Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year's Food Week

After a complete car breakdown ("She's gone! The CR-V is gone! Oh, the humanity!"), the hardest work week of the year for Mrs. Ney, family Christmas visit, and now weather that resembles something out of a post-apocalypic sci-fi movie, easy food made its way to our (coffee) table this week.

The pic over --> there was one of the best. Moroccan carrot purée, sheep feta in Indian honey and pink peppercorns, Syrian sesame seed bread, arugula, dill, lemon thyme, parsley and pomegranate seed salad with Frank Cornelissen Surucaru #5 ($22 - work), a red and white grape field blend fermented together on their skins for 45 days. The result is a dry rosato wonder that's as floral as it gets. It's as if bright earth and cloves were thrown up in the air above about 40 dozen roses. Great stuff and want so much more, as it reminded us of the more conventional sangiovese rosé at 2 Amy's in D.C., with all its dryness and roses jumping around everywhere, frolicking away. Where that one was all delicious happy fun in the glass, the Susucaru #5 has on more of a thinking cap.

Pairing happiness as well, with a surprising acid that slid in and played with the food in proper, welcome ways.

Lamb osso buco from D'Artagnan, bought two months ago (during a big sale:  this is an e-mail list worth getting on) in case we'd be able to stay home for the holidays (we didn't, as previously noted) brought the biggest surprise in terms of new flavor explosion. We like our lamb. But we haven't had lamb like this ever. That came from the stupid-great and entirely new flavor of the lamb osso buco AND how the marrow got into the Bittman anchovy-garlic-white wine sauce (you know, there's something about NYT and 2008 recipes. Seems like we're linking to them all the time). So, lamb osso buco in anchovy-garlic sauce, charred green beans, fried haloumi, baguette with 2008 Twisted Oak The Spaniard Calaveras County ($60 - Lush), a tempranillo-forward blend with graciano and garnacha rounding it out. We've been on a bad streak of finding reds that aren't drinking supremely well of late. It's felt like we've just missed the perfect drinking window in the last month or so. Not here. I don't know if it could have been more perfect, shifting and adjusting to the food so well, sometimes brooding, other times gregarious, yet all the time showing a fantastic balance and deliciousness. 14.3% alcohol, a nice place for a wine of this type, yet felt so much lighter. Savory and round, giving yet not looking to please. Perky at times, broad and mysterious others. Best red showing for us in a long time.

Other meals of note, for record-keeping purposes:

Anne Burrell chicken Milanese (recipe), pickled onions, roasted potatoes and a fava bean-kumato-avocado-pomegranate seed salad with a 2011 Ponzi Pinot Gris Willamette ($15 - Winery). One of our favorite, easy meals of 2013. Good version here.

Might like the starkness of just Milanese-d chicken and a frisée salad better. There's something about that simplicity, that rusticity, that makes this meal such a good thing in life. And the 2011 Ponzi Pinot Gris is on the downslope. Fine enough, showing life at times, but younger is better here.

And it really can't touch the Owen Roe Pinot Gris pairing heights with this meal. That was one of the best, most surprising pairings of the year.

A winter, turn-of-the-calendar house tradition of cassoulet (recipe), this time with duck leg confit and weisswurst, both from Gene's Sausage Shop, served with a 2009 Domaine Grand Veneur Les Origines Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($25-ish - Binny's). We liked this cassoulet, didn't eat a ton of it and sadly just tossed the rest. The juice had all that starchy, meaty, beany, herby ooze, along with deep flavors that were still rather light (weisswurst rules and I'll fight you if you disagree).

But the wine didn't help. Wasn't ready, even with a long decant (should have heeded the better reviews). Shy fruit, nice spicy background play but nothing that told us that it wanted to give anything in the way of deliciousness. Bought at a huge discount so little lost here. As a pairing, it tasted like a skeletal version of what it could have been. And I don't think the "could have been" would have been anything great.

Good. Just not great.

Oh, and for you people that "love snow and the turning of the seasons." Enjoying this?

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