  The L-S tea screamed for a big boy, an Angela Pinot Noir, a Ken Wright, something with a smoke and black tea match-up, allowing the wine stretch out and find deeper levels of wine goodness.

But the food was so ridiculous, we didn't care.  And the wine with the food was just above 'fine enough.'  Pairing Score:  87

Finished with the third joy, a buttermilk poundcake with candied kumquats.  Light, yet substantial, desserty but with an elegance that matched up with the flow of the meal.  Stellar, stellar, stellar finish.

Tomato-anchovy, lapsang souchong lentils and buttermilk poundcake.  Not a menu one would consciously plan as the three elements leading the party but this was Stupid Great food.

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