Tuesday, July 21, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #2

It continues...

El Carrito, on Peterson and Lincoln, makes solid Mexican street food tacos that don't skimp on ingredients and are priced right. Two steak tacos and a southwest salad for $7? 


My bi-monthly drive right by that intersection makes it an option.

And...creepy clown alert! A bit close to home.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $92 for food and $118 for wine = $210

Sunday: Pick-n-Choose Meat, Cheese and Bread with NV Elvio Tintero Grangia Favorita Blend 

Food Details: Speck, salami, provola, arugula, Provençal mustard, and baguette. Pick and choose your combination of food-types on the plate to put together for each bite and go to town.

Did We Like It? Yep. It's a long, meandering meal perfect for Sunday night (the end of my week, second-to-last for Mrs. Ney). No cooking. Just throw a bunch of stuff on the plate, dress your arugula, cut your baguette, pour the wine, eat and enjoy.

How Was The Wine? Might be my new favorite cheap white. Piedmontese favorita blend (50% Favorita, 25% Moscato, 20% Arneis and 5% Chardonnay) that's light (11.5%), ever-so-slightly fizzy, lightly sweet, and deliciously mouthwatering. And it's $10! Great gaps and pauses here that extend it out nicely. Tastes like walking through an orchard on a surprisingly chilly morning.

And The Pairing? Quite good. Mustard messed with it on occasion, but the salty cured meats and this wine really like each other.

Cost: $15 for food, $10 for wine = $25         

Saturday: Southern Chicken Sandwiches with 2013 Charles Smith VINO Pinot Grigio Columbia

Food Details: Breaded Southern-style chicken breast sandwiches with pickles, mayo, kumatoes, onions and lettuce on pretzel buns. Olive oil chips. Sandwiches and chips.

Did We Like It? Oh, my, yes. For me, after a crappy work shift clouded by the general annoyance of watching people chew for a living, coming home to jazzed-up, sunny, picnic food wiped the slate clean.

How Was The Wine? We don't like pinot grigio, but we like THIS pinot grigio. Its 2013-ness makes for a wine that's losing some of its distinction, sparkle and polish, but the acid and citrus blossom notes are hanging on enough to 'bring the happy.' We'll be buying this one until Mr. Smith stops making this one. It's $13.

How Was The Pairing? Good. Enough. After two days of terrible wine, The wine's quality was more than welcome. The pickles messed with its segues a bit for me.

Cost: $12 for food, $13 for wine = $25  

Thursday and Friday

Wifey worky pool party on Friday. She ate food there, with jug Aldi Lambrusco, probably. It's fruity and tastes like the 80's in not a bad way. Or when you go to someone else's church service that's much more wealthy than your church, take communion, and realize that even their 'blood of Christ' is more fancy. I ate work pizza and drank a glass of chilled gamay from Thursday. Still...not good. Bit like chilled wood polish.

Meatloaf and potato salad on Thursday. Opened a bottle of wine that's been sitting around the house, WELL past its drinking window, the 2009 Gilles Bonnefoy Côtes de Forez Gamay, and it was just that. Good stuff a little over a year ago. Not so much now. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Cost: $8 for food, $12 for wine = $19

Wednesday: Fried Haloumi, Yellow Beet Salad with Walnut Gremolata and Garlic Bread with 2013 Palmina Sparkling Malvasia Bianca Larner Vineyard SBC

Source: Beet salad recipe straight from Palmina's website for malvasia pairing (this beet salad is a house fav)

Food Details: Yellow beets, roasted. Slathered with a walnut, garlic, lemon-orange zest and juice and anchovy blend. Put on top of arugula. Haloumi fried off in mini cast-iron with parsley and olive oil. Jamie Oliver garlic bread. Rip, cut, dip, eat.

Did We Like It? Always. The beet salad is a 3x a year thing. It's stupid-great and stupid-easy. Fried haloumi, same. Who doesn't want fried Greek-Cypriot cheese? It's delicious even after it gets a bit waxy. Plenty of bread to do as you do. Arugula to keep it lifty. Complete and satisfying meal.

How Was The Wine? The star. Loved it. More fresh on New Year's Eve, but we liked it better here, as its malvasia-y floral notes became FLORAL notes! Apricot blossoms to start with oodles of dying white flowers backing it up. Bubbles just barely hanging on, but I got something akin to a great Cava-like mineral finish occasionally. Turned into a delicate sour-bitter beer about halfway through and we loved it. Nutmegged pear fruit in the background throughout. It was like a Haruki Murakami novel. It took about two minutes to realize that this was going to go to deliciously odd places and we're going to love it.          

And The Pairing? So great with the beets. Less so with the haloumi but still happy. A leisurely meal with loveliness at every turn.

Cost: $15 for food, $36 for wine = $51

Tuesday: Uzbek Lamb Plov and Kumato/Onion/Arugula Salad with 2010 Abacela Tempranillo Umpqua Valley

Source: Recipe here, via Cucee Sprouts

Food Details: Lamb, chickpeas, carrots, barberries, garlic, cumin, tumeric, basmati rice. A one-pot meal that's considered the national dish of Uzbekistan. And boy, does it have people that are passionate about the assemblage of it, right down to the carrot cutting. I heart the tyranny of the authenticity brigade. Recipe followed to the letter, but left out the raisins and used barberries fished out of the torshi seer. Kumato, onion and arugula salad to finish.

Did We Like It? The result was a delicious, savory, light, homey, country, lamb and rice dish that both of us utterly loved. And will be having again. Probably soon. Very easy to make. The kumato salad rounded out of perfectly great meal. We're beginning to think we gravitate more towards land-based Mediterranean-Middle Eastern food instead of something more sea-based. Gets into our bones more.      

How Was The Wine? Tempranillo from southern Oregon's Umpqua Valley. Abacela has two, one for aging and this one. Happy, round, fresh dark cherries, getting plummy later. Smooth texture, medium length, nice acid keeping everything lifty, enough tannin to keep everything in place.

And The Pairing? The wine served as a pleasant supporting actor to the star on the plate. Missed that third-level, Spanishy, Ribera, lamb-and-tempranillo complete greatness, but got kinda close. Liked it.

Cost: $10 for food, $30 for wine = $40

Monday: Nando's Peri-Peri in Lakeview

Food Details: Full chicken platter for two, fries and mashed peas. Chicken slathered in peri-peri, heaping mound of fries with peri-peri mayo for dipping, mashed peas with mint parsley and chili. Open on Monday and straight-through from lunch to dinner, if we want spicy chicken and fries and don't want to make spicy chicken and fries, Nando's does it well. At 3pm, because we're old.

Did We Like It? Like other souped-up, fast-casual places out there, it's just good enough to say "this will work and it's cheap enough to justify the expense." There's some flavor, preservative or otherwise, that all of the Shake Shacks, Five Guys, even Urban Bellys of the world use that make it taste somewhat similar. Something there we can't quite pinpoint. And all of this can be made at home at 1/2 the price, but no kitchen time + no dishes = why not, once or twice a year. $15 more and we'd make it at home, but it's not. Amsterdam Falafel still reigns in the fast-casual category, though. That's The Stuff.

How Was The Wine? the 2013 Cara Viva Lisbon Branco is probably a wine made specifically for Nando's. Zippy, easy, with enough guts to stand up to the hot sauce. No complaints at all. Tasted like Portugal in nice ways. They probably pay $3 a bottle for it and charge $17 but who cares?

And The pairing? Refreshing. It helped in the overall impression of the meal.

Cost: $32 for food, $17 for wine = $50

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