In today’s City Paper you’ll find the latest edition of Pocket Sommelier. I pair wine with two dishes at Mercato: the Ricotta Gnocchi in a Short Rib Ragu; and the intense, flavorful and organic Braised Jamison Farm Lamb Shank that was recently added to the menu.
Most people bring one bottle of wine to a BYOB. But more often than not, that one wine will not match every course. It may seem silly to bring two or even three bottles of wine to a restaurant, but the wrong wine could ruin a dish. For example, two of the Chiantis we brought went well with the gnocchi, but they were a complete mismatch for the lamb.
However, the Cab I alluded to at the end of my post about the Philly Wine Festival—the Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Wetzel Family Estate 2004—paired amazingly well with the lamb. What’s exciting about this wine is that it has the same type of rich, spicy profile found in some of the more celebrated California Cabs, but it’s one third the price.
Carnivores with a conscience will not want to miss the chance to savor Mercato's new lamb dish. The meat was so tender it spilled off the bone before my fork even touched it. And Jamison Farm, located in Latrobe, PA, is known far and wide for raising its lambs on a diet that is 100% natural and free of hormones, antibiotics, herbicides and insecticides. I tasted a slight hint of anise in this dish, a flavor I could not attribute to any of the ingredients. Not knowing what it was drove me mad. When I later asked Chef de Cuisine Mackenzie Hilton what it could be, she posited that it might have something to do with what the lamb had eaten. Now, that’s organic.
For more pics, check out my Mercato set on Flickr.