Wistful Dreams -- Or, Spicy Times in Food and Wine

While the June Gloom's nowhere in sight this Saturday (yet), and it couldn't be a nicer day to live in San Diego -- 72 degrees, sunny, breezy, perfect -- I can't deny the aching wish to clone myself, and have both of me run away to the following simultaneously occurring events: the first annual international Grenache Symposium in the Rhône Valley; and the TAPAS Grand Tasting (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society) in San Francisco.

It's interesting, being on the periphery of something about which you're intensely driven; living the life of the day job, while being a part of, but not completely immersed in, another world entirely. More than a consumer, but mostly in that "other" category when it comes to the wine trade -- garagiste; wine blogger; pigeage fan... where's the box to check? Some things simply can't be contained.

Dream a Little Dream

People dream about all sorts of craziness, don't they? Monsters; flying; slow-motion drives down Hollywood Boulevard... Anyway. Jody dreams about food. The recipe for his secret meal this week, as he explained it, came in a dream.

It was a colorful dream, to be certain.
(I have some of those, too.)

I made him describe it step-by-step, and I'll translate it as best I can. The rice layer you see up there began with a base of onion, okra and asparagus, sauteed until crispy, and deglazed with rice vinegar. That mix, along with chili-garlic sauce, was then stirred into the jasmine rice that'd been stir-fried with oil and egg.

Then, he topped the rice with grilled skirt steak marinated in soy, Worcestershire and garlic, and garnished it all with fresh cilantro, basil and sliced red jalapeños. Flavor party!

A (Pleasant) Brown-Bag Surprise

If you're racking your brain trying to think of something to drink with this, you'd probably be wise to open an Orion and call it a day. But if it's wine or nothing, you couldn't get much better than pairing it up with my secret bottle. The multiple flavors in the meal, while very tasty, could have been a wine-pairing disaster -- instead, it all actually turned out quite nicely.

2007 tercero wines "The Climb," 50 percent Syrah, 50 percent Petite Sirah. Santa Barbara County, CA. 

Larry Schaffer, tercero wines owner/winemaker, and I first met on Twitter, and later in person at the San Diego Family Winemakers' Tasting. He's a super nice guy, and he makes a variety of delicious Rhône wines from Santa Barbara County. (Sound familiar?) I was excited to see this bottle at a local wine shop. You can order it from the website here.

Inky purple, with a brambly nose of blackberry, blueberry and baking spices, the wine was very smooth, and well integrated on the palate. The Syrah comes from the Thompson Vineyard in Los Alamos, one of the best-known Santa Barbara County sources for great Syrah. It's a big wine, but not overwhelmingly so.

With the food, the spiciness of the wine melded seamlessly. "The wine stands up for itself, and is delicious with the beef, with everything," I wrote.

Nice job, Larry! :)

Until next time, friends! And hey, if you happened to be at either one of those events neither of my non-cloned selves could attend, leave a comment and make me jealous.