Thursday, May 10, 2012

#276 - Rabbit Sausages, Chicken Thigh & Smokey Blue Fregola With '11 Ponzi Pinot Gris + 1


Ponzi acid, guys. Ponzi. Acid.

It's what they do oh-so well (among other things) and these two meals really showcased that.

Good weekend. Found Ring Day on Monday followed by tuna Niçoise with --> Ponzi Pinot Noir Rosé followed by this meal.

Plus, dog obedience class is over. We got our Wednesday nights back. You should see how much she kinda-sorta-not really remembers it all.

A trip to Oregon wine country for us soon. Drinking Ponzi seemed right and proper....and Ponzi-licious (I'll stop that now).

Food: Rabbit sausages, chicken thigh, blue cheese fregola and baby kale salad with meat juice

A Saveur recipe taken from Carmen Peirano, chef at Nick's Italian Cafe in McMinnville, Oregon. Good chance we're stopping at Nick's cuz that looks like food We Want. We don't know. This trip is so open-ended.

Altered recipe. Mrs. Ney despises few things in cooking but breaking down a rabbit is right at the top of that short list. It's in a dead-heat with cooking three things at once. So rabbit sausages from Paulina Meat Market (a combo of rabbit and the Italian sausages in the recipe) used here along with swapping out polenta for fregola while adding two chicken thighs. The meal needed literal bones missed by using sausages instead of a whole rabbit.

The plate looked like such: two rabbit sausages and one golden-brown-skin chicken thigh next to it with a big pool of pinot gris-based juice made up with garlic, rosemary and shallots underneath. Rogue Creamery Smokey Blue (another Oregon product - we're boning up) cheese on top of risotto-style fregola with carrots and pomegranate seeds. Basil on top of everything.  Plate tipped to keep the pool of juice out of the fregola.

Rogue Smokey Blue made it (making it taste like a spring Hobbs meal, oddly) while the delicious factor in the meal kept getting better as it progressed. At first, it was highlighted by its newness and tastiness (a word usually reserved for something that rarely gets out of the realm of "Hey, this is good."). But then, about a third of the way through, it turned this corner where its newness and deliciousness hit a symbiosis, becoming more elevated and pause-worthy. That's not to say this was the "Best Meal Ever!" Just that this meal hit multiple places of "I've never had that...or that..." with all of it tasting like everything on the meal was thoughtfully put there on purpose, working with each other to great effect.

We'll be having this again. It's that good, made better by the following awesomeness: kale salad with pomegranate seeds tossed with the leftover pinot gris-based juice from both of our empty plates. Kale and meat juice! More please!

Great meal teeming with new flavor combos and the wine served as the bow on top.

Wine:  2011 Ponzi Pinot Gris ($17 + shipping - Winery)

Defined entirely by Ponzi's signature and caring attention to acid, an acid that brings a balance that makes Ponzi's entire line so wonderful. Luisa Ponzi is scary good at such things.

A streamlined body and progression that showed its representative varietal character. We don't particularly love pinot gris. Like it fine enough but don't crave it.

But this one, with this meal - and this wine needs food - has great integrity from start to finish with a light mineral character throughout and a great swirling, delicate, expanding and confined in a good way mix of tropical fruit, citrus fruit, apple, rhubarb, light honey (something pinot gris can abuse) and something darker, like a lightly spiced-up poached peach.

Refreshing stuff. In the pinot gris world, a wine that has a big place with very particular foods we happen to crave at very specific times, this wine has the feeling of "Let's just drink Ponzi Pinot Gris. It's going to work."

Pairing:  91  Ponzi acid, man. Ponzi acid.

We love rabbit. Love Rogue Smokey Blue. Fregola makes me swear over how good it is. All these flavors we love right down to the seasoning combo but this meal felt new and we pretty much loved it.

The wine took away any question marks with respect to that. It turned the meal into springy and light with a specific direction, like spring air in the woodland towns of northern Piedmont by way of Oregon.

Best with the blue cheese, bringing out a crisp apple water note, completing what might have been missing with other sips, but pretty stellar overall with a confident acid serving to cut through and complete most of the flavors-flavor combinations on the plate.

And the baby kale salad with meat juice eaten with the cooking pinot gris, a cheap Grand Master Pinot Gris from Whole Foods, wasn't too shabby as well. Rhubarb again, very watered-down Pastis and oodles of honey.

See you soon, Ponzi.

A Quick Note:  Tuna Niçoise with 2011 Ponzi Pinot Noir Rosé ($18 + shipping - Winery) the night before. Probably a top-three version of tuna Niçoise, a meal given abundant love over the years. That was due to the addition of lavender leaves, four anchovies used in the dressing and how well a rosé that, if given blind, could be mistaken for a white wine in the best sense. Dry and floral with, again, stupid-great Ponzi acid, but a core of flavors that came off zippy and poppy only tenuously harkening back to its pinot noir roots.

Tasted like an experiment in connecting red and white wine flavors that overlap, like how cloves occasionally pop up in pinot noir while cloves are used in making preserved lemons. Or the related nature of white roses and red roses. How tobacco notes can show up in both. That fine and narrow vein where red and white flavors interconnect was how this rosé presented in a pretty way. A nice backbone to this rosé that held up very well to the blitz of varied Niçoise flavors.  Pairing Score: 90

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