Persian Food, Wine, and Anthony Bourdain

June 27, 2018 90+ BargainsDaily DrinkersHigh End ValuesWines under $10  No comments

 Anthony BourdainThe entire world of food and adventure suffered a horrible loss from the recent death of Anthony Bourdain. He taught us to be courageous, bold and experimental in all aspects of life, all in spite of his self-professed curmudgeonly attitude, which never stopped him from making new friends, and delving deep into unchartered cultures, by way of cuisine. A big favorite of his was Los Angeles for its melting pot of cultures and food – and we will celebrate what was a neglected area for me, perhaps inspired my Mr. Bourdain. And of course, we will use some wine recommendations from Steve Bialek from LAWC to make our new discovery even better.

If there’s a plus to living in Los Angeles (forgetting the crowds, eternally-gridlocked-traffic to get anywhere, occasional earthquakes, Autumn fires and choking summer smog) it’s the amazing choices of multi-cultural foods and restaurants that abound citywide. There’s great Indian food, Thai (Thai Town on Hollywood Blvd. and citywide), Chinese (San Gabriel Valley), Japanese, Korean (Korea Town), Italian (everywhere), Mexican (you don’t have to look very hard for that), and one that you should familiarize yourself with, Middle Eastern – which is centered in restaurants and shops near Westwood Village.

I had been slowly investigating many of the appropriate establishments close to home – the more well known Zankou Chicken (located all over town and known for its supreme lemony-garlicky roasted chicken) and Sunnin (which has opened up another café’ in Santa Monica), but had heard good things about a little shop on Westwood Blvd. called Taste of Tehran. I stopped in for lunch one day and the dishes were so fantastic I came back the next weekend for a number of to-go orders when some friends were coming over for some movie watching. And how coincidental is it that I see a picture on the wall of none other than Mr. Bourdain recently dining here.

Now, the first thing I will say is that when pairing wines with different foods, we can be in for a challenge. Of course it’s much simpler to choose favorite wines with Italian, French, Continental, BBQ, etc., as there seems to be a blueprint to follow for how it’s done. But when facing a different set of taste sensations, the pairing challenge should not be seen as a detriment – it’s an adventure that we will conquer and remember. Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Japanese (a few of which that we’ve looked at here previously) all worked well with our choices, and the Middle Eastern items we chose were perhaps not only perfect, but easy to choose. Let’s get into it!

Mixed Kabobs

Chicken Kabobs

The kabobs at Taste of Tehran were what we focused on – amazingly tender Filet Mignon, Salmon, lemony Chicken (why can I never get chicken kabobs to taste this flavorful and tender at home? I’m thinking an overnight marinate in lemon/garlic is what gives the tenderness and flavor), Chicken Kubideh (a ground meat with spices) and Shish Kabob (beef and lamb). The flavors and spices on all were delicious – subtle and not over-powering at all – but noticeable enough to give the cuisine its singular originality. And don’t forget the side dishes, too – the eggplant dip, hummus and rice were all delicious.

Filet Mignon

 Salmon

So what wines did we choose?  Now that’s the fun part. Of course, we needed a nice red to accompany the red meat – and whites to go with the chicken and salmon kabobs – and a few unexpected secret weapons to truly amaze.

Whites – 2017 Oisly Thesee O & T Sauvignon Les Gourmets – what a great Sauvignon blanc – flinty aromas of pine needles with wonderfully ripe pear and green apple flavors. I love these steel vat aged whites – it seems to keep the fruit flavors in the foreground. Perfect with the Salmon and Chicken Kabobs. And for $8? I’d drink this with popcorn. In an alley.

2015 Cambria Chardonnay Benchbreak Vineyard – creamier than the Sauv Blanc, and featuring toasted almond and honeydew flavors, this Central Coast Chard had a lemon peel flavor that really complimented the lemon in the Chicken and eggplant dish.  Genarally I’m not a huge fan of California Chards but this one ignores the butter and oak and really hits the mark with the fruit nuances. And, there was a slight hint of ginger that gave it a little added muscle.

Red

2015 Chateau Fonreaud. What did we like about this with the beef and lamb dishes? Well, how about everything it was, and everything it wasn’t. Of course, we could choose a big chocolatey  California Cab as if we’re in a steakhouse, but that would get in the way of the spices on the lamb and beef that you can’t get in any steakhouse in town. I was thinking a Pinot would do the trick, but Steve at LAWC suggested this and I’m glad he did – as this medium-bodied Bordeaux (51% Cabernet, the rest Merlot) and its soft background tannins (and yes it mellowed out even more in the glass – especially the cedar) and was a grand surprise and a deal at $17. It had the dryness that you know and love and held back on the tannins.

Champagne & Rose

N.V. Henriot Brut Blanc de Blancs. If you think beer is the go-to choice for anything with a little spice or exoticism, think again. This winner is refreshing as would be a beer, yet is far more. Steely minerals with pears, citrus and yeasty overtones – it was hard to stop drinking this and try the others. Why is it that I’m becoming more and more of a Champagne fan with food? And, I find myself seeking out foods that work well with Champagne. Go figure.

2017 Mont Gravet Rose’ – this Southern French Rose’ has flavors of strawberries, melon and vanilla with a crisp and dry finish, and beautiful flowery aromas. A treat to sip with the flame charred Salmon and saffron-tinted fluffy rice. Would I drink this wine alone? You bet. And give it a nice chill like the other 2 whites and the Champagne.

Do yourself a treat and discover some of LA’s best Persian restaurants, bring a few bottles of wine, and give a wink to the spirit of Mr. Bourdain, who’s spirit would have approved of your bold endeavors.

 

 

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