Thursday, March 19, 2015

Persian Beef with Barberry Sauce and Buttered Almonds With 2012 Broc Cellars Cabernet Franc

This recipe, from Najmieh Batmanglij (her son is in Vampire Weekend...huh...learn something new everyday), via the American Pistachio Growers website, came about because we wanted to try barberries a month or two ago and the smallest quantity I could buy was in an ENORMOUS bag. Gotta use 'em up.

We love barberries now. Well, there's at least a deep like. They provide a tartness reminiscent of cranberries but are so much more bright, light, and focused. They don't overwhelm things, providing a tiny punch to food that needs it.

Like here. Persian beef (swapped out chicken for beef in the recipe - and we'll be trying this with lamb, probably quite soon). We don't know Iranian food, having only nibbled at the edges here and there, but this food, Persian beef stew essentially, tasted like Iranian Sunday comfort food.

Bet it's delicious with chicken, with the barberries and nuts playing with the bird in different, brighter realms, but beef shank worked here, turning it into a juxtaposition between the darker, deeper beef and marrow that played with the cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon and pepper, and the barberry sauce perk and perfect integration of sunny saffron, echoing a Mediterranean saffron beef play that we enjoy on occasion. Buttered almond-pistachio blend on top (more almonds, less pistachios - pistachios be EX-pensive right now). Rice underneath. Mint on top.

It's been a long month in our house. Great food has been less frequent because of it. It was nice to have Great Food again. This was Great.

Made better by a wine that let the food shine, while offering just enough in the way of pop to keep us coming back to find new and intriguing things about it. The 2012 Broc Cellars Cabernet Franc Central Coast ($19 - Vin Chicago) is biodynamic, I assume culled from different vineyards, 12% alcohol, sleek, pretty, and a great value for the dollars. Shiny red fruits, violets and cinnamon on the nose, a bit less in the intensity of that on the palate for the first 2/3, then finishing with something like a rum raisin smack. The finish made it. Texturally, it's more thin than expected, but that doesn't hurt its enjoyment. Given blind, it's Loire cab franc. Not fancy Loire cab franc with its oodles of layers and fascinating, almost obstinate personality that we love, just utterly drinkable cab franc giving what cab franc-y-focused food wants.

Very nice pairing here. Tasted like going to a friend's house for dinner. This friend is a bit of pot smoker. You like him. He's fun. You eat dinner, have some wine, good conversation. Then the evening gets to the 'I'm gonna blaze up, if that's alright' point. You don't care. He does. And the rest of the evening turns into one of those meandering conversations that twists and turns at a wonderfully pleasant, glacial pace that you get from about one out of thousand pot smokers. Usually, it gets rapidly weird and you plan your quick exit. With him, you relish the respite from everyday life.

Tasted like that.          

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