Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ginger-Sesame Hanger, Tomatoes & Sweet Potato Fries With 2013 Tendu Red

We don't see much Matthiasson here in Chicago.

So when Vin Chicago had both the red and white Tendu sitting there - wines I nearly ordered last week through the interwebs - it felt like a wine miracle!

Well...maybe not a miracle...wait...yes, a miracle! My wife and I are now embracing the YOLO/serendipity lifestyle. Anything mildly convenient that happens to us will now be seen as a sign that we are indeed special and that ____ (insert whatever hastily compiled philosophy/personally created deity/this month's best-selling self-help book focus/aura here) loves us, specifically and wholly.

Brace yourself, people. It's about to get ugly up in here. We're going to take "How can I make this about me?" to unforeseen heights (As you can see, I have to work on my Instagram skills. CUE UP FILTERS!).

Not really. But it did feel like one of those moments that make a shopping excursion entirely worth the hassle.

Food: Ginger-sesame hanger steak, tomatoes and sweet potato fries with mayo for dipping and arugula salad to finish

While not enormous beef eaters anymore, we like it. Sometimes love it, but over the years it's devolved into "let's just marinate some hanger, grill it up, throw some easy starch with it and pair it with a cheap New World blend. It's what we like." Particularly Whole Foods hanger. What used to be $8/lb. is now $12/lb. but it's still worth every cent. Not a sinewy bite in the stuff, ever. Just pure meaty, gnarly, hanger-y goodness, though it's now in the Paulina price realm. We'll see.

Recipe from this month's Saveur. Marinade of ginger, sesame oil, honey, lime, garlic, salt and pepper.   Seared a very pretty medium-rare. Tomatoes halved, doused in the same marinade and tossed in the oven for three hours at 275º. Tomatoes on top of hanger, rosemary tossed on top, aged balsamic drizzle over all of it. Alexia sweet potato fries crisped up, mayo for dipping, arugula salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pomegranate seeds to finish.

We've had the basic structure of this meal probably 30 times in the last two years. It's a delicious, super easy fallback. This version might be the best we've had. And it became that way because it felt like it had been months since we had beef, rosemary and, oddly, balsamic, turning all three into a flavor jiggle in our mouths. And the tomatoes were low-and-slow bursts of happiness. All of it became one in such a delicious, supremely broad sense.

Big, big, big winner! A miracle!

Wine: 2013 Matthiasson Tendu Red California ($22 - Vin Chicago)

Aglianico, montepulciano and barbera blend from Windmill Vineyard in Yolo County (SEE WHAT I'M SAYIN'!!!?), bottle-capped in a one-liter bottle and modeled after Berger and Berger-like grüners from Austria (one of our favorites and we can't find the 2013 Berger in Chicago for the life of us). A Steve Matthiasson-Revel Wine collaboration.

Chill put on it. Tart black cherry, floral at times, licorice, an easygoing dryness. Tasted like a friendly Lambrusco/Beaujolais/frappato. Everybody says it about this wine but it's truly a guzzler. Open, simple, unpretentious, begs you to keep chugging and all the good that comes with that. A tiny bad element to that is that I kept chugging at times to find the great sip two or three chugs ago. Some drinks were muted, but nothing about that distracted from its happiness. This is a happy wine. 12.5% alcohol. No sulphur added.

If this were, say, in the mid-to-late teens in price, a case would be in our house lickety-split. At $24 after tax, I kept thinking of the glut of great Beaujolais in that price range. We thought about the Neyers Sage Canyon, a wine that was the impetus of the trip to Vin to pop and drink with this meal, bought at $19, and a wine we know we love with very similar grub.

But, in the end, given the wine-making economics in California and the relatively small production of    this wine, I can't see this one feasibly dipping into the mid-to-late teens. Particularly because of its one-literness, something that kept us from thinking about what wine to crack in order to finish the food, it's entirely worth the money. It just puts itself into the discussion with other choices.

Pairing: Refreshing, delicious, and spectacular with the tomato/rosemary business

We might have found deeper layers in the pairing with the Neyers Sage Canyon. Here, with this wine, we found first-level, happy-slappy, simple pairing pleasure in spades. Best with the tomato-rosemary, good with the hanger, fine enough with the fries and mayo, and overall just gosh-darn huggy, chuggy stuff.

And here's the thing. The next day, all the caveats I mentioned above on the wine have mostly washed away. It's a LITER of happy wine.

The Tendu white is on tap for tonight, with Anne Burrell chicken Milanese, pickled onions, nut gremolata and greens. House fav. Should be good.

Update: And it was. Tasted like a Vinho Verde as soon as I popped it. Too thin and too much lime peel. Turned to a California sauvignon blanc after a bit, with all the mid-palate creaminess that entails. With chicken Milanese, it was pure vermentino. Refreshing and perfectly simple, green fruits and citrus with a snap and lift throughout. Passion fruit goop buried underneath. Tasted like the perfect spritzer without the spritz. We wondered if the $22 price tag would push it out of the "GO GET MORE NOW!" realm. Bought two more. And we might be going back.

One more note: I'd be remiss if I didn't catalogue a meal from earlier in the week that Mrs. Ney didn't want AT ALL while making it, but we ended up wanting ALL OF IT once we ate it.

D'Artagnan rabbit-ginger sausages ($6 - Gene's) with braised cabbage, kale and onions with caraway seeds and sliced boiled potatoes with mustard seeds, served with 2012 Meyer-Fonné Pinot Blanc Vieilles Vignes ($21 - Kermit Lynch).

It was like the Alsace belched itself up on our plate and in our glass. Pretty peach fuzz and minerals in the wine with a long, gassy finish echoing what came before.

All the ingredients on the plate liked each other so much and the wine upped the ante in that respect so well. Tasted like food and wine from a place, made for each other, so, success.

Mrs. Ney wouldn't think that an Alsatian would gobble this up with musings and nostalgia for their Alsatian homeland, but we bet they'd think it was a respectable effort.

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