Friday, November 26, 2010

#133 - Two Cheap Meals With Two Bargain Wines

'99 Prager Smaragd Steinreigl's done!

Smelled like rotten milk left in dumpster juice last night. Or wet wool blankets that someone forgot about in the basement for 87 years. Didn't taste much better either.

Sad. Our first post here was describing that wine with Wine Can Chicken.

A sick Mrs. Ney meant no family visit for Thanksgiving.

Food: Thomas Keller chicken with mustard asparagus, herb cheese, La Quercia prosciutto and Seeduction bread

Quick and easy meal, nothing out of the ordinary compared to other Thomas Keller chicken meals with a few notes.

$8 Whole Foods non-organic chicken isn't as good as $14 Trader Joe's organic chicken. We learned that. In an attempt to keep the meal cheap, that's what we got - a chicken that tasted cheap. If you told me a few years ago that I'd have strong opinions about chicken, I'd have said you be crazy, fool. We got sum opinions. Tasted boring and a tad chemical-y. Edible, just dull, dull, dull.

But...La Quercia and Seeduction bread can lift any meal out of the world of cheap and dull to something resembling goodness. Even cheap $5 herb cheese from Whole Foods has its complimentary and "good creamy quality" merits. Mustard asparagus = always good.

We counted our blessings on what we didn't experience yesterday, like the rest of the Prager...and other things.

Wine: 2006 Jean-Philippe Fichet Bourgogne Blanc Vieilles Vignes ($24 - WDC)

Got $100, don't know anything about white Burgundy and want to?

Go buy three bottles of anything by Jean-Philippe Fichet. The guy makes delicious wine from plots straddling the big names/plots and pumps out wines with balance, beauty and none of the boring butteriness that comes from chardonnay in the same price range.

Just tons of mineral character that makes you want tons more.

We recently had the 2005 and 2006 Auxey Duresses from Fichet, both with TK chicken and both were sublime. This one was less so, showing more typical character of solid white Burgundy but never really getting out of that box. Pineapple and white peach notes with a touch of cream that never overtook a pronounced and tasty minerality at its core. Structured and balanced with nice acidity. Tasted proper but never stretched its legs to show anything greatly distinct. Tasted more "beautifully representative" than particularly interesting. That's okay, though. At $24, we never felt cheated, but it's one of those situations where for $10 more, going up a notch would yield something twice as good from Fichet.

Pairing: 86 A meal that again informed us on exactly what we want

Like better quality chicken and a white Burgundy that's maybe a notch up the pole.

That said, I liked this wine. It's like buying a 10 year-old used Honda. Might not be shiny, sparkly, new, pretty or full of personality, but it's a Honda, damn it. It's gonna run just fine.

Best with the bread and cheese, bringing out some delicious Burgundy funk, itself with the chicken and not so great at all with the mustard asparagus. Which was expected. That's what the Prager was for. But mustard asparagus with rotten milk/old wet wool blankets isn't good in anybody's world.

A quick note: Wednesday night's meal needed cheap wine with a meatloaf and roasted potato meal as Mrs. Ney was just starting to get sick. Served with a bottle of 2007 Chateau Beauchêne Premier Terrior ($15 - Binny's), a wine highly recommended on a Chicago Frenchman's blog that chronicles French food and wine in the Chicago area. You go check out that blog now. Go! Get! It's good stuff - informative, exhaustive and downright interesting.

A lot to like with this wine. Black tea and black cherry intermingle with nice earth. Good minimum quality for the price that tasted like vacation in France where the table wine turns out to be something that defines the meal. The Domaine Des Tours Vaucluse in the same basic price range beats it but everyone's on that bandwagon, making it difficult to reliably find.

Tasted rather ordinary with the veal, beef and pork meatloaf (a recipe that will end your search for a good meatloaf, BTW) but turned into something that tasted well above $15 price tag with the rosemary potatoes, showing great structure and cherry and tea notes that sparkled and changed rather beautifully.

Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. (Pairing Score: 87)

No comments:

Post a Comment