Thursday, February 13, 2014

Indian, Epic Chicken-Bread Salad & Lebanese With Trousseau, Sancerre & Susucaru

There's something about having 40-degree weather in the long-range forecast that brings an optimism not felt in months.

And then I go against one of my deep philosophical beliefs in life, a tenet so integral to my day-to-day happiness that betraying it, even briefly, brings such a deep, rusted patina to my being that it can take weeks to shed.

I read internet comments.

This week's Asimov column. Comments. Don't.

For the record, it's never really been a problem finding many of Asimov's picks in this house. It's called the internet, email or (gasp) a phone.

But I digest. This was "We finally got the hemp bedspread!!!" week, something that's been over two years in the making. But here's what happened in the food realm.

Monday: Indian carrot salad and lamb with potatoes and raita, served with 2012 Arnot-Roberts Trousseau North Coast ($38 - Zachy's) 

Jamie Oliver Indian carrot salad recipe (here). Delicious with Angela Pinot Noir a couple of summers ago. Less so with a Beaume-de-Venise two Augusts ago.  Same on Thanksgiving with Ponzi Pinot Noir a few months ago.

Mixed bag with our first trousseau, though the wine screams forthcoming Farmer's Market veggie jubilee meals more than something as aggressive in spice as this one.

A great version of Indian carrot salad this time, with the dressing and the carrots taking the stage and the lamb serving more as a accoutrement. Potatoes to beef it up, raita to cool down. This salad isn't overly spicy in the least, but it has a heft and aggression that need the ripeness of an Angela Pinot Noir rather than a wine that emphasizes its ethereal quality.

The Arnot-Roberts Trousseau is the latter. A cross between a red and rosé, almost, with a slight bitterness and grip that comes in and goes away gracefully, giving a glimpse into its personality without necessarily blathering on about it. Pretty earth. Lightly floral. Liked it. Needed more with this food but I'm glad we have two more bottles. Might need more time to flesh itself out as well. I don't necessarily enjoy drinking red wine by itself. Here's one I would, and I'd love it. Has a meditative Hou Hsiao-Hsien film feel to it.

Tuesday: Epic chicken-bread salad with 2011 Daniel Chotard Sancerre Blanc ($24 - Binny's)  

Jamie Oliver recipe again (here). It's like taking Zuni Café Tuscan chicken and adding a bunch of stuff to it. Roasted chicken, ripped-toasted-dressed bread, green beans, bacon, tomatoes, parsley, mint, thyme, onions, garlic, all the goods, which is why Jamie Oliver recipes are the S%*t!. He likes stuff. Take all that and throw it in a bowl, toss it on the table and tell people to go to town. EAT IT! Fat and happy will be the result. We were fat and happy.

This Daniel Chotard Sancerre was a little too quiet, but after going to Tre Bicchieri and coming home to this meal, the juxtaposition between French grace and the aggression I tasted in the glass at that event was welcome. It was nice to taste a wine that actually had transitions, levels and touch (except for Cantine Lunae's vermentino from northern Tuscany. Those were delicious). Chives and minerals with a nondescript citrus peel fruit note. Pretty, whispering 1-2-3 step, but like it was teaching the steps of Sancerre instead of giving a full-blown dance. Chotard Sancerre is that kind of Sancerre everybody should have in their collection, though. It's always quality stuff, made well, around $24, and never screams "I'M SANCERRE!" like so many, as it downplays its acid. We just wanted this showing to be a little above its murmur.

Wednesday: Semiramis With Frank Cornellisen Susucaru #5 ($38 - Red & White)

Hummus, pita, fattoush, chicken borak, lamb kebab sandwich. It's Semiramis. If this place ever closes, I will be holding a grudge against all of Chicago in perpetuity. It's Lebanese done right and made fresh.

If you have food where rosewater would slide right in and be a happy accompaniment, drink Susucaru. It's all DRY rose petals in the best possible sense. Drinking this for us is like seeing a film or reading a book in January and thinking that nothing this year is going to beat it. Just go straight to the end-of-year list and put this on top. We're buying a case and we're going to blow through it this summer. It's that good.

Last had here with food that would have liked rosewater in some form as well, we ate and drank this meal and said, "Cripes this is good!" about ten times.

Cataratto, malvasia, nerello capuccio. Natural, unfiltered, no preservatives added, beautifully cloudy and clay buildup on the bottom. Serve this one a little chillier than you'd think, as the evolution is delicious. As it gets to room temp, it becomes a little more simple.

Gonna be a good food and wine summer, I think, after this winter crap.

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