April 23, 2011

Malbec from Argentina and Pork Chops

I am a big fan of mushrooms, so when I came across this recipe for pork chops with mushrooms and asparagus, I knew I had to try it. The recipe used fresh and dried morel mushrooms, however, I could not find fresh morels. I know this is the season for them, and I know they even grow around here, but one might have to know someone who knows someone, if you know what I mean, to get one's hands on those...

Alternately, I could have hit the hiking trails and scavenged the woods for these little treasures... but at second thought, this did not seem like a good idea. Instead I picked up some maitake mushrooms at my grocery store. I am sure they are very different from morels, but as I said, I have never met a mushroom I did not like, so I stayed very open-minded in that regard.

The other vegetable in the dish is asparagus, also in season right now. It is one of my favorites as well, but if not for the recipe, I would have never thought of putting asparagus and mushrooms together. The pork chops were extra thick and bone-in, just as I like them, so that they stay juicy.

The vegetables were important components of this dish, but matching a wine with them, was somewhat of a challenge. Mushrooms with their earthy quality clearly ask for a red wine, in my opinion. On the other hand, I cannot imagine having asparagus with anything else but a dry white wine. In this case, the meat was the tiebreaker, and I think pork chops are best with a light red wine.

The prefect match ended up being a 2010 La Finca La Celia from Mendoza in Argentina. Surprisingly enough for the grape variety, this particular wine is light to medium bodied. I picked up aromas of dark berries, spices, and even some leather. It is low on tannins, even though the label on the bottle points out that it has been aged in oak for three months. Hm, not sure if anything can really age within three months... It's more like the oak softly kissed the wine... Or maybe even just a peck on the cheek!

As a matter of fact, a nice hint of vanilla revealed itself in combination with the food. This wine was much better with food than on its own. The same can be said for the dish. The wine really elevated all the flavors. I still love mushrooms and I still love asparagus, but I am not entirely convinced that they should hang out together in the same dish... Of course if I had only found some morels, that might have done the trick. If you know where where to get fresh morel mushrooms, please let me know.

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