Friday, September 20, 2013

Quick Hits

Quick Hits, a collection of pairings that didn't blow us away yet had their merits. Or...record-keeping.

The inaugural edition is brought to you by food that isn't Spanish. We're going to put you to bed for a couple of months, sweetie.

#1 - Bison flank steak with potato latkes and blue cheese, paired with 2008 Efeste Syrah Ceidleigh ($30 - Wine Discount Center)

Medium-rare bison flank marinated Bittman-style, both pre and post, with TJ's potato latkes and fancy-ish blue cheese, parsley over everything. Quick, easy, satisfying and necessarily easy as we adapt back to work schedules.

The Efeste Syrah Ceidleigh (pronounced kay-Lee) is a compilation of grapes taken from four different vineyards in Red Mountain. Opened two hours before dinner. Earthy, earthy, earthy expression that didn't break out of that enough for us to transition from liking it to loving it. Perks of "Crap, that's why Washington reds are freakin' great" at times but could never sustain it. The 2008 Efeste Syrah Jolie Bouche Boushey Vineyard remains our Efeste Syrah joy.

The wine needed more of a swagger to stand up to the food and broaden out to loveliness. Fine and good with the bison, not fine and not good with the latkes. I'll forget this pairing by next week.

#2 - Sicilian lamb stew, Italian bread and arugula salad, paired with 2012 Ponzi Rosé of Pinot Noir ($20 - Winery)

Recipe from the New York Times, the Sicilian spezzatino business from last week. We found echoes of what this recipe could be, given the right hands (read: I salted it a hair heavily). Everything got in there, creating something better and more elevated than the sum of its parts. Jamie Oliver garlic bread to dip and dunk. Needed a hotter oven (400 degrees) but it served its purpose. Nice overall. Could have been better. Just missed. A totality of flavor we'd never had before. Happy in that sense.

But the Ponzi rosé helped in making for a better meal, as Ponzi typically does. Fruity, dirty, fresh and a touch floral, all with guts to stand up to so much thrown at it. Winner. Everything Ponzi does well was showcased here.

The pairing wasn't perfect but the fact that the wine firmly remained itself, shooting its fresh acid through every bite and offering every primary and secondary flavor it has on its own was a welcome surprise. Great clean up and back in for a bite. Nice back and forth here.

#3 - Piri piri chicken with farmers' market pepper salad, grilled haloumi cheese, tomato-basil bread and arugula salad, paired with 2011 Forja del Salnes Leirana Albariño ($35 - Binny's) & 2011 Domaine Douloufakis Malvasia Femina ($13 - Wine Discount Center)

Grilled haloumi cheese with pink peppercorns is the SH%T!!! It's our new love. And apparently farmers' market peppers are SPICY this year. Blazingly hot piri piri initially, taken down to a great level by the addition of nectarines to the Jamie Oliver recipe. Fantastic chicken thighs slathered in a complex hot sauce that offered seemingly 28 flavors, different with every bite. Tomato-basil bread to dip and dunk. Arugula salad to finish.

The Lierana is pricey for an albariño when all you want from it is acid to cut through the heat. This one came off all talc-y and sophisticated, fancy peaches and lavender. Surprisingly soft, yet a firmness to hold up to the flavors on the plate. Straddled a fine line quite nicely. Good stuff here. We'll buy more. The Femina malvasia, our first wine from Crete, I believe, offered a delicious dirty wool quality at its core, wrapped around a zippy freshness on the front and back end. Fantastic three-act play, fine story. Just kept giving. Unique, yet familiar given our malvasia love, long and rich but never heavy. Buying more.

Loved the cornucopia of flavors on the plate and experimenting with what was put in our mouthes and what the two different wine expressions offered made for the best meal of the week. Tons of give and all of it loved. Jolly stuff.

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