Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#271 - Ropa Vieja & Tostones With '09 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée

Cinnamon stick!

That's what was missing!

And a longer decant!

That, too!

On what else can I add an exclamation point?!

The Angels' bullpen and Scioscia's love affair with Kevin Jepsen makes me want to stick a hot poker in my eye!

I have more Angels-related exclamation point business but we'll table them for now.  Long season ("It'll be okay, It'll be okay" - rinse and repeat).

Good meal last night, friendly and fresh with a wine bringing the New World fruit we crave with ropa vieja but we missed the bridge to the wine.  And that was the missing cinnamon stick.  Oops.

And we missed the tempranillo a little that's been so successful with ropa vieja in the past.  Nice diversion here, though.  And maybe a beef that's more down, dirty and gnarly.  Okay!  That's it.

Food:  Ropa vieja and tostones

Ropa vieja over rice recipe from The Best International Recipe cookbook, brought to you by Cook's Illustrated, with the addition of tangerine peel and cloves and the non-addition of the aforementioned cinnamon stick.

Shredded flank steak stewed in tomato paste, onions, salt, pepper, water, oil, tangerine peel, cloves and bay leaves.  Peppers and onions sautéed with tomatoes, salt, garlic, cumin, white wine, oregano, green olives, parsley, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. In the flank stew is where the cinnamon stick went missing (have I mentioned that?).  This recipe didn't call for a cinnamon stick and many ropa vieja recipes don't (some do), but when attempting to a attain the Cuban/Island goodness that has been past ropa viejas, especially with how the addition of cinnamon makes New World fruit in Rhône-inspired blends jump, it's a necessity.

Terrific tostones made more terrific by a parmesan-lime juice whip for dipping.  A cinnamon stick wasn't missing here.  These were happy-slappy munchers with a oddly delicious whip dip.

Good, fresh and light meal with a medium-depth beefy goodness.  Just didn't sing to us.  Just didn't scream Cuban café momma with her big, floppy arms tossing down a stew pot of deliciousness.

Wine:  2009 Villa Creek Willow Creek Cuvée Paso Robles ($40 - Winery)

One of the problems I'm finding with joining wine clubs in a fruitless attempt to control my wine spending is we end up with a few bottles of wine we wouldn't necessarily buy with any enthusiasm if we saw them in a wine shop.  Sure, we'd buy some out of loyalty to the winery (and Villa Creek has a buyer for life here) but our one past experience (2006) with the Willow Creek Cuvée didn't make us jump on wine-searcher to seek it out. This vintage showed much better than the 2006 and really drank well towards the end of the meal, indicating the 45-minute decant was much too short.

50% grenache, 30% mourvèdre and 20% syrah. Smoke, clove, mud and a big dark raspberry blend right away with a big, burly doorman of tannin obstructing the view. Once this expanded out, and boy did it expand in a way that seems quite unique to Villa Creek, a big blast of peppered dark raspberries, enormously round and velvety, guided the way with perky hits of licorice and brooding smoky notes.  Something about Villa Creek's's like a time-lapse film filled with luxurious colors and strobe-like frames that just draws you in.

Tasty stuff.  Very New World but with a nod to the Old as the fruit stays more savory with only a thin veneer of sweetness.  This one seems a bit unsettled right now as a consistency or confident strand throughout was lacking.  Glad we have one more bottle to keep for a few years.

All that $'s maybe a bit too textbooky for me.  I found myself reaching for the glass, wanting a sip, but I didn't find myself wanting to delve, wanting to contemplate.  It was all there with a quick read.

Pairing:  86  Cinnamon stick!

A cinnamon stick would have been a delicious bridge to the wine.  There was a tiny standoffishness between the food and wine that needed a conversation card to get things going.  The cloves made an effort but it wasn't enough.

Nice food on the plate, tasty wine in the glass, but little that brought an elevation to such great heights.

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