Thursday, July 5, 2012

#288 - Spiced Lamb Riblets With '10 Villa Creek Garnacha & Tapas With Albariño & Malvasia

Indian, Spanish and 4th of July-inspired food this week.

Served along with torrontés, Slovenian zelen, albariño, malvasia, New World grenache and pinot noir.

A rather lavish three-day spread. That's how we celebrated Independence Day.

That and staying out of the oppressiveness of outside, a brutality of heat so brutal that we skipped Winnemac Park fireworks this year. And from the relative lack of long and sustained firework bangs coming from two blocks away, so did mostly everyone else.

But we ate like people do on the 4th. American-inspired food with American wine. Can't say we're not flag-wavers.

Food: Barbecue-like lamb riblets, tomato salad and corn on the cob

Recipe for spiced lamb riblets here. Toasted peppercorns, cumin, coriander, fennel and chile flakes, ground up, rubbed on ribs and sealed in a bag for a day. Ribs braised in broth, thyme and garlic. BBQ-like sauce made from harissa, lemon juice, butter, braising liquid, cinnamon stick and a touch of sugar (last two not in recipe), resulting in riblets with all the lamby goodness on the cheap. The sauce mimicked BBQ without being sticky, lifted quite nicely by the addition of lemon juice and a handful of parsley over the top while still playing in the darker tones with the harissa and cinnamon. $14 for lamb that satisfies any lamb jones you might have.

Tomato salad (recipe). A house flavor and typically served Villa Creek. Farmers' Market cherry tomatoes, parsley, mint, onion, pomegranate molasses, pomegranate seeds, thyme, lemon juice, peppers, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper - made and allowed to sit and marinate in itself. It's Turkish. This time made into a sort of panzanella using leftover naan from two days ago. Always great and that's why it's a house flavor. It's our mashed potatoes (except when vanilla mash makes an appearance).

Corn on the cob to round things out cuz we're American and it's the 4th, damn it.

We never had lamb riblets before this and we'll be having lamb riblets more after this. Tons of The Lamby without the added cost and thought process to get the pairing just right, mainly because we love lamb and it feels important.

Great meal with a wine that fit right into the talk-talk

Wine:  2010 Villa Creek Garnacha Denner Vineyard Paso Robles ($40 - Winery)

Generous and friendly, smooth and giving. A lot to like here and only getting started as it's just beginning to flesh itself out. Oodles of dark cherry and black currant, thicker texture but never syrupy, darker milk chocolate at its core with hints of spice, even a touch of licorice at times. It gave at its own pace, never looking to please but the overall effect was a pleasure and will give more with time. Dark cherry liqueur hits but not sweet and never over the top despite the 15.5% alcohol. It never showed. More simple in the best way. Good fruit and happy texture with a long finish.

But the real joy came in the Paso Robles/Villa Creek acid. When it's right, it's so right, keeping everything lifted and spritely. It took us a long time to come around to the joys of big California wine when it's done well. Villa Creek was the gateway. This wine shows why.

Just really friendly and welcoming juice.

Pairing:  91  Tasted...American

Ribs and corn on the cob are about getting in there and getting your hands dirty (well...I didn't with the ribs because I'm a bit of fuss-pot). It's down-and-dirty food with no pretense. Just get in there, play around, make a mess and eat it up. The wine, with its more simple and generous nuggets, got down in there and played quite well.

Best with the corn on the cob and the naan in the tomato salad, showing a great balance, more hits of herbs and a more indulgent chocolate-cherry liqueur number. Thinned out with the riblets a bit but still quite tasty. Popped a 2009 Trader Joe's Pinot Noir Carneros Grand Reserve ($13) just to get the pinot noir question out of our head and, while not as distinctive as the Villa Creek, was delicious, making for a broad and open wine pairing night with some great food.

Tuesday Tapas.

Proper tapas. Spanish (-ish) tapas. With Spanish wine spanning from one coast to the other.

I really can't remember the last time we went Spanish-Spanish with tapas, having burned it out a few years ago.

Good to have it back. Even seemed better with the omission of chorizo or some other meat-type product.

Food:  Tapas

White anchovies, pepper salad (from The New Spanish Table), marinated Castelvetrano olives (also from TNST), pan con tomate, arugula and purslane salad, marcona almonds and pecorino cheese soaked in balsamic and juniper.

So...Italian olives and cheese but Spanish flavors through and through. Frankly spectacular cheese. White anchovies led the way. Purslane, a weed found at the Farmers' Market for $2 a huge bag, mixed with the arugula made for an surprisingly refreshing salad. This was mix-and-match as tapas are and fulfilled every level of want in us. Delicious. Along with the wine helping oh-so much.

Wine:  2009 Do Ferreiro Albariño Rías Baixas ($25 - WDC) & 2003 Sasserra Malvasia de Sitges Penedès ($22 - Vinic)

The price has come down on the Do Ferreiro Albariño in recent vintages, falling more in line with the rest of the albariño market. Our win, as I had fond memories of the 2007.  Fancier stuff then and just as fancy now. This 2009 Do Ferreiro Albariño ($25 - WDC) shows a ton of delicate wild flowers with a pear and light lemon backbone, jazzy acid and limestone finish all wrapped in a delicate but confident body. Love it. Just love the heck out of it.

The Sasserra was an odd beast, woolly as all get-out but with just enough lift in its fading acid to give everything one would want from malvasia in a slightly different Spanish package. I was struck most by a white raspberry note hiding among the almonds, peaches and old wet cotton t-shirt quality to the wine. Quite complex with a dryness that made it more interesting, offering more of a herb-tinged lemon meringue punch at times. Still nice life here and may follow this one. Could be fun to watch it die.

Pairing: 91 Equalled 4th of July food in its pairing loveliness

More of a back-and-forth here, trying to find the best notes. But with the multitude of flavor combinations, that wasn't hard. The Do Ferreiro cast a bigger net with its acid nicely poking through more combinations to create something more, particularly with an anchovy-bread-pepper salad-arugula bite. Mouthwatering stuff. The Sasserra needed more judicious choices, performing best with more simple bites but shot into the stratosphere of perfect with the pecorino with flavors swirling and jumping all over the place.

Happy-slappy food with two damn nice wines.

1 comment:

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