Saturday, September 27, 2014

Harissa-marinated Skirt Steak and Cornbread With 2011 Three Wine Company Mataro

Or mourvèdre, by another name.

Yotam Ottolenghi is the chef du jour in our house. If we find a recipe he wrote, Mrs. Ney will probably make it. He makes flavors we like, while putting a bit of a tweak on what we like.

This harissa-marinated skirt steak was a good example. Both of us loved the simplicity of the marinade, which allowed the harissa to just be harissa. It was beef and harissa playing with each other, without anything else getting in the way. Place it on top of the tomato-red pepper simmered stew that was bright, sweet, light, and deep, and we got something akin to Moroccan ropa vieja.

Recipe. Halsted Whole Foods skirt instead of sirloin. Fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Preserved lime instead of lemon. Coarsely ground caraway and cumin added. Cornbread as the side. Arugula-parsley-pomegranate seed salad to finish. Fusion-ish but not really. Just good, clean flavors that left an impression. We'll be having this again.

Quality pairing as well. Served with a bottle of 2011 Three Wine Company Mataro Spinelli Vineyard Contra Costa ($20 - Binny's). Tasted EXACTLY like a bargain California mourvèdre done well. Like if the winery tried to fancify these grapes and make something more structured and long-lasting, something would be lost in translation. Opened herby, transitioned to a blackberry/black cherry bitter-dry sassafras soda quality, and finished light and easy, but with enough guts to finish right. Overall bright and happy. It's not trying to be anything but what it is and that was welcome. Matched up quite nicely with the food, offering that extra dimension and depth with a bite and sip, sip and bite, while showcasing this wine as a bargain keeper with food.

This was a good example of buying a wine blind, never having anything from the producer before, and wanting to try more from them after having it. Served with stewy food flavors that was still bright and chiseled, like Moroccan ropa vieja, this was good surprisingly stuff.

Charleston soon. Charleston? Yep. Charleston. Sean Brock Charleston mini-vacation. Looking forward to it.

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