How do you eat beets, carrots, avocados, garlic, green beans, kumatoes, potatoes, onions, olives, capers, duck, tuna, mâche, arugula and a boatload of herbs in one day? You eat two salads, silly. One's a house staple in tuna Niçoise and the other is entirely new to us in a beet, carrot and avocado salad with duck breast. Not new any longer as this one should occupy a big spot in the food rotation henceforth.
Lunch: Tuna Niçoise with 2011 Domaine Les Pallières Au Petit Bonheur Rosé ($20 - Binny's)
A's Do Mar oil-cured tuna, kumatoes, potatoes, onions, green beans, Niçoise olives, capers and two hard-boiled eggs with a dressing of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, white balsamic, basil, oregano, thyme and dijon, all over mâche. Typically use grape tomatoes but the swap-out for kumatoes is a winner here, keeping everything beautifully in a darker, more streamlined, tighter realm. Big love for this salad, now and always.
Typically served in our house with a French rosé, this Domaine les Pallières rosé has become the default choice for tuna Niçoise of late. A cooperation between Kermit Lynch and the Brunier brothers of Vieux Télégraphe, the entire Pallières line has varying degrees of loveliness (Les Racines is a personal favorite). All are entirely friendly wines that never pander to anybody, never trying too hard for you to like them. They're very terroir-driven wines, all utterly unique and all very reasonably priced. Many people poo-poo grenache, thinking it to be too obvious and blunt, possessing few secrets. This is good grenache that shows how grenache can be just the tops.
Tons of salt, butterscotch and rocks with this drinking. Fruit of light strawberry water with a touch of cherry. Dry with a nice lingering burn. Perky at first, with a huge salty-rocky middle and a red wine-like finish that goes on much longer than most rosés. More perky and fresh in the past but this one is still wonderful, showing a more Rhône-like growl.
And that matched up perfectly with the darker Niçoise impression. Both came with an attitude and both put it in their back pocket and talked up a storm.
Dinner: Beets, carrots and avocado salad with duck breast with 2008 Neudorf Moutere Pinot Noir ($20 - Binny's)
Speaking of attitudes, if you want food with attitude that's freakin' delicious and new every time, you cook Jamie Oliver recipes. More specifically, you cook up this one that's sort of a melding with another Jamie Oliver salad involving beets and carrots. Mrs. Ney swapped out pork chops for duck breast from the second recipe because pork chops are boring. And she nixed the creamy dressing, exchanging it for more of the carrot marinade made into a dressing and a warmed lavender bud and olive oil drizzle. Swapped out regular oranges for blood oranges as well. Made a difference in taking things deeper with the less bright acid not fighting the descent.
The end result was roasted beets and carrots with slices of avocado over arugula and medium-rare, ras el hanout-rubbed duck breast on top. Tasted like everything Jamie Oliver recipes are - roasty, gnarly, garden-y and a flurry of over-the-top delicious flavors jumping and jiving all over the place. It was a mix-and-match explosion. Duck and avocado. Beet, avocado and carrot. Carrot, duck and arugula. All of it together. Never a dull bite and always chockablock with awesomeness.
New food. And G-R-E-A-T food.
Good backbone with the wine and it mostly succeeded in bringing just enough of the interesting interestingness. All black tea and sassafras with a small black cherry liqueur hit that stayed in check, never wandering into sappy. Medium-bodied, nice balance and enough acid to keep things pumping along. Seems to be just opening up. Nice. The first Nelson region New Zealand wine for us (with Moutere being the sub-region) and if this is any indication, there's a uniqueness here, coming off like no other pinot noir we've experienced. That uniqueness came in the order in which it expressed itself and where it took pinot noir. Good stuff. Liked it. Worth the $20, tough sell at the $50 release price.
The food won the night but the Neudorf cast a wide net with this food, bringing a pleasing duck and pinot noir match-up while never fighting the veg. Good. We'd try something else with this food in the future. A great pairing exists here.
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