Wednesday, August 22, 2012

#297 - Spanish Pork & Saffron Potatoes With '91 Heredia Bosconia GR


It's fiiiine and God bless those people that love it so, putting pork slogans on t-shirts, inking pigs on arms (and possibly other places, if you read the news this week - I suppose that was the next inevitable tattoo spot in this day and age) and just generally preaching from the altar of swine.

For us, it offers little. Sure, you can screw with it like no other meat (Whaaaa?), making for a blank slate on which to paint your food art. That has value. Pork is by no means valueless. We like pork in various forms. But we don't anticipate pork. Not like lamb, duck, flank, hanger, shrimp (see below), roasted chicken, you get it.

Pork is like watching Chopped to us - fine enough food TV entertainment to record and watch commercial-free but never in real time. And I've certainly never anticipated the airing and viewing of Chopped. It's sorta just 'there' with all its predictable structure and snooze-worthy content (usually halfway through the entrée course). Yet we watch, because it's on TV.

We eat pork because it's available, cheap and, at times, like this time, can satisfy the 'use stuff up' food meme of the next two weeks as we wait for vacation.

Spanished-up pork is also a good platform for Heredia reds.

And this one was.

Food:  Spanish pork and saffron potatoes

Pork shoulder roast marinated in orange juice, sherry vinegar, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, olive oil; seared off; roasted with pancetta, figs, shallots, castelvetrano olives, smoked paprika (chicken stock and marinade dumped in). Served with swiss chard.

Saffron potatoes with mayo for dipping.

Good food full of "The Flavor." Just nothing that came close to getting under our skin and into our bones. Nice crisp on the outside, moist meat (whaaaa? - I can do this all day), good, fine...keep it.

In our pork adventures, there are times when we say, "That was good pork!" Other times, pork tastes like a reminder why we don't need pork. This one approached the latter.

But everything in this pork coaxed everything out of the wine get it to a place of fullest expression.

Unfortunately, we didn't particularly love that, either.

Wine:  1991 López de Heredia Bosconia Gran Reserva ($114 - Crush)

A orangish tint forming around the rim in the glass but only a wee hint of browning in the overall redness. Middle-aged wine that still shows some hops on the court but starts to lag on the fast break around the third game of pickup ball.

All the old-style Rioja goodness in the glass, showing cherries, orange peel, tobacco, leather, cedar, herbs. Just a bit obvious upfront. And upfront overall. From the mid-palate to the finish, too much simplicity. All cherries and cedar and a bit flat to boot. Very little persistence or personality on the finish. A lot to like here but little to love, like a movie with a promising first half-hour that can't keep up that pace.

All that said, still nice stuff. We just missed the Heredia story their wines usually tell from start to finish.

Pairing: 88 Technically good but not something we'd ever crave

The wine by itself revealed all the misses I just talked about in spades.

With the food, a nice complexity and interplay between all the wine's elements formed with some length showing up but it felt a tad strained, like we should feel grateful for what changed and approached a nice pairing. Just wasn't three bills good.

Proper food for the wine here. We just weren't inspired by it.

Lunch: Jamie Oliver peri-peri shrimp and marinated zucchini salad with a 2010 Viña Mein Domillar Ribeiro ($17 - Binny's) was inspiring in ways. Because it's delicious shrimp with a kick, a surprisingly delicious zucchini salad that accented the zucchini-ness perfectly and a wine that was all quality river water.

Not Mississippi bank river water that's been sullied with sewer stank but the good mid-channel-at-its-widest-point crisp and sparkly river water that almost (almost) tastes drinkable. It has a quality, one that evokes childhood tubing wipeouts and cruising in a flatboat on a scorchingly hot day and needing to cool yourself off with a leanover into the splashback. Good stuff, that. All that in the wine with a light honeydew-apple-peachy quality, good balance, proper acid and a darker, almost smoky finish with a slight barrel-aged roundness. A treixadura-heavy white blend with loureiro, lado, albariño and chardonnay making up the rest. Intriguing guts from Galicia.

Slid right into the peri-peri shrimp (sauce recipe here) in admirable ways. Nothing explosive or fancy but nothing un-fancy either. Just a nice compliment, adding some originality, to a great lunch favorite. And can't recommend the zucchini salad more highly. Definition of summer-fresh.  Pairing Score: 90

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