This...is a lot of vegetables. And something so welcome after the richness of the night before.
Jonathan Waxman recipe with sauvignon blanc in Sancerre form. If pressed, I might say the Pouilly-Fumé in my experience brings more of the sauvignon blanc goods than Sancerre. There's something about Pouilly-Fumé's haunting, minerally, smoky length in the ones I've had. Sancerres (again, in the ones I've had) tend to be more gregarious and a wee bit quicker to get to the point. That said, both are head and shoulders above the rest of the world in showing where sauvignon blanc can go and it's more a 1 and 1A thing than any real decipherable difference. In fact, put them next to each other and give them to me blind, there's no way in heck I could truly tell the difference. But there's sauvignon blanc and then there's Loire Valley sauvignon blanc. Two different beasts. If I were told I had to only have one region's wine for the rest of my life, it's the Loire Valley...and it's probably not even close.
Food: Chilean sea bass and braised endive-leek-tomato stew-salad, baguette and butter with arugula salad to finish
Recipe from Jonathan Waxman, published in Saveur, with some alterations. Leeks, endive and shallots braised in arbequeña extra virgin olive oil and their own released juices. Deglazed and reduced: Muscadet, preserved lemon, Aleppo pepper, tarragon, dill. Added at the end: grape tomatoes, basil, mint, white pepper.
Spend for your fish. It's just better. $20 Chilean sea bass thanks to the nice Tuesday morning lady at Whole Foods on Halsted: "Sear skin side down. Turn over. Pop in a hot oven for ten minutes." Cooked only with smoked salt, tellicherry pepper and 12-year white balsamic vinegar from Fustini's.
Baguette and butter. Arugula, parsley, & pomegranate seed salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and cheap white balsamic vinegar.
Fool-proof fish cooking method! Some of the best, fresh fish we've had in this house. Meaty, yet light and bright while being able to taste the sea bass-ness completely. The simple cooking method and bare-bones toppings helped to nail the fish perfection. Just great stuff.
Braised endive, leek and tomato stew-salad is a vegetable explosion highlighted by how well all the herbs and spices get in there, down and deep. Every bite is different, every bite is clean, every bite is an herb-and-spice-laced sensation.
Fresh and clean food led by great fish but backed up nicely by a swirl of herbs and veggies.
Big success. Spring food. Tasted like an unseasonably warm day in March where some piles of snow are still on the ground.
And the wine slid right in.
Wine: 2010 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre Blanc ($26 - Binny's)
A Kermit Lynch import (if a label says that, you buy that). Pure and focused, not delicate but certainly graceful with a big nose. Lemons, persimmons, grass and brighter, white, smaller minerals on the nose that followed through on the palate with an added chive, even green shallot hit. This one is defined by its sparkly acidity that, while leading to a crisp, dry finish, it never rushed to get there. As it came up to close to room temperature, a compost element began to show (almost making it a ringer for a fresh Portuguese white) that brought even more complexity and deliciousness. Great balance that took its time to tell its story.
At times, cheaper Sancerre can wander into something resembling a Muscadet. Muscadet has a place. Good Muscadet has a great place, but it's a more...simple expression. Spend just a few more bucks for good Sancerre and you get so much more than what that few bucks cost you.
Pairing: Just a few inches away from pairing perfection
Speaking of Muscadet. Last February, we had ten year-old Muscadet (and another Kermit Lynch import) with a very similar meal. That was one of the best pairings we had in the last year. This one didn't reach those heights but came goshdarn close.
Tons of weaving in and out with the wine and the abundance of basil, mint, dill, preserved lemon and white pepper in the food, making for a meal that tasted like a good group conversation at a party, standing over the keg.
Not perfect but very close. The wine took the food from fresh and light with echoes of spring to a very specific taste of spring with all its new grass and cool spring breeze.
Total Cost of the Meal: About $55. Yes, please. Always. Take it any day.