Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dinner at Taxim

Naoussa, by RobW, from a Flickr album, Creative Commons licenseWork's been pretty stressful lately, so I decided to treat myself to a dinner at Taxim. Rustic, ageless cuisine pulled into the 21st century by a young guy who visited every corner of Greece to understand the old ways? I was intrigued, and I hoped that Taxim's anti-orthodox (lower case o) sensibility would help pull me away from the chaos.

My hopes were fulfilled. The food was, in fact, pretty damn great. Well, the roasted peppers (piperies) were sweet and spicy and little more, but the other plates had a lot more going on. For example, the baba ghanouj-like melitzanosalata had more complexity and balance than I've experienced from any baba; its creamy earthy depth was very fulfilling. And while we've all had spinach pies, the prassopita, which featured wild leek, fresh dill, and garlic encased in an incredibly flaky phyllo dough, again provided a lot of depth. But the crowning (small) dish was the koukia me kavourma, fresh fava beans tossed with lamb confit and house-made (!) yogurt. I was tempted to order a year's supply. The balance between the sweet, the tart, and the savory flavors was fantastic.

I accompanied my meal with two glasses of wine. The first, the 2008 Zoe rosé from Domaine Skouras, was fresh and vibrant, an excellent pairing with all the dishes. Served cold, I mostly tasted sweet strawberry and raspberry fruit at first, but it gained depth as it warmed, and it took on more savory, herbal, and tart notes. It's a blend of agiorgitiko (St. George) and moscofilero. Less successful was Domaine Karydas's 2005 xinomavro from the Naoussa appellation west of Thessaloniki. My server (who was otherwise great) erroneously compared it to a pinot noir, but in fact it was more like a dull, overextracted Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Perhaps the bottle had been open too long, as both a quick search of the internets and a look-see in the Wine Atlas suggests this should be better. The Wine Atlas even says that well-made xinomavro "can acquire a bouquet as haunting as all but the finest Barolo."

Maybe next time. In any case, I will always have my koukia me kavourma.

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