04 April 2012

Campo Viejo "Color Me Uncorked"

I rarely enter contests. It's not that I don't enjoy winning, but I usually do some calculations and think, "Do I really want to eat that many pickled eggs in ten minutes?" Also, I get a lot of offers to promote various wine contests, and most of them don't really interest me, and by transference, I assume my readers won't be interested either. "How many corks can you hold in your mouth at one time? Take an embarrassing photo and enter to win... 100 USED WINE CORKS!"

But this one tickled my fancy...

Campo Viejo is a Spanish Rijoa producer that has sent me many wines over the years. I'm particularly fond of their trio of Crianza-Reserva-Gran Reserva, though in the current release the Crianza seems to be now labeled Tempranillo. I don't have detailed notes with these three, but the experience was very close to the last time I tried this trio, though the vintages are a little different. They're all very affordable, food-friendly red wines, and trying all three at the same time is a lot of fun for folks that don't get to taste verticals or similar groupings on a regular basis.

The challenge involved an original dish inspired by "the colors of Rioja". Spanish food includes so many ingredients and cooking methods that the sky was the limit, and if I expanded the definition a bit to include the old Spanish empire I could include some neat things. (I live in Memphis, which was first explored by Europeans during the 16th century travels of the Spaniard Hernando de Soto.)

I have a lot of strange ingredients and leftovers in my kitchen, and I decided to combine them artfully in a lazy, relaxed terrine. Here are the ingredients from bottom to top:
  • A base of cooked quinoa, in a nod to the Spanish conquest of the Andes
  • A layer of wilted arugula, because it's delicious
  • A think sprinkling of zante currants, because I think the flavor marries well with pork
  • A healthy layer of braised pork shoulder, mixed with a little local BBQ sauce
  • A poached egg, because I thought of this as a standup version of the congee I recently made
  • A little ladle of homemade habanero-carrot sauce, for the Caribbean islands
  • Finally, a light dusting of smoked chile flakes (merquén) from Chile, another nod to Spanish exploration that took the empire to the tip of South America within spitting distance of Antarctica
Overall, a lovely and savory meal, though I could barely make it through on my own. While mixing it up, the still-warm quinoa cooked the egg yolk a bit further and the merquén provided the necessary smoke flavor for the soft pork shoulder. The hot sauce satisfied my own desire for a little heat at every meal.

Note: These wines were received as samples.

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