Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lamb and a Loire Red

Lamb is probably my favorite carne - such intense flavor, rich and kind of gamey. I love grilling chops or kebobs, and I am learning from the wife how to roast lamb. She makes these little cuts on the surface and inserts slivers of garlic, she rubs mixtures of herbs she has pounded in the mortar and pestle...she's some sort of lamb magician - her roast lamb is always moist and flavorful.

BrooklynLady also makes wonderful harissa, that she likes to stir into her vegetable soup. She made some yesterday and I appropriated a bit as a rub for a piece of lamb shoulder, which I roasted with a few small russet potatoes from the farmer's market. We opened a bottle of 2004 Domaine des Roches Neuves Terres Chaudes, a cabernet franc from Saumur Champigny in the Loire Valley. The Wine Doctor gives great background information - worth checking out (but the link seems to be crashing my computer now, as does any attempt to get to the wine doctor site).

BrooklynLady and I never made it to Saumur Champigny when we visited the Loire Valley last year. We had only 4 days and we prioritized Chinon and Bourgueil for reds, a mistake in retrospect. I have been exploring some Saumur Champigny wines lately and I am really enjoying them. Thierry Germain's (winemaker at Roches Neuves) 2005 Saumur Champigny is a truly great value at $15. It's deep and dark purple and full of blackberry and plums, with some pleasantly dusty tannins to make things interesting. It's young and fruit forward, and meant to drink that way.

Tonight, with my current roast lamb effort, I decided to try the second wine from Roches Neuves, the 2004 Terres Chaudes. At $20, it is not much of a jump up in price. It is also an inky wine, but more of a garnet than the purple of the entry level wine. It has the same dark and big fruity quality as the entry level wine, but there is something more complex happening, something earthy and a bit gamey. There is more acidity, and also some iron on the finish, something I find to be common among Loire cabernet francs. The wine continues to evolve in the glass, and would probably improve with some age.

The lamb came out well this time, most likely due to the spicy warmth of the harissa. We ate it with the russets (undercooked - will I ever get this roasting thing right?) and bok choy. A very satisfying meal on a rainy Wednesday night.


Dr. Debs said...

What a great fall meal--and thanks for the wine tip. Aren't you lucky to have someone who makes harissa! The secret of roast potatoes, incidentally, is in Nigella Lawson's How to Eat. It depends on banging parboiled potatoes around in a pan with some semolina flour, then putting them in a hotter oven than you would have imagined for a lot longer than you would have imagined. We suffered from undercooked potatoes for years--now we know.

As for the wine photos, I get theme from the wine-maker sites, and include them with a credit. Can't figure out the flash thing myself!

Brooklynguy said...

Thanks for the potato tip -I will try that. And for the wine photo tip. Mine just stink.