Friday, August 23, 2013

Birthday Asian Bison "Satay" & Watermelon-Radish Salad With 2011 Raventos Perfum de vi Blanc

After a Cuban-style Hot Pocket lunch to help "recover" from a day of pool and wine bacchanalia, Asian freshness and a birthday lounge day was on tap.

Two things. First, don't eat Hot Pockets. I think everyone knows that. But it said "Limited Edition Cuban-style" and we had a coupon, two factors that led to such a body abuse. Second, the "lounge" part wasn't really an option. Movement was slow and made everything iffy. Stupid pool. Sucks us right in.

Pretty standard pairing play here. Asian flavors, floral wine, with the hope that the acidity and impression of fruity sweetness plays like the 2011 Ponzi Pinot Gris did with the watermelon-radish salad did last month. We missed a superlative elevation of food and wine flavors with this one but found both components playing like old friends that haven't seen each other in a decade and just needed some time to get back in the groove. And they eventually got close.

Food: Bison flank "satay" over lemongrass rice with watermelon-radish salad and extra basting sauce for dipping

You don't have to peanut up your satay when this recipe from Cook's Illustrated is so delicious. Split the basting sauce, reserving a third to dip and dunk the bison at the table. Some alterations. Oodles more shallot and ginger added. And not skewered...and no peanut sauce so...not really "satay."  

Not skewered because this is bison. It's delicious and skewering that to cook it to a near well done was not on the docket, sir. Bison flank steak marinated in basting sauce for a couple of hours and then took the marinade and slathered it all over the meat while searing, medium rare. Put over lemongrass rice (toasted in peanut oil infused with garlic and red pepper flakes). The rice needed two more minutes but solid.

Tom Colicchio's Thai-style watermelon and radish salad. Fava-corn-kumato-avocado salad gives this Colicchio stupid-great salad a run for its money as the best salad I've ever had, but it's like choosing your favorite child. "They're all my little bundles of joy!" Freshness from the watermelon, spicy radish goodness, Thai basil and mint dumped all over it, fish sauce and ginger dancing its dance. It's perfection.

On that fish sauce, Red Boat 40º N Fish Sauce isn't cheap, but crap, we could really tell the difference in both elements on the plate. Elegant stuff.

True-blue Asian goodness floating around everywhere here, helped by the use of true-blue Asian goods that filled in the gaps in authenticity. We enjoyed this immensely, as we could taste every ingredient put into the food, something the addition of a peanut sauce may not have allowed.

Wine: 2011 Raventos i Blanc Perfum de vi Blanc Penedès ($18 - Whole Foods)

60% macabeo & 40% muscat. Starting to fade ever so slightly. None of the fruit salad number that we've seen in previous vintages, the 2011 might be the best yet in my book. Pretty white flowers, lime zest, quince and salt with an acidity that kept all of that fresh, flowing and fleet of foot. Salt perk wandering in and out that worked quite nicely with the food.

Pairing: Agreeable and friendly, if lacking that final punch to put it over the top

We kept reaching for the glass after a bite, liking the modest cleansing effect and floral addition to the Asian flavors. Beef and white wine, while by no means enemies, can pose a problem when trying to reach perfect pairing heights. It has to be...well...perfect. This wasn't, but it was happy food and wine that left us Asian-happy.

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