Wednesday, May 14, 2008

From Good To Better

It was a perfect day today: warm, gently breezy, cloudless. I of course had to spend the bulk of it hunched over this wretched appliance, but I did break out this afternoon to do some gardening and then hit the store for a couple of things. On the way back up out of the valley, there are some particularly nice views of the mountains North of town from a couple of places. Down here, all the trees are pretty much fully burst into leaf, but up on the mountain top they're still bare- so there is a perfect gradient from bright Spring green at the bottom to dull brown at the top, with the trees at the summit still naked. Because of the late afternoon sun, this gradient had the added overlay of orange light which made purply shadows that defined the topographical undulations the gradient had ignored. This is the kind of thing that makes me swoon; I am a complete sucker for color, especially when complements coexist without graying each other out.

Speaking of topographical undulations, I had a hankering to do something elegant on the homemade plates, so while buying red meat to satisfy a cranky spouse I also picked up a small hunk of tuna for an appetizer. Minced very fine with chives, jalapeño, olive and sesame oils, tamari, dried sudachi zest, cider vinegar and lemon juice it made an excellent tartare to begin the meal. Milo wolfed it down, saying "this doesn't taste like tuna fish." I poured some 2002 Baumard Savennières to go with it, which it did, and handsomely at that. For around 15 bucks, this one is a winner. And Savennières worth the name is very ageworthy, so it's just starting to pick up some rich, unctuous honey around the edges of the minerals, melons and sour apples (though it will only go so far; for more, you'll need to shell out more than around 15 bucks.) As I am fond of saying- about wine, and life in general, "You may get what you pay for, but you sure don't get what you don't pay for."

Then, because we've subsisted for months on the cheap, slow-cooking cuts of lamb, a perfect rack (local and organic, of course) trimmed and Frenched, rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin, seared in the iron pan and then put in the oven to finish while I tended to the rest of the mayhem on the stove: caramelized turnip cubes with onion, steamed sunchokes subsequently puréed with yogurt, butter, and salt, and Pak choi quickly sautéed with garlic and lemon juice. I had also made a pesto of all the herbs we have going on right now: mint, chives, garlic chives, rosemary, sage, lemon balm, oregano, and thyme, plus olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar, salt and lots of pepper.

The chops separated to reveal juicy pinkness, and the roots- one creamy and smooth, the other crispy, both super sweet- offered a wonderful counterpoint to the meltingly tender meat and tangy pesto. I should have put the greens on the same plate, but I had some clamoring going on at the table and needed to get food into faces stat. For this course, I popped a 2001 Carver Sutro petite sirah, which is a favorite of the wife, and thus chosen to smooth out any remaining rough edges; it's at its peak, and a veritable jam-fest on strong structure. And thus did I discover the cure for PMS.


Zoomie said...

You have this wife-taming thing down to a science! Bravo!

Heather said...

I like the use of turnip with sunchoke. Both earthy-sweet, neither a potato. Sounds perfect.

Red meat and wine tames every savage beast!

We Are Never Full said...

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog...

your tuna picture is gorgeous. We just made a steak tartar but tuna tartar is my second favorite (it's my first when only bad meat is available!). also, the pesto you made w/ the lamb is almost an italian salsa verder to a tee!

peter said...

Zoomie: It's more of an art than a science.

Heather: The two roots were sublime together- apart from the pudding-tender meat, they were the best part.

Amy: So gorgeous that Tastespotting didn't like it.

I love raw fish in almost any form, and the sauce changes every time based on what's perfect in the garden.

cook eat FRET said...

tastespotting - tthey are so random in what they choose. my last 2 posts? nada.

i'm a lamb lover. beautiful dinner.

the pms thing? you're a genius...