This past weekend I decided it was time to go out and make some food that was not quite run of the mill. On my last trip to Israel I went to a Moroccan Restaurant and fell in love with Tajine (there seems to be a discussion about the correct spelling of Tajine or is it Tajine :-), either way the food tastes great!). So I started searching for recipes to how to make a Tajine. Well the official manner is with a Tajine itself used to slow cook or braise stews. The beauty of the Tajine is the evaporative and condensing powers it beholds. You see the genius behind this earthenware pot is in its tight seal and its tepee cover. The tight seal means none of the flavors or good stuff evaporates outside of the pot. Meanwhile inside the pot crazy stuff is going on. The meat, fruit, and spices are percolating away and getting denser and richer and flavors are melding into the liquid which is evaporating under the oven’s heat. But because of its ingenious cover, the liquid that evaporates and does not leave the well sealed pot, condenses and further adds flavors to the overall dish. The sad thing is that most of us do not have one of these killer pots, or one big enough to feed 12 people. So I went with my Le Creuset knockoff from Lodge, which did the trick. The dish came out fantastic and was really a hit. Of course with all that spice packed food, one needs wine that will stand up to the intense flavors. So I had a few wines that have been sitting in the cellar waiting for their time on the table. All of them hail from Israel and they were fun to drink, but No A’s today, my friends. One wine scored an A- but no knockout. Still they were enjoyable and kept up with the meal, which was the most important thing.
On an aside two of the wines traveled with me from Israel (the Castra Red and the Katlav Cabernet). You remember my visit to the Katlav Winery and my visit to the Zemora Winery on my previous trip to Israel. The good news is that you do not need to go to Israel and schlep one back. The Katlav Cab and Merlot are available here in the US – it is imported by Abarbanel (who is really not stepping up – but that is a different topic for another time). Do a quick Google on Katlav Cabernet and you will find many reputable shops that carry the wine (along with the far better Merlot). The Zemora wine is not currently exported to the USA – but the winery is supposedly being sold, so I have no more information at this time.
The wine notes follow below:
2004 Zemora Castra Red – Score: B+
This wine is a blend of 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 3% Shiraz and 2% Petit Verdot. The nose on this inky black wine is very Syrah like (which is strange given that the wine is so low in Syrah) Blackberry, cassis, mint, and wood. The mouth on this full bodied wine is layered, starting with cassis and blackberry, but mixed with some tart cherry and blueberry. The mid palate is a tannic and green, the finish is nice but dominated by wood and acid
2002 Ella Valley Vineyard’s Choice Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: A-
The nose on this black colored wine has blackberry, cloves, plum, and wood notes. The mouth on this soft full bodied wine is filled with blackberry, cassis, and wood. The mid palate is lush and balanced with caressing tannins. The finish is long with wood, tobacco, and hints of chocolate. This soft and full bodied wine is another example of the 2002 curse. It is a wine whose fruit is going fast and one that is well balanced without an overpowering wood presence.
2005 Katlav Cabernet Sauvignon – Score: B+
This nose on this deep garnet colored wine is filled with blackberry, cloves, and spicy wood. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has notes of blackberry and plum. The mid palate is acidic and herbal. The finish is filled with oak, oak, and more oak. The spicy oak overpowers the finish and I think takes away from an otherwise decent wine.