October 30, 2011

Moroccan Stew and Argentine Malbec

I love experimenting with unfamiliar ingredients. So when I saw a jar of preserved lemons at my grocery store, I just had to get it. Of course I had no idea what I would do with it. But as luck would have it, I own plenty of cookbooks with recipes from around the Mediterranean. Joanne Weir's recipe for a Lamb Tagine with Artichokes seemed just about perfect to me. While I do not own a tagine, which is the traditional vessel to cook this dish in, my beloved enameled cast iron pot did just fine.

Besides the preserved lemons, the recipe included two of my favorite ingredients, artichokes and olives. As one would expect from a dish containing lemons, the sauce came out a little tart, which made me decide to add some extra cinnamon spice, to round out the flavors. This final touch made it just about perfect. I served the stew over some plain couscous.

I decided to pair this dish with the 2009 Las Perdices Malbec from the Mendoza region in Argentina. This Malbec is a nice medium-bodied wine with aromas of sour cherry and vanilla. I purchased this bottle because I had been very pleased with the Viognier by the same producer, but I found this Malbec to be justaverage when it comes to the world of Argentine Malbecs.

 Nonetheless, it was a good match with my Moroccan stew. The citrusy tartness from the lemons in the dish and the sour cherry tartness in the wine seemed to mellow each other out. Also the interplay of the cinnamon in the sauce and the vanilla notes from the oak-aging of the wine were rather intriguing. I think the food and wine pairing really uplifted the sensory experience of this special dinner.

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