Lunch at Casa Mono today, which is New York's (and chef Andy Nusser's) interpretation or perhaps channeling of an ambitious but classic Barcelona tapas place...or maybe more like Cal Pep filtered through the lens of two or three or five other influences. Regardless, Casa Mono is one of the best destinations in the city for top-notch Spanish-influenced cuisine, not to mention wine.
OK. So, one thing I ordered is a must-have for anyone who either enjoys eating food (many of us) or likes eating food while drinking wine (also many of us). A perfectly cooked sunny-side-up duck egg sitting atop a stack of halved fingerling potatoes, bolstered by three shaved pieces of mojama (basically a Spanish tuna prosciutto), and the whole thing dotted with shaved black truffle. You fork the yolk on the egg, the yolk runs down into the stack of potatoes, you eat the bites of truffle-egg-potato-mojama and basically you think you've died and gone to heaven except that the whole thing is so damn earthy that you clearly haven't left the mortal plane. And is it good with red wine? Yer darn tootin' it's good with red wine.
But my surprising discovery for the day is that what's also mighty fine with red wine is duck fries, which, to the more literal-minded among the audience, would be duck testicles. Now, I didn't really know that ducks had testicles, nor that they were, um, substantial enough to make more than a morsel out of. But life is for learning, yes? Nusser sautées them (they look like little off-white kidneys, basically) and serves them with yellow lentils, pickled watermelon-radish matchsticks and grainy mustard, and I am here to tell you, duck fries are a much better food option than the rational side of one's brain might suggest. Think sweetbreads merged with weisswurst, in a kind of duckishly reproductive way. And they pair incredibly well with a bottle of 2004 Pintia ($65), which is Vega Sicilia's project in Spain's Toro region: plush and powerful, full of black-red fruit that coats your tongue but also bright acidity, with sharp tannins that rather than alarming your palate serve to buffer the richness of the fruit. Standout red...and by far the best duck testicles I've ever eaten. Which is saying, well, something. I'm just not sure exactly what.