Tue 17 Jun 2008
We often cook from a magazine-format book called Fast, published by Food & Wine in 2004. At four years old, our copy has seen hard use; the cover is separated from the inside pages, many pages are wrinkled and stained with wine or various unidentifiable substances; I think once the book was left out in the rain. Still, it survives and provides recipes for quick simple dishes that are packed with flavor. We had friends over for lunch last Sunday and prepared, from this venerable book, the Cold Cucumber Soup with Mint (it also contains radishes and dill) and the Shrimp with Watercress and Cannellini Beans.
Last night, we made the Singapore-Style Macaroni, contributed by the great cook and cookbook writer Madhur Jaffrey. This involves chicken and shrimp marinated in tamari, sherry, curry powder, sugar and sesame oil and then sauteed with garlic, ginger, jalapeno, scallions, carrots and basil (for which we substituted mint), all finely chopped. Then a little oyster sauce and chicken broth, stir it all into the pasta and voila, there’s dinner. The hardest part is the chopping, and that only takes 10 minutes or so. It was delicious; each bite allowed the elements of the dish to work together yet be detected separately.
For wine, because the dish is Asian-inspired, I thought riesling and plucked from the refrigerator the Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Riesling 2005, from Germany’s Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. In the official classification of German wines, this is a “QbA,” or Qualitatswein bestimmer Anbaugebiete, meaning that the wine in the bottle derives from only one of the country’s designated wine regions. QbA wines occupy the basic (but not necessarily “lowest”) rank of Germany’s qualitatswein or “quality wines.” I say not necessarily lowest, because while oceans of bland QbA wines exist, QbA products sometimes are made partly from declassified wines from a higher rank, and even if not that, they may reflect the true character of their grapes.
That’s certainly the case with the Thomas Schmitt Private Collection Riesling 2005, a wine that shimmers with crystalline purity and clarity. The wine is very pale gold in color; it’s clean and fresh and minerally, offering slightly spicy lemon scents and flavors with hints of pear and lychee and a touch of the grape’s defining rubber eraser character. In the mouth, it’s gently sweet on entry but firmly balanced by crisp acid and a limestone element that swings into play mid-palate and then dominates the finish. The wine is an appealing construct of freshness and delicacy for drinking through the end of 2008 or into 2009. Very Good+ and Good Value and about $15. It was lovely with our Singapore-Style Macaroni.