Monday, August 31, 2009

Groggy Bloggy

Having been doped up with fairly heavy anesthesia during yet another cortizone shot for my herniated L4 and L5 discs this morning, I'm still feeling a bit out-of-it. Forgive me for the lateness of the posting as well as if I start rambling into oblivion. No surprises last night--all of the wines we tasted are oldie-but-goodie Farm Dinner faves. That's ok, right? After all, if it ain't broke (or herniated) don't fix it.

Monday, 08.31.09
Course 1: Fingerling potatoes and heirloom Italian braising greens with sunny side quail egg, bottarga, and baby leeks

Preliminary Pairings: NV Joseph Perrier Brut Royale, 2007 75 Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc

Duncan's haute potato salad was tangy and rich, with a hint of earthiness and a pleasing texture . . . pretty much like regular ol' potato salad, but better ingredients. The Green Acres Farm fingerlings were dressed in dijon and olive oil and tossed with Windy Knoll baby leeks, Living Waters red dandelion greens, and Kinnickinnick Farms minestra nera (an heirloom Italian brassica (broccoli) family green), all with lemon juice and lemon vinaigrette. A sunny side up Swan Creek Farm quail egg (and Mom and Dad, I know you bemoan the recent proliferation of quail eggs on all your favorite dishes, but you've gotta jump on the bandwagon here, they are delicious) provided fat once sliced and interspersed, and shaved bottarga (dried tuna roe) added crunch.

A "fancy" dish needs a fancy wine, right? Hence my old reliable Joseph Perrier Brut. Like I've said before, beautiful golden bubbles with toasty oak and zippy acid. Perfect foil for the richness of the egg and the starch in the potatoes, not to mention the subtle fruit lent lovely balance to the earthy greens. Part of me wonders if we like Champagne with fatty foods for the same reason we like Coke with burgers and fries--for the way the carbonation diminishes and cuts through the fat. Anyone? 75 Wine SB is all lemon and lemon peel, with a slight salinity, fresh herbs, and beautifully proportioned acid. Absolutely a must with the lemony vinaigrette and the tangy dijon. We seem to be enjoying a nice equilibrium lately with our Farm Dinner wines--some we like as a counterpart to the dish, and some we like as a complement.

Favorites: JP as a counterpart, 75 as a complement

Course 2: Rose poached Coho salmon with Israeli cous cous, fennel, black olive, saffron, and Michigan grapes

Preliminary Pairings: 2007 75 Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Triennes Rose, 2007 Saint Gregory Pinot Meunier

Jason asked me to recommend a rose for his salmon poaching (ah, poaching the filets, not, like, going out to illegally fish for salmon . . . but you guys knew that . . . ) Anyway, my first thought was the grapefruit citrusy and lightly spiced Triennes, but I asked JH for a bit more info and was delighted to hear that we were both barking up the same tree. I asked him where he felt Course 2 originated (as in California, or Morocco, or Bora-Bora) and he said Provence! Brilliant, for Triennes, too, hails from Provence. So, wild-caught Cohos were poached sous-vide with the Triennes, vegetable stock, tarragon, and some other herbs-du-you-know-where. Underneath the filets, a bed of Israeli cous cous thickened with pureed white beans. On the side, a salad of Kinnickinnick spigarello (another heirloom Italian brassica), Klug Farm jupiter grapes (gigantic, juicy, purple numbers), lemon confit, and fennel. Finally, two different purees swooshed up the sides of the plate: saffron-orange and black olive. A very light and well balanced dish, with fennel and black olive layering the flavors and adding depth.

75 and Triennes were pretty much no-brainers, with the citrus aspects of both complementing the lemon confit and saffron puree, and providing tartness and crispness to balance the salmon and cous cous. Saint Gregory, as we all know, is a smart little alternative to pinot noir and a favorite of mine with richer fish and earthier flavors. Saint Gregs is light in body but substantial of flavor and juicy fruit, as well as possessing a slight brooding funkiness and zippy spice. We could truly taste Gregs with the salmon dish, not just sense it, and in this way it became not only the most challenging pairing with Course 2, but also a way to showcase a truly special wine. (And it showed--we practically sold out of it!)

Favorites: All three, but Saint Gregory was the special favorite

Course 3: Roasted plum and frangiapane tart with almond-plum ice cream

Preliminary Pairings: NV Patrick Bottex Vin du Bugey-Cerdon, 2005 Oremus Late-Harvest Tokaji

Frangiapane isn't for everybody, but die-hards are obsessed with it. Frangiapane is basically the cake form of almond paste (controversial marzipan is the candy form). I think frangiapane is deeeeeelish, and absolutely wonderful with fruit. Course 3 was fairly straightforward, with Klug Farm plums as the main component in the tart with a light-as-air shortdough crust. Melissa swirled plum sorbet into almond brittle ice cream to create the dreamiest dreamsicle. Bugey, oh Bugey, will you ever disappoint us? Probably not. If any of you out there have not been to Lula to experience the Bug, shame on you. Two recent converts (ladies at the bar with the bundt cake, can I get a what-what) can attest to Bugey's power as an aphrodisiac. The juicy sweet red fruit notes enhanced the sugar-plum-fairy tart while standing up to the rich and buttery crust and ice cream components. Tojaki was just good--definitely not bad, but didn't complete the package as well as Bug. I think that the citrus notes in Oremus were slightly overwhelming and didn't quite mesh with the almond flavors as I had hoped.

Favorite: Bugey, natch. And Frangelico, which Kendal and Dave were kind enough to sample for us.

I should be up and running (or, at least, making the rounds in my low-healed pumps) by tomorrow, and hopefully I'll see many of you sampling the goods. E-kisses!

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