22 Aug 2014
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Muslim Lamb Chops, Sizzling Squid and Jelly Fish

An Austrian wine proves a good match for the unusual Dong Bei cuisine of Northern China.

Muslim Lamb Chops, Sizzling Squid and Jelly Fish Muslim Lamb Chops, Sizzling Squid and Jelly Fish Muslim Lamb Chops, Sizzling Squid and Jelly Fish Muslim Lamb Chops, Sizzling Squid and Jelly Fish Muslim Lamb Chops, Sizzling Squid and Jelly Fish Muslim Lamb Chops, Sizzling Squid and Jelly Fish

This week takes us from Huntington to Flushing’s Chinatown.

The reason: I recently joined  a group of wine writing colleagues for a banquet at Fu Run, a Flushing restaurant whose specialty is Dong Bei cusine from northeastern China and in particular, Muslim lamb chops.  More on the chops later.

We brought our own wines -- stemware, too. Having never before sampled Dong Bei cuisine  I researched it in advance, learning that it’s mostly spicy. Selecting wines would have to be done carefully. Spicy foods can overwhelm most wines and many oaky, tannic wines can bury more delicate dishes. I didn’t want to bring the usual suspects, i.e. riesling, gewurztraminer or Champagne, which in retrospect would have been perfect.

I shopped wine merchants around Huntington, finding at Seaholm Wines what turned out to be a delightful complement to our dinner: Schloss Gobelsburg Gruner Veltliner Steinsetz 2009.  This minerally Austrian wine, with notes of marmalade and white pepper, was a top pairing with our feast of 17 different dishes.  I also shopped, to no avail, for a premium sparkling shiraz that would’ve have paired well with the fall-off-the bone Muslim lamb chops -- braised, coated with cumin and sesame seeds and then fried. There’s always next time, because I plan to return.

The group brought nine bottles of wine, including older vintages. A mistake, perhaps, since three were DOA:  2002 Jet et Gilles Lafouge Meursault, a white Burgundy; Jerman Capa Martino, 2001 a Friulian white blend, and a Bouchard Aine Pouilly-Fuisse 2008.

Nevertheless, a Trimbach Reserve Personnelle Pinot Gris 2001, an Alsatian white, was still fresh, fruity and lively and quite agreeable with some of the blander dishes, such as country style green bean sheet jelly with mixed vegetables -- a salad of gelatinous bean noodles, sesame paste, cucumbers, and seaweed;  spinach omelet; cold mung bean noodles tossed with shreds of pork, cucumbers, carrots, wood ear mushroom, peanut sauce and wasabi oil; and mildy flavored, chewy jellyfish.

Domaine du Gour de Chaule Gicondas 2005, a big red, cherryish Southern Rhone wine worked well with the lamb chops and a soft, fruity Cantina Clavesana Dolcetto D’OH 2010 also was a good vinous companion to our menu, selected by Mandarin-speaking Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng, who usually favors Champagne. Alas, she contributed a Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Hill Vineyard 2006, which I found too high in alcohol. A Francesco Bas Montgarnatx Priorat 2003 proved overly oaky.

The rest of the menu included various dumplings, sizzling squid, eggplant in garlic sauce, mung bean noodles with pork, braised meatball casserole, watercress with garlic and several tofu-based dishes. All were unusual, but quite good.

We finished with candied taro, deep fried chunks of this sweet-potato cousin tossed with sugar and dipped into a bowl of ice water to harden. Aside from the carmel sweetness, it underwhelmed.  Alas, no one brought dessert wine.

Fu Run is incrediblely affordable. Our tab: $30 each, including tax and tip. Fu Run is at 40-09 Prince St., Flushing.

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