After taking "meat and potatoes" to the limit in great ways the night before, cleaning it up with our favorite home meal ever seemed right, proper and perfect. And it was. The first meal and recipe from an Oooold-School cookbook, The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. Great name and priceless "good times" picture on the front. Also a name that makes me miss Happy Food Spot on Lincoln. The name itself always brought a smile to my face. The second meal and recipe from a cookbook we thought might get some work but never thought it would get this much work, Around My French Table. Sources are important.
Both wines today came from Winerz, a wine shop that was only briefly in business in Orange County and Berkeley, IIRC. Shame. They had a fantastic selection.
Meal #1: Hanger Steak in ginger-garlic sauce and matchstick potatoes with 2005 Yalumba Hand-Picked Shiraz-Viognier Barossa ($30 - Winerz)
This was the first meat preparation used for "entertaining!" as a couple about a decade ago. Ain't that sweet? Hanger steak marinated in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, rosemary, five-spice, black pepper, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Ginger-garlic sauce (page 275) made with ginger, garlic, carrots, scallions, white wine, oregano, red pepper flakes, parsley, salt and pepper. Meat seared medium-rare. Two heaping handfuls per plate of matchstick fries, from The New York Times. Mayo for dipping =ed Hellman's canola mayo with toasted sesame oil, fish sauce, orange zest, three-year-old from Pingo Doce in Lisbon (you smell like fried chicken after you visit a Pingo Doce) chile-infused whiskey. So...meat, potatoes and mayo for dipping. And it was Old-School Awesome. Happy Food. Always.
Pop and pour for the Yalumba, a $30 wine that tastes like double that. Sadly, this was a wine available in Chicago for years. Now it's not. Much like many other good Australian wines since the collapse of the Australian wine market in America, Yalumba's better wines have seemingly pulled out of the Chicago market. It's all Y series stuff now. Makes us swoon for the halcyon days in the mid-aughts. Great Australian stuff to be had then.
Fancy Asian beef used to be our go-to pairing for this one. It's shown a more broader complexity in the past but the focus this time was quite welcome. Silky texture, great acid throughout and pretty lift at the end. On the downslope but just beginning. Wonderfully precise for the first hour and then started to get rather ordinary. Gobs of blackberry defined it. Then blackberry and licorice. Then blackberry and tobacco. Not a fruit bomb in the least, as it straddled the line beautifully between offering a bigger expression of fruit and being rather delicate and light. It's a house favorite and has been a frankly spectacular follow for years.
With Australian reds that has a little viognier in it, Asian flavors are the Goods, focusing and isolating the viognier and letting it do what it does. Ginger-spiked food-type stuff allows the viognier to play its part by offering more acid and rounding out the edges of the shiraz instead of sitting back and bringing little to the party (we've seen that happen). The wine becomes this big, round, voluptuous wonder, feminine in character with an Unsinkable Molly Brown-type personality. You just want to be around it. Our last bottle of 2005 and we probably won't be searching for more. In the realm of vintages of wine that we've had more than a few of, it goes on the mental mantel as one of the best. And a great pairing to end it.
Meal #2: Tuna with beets, beet greens, blood oranges and green olives with 2006 Angela Pinot Noir Clawson Creek Vineyard ($52 - Winerz)
The end of blood orange season, people. Get them while you can.
This meal, from Around My French Table, and first had by us here ("BEAT THAT!" was the chest pounding then and every time since).
Tuna crusted in pink, white and Szechuan peppercorns, coriander, cardamom, ginger and fleur de sel. Seared rare. Beets roasted, cilantro added. Blood oranges suprèmed, mint added. Beet stems sautéed, beet greens wilted. Castelventrano and lucques green olives. Pomegranate seeds. All of this put on the plate in quarters. Rare tuna over it all. Vinaigrette of extra virgin olive oil, shallot, cumin, lemon thyme, blood orange zest and juice drizzled on top.
This is an enormous plate of extraordinarily healthy food, has about 12,000 different flavor combinations and beats any fat-laden red meat experience in satisfaction any day. This or Kuma's as a death bed meal? This. I'm going out Clean-Satisfied. Best home meal on the books, hands down, mainly because we say that every time we have it. It's stood the test of time.
This tuna and Oregon pinot noir = Always. This food demands you pay attention to the bigger yet surprisingly delicate bites. Not too big, not too light? Oregon.
This was our last 2006 Angela and, again, we went out on a high note, just as above. I would say the 2006 has shown better than the 2007 and 2008 so far for us. It's more...confident but mysterious. We missed a black tea note that's shown up in the past, and frankly we've been missing the tea notes in Oregon pinot noir in recent vintages overall, but still deliciously nuanced stuff with this drinking. The fruit created the framework here in texture and impression but this was about its loamy earth and red fruit pit subtlety. Smoking fruit note, acidic earth and bulbous texture on the tongue that took an assertive yet properly fading path to a long finish that hung around longer than expected. Cherries and plums as a framework but this was really about how everything in the wine created a sip that transcending any technical description. Great wine with so many different things to say. That's the best way to describe it. Tasted like a historical document in ways. It's sort of dumb to say that a 2006 Oregon pinot noir can be a historical document but the taste here was what made us fall in love with Oregon pinot noir. In some ways, while we've had wines close to this and loved wines with a different face from Oregon recently, this expression was what brought us to Oregon. It was something that was only Oregon. Not trying to be Burgundy. Not trying to manipulate the fruit. Just Oregon.
The pairing helped bring that out. It was food and wine that played in the same acid realm, almost like it was putting that pairing concern aside, considered that settled, and got into the meaty, more important details of finding everything else that can be explored with a bite and sip. Perfect.
And great food week.
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