Thursday, August 9, 2012

#295 - Shrimp Lunch With Huet Pétillant & Lamb Dinner With Ponzi Reserve

Season 2 of The Killing finally entered and exited my world this week. I'm typically behind on TV and movie things, especially when I can frolic in the superlative joys offered by the Angels' bullpen.

Not once in the 13 hours of the season did I even remotely guess the ultimate killer. Great show, great show! And clues were there throughout both seasons.

In this week's food world, Popeye's chicken and Belgian waffles with watermelon-jalapeño sangria is wrong, we did it and I don't wanna be right.

In this week's restaurant world, Green Zebra is worth a trip. Thoughtful wine list, pretty and quiet space, good food, great staff. We had some salting issues and maybe a feeling that dishes were created first to not offend. Tepid is not the word but, at times, offerings entered that realm. Clean flavors but sometimes clean can become a bit sanitary and Green Zebra felt a bit like that. Bottom line is we'd go again. Not in a hurry and, unfortunately, can't really touch Ubuntu in the veggie flavor explosion world, which is too bad because Green Zebra is here and not 2104 miles away (only 33 hours in current traffic according to Google Maps. Or 691 hours on foot).

Two pairing offerings this week, both with juice that came from houses we both love, both coming off for the most part delicious but both leaving us a little wanting.

Lunch:  Shrimp in carrot purée made with galangal (blue ginger).  Great purity to the carrot purée here brought on by the galangal. Fresh and clean, making for a great backdrop to the shrimp, sautéed in orange zest and mistakingly cooked in duck fat. Shrimp in duck fat is weird but in a strangely two-level, "never had that!" delicious way. Baguette for dipping into the purée and butter to supplement. Ate well. Liked it. Good platform to get into a wine I've been wanting for years, the 2002 Domaine Huet Vouvray Pétillant ($48), and found it at Lush Wine & Spirits, just a few shops down from Green Zebra.

All the Vouvray flavors one would want in sparkling form. Beeswax, wax, honey, peach pit, orange peel and lemon. With the added bonus of a lees-y quality due to Hüet leaving their pétillant on its lees for four years, this expression coming in a peach fuzz, honeycomb and a touch of spelt-like bread number. Nice. Nice acid, nice flow, odd transitions. Actually, transitions weren't something that really existed in the way we expected. It sort of cut to the chase with little mystery, linger or complex story. Little on the front, echoes of interesting in the middle and all the goods on the back. Fine, strong bubbles and a good pop to the cork removal so the integrity of the bottle seemed fine. And we got a ton of chenin blanc goods in bubbles form from the best Vouvray house in our world. Bought one bottle at Lush with the idea that we'd drink it quick and go back to clean them out if we loved it, which I fully expected to do. Liked it but didn't love it. More thrilled recently by the Schloss Gobelsburg Brút Reserve we took to Tanoshii for $20 less.  Clean food with clean bubbles were good together but little interplay that excited us with this pairing. This was a $60 lunch, everything included, and it was $60 good if eaten out in the world. More expensive and a more critical eye would have reared its head.  Pairing Score: 86   

Dinner: Pancetta-wrapped lamb rack with farro, served with 2008 Ponzi Pinot Noir Reserve Willamette Valley ($60 - Winery). Another food winner here and a house fav, lamb done up decadently, crusted with pistachio, thyme, rosemary, olive oil and pepper, wrapped in pancetta and cooked an oh-so pretty medium rare. Farro with pomegranate seeds and a mâche salad to finish. It's what we like in spades from lamb, this preparation, and we liked this muchly.

The Ponzi left a similar impression as the Huet did. Liked it but just didn't love it, especially in this price range. Very pretty nose and entry, gobs of juicy red fruits with cherry, raspberry, chocolate, forest floor and cola leading the way. Streamlined flavors that were very clean and rather gorgeous to begin. This one showed the opposite of the Hüet with everything upfront and then feeling like it became gassed by the mid-palate. The finish wasn't non-existent by came really close. After being open an hour, even its forest floor and chocolatey complexity left the party, becoming a nice but simple raspberry and cola boozy drink and little else. Nicely integrated alcohol and tannins, suggesting this is just opening up and has a few years of good drinking in its future but we're in no hurry to follow. We enjoy the regular bottling of Ponzi's pinot noir more at half the price. Seems more confident about what it is and is supposed to be. 2008, an Oregon vintage lauded early on as a stupid-great one, has been a mixed bag for us.

Lots of lamb and pinot noir enhancement in the pairing with the farro typically blowing up with the pinot as well, but while the lamb, farro and pinot did what it does, little excitement and surprise here. Felt...perfunctory, for the most part.  Pairing Score: 84 

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