In addition to Friday being the commencement of World Cup 2010, it was also the first birthday of our daughter Zöe. What more excuse for a celebratory lunch?
“She turns one and mum and dad decide to have a feast,” as our waitress at Magica Roma in Pinelands observed. Well, yes. The intention was to order budget-friendly pizzas, but co-owner Ezio di Biaggi soon up-sold us on his version of an eisbein, a pork knuckle boiled for three hours and then crisped in the pizza oven. “Typically Italian?” I asked Di Baggi. “Absolutely. Although we don’t pickle it like the Germans do”.
We’d bought along a bottle of Pauillac fourth growth Chateau Duhart-Milon 1996 (given to us by Di Biaggi as a wedding present), my thinking being that drinking the wine alongside unfussy pizzas would best let it shine. How was the wine going to work with pork knuckle served with mashed sweet potatoes and spinach?
It proved delicious on its own, the nose showing cassis, violets and and attractive evolved notes. The palate was medium bodied with fresh acidity and very fine, smooth tannins. Whereas many South African Bordeaux-style blends of the same age would be well past their best, this probably has at least another five years ahead of it.
However, when paired with the pork knuckle , It struggled a little to stand up to the fattiness of the dish and I suspect a young South African Shiraz with lots of sweet fruit and firm tannins would’ve worked better. Great fun, nevertheless and after a couple of espressos and Avernas to end the meal, I was fairly inured to the outcome of the Bafana Bafana-Mexico game.