Lamb Stew with Vinegar and Aubergines plus Rhone Vintages

‘Stew’ is understating it a bit; this is a Claudia Roden recipe from Lebanon, not easy, but worth it at a weekend. Tasting as she went along, D scaled back the vinegar to a less challenging level, but otherwise didn’t change the recipe. It is excellent, but in future we will serve it with tomatoes, probably a tomato salad, to give some contrasting fresh flavour – it is otherwise a bit deep and dark. This is the same strategy as with Armenian Lamb, an established family favourite in the same taste spectrum.

Given its Middle Eastern origin you will guess that our preference is for a Cotes du Rhone whose balance of juicy fruit, tannins and a hint of pepper fits very well with the dish. Once again it was Guigal’s Cotes du Rhone 2005 of which just two bottles now remain in the cellar before we start on the 2006. I note that the 2007 has just been released and it ought to be excellent given the producer and the exceptional vintage. I shall bide my time until I find it in France or on offer in the UK, but in this house a case or two will quickly be justified.

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