It's blood orange season! In our house, that means tuna season to a large degree. Tuna and blood oranges, for us, go hand-in-hand like Manti Te'o and lying. Or Lance Armstrong and bullying (I'm testing the limits of SEO). Michelle's Bangs! Sloane! JaMarcus Russell is fat!
While this meal isn't cheap, coming in at around $91 total for food and wine, just think if you're the type of person that spends $10,000 a month at restaurants...and then brags about it to your dining mates while eating at Elizabeth (think that didn't actually happen? Braggadocio of that ilk happens ALL THE TIME in environments like that. It's half the reason we've extricated ourselves from such things). I'd say this meal is a huge-ass bargain, comparatively.
Food: Tuna, blood oranges and heirloom tomatoes
Whole Foods Tuna - crust of pink, white and Szechuan peppercorns, cardamom, coriander, ginger slices and salt, seared rare. Put on a bed of Whole Foods heirloom tomatoes (three freakin' dollars a pop...but worth it in their juicy deliciousness) and arugula. Oil drizzled over everything made from shallots, toasted cumin seeds and blood orange zest, because if you're paying $1 an orange, you get your money's worth, damn it! Blood orange segments, gaeta olives and pomegranate seeds tossed on top with a smattering of caviar, just to gild the lily. As I read that, my own brain is saying, "Oh, F&*k Nuts! This post is ridiculous! Who the hell eats like this?" With the caviar, not us. We've never bought caviar. First time and probably never again. Don't get it, don't need it, can't afford it. Bought it to try it once for a potato pancake and dill yogurt Inauguration lunch, it was nice as a one-off and now we're done. Took it off the tuna after about three bites. Not our bag.
This meal sparkled. Always does. I'd take another picture and post it but I feel like I have to scrub myself down with a wire brush every time I do that.
So...and anyway...$23 tuna. $9 tomatoes (!). $2 blood oranges. $7 for the various other things. $10 for caviar (money utterly flushed down the toilet here).
That's $51 for two plates of happy-slappy, clean deliciousness. How much is one entrée at Blackbird now? Go look. I'll wait. Yeah. Creeped up over the last year or two, haven't they? And that's with the caviar fail! Take that out and you're down to $41. For two.
One other note. If you're a Whole Foods fish/meat shopper, Halsted's your answer. North Avenue Whole Foods just doesn't cut the mustard (what does that phrase mean, exactly?). Cut on the tuna this time was two inches on one side, an inch on the other, skin left on, etc. Quality tuna flavor here and this complaint really sounds like white people problems but when you're shelling out $23.... Go to Halsted. Those people are just the best.
Wine: 2010 Owen Roe Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Durant Vineyard ($42 - Winery)
2010 was cold in the Dundee Hills and in Oregon overall. We were told by the nice tasting person this wine was very Burgundian in style at a winery tasting when we bought this one. She wasn't joking.
Took a chance here. This one isn't ready to show everything it can offer but a two-hour, quadruple decant got things moving to our satisfaction. Tight and bigger at first, with raspberry and strawberry fruit, seeds and all, dominating the start. This one leaned back in the recliner and got comfortable rather quick-like though. Tiny wisps of earth and fine darker chocolate here and there with small hits of herbs.
But this was defined by its gentle, graceful and subtle body. Never loud, never screaming to say things, this one, especially with the food, sat back, let the food take center stage, and just chimed in at exactly the right moment to ensure that you never forgot about it. The bigger flavors in the food pried open the wine in great ways but wait more than a few years before opening this one. It has much more to offer.
Pairing: Tuna and pinot noir. Always. This one was unique, though.
Similar tuna prep as in the past. Oregon pinot noir with this tuna has been our go-to wine for the most part. The wine didn't want to be the headliner. No inclination to even attempt to do so throughout the meal. This is the most back-seaty an Oregon pinot has taken with this meal for us but it was also never compromised, clouded or overrun. The integrity of the wine never wavered, giving what it wanted to give when it wanted to give it.
In that way, it WAS very Burgundian with that unique quietness that never resembles limpness. It means grace. This one has it. Just wait a few years. Should be freakin' spectacular.
A Couple Of Notes Just For Record-Keeping Purposes:
Aforementioned potato pancakes, tarragon crème fraiche and caviar with 2009 Korbel Brut ($17 - Binny's). Yep. Korbel, the stuff Obama was serving for Inauguration so we did the same as we watched said Inauguration. And I gotta say, I had preconceived notions going in about Korbel. If we were given this at a party...not too shabby, really. Surprising balance. More of a sparkling beverage than any real character but...I'd take it. Not $17 take-it but not bad...at all. And was just fine with the food, bringing a respectable lift to the food.
Cuban garlic roasted chicken and roasted pepper salad with yucca fries and mayo for dipping with NV Muga Conde de Haro Cava Rioja ($24 - Binny's) and 2011 Abacela Albariño Umpqua Valley ($17 - Winery). Garlicky! Very good roasted pepper salad, weird chicken, great yucca. Cuban food is the goods. This one fell a tad short in Cuban goodness due to the chicken. But the wines were chockablock with interestingness that took themselves out of the realm of simply just interesting. Rioja is beginning to experiment with sparklers on a bigger scale lately. This one, though expensive for what you get, gives all that makes white Rioja (viura-malvasia blend) tasty and unique in bubbles form. Solid offering here. Great cut and swagger. With the albariño, we've checked in on Abacela's albariño bottling for the last few years because they give a New World albariño that tastes like a bargain Rías Baixas. It's never challenging the best that Galicia can offer but it does a damn fine job in giving much of what it does. Nice.
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