Thursday, October 15, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #14

An exceptional dinner on a spur-of-the-moment decision at Spiagga Café for the Michael Solomonov pop-up dinner on Tuesday.

Inevitably, after eating so much of Yotam Ottolenghi food lately, a comparison is going to be made, which is unfair, but happened. We enjoyed the snot out of the food, and will be making his hummus and pita, two items that need improvement in our food world.

It was very Good food. It maybe didn't dig into our soul.

Close, though.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $272 for food and $74 for wine = $346

Sunday: Sausage, Zucchini, Tomato and Cream Cheese Surprise with 2014 Alloy Wine Works Grenache Rosé Central Coast
Source: Based on a recipe from Mexican, by Jane Milton (page 186), with the addition of green chorizo, from Melissa Clark in NYT Cooking.

Food Details: "Zucchini Goop" by another name. Cook your chorizo. Remove from pan, and then brown two sliced onions. Add garlic and four [previously salted and rinsed] sliced-into-sticks zucchini, sautée some more. Add half-pint of halved cherry tomatoes and sliced pickled serranos; sauté briefly. Dump in chorizo, warm through. Turn off burner, add half a block of cubed cream cheese to melt in residual heat. Fresh oregano, dill and parmesan. Buy everything at Harvestime so total cost for all this is $6. Plus a $5 loaf of Whole Foods Ancient Grains bread. What more do you ask of life?

Did We Like It? It's our new favorite Sunday supper. Bready, porky, touch spicy, vegetabley, happy as all-get out.

How Was The Wine? Our favorite rosé this year was a dud with harissa goat leg on Monday. So we dumped both cans in a wine bottle and left it in the fridge. Here, since the wine in the bottle was all the way up to the neck, it lost virtually nothing in vim and vigor. Guava and strawberry wrapped inside perky, sunny acid. A fun drinker. Big fans.

And The Pairing? Can't ask for more. Best pairing of the week. Toss some goop on the best bread ever, eat it. Take a sip. Know that my week is over and Mrs. Ney's is almost over.

Cost: $11 for food, $14 for wine = $25 

Saturday: Chicken Milanese with 2014 Estancia Pinot Grigio California

Source: Recipe here. Make it, eat it, and you'll make it 200 more times throughout the course of your life. It's that good.

Food Details: Chicken breasts, breaded. Quick-pickle onions. Pecorino-nut-herb dry gremolata-ish goodness. Arugula. Mini-ciabatta, buttered.

Did We Like It? Yep. Always. Decent batch this night.

How Was The Wine? I tried it before dinner and sorta hated it. But with food, pretty lemongrass and lime, with a creamy peachy note and the upper-end of medium acid. Quite nice for $10.

And the Pairing? Good cut with the wine. Made us want to keep going back. The Milanese recipe goes with a lot of white wines that bring an acid-first personality, follows with graceful flavors that taper off rather quick-like, and then bring a gaseous, mineral finish and more acid refreshment. Bring some snap and you'll be happy. We were here.

Cost: $10 for food, $10 for wine = $20

Friday: Husk Cheeseburgers and Oven Fries

Food Details: Leftover Husk Cheeseburgers from here (Sean Brock's Heritage cookbook, page 131). American cheese, mustard-pickle sauce, brioche buns. Oven fries, from this NYT Cooking recipe, via Martha Rose Shulman, using leftover russet potatoes.

Did We Like It? Big shipment of meats coming from D'Artagnan soon so we have to clean out the freezer. Single-stack here with surprisingly delicious oven fries. Burgers = always great (better fresh, of course, but still quite good), and easy oven-baked fries that we'll be making again; crisp-ish, then creamy. Happy Meal for adults. And Happy Meal.

No Wine.

Cost: $8 for food.

Thursday: Potato Pie and Herb Salad with 2013 Sainte Céline Chablis

Source: Savory Potato Tart recipe, via NYT Cooking (Tanis)

Food Details: Thinly sliced potatoes mixed with leeks, crème fraiche, garlic, thyme, nutmeg, s & p. Placed in a pie crust, topped with more crust like a pie. Baked. Herb salad on the side.

