Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wanting Something Different

We love Home Food.

And Mrs. Ney has built up, over the years, a food canon that satisfies every possible yen, much of it chronicled right here on this weird blog.

It's just that...sometimes...she doesn't want Home Food.  

So it's New Food to finish out the year. We have all these cookbooks. Let's use them.

Plus, we're suddenly and temporarily poor. Time to get creative.

Meal: Momofuku pork belly ssäm with mustard seed sauce, Brussels sprouts in fish sauce vinaigrette and lemongrass farro

A three day process from David Chang's Momofuku cookbook (page 172). Stripped-down version, simply roasting five pounds of pork shoulder for four-plus hours, getting it all caramel-y and roasty. Mustard seed sauce followed to the letter, pickling mustard seeds (page 72), then whipping it into a mustard seed sauce (page 173) to serve with the pork that tasted like the fanciest Asian potato salad sauce without the potatoes I've ever had. Scallions, cucumbers, Chinese hot mustard, pickled mustard seeds, mayo, salt, pepper. Defined the meal, really, taking it to a Chang-esque hybrid place of Asian-inflected goodness.

But the Brussels sprout business was the star. Fish sauce vinaigrette (page 177) might make it into the food rotation in some form from here out. We like Brussels sprouts with the usual pancetta-parmesan prep. These are better Brussels sprouts.

Farro cooked in lemongrass to round things out and keep it in the Asian ballpark.

This was New. And this was delicious.

A bottle of 2009 Nigl Brut de Brut Klassische Flaschengärung Kremstal Austria ($30 - Vin Chicago) was nice on its own but had trouble bringing much to the table with the food. A zweigelt-pinot noir blend, by itself it was quite an original little number in the glass, coming off very similar to its description at Vin Chicago. It WAS like strawberries dipped in tomato water. Exceedingly delicate though. Would have been great on its own or with a very light lunch. Top-notch stuff. With THIS meal, while it wasn't completely lost, it brought little more than basic liquid refreshment.

Meal: Chicken Marbella

America's Test Kitchen did it Sunday. NYT's Florence Fabricant offered up a modernized version. It just keeps coming up in our world. We've never had it. Flavors present that we like? Check. Fairly easy? Check. Rip out the cup of brown sugar, making it a little (read: a lot) less 1982, and it should be a winner.

It was.

From The Silver Palate Cookbook (page 86), a collection of recipes that hasn't really steered us wrong, it's chicken with Mediterranean flavors - capers, olives, oregano, vinegar - and the addition of prunes. Huh. Prunes. Wouldn't say we're "prune" people but these, in this recipe, took it to a New Place for us. Different juice permeating the entire dish that we liked muchly, thank you very much.

Smashed potatoes with smoked paprika-coated pearl onions and roasted scallions. Arugula salad with pomegranate seeds to round things out.

A bottle of 2011 Minimus Copigmentation #2 ($25 - Avalon) worked quite well here. Tempranillo-based co-fermented with viognier and sauvignon blanc, we loved this one with Spanish-ed up lamb this past summer. Same here. Oregon tempranillo, not so much New World in expression, more like some crazy Italian brought Italian acid to a Spanish grape in the Northwest. Not perfect with the food but damn good, with acid playing with the Mediterranean flavors in happy ways.

More New coming.

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