Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Goat Inspired By Komi With 2006 Prager Riesling Smaragd Bodenstein And 2012 Bastianich Rosato di Refosco

Last year, we had two meals out in the world that brought us such utter face-slapping joy, when we received the bill and saw what they were charging us for the face-slap, we both screamed, "I need to pay more!"

One was in Cihuri, Spain, at El Trujal del Abuelo, where a five-course meal featuring the best fat-slathered beef I've ever had and two pitchers of their stunningly fresh rosado cost a stupid-cheap 75 Euros. For both of us.

The other was in D.C., at Komi, a place that, if we were into ranking stuff, which we do on occasion just for funnsies, sits mere baby steps behind Etxebarri as the best meal of our lives. If you should be in D.C., eating at Komi will remind you--and if it doesn't, you're doing it wrong--why eating out can be an experience that feels like a gift, a feeling that seems to be fading in the current restaurant environment that too often feels like a calculated cash grab. "This chef wants out in....6 1/2 years...and he's retiring to...Majorca."

In our one experience there last June - a number that will change to two within the next year or so - Komi is the furthest thing from that.

Over our 15-ish course meal (if I recall correctly), we were struck most by how the chefs had no intention to manipulate us with their wild creativity, dazzled though we were. They wanted to feed us, with serious thought given to a progression that crescendoed to a tableful of goat and accompaniments that made us squeal a lil bit.

It was a spectacular meal, one we think of often, served by a wonderful staff. Kyle, Genevieve, Bill, you're good peoples.

On that goat. We wanted that goat again. Or at least something approximating said goat. Who doesn't want goat? Maybe not 10 pounds of goat, bought while a little tipsy at Olympia Meats on Randolph ("We'll take all of it!") but, at $5/lb, not too shabby.

While this picture-taking of our food MUST STOP, this one seemed worthy of a snap or four (click on the picture above to embiggen).

In the end, successful and silly-delicious homage. Mrs. Ney got real close.

Food: Harissa-rubbed goat, pickled mustard seed and scallions, roasted tomatoes and onions, tzatziki and toasted Balkan bread

Harissa: Ancho/pasilla/mulato paste, fresh manzanos, jarred peppadews, roasted garlic; cumin, coriander, caraway; white balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Five-pound cut of goat leg slathered in one cup of harissa, bay leaves jammed in slits, marinated overnight, roasted low and slow, based on this recipe from Molly Stevens, the roasting guru. First time with goat, first time with meat this big. Pretty successful, thanks to good instructions.

Tomatoes & onions tossed with extra virgin oil and lemon thyme, put into the goat-roasting pan for about half of the roasting process, collecting all of the goat collagen and marrow, then taken out, spread out on goat pan after it was done and thrown under the broiler to get all char-like and delicious, with goat-tomato-onion juice I wanted to drink.

Tzatziki: Pretty standard cucumber, mint, garlic, lemon juice.

Tom Colicchio's pickled (black and yellow) mustard seeds with chopped charred scallions to approximate what was on the table at Komi. Star of the night. Dumb how good it was with a bite of this and goat and a sip of the riesling.

Toasted Balkan bread that tasted like Balkan Texas toast.

That was the meal. While the goat had a prime rib quality to it instead of how Komi's perfectly emphasized its expert roastiness without getting GOATY, this version got us what we wanted - perfectly cooked goat; juicy, succulent and happy stuff all-around.

And just like Komi, it was about putting the goat with the accompaniments. A bite with the mustard seed-scallion business = a wonderfully subtle yet deep and brooding flavor that kept building, while making the riesling turn broad, creamy and alive. With a charred tomato-goat bite, it turned Italian-ish and made the refosco explode into a freshy-fresh, crisp and cleansing wonder. Balkan Texas toast topped with tzatziki and some charred onions beautifully added to the explosion of 12,000 flavor combinations on the table.

This was a freakin' feast of fancy deliciousness! Mrs. Ney has been thinking about making goat since Komi, even called there yesterday for wine suggestions, which is how the riesling got onto the table. Mission accomplished.


Some notes on the wines. The 2006 Prager Riesling Smaragd Bodenstein Wachau ($50-ish - Vin Chicago), drunk four years to the day of buying it (which was odd), tasted sort of staid and boring right out of the gate, only to balance itself out with food in a great way. Just needed a little pick-me-up served by the contrast between itself and the earthy, grounded, ancient-tasting food. Apricot and peach freshened up by a honeydew swirl and a pleasant in-and-out of minerals here and there. The Smaragd-y sugar never weighed it down, only lifted and brightened it. Not overly acidic itself, but not intimidated by the copious amounts of acid in the food. Became very broad and creamy over the course of the meal, with a perky lift at the end that felt like a guy with good jokes and perfect timing. I can't remember the last wine I had where my opinion was so radically changed over the course of drinking it. On its first-order downslope but beautifully so.

The 2012 Bastianich Rosato di Refosco Venezia Giulia IGT ($14 - Eataly) was a recent rosé pleasure drunk during a quick meal at Eataly with sardines, frisée and capers at the Pesce station. So we bought a couple of bottles with the thought that it may become the cheap rosé weekday summer option this year. Can't say the second tasting catapulted it to that spot but it was nice to have as a diversion on the table. Frankly spectacular with a goat-charred tomato bite, but moody with everything else, even a bit metallic with the tzatziki and thin with the mustard seed-scallion business.

But for $15 per plate of food (with tons of leftovers) and about $65 for the wine, we were happy campers with the food and pairing. Could have went Spanish, Portuguese, maybe a Cornellisen Susucaru to play into the Northern African rub that screams for rosewater (and with another 5 pounds of goat in the freezer, this might be the play), maybe even a cooler climate Northern Rhône with lower alcohol. This was a meal that made me regret not buying a few bottles of Molina Pérez tempranillo-viura while in Rioja last year. That carbonic-macerated, slightly chilled deliciousness would have been silly-great here, I think.

But...huge winner.

See you soon, Komi. And thank you for the inspiration.

Quick Note for record-keeping purposes: Duncan Gott Mahi mahi tacos with jalapeño crema, red cabbage slaw, guacamole, charred corn tortillas and a homemade hot sauce made with 100 Thai bird chiles, served with grilled fruit sangria. That hot sauce was "I can see to the end of time!" hot right after I made it. Now, it's mellowed to a perfect hot-sauce place. One of the best batches of fish tacos in awhile, something we have about six times a year.  Note on the sangria. It's the tops. Don't marry too long though. Two hours is perfect. This batch was six hours and it got a little too meldy. Good, but meldy. And just leave out the simple syrup. You don't need it. The syrupy goo that comes off the bursted grapes is enough.

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