Did We Like It? Easy French bistro food at its best. It's a house favorite, last had in July, when it was stupid-great with a Chablis we forgot we had. It's about the goop in this one. Deliciously savory, expanding in your mouth (giggity) so beautifully. This batch was a touch salty, but it didn't detract.

How Was The Wine? Trader Joe's cheap Chablis. Both of us didn't get much here. Right and proper entry and finish, just not much in the way of excitement, presence or energy.

And The Pairing? See above. Nothing went pear-shaped; there just wasn't much in the way of linkage or interest.

Cost: $8 for food, $13 for wine = $21

Wednesday: Venison and Bread Sauce with 2014 Domaine de Fenouillet Vin de Pays du Vaucluse

Source: Venison in bread sauce recipe, via Lucky Peach

Food Details: Venison (FREE from a co-worker) braised in red wine, orange juice, apple and marjoram. Bread sauce made with sour cream and almond milk instead of milk. Arugula salad with pomegranate seeds to finish.

Did We Like It? Nice one-off. We had free venison, Lucky Peach is a great source, and we've never had bread sauce, which sounds a touch odd but simply brought a mashed potato quality in a different form. Nice bready essence. We don't love venison (I grew up on rather boring deer meat), we have free venison, and now we've had our every-three-years venison.

How Was The Wine? For a wine we put in the fridge last week (with a preserve disk), this had all the stuff you'd want from a cheap Côtes du Rhône without the bad. Not too shabby. Nice brush, dry fruit, good length, pleasing finish. Happy. Typical of Vaucluse. If you can't decide between two CdR and Vaucluse is one of them, go with Vaucluse.

And The Pairing? Good enough for a meal Mrs. Ney wasn't even sure we'd eat. "Might be getting a chicken!" came from the kitchen. That's a sign that she's leery of ALL OF IT.

Cost: $5 for food, $10 for wine = $15

Tuesday: Michael Solomonov Dinner at Spiaggia Café

Michael Solomonov, Philly chef, of Zahav, Federal Donuts and Percy Street BBQ, held a pop-up dinner at Spiaggia Café. I heard about it on Twitter through Tony Mantuano, and I've always been interested in going to Zahav in Philadelphia. We made a quick decision to go. Glad we did. It was a great time.

Cost: A huge bargain for this kind of thing: $200 for both of us.

Monday: Harissa Goat Leg and charred onion-tomato over labneh with 2011 Three Wine Co. Mataro Contra Costa

Source: Goat leg (a Molly Stevens recipe). Charred onions over labneh (a Melissa Clark recipe).

Food Details: An altered version of lamb and charred onion with labneh from last Tuesday, a meal we flipped for and wanted to eat again NOW. Goat leg, slathered with homemade harissa, roasted with tomatoes and onions (which took too long). Labneh on the plate, ripped goat next to it, the charred tomatoes and onions from the roast on top of the labneh, pita on the side.

Did We Like It? It missed. Maybe we ate it too soon after first having it, but we didn't find the sweetness from the tomatoes, which permeated the entire meal, to be satisfying. It didn't allow for any gaps and pauses, any enjoyment of the char and the oniony goodness, any love of the interplay between the char and labneh coolness. Everything was just sweet.

How Was The Wine? We abandoned the Field Recordings Grenache Rosé in a can quickly, as "we were gettin' nothin'!" Moved on to the Three Wine Co. Mourvèdre and found some delicious violet, plum and charred meat notes, all in a medium-bodied package. This wine is lovely. Loved it last year, liked it here.

And The Pairing? The meal was frustrating. Tasty, but frustrating. The goat took too long, the sweetness was overwhelming, we had to abandon our favorite rosé of the year. In the end, we have some nice food and a happy wine that brought something to the food, but little in the way of total satisfaction due to all of the above.

Cost: $30 for food, $27 for wine = $57

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