Thursday, February 28, 2013

Comfort Food

You've noticed that I've been busy lately, sorry to drop out like that. Lots of work and some work travel, and things just pile up.

I'm trying to get better about work travel, as it has become an inescapable fact of life for me, and it seems like it will get worse before it gets better. There are a few simple things I'm trying to do now that make it easier.

1) Travel light - sounds obvious, but I've begun taking it to the extreme. I pack almost nothing, try to fit whatever I need into a large laptop shoulder bag. Yup, I'm that guy with underwear in his computer bag. I cannot bring myself to wear lace-less shoes, and it's not for lack of trying. They just look so dorky on me.

2) Leave the house clean - coming home to a clean house just feels better.

3) Leave something easy and comforting in the fridge to cook when I get home. It cam be tempting to go out to eat after work travel because it's easy, but it's so much nicer to put on some music and make something at home, and to open a pleasing bottle.

Upon returning from a recent work trip I made the simplest of comforting meals - steak and mashed, and a salad. I feel like people think there's some sort of trick to making good mashed potatoes, and I just don't see it. Why is this tricky? I peel and coarsely chop a couple of russets (they cook quickly and have the right texture when mashed), put them in a pot of salted water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and test them until they give easily to a fork. Then it's through the potato ricer, and here is where the magic happens. The still hot but now ground potatoes are begging for seasoning, and they will readily accept whatever you give them. I keep it simple, with a glug or two of buttermilk, a pat or two of butter, a shake or two of salt, and a grind or three of black pepper. Honestly, it's hard to argue with the results.

Although I am still a believe in this method of cooking steak, the just-returned-from-work-travel mood doesn't allow for 25 minutes in the oven. I just pan fried this baby, let it rest, sliced it thick, whisked a little sherry vinegar and soy sauce into the pan juices, and went to town.

This has got to be one of the easiest dishes as far as wine pairing goes, it's hard to go wrong. This was comfort food night for me, after work travel. I wanted something familiar that would offer a pure form of pleasure.

The problem is, the wine just wasn't very satisfying. I drank the 2007 Coudert Fleurie Cuvée Tardive on only one other occasion, about 5 years ago at a friend's house. I remember thinking that it was entirely closed aromatically and on the palate, which is to be expected at that stage (and perhaps still now), but I also remember thinking that the wine just didn't feel right.  It had a murky quality, a lack of clarity that bothered me. But this is 5 years later and 2007 shouldn't be the type of vintage that requires a million years to reveal its charms. Shouldn't this be approaching drinkability now?

Who knows? The wine was still tight as a drum aromatically and on the palate - I mean nothing doing. Dark, dark, dark, and impenetrable. And then three hours later, the sun shone in and the veil lifted, and the wine showed lovely fruit and a nice clarity of flavor. Okay, I thought, this wine is just too young. And it probably is too young to drink now. But it never really stayed clear and bright - the darkness returned, especially on days 2 and 3, and by day 3 it seemed to be going downhill.

I am not familiar with the aging curve of Cuvée Tardive, and maybe I made a classic mistake in opening the bottle at this age. But I also think that the wine has a murky quality, a blurriness to the flavors that isn't terribly appealing. It's hard to accept that from a producer that I know and love - could it really be a not-so -great wine in 2007?

No matter. My dinner was comforting, and even though I didn't love the wine, it was comforting too. A familiar drink can be comforting even when it's not as delicious as it usually is.


Anonymous said...

Hey, BG,

I haven't considered cracking 2007 Tardive, really, but it is kind of you to take one for the team.

2002 is fab. 2005 is nowhere yet.


Tampa Primal said...

I was curious about their use of the term Cuvée Tardive when I spotted this wine at Chamber's Street (can't mean late harvested grapes I thought, right?). According to the Louis Dressner website "They call this Cuvée Tardive, meaning that it needs more aging time and has even greater longevity than the Clos cuvée." Perhaps 2017, my friend.

Anonymous said...


Cuvée Tardive is simply a joke poking fun at Beaujolais Nouveau. The wine does come from older vines and choice parcels, but it's not necessarily harvested later. It should, indeed, be enjoyed later in its life.


Anonymous said...

Looks delicious! I think I will prepare a dish like yours to eat after cycling! I need a hearty meal for recovery.