Sat 8 Nov 2008
I love to watch LL cook; it’s such a gratifying blend of intuition and thoughtfulness.
Here’s what she did last night:
She took a handful of Brussels sprouts and trimmed them, unlatching the leaves. She diced the insides of the sprouts and then sliced and diced a very handsome leek from Whole Foods and sauteed the diced sprouts and leeks over low heat in olive oil and a little butter, allowing them almost to melt. Then — you understand that this happens very quickly, while the pasta is cooking — she dropping the Brussels sprouts leaves in the pan and let them soften slightly; not too much, because you want a bit of crunch. And then added a handful of diced “Prosciutto Piccante” from La Quercia in Norwalk, Iowa. (This is great stuff.) She gazed into the distance for a moment and said,”This needs something to lift it, something bright,” by which she meant not so much something flavorful as something acidic, so she chopped some multi-colored cherry tomatoes and put them in the sauce at the last second, so they wouldn’t cook much at all. That was it. The pasta was done, she served it and we sat down to eat, and it was terrific.
A few tastes, and LL said, “Put a grind of pepper on it,” so I did, and then she went into the kitchen and came back with a bottle of extra virgin olive oil lightly infused with lemon. “A touch,” she said, “not too much.” And there it was, a perfectly balanced dish, encompassing a number of directions in texture and flavor.
So: what to serve with it?
I wanted a red wine but not something too heavy or too obvious and certainly not with much or any oak or tannin.
I chose the Meditrina (5), a non-vintage “American Red Wine” — thus the designation — produced by the venerable Sokol Blosser Winery in Dundee, Oregon, long famous for its pinot noirs and pinot gris wines. In a stroke of genius and luck, Sokol Blosser introduced a non-vintage white wine, Evolution, about 12 years ago; the mad-cap blend of nine grapes has been a huge success, so how could a blended red wine be neglected? The answer was Meditrina, now in its fifth release, hence the (5).
This combination of 48 percent syrah, 27 percent pinot noir and 25 percent zinfandel is as charming as all get-out, and while I would normally consider the blending of pinot noir as a profanation of its virtues, the scheme works well here. Meditirina (5) is ripe, a little fleshy, bursting with black currant and black cherry scents and flavors imbued with smoke and baking spice. The texture is smooth and satiny, and after a few minutes in the glass, the dark-hued wine picks up elements of leather, underbrush and brambles, along with a touch of wild berry. Very drinkable, with a hint of the untamed about it. Very Good+. About $18.
You can see by the Meditrina label that this is a wine with a great deal of design concept and marketing dynamic behind it, replete with whimsical back-story and label text; the same is true of Evolution. And as much as I believe that most “fun” wines are not very much “fun” — what makes a wine “fun” anyway? — Meditrina and Evolution (which I will review in a post soon) transcend the somewhat heavy-handed promotional energy behind them. They’re actually nice wines.