Kalamata Olive and White Bean Soup, Lion’s Head Meatballs, and Le Mourre de L’Isle Cotes du Rhone
This past week we faced a conundrum which was totally my fault. A few weeks ago we enjoyed a lovely roasted butternut squash soup and I thought maybe I could add some coconut milk to the soup recipe. I opened a can of coconut milk and once I tasted the coconut I realized it had no place in the recipe. So we were faced with an open can of coconut milk juxtaposed with a deep desire to have some meat, in any format. A family member sent us the Lion’s Head Meatball Recipe which I thought came out quite nicely. Even before I looked at the ingredients, it had me at Lion’s Head! What a great name for a meatball recipe, it is a dish from the Huaiyang cuisine of eastern China, consisting of large pork meatballs (about 7–10 cm in diameter) stewed with vegetables. We substituted the pork with beef and turkey and added in more vegetables to give the meatballs more lift and softness. The sauce that is paired with the spicy and lovely spiced meatballs was the centerpiece, as it consisted of this week’s secret ingredient 🙂
The sauce was one of those Aha moments in my cooking experience. I did not see how coconut, soy sauce, and curry powder would work together, wow I was wrong! When I placed the ingredients into the pot I did not like what I smelled. However, once the combination came to a boil and cooled down, I was hooked! The sauce was smooth both in texture and flavor, the curry powder’s extreme astringency melded into the coconut, while the soy sauce’s salt and acid added balance and lift, quite a nice combination. We had some nice brown basmati rice and a fresh green salad to pair with the Lion’s Head meatballs.
To start the meal we had a lovely bowl of our now signature olive soup, that I modified from Mollie Katzen original vegetarian cookbook, which is getting harder and harder to find. The soup is so nice because of the Kalamata olives that are used in the recipe. We tried to cook this soup once without Kalamata olives – and in the end, you could have just eaten the olives, it would have been a better use of them. The soup loses all reasons to exist, without the Kalamata olives. The lima beans that are in there as well complete the flavor and texture profile of the soup.
When I went looking for a wine to enjoy with our meal, I needed a wine that could handle the spice and heat, while also playing nice with the coconut and soy sauce, so I went with a bottle of the 2009 Vignobles David Côtes du Rhône Le Mourre de l’Isle. Recently this wine was discussed on Rogov’s forum, and was given a low score. I bought this wine with the sole interest in attempting to find the flaws that Daniel saw, and with the score he gave it, a backup was warming (or cooling in this case) in the bullpen. When I opened it, I did not sense any volatile acidity or off balance characteristics. It is a wine that starts off very tannic but that calms down after a few hours, and is one that easily live another year.
I will be very interested indeed to hear from others who may try this new vintage as I found it quite enjoyable and accessible now and one that has the enough stuffing to stay around for a few more innings.
The wine note follows below:
2009 Vignobles David Côtes du Rhône Le Mourre de l’Isle – Score: B to B+
The nose on this dark ruby to garnet colored wine starts off a bit closed, but quickly opens to black cherry, red berries, raspberry, perfume of dark chocolate, coffee, bramble, blackberry, and rich oak. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts off with astringent tannin, but they calm into nice mouth coating tannin, along with black cherry, blackberry, mineral, green notes, and plum. The green notes blow off over time, with the plum, black cherry, oak, and blackberry coming to the forefront. The mid palate is balanced with acid, coffee, chocolate, oak, and more mouth coating tannin. The finish is long with green notes, that burn off over time, along with plum, coffee, and oak.