Monday, July 30, 2012

Kaffir Lime

Sunday after our visit with Donald and Terry at Boxwood Winery, Amanda and Dimitri came back to our house for dinner. Donald and Terry went straight back home after the winery because they have to get up so darned early in the morning to commute. That sucks!

After the long thirsty ride home from the winery, we cracked a bottle of Palacio de Feffinañes Albariño. The lemony mineral crispness was very refreshing after drinking the Boxwood Topiary Cabernet Franc blend at the winery. I got some salume out of the fridge to go with the bottle of 2007 Alpha Estate Red that Dimitri brought with him. I have tasted Alpha wines a few times in the last couple of years and they are always very good. This particular blend of Syrah, Xinomavro, and Merlot from the far north of Greece worked really well with the sausages from Olli Salumeria just west of Richmond. We had a Norcino and a spicy Calabrese made with Sangiovese. Delicious.

Greek Wine and Virginia Salume, a Great Combo!
It is so rare that I plan a meal ahead on a Sunday, my day off from the restaurant. Usually, I am very content to go with the flow and create something out of whatever we have on hand. But not this weekend. We just got a new batch of kaffir lime leaves in and they have inspired me to create a couple of new dishes that I wanted to do at home. Ann kept asking all day what was for dinner and I kept blowing her off, wanting to surprise her.

I came up with this mussel dish for a tasting this week and I liked it so much that I wanted to reprise it. Start by sautéing minced garlic in olive oil with a few kaffir lime leaves. Then add the mussels and a shot of dry white wine (I used Sancerre), cover the pan, and let the mussels steam. When the mussels are open, remove them to a bowl, and return the pan with the cooking liquid to the heat. Add a good splash of coconut milk to the pan along with a shot of fish sauce. Let reduce by half. Meanwhile, add fresh kaffir lime leaves, cilantro leaves, and Thai basil leaves to the mussels. Once the broth is reduced, off heat, stir in a couple tablespoons of tobiko which will turn the broth a glorious orange color. Pour over the mussels and toss well.

Mussels with Coconut Milk, Thai Basil, Cilantro, and Tobiko

Yum! They were Delicious!
For the main course, I wanted to do pork and thought that Syrah might just be a great pairing so Dimitri brought along a bottle of 2006 Grand Rêve Syrah from Red Mountain in Washington State, a dense berry fruit-driven wine. I kicked in a bottle of Barrel 27 Syrah from Paso Robles. Both had enough oomph to stand up to dinner. I love Syrah and was excited to taste the Grand Rêve for the first time. This is not a wine in my usual price category. I have tasted some neighboring wines and like most of the other wines hailing from Red Mountain, Washington's smallest AVA, it is a super effort!

Dueling Syrahs, not a Bad Choice for Pork
For dinner, I reprised a great staff meal from last week, grilled pork burger bánh mì. I originally made this as a meatball for a cocktail party that we catered a couple weeks back. The pork is flavored with a slurry of kaffir lime, cilantro, Thai basil, ginger, garlic, palm sugar, black pepper, and fish sauce. The slurry is so green that it tints the pork! I served them on split and grilled demi-baguettes drizzled with a sweet and spicy rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and chile paste sauce. Garnishes are cole slaw (rice vinegar and sugar dressing), cucumber slices, and fresh cilantro. The flavor and aroma of these burgers is just ridiculous!

Pork Burger Bánh Mì
Yet another great weekend! Thanks to Dimitri for bringing along such incredible wine!

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