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Leftovers, Dandelion salad, and a killer red wine!!!

April 7, 2010

Hello! I hope this finds you on your way to a great meal or just finished with one.

The only bitter in our household last night was in the salad and it was the best kind of bitter. We had some leftover Mac N Cheese that my daughter made, some leftover roast pork and that was going to be our dinner. I realized we needed a cleansing element to balance out the richness of the other two. I had a bunch of dandelion greens. I also had some Marcona almonds. I started to mind taste and got excited about sherry vinegar (sherry wine and Marcona almonds are a classic food/wine match that will rock your culinary world). I made a quick dressing with sherry vinegar, good xv olive oil, a pinch of salt and a handful of Marcona almonds that I crushed in a sandwich bag. The crushed almonds blended into the oil and vinegar (with just a whisk) giving it a natural thickness as well as the full toasted almond flavor. I cut up some sweet tomatoes (hard to find this time of year) into small slices and salted them to extract their juice and flavor. I tossed it all together with the dandelion greens. What an awesome combo. The dandelion greens are REALLY bitter but super flavorful and hardy. A kiss of arugula mixed with the bitterness of endive yet a bright green herbaceous quality unique to dandelion. The sweet tomato was the perfect offset to the bitterness. The best discovery was how cleansing the salad was with the richness of the Mac N Cheese (which my daughter did a brilliant job making. Gruyère, cheddar and Parm, cooked perfectly al dente with some beautiful toasted breadcrumbs on top) and the pork.  Because we were eating leftovers I could justify spending a little more on the vino by cracking a nice bottle (can you picture my wife shaking her head with my rationalizations?) The wine was 2008 “The Chocolate Block” from South Africa. A blend of 69% Syrah (spicy, black pepper fruit), 12% Grenache (that is all it took to bring forward it’s Smokey, leathery beauty), then some Cabernet, Cinsault, and the white Rhone varietal Viognier. It would be easy to get scared when you see a combination of varietals from Bordeaux and the Rhone, red and white grapes and made in South Africa. That is the new wine world we live in and it was BRILLIANT. It was brilliant by itself with enough fresh acidity to not require food. It was not great with the salad. The bitterness of the greens conflicted with the tannin in the wine and left the fruit and acid out of balance. You really need a white wine with good acid (sauvignon blanc) with a salad. The next bite/sip combo was with the Mac N Cheese. Better than the salad but the heaviness of the cream stripped away too much of the tannin in the wine leaving it a little “thin”. That is why dry aged cheese is always better with red wine than triple cream/soft type cheesed. Still very enjoyable though. The home run was the pork and wine. The protein in meat is always a natural with red wine and the pork had been braised with fennel seed and orange zest. It married beautifully with the black pepper fruit and smokiness of the wine and made both the food and the wine better (the ultimate goal with a food and wine match). For those of you getting into wine/food pairings just remember the goal is to trust you palate. As Josh Wesson taught us long ago don’t get into the “red with meat and white with fish rule”. Look at the cooking technique, the sauce and your mood and then decide on a wine that is likely to match. More to come…

Eat Well, Enjoy life, Be happy

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2010 5:02 pm

    I don’t like bitter foods but this looks yummy… =)

    • Jeffrey Saad permalink
      April 30, 2010 7:49 pm

      Thank you Micah, let me know if you try it! Take care. Best, Jeffrey 🙂

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