(Embury Wine & Food Editor Stuart Krimko will be taking us through his rock & roll dinners periodically.) People in Los Angeles are always killing things. There are gang members, for instance, who kill other gang members––sometimes from the same gang! Angelenos have gotten used to the Lakers killing the majority of their opponents. (I'm a baseball fan, and the Dodgers got killed by the Phillies in the NLCS, but that's another story.) And then there are all the comedians, actors, and musicians who are looking to kill their next performance: 'Dude, The Pixies killed last night at The Palladium.' Recently Silverlake Wine has been killing its selection of cheap wine with a bit bottle age. Last week I bought a 2004 Mercurey 1er cru for $10. It wasn't the most amazing bottle of Burgundy I ever had, but it was damned good and it had that thing that named growths have––I guess I should just own up to wine terminology and call it terroir. Usually you have to pay for esteemed terroir, but sometimes you don't. Esteemed terroir does not always mean good wine, and it rarely means good value, but once in a while worlds collide, cases fall off a truck, and a buyer for a particular store kills and makes a great purchase. When this kind of killing is going on I like to stock up. A case in point: this 2001 Saint-Chinian 'Les Sigillaires' from G. Moulinier in the Languedoc. Apparently 'sigillaires' are plant fossils, and there are a lot of them in Mr. Molinier's vineyard. The wine probably has a higher percentage of Syrah than is typical for Saint-Chinian, and it is drinking very well; it's spicy, fresh, and deep. And it only costs $11 at Silverlake, where it was described to me as 'textbook Saint-Chinian.' I must say that I killed the dish that I served with this wine last Friday night: octopus and bratwurst stew.
First you submerge a small octopus in water that's just below a simmer for about half an hour. Do not boil the octopus, lest it toughen. While the octopus is not boiling, slowly sauté a sliced bratwurst, onions, carrots, a mildly hot pepper or two and a bay leaf in a medium Dutch oven. Once these start to caramelize, add a good dose of red wine (I used a cheap tempranillo) and scrape the bottom of the pan. Now add more wine, and some tomatoes from a can. Let them reduce, then add some more. Then add some diced potatoes, a few more sliced bratwursts, some chili sauce, some soy sauce, etc. Slice the octopus into 1- to 2-inch pieces, head and all, and throw them in the Dutch oven. You should have poured about 2/3 of the bottle of wine in there by this point. Keep it at a low simmer for about two hours, until the potatoes are soft and the octopus is no longer tough. Serve the stew over slices of baguette toasted in olive oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with a tiny dollop of chili sauce and toasted pepitas. If I'd stuck to the Saint-Chinian and the octopus it would have been a healthy and satisfying night of culinary murder. But then someone put on Albert Ayler and I filled my wine glass with Jim Beam and things took a turn for the ruthless.
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