Thursday, October 22, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #15

Mets were better.

Should be a good food winter. A D'Artagnan haul arrived yesterday, so our freezer is stocked with quail, guinea hen, rabbit legs and wild boar to go with goat leg and bison short ribs already in there.

Food is good.

Now, how do we get out of the family holidays?

Total food and wine cost for the week: $104 for food and $140 for wine = $244

Sunday: Dak Bulgogi with 2014 Lacheteau Vouvray

Source: Recipe here, via Kimchi Bulgogi dot com

Food Details: Spicy Korean goodness, a dish we have about 4-6 a year. Chicken thigh filets with cabbage, red pepper paste, red peppers, green peppers, carrots, onions, red pepper flakes, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, wine, scallions, etc. Over rice. It's hot, stewy, Koreany, and a delicious weeknight meal every time.

Did We Like It? Always. Decent batch here, though the wine fell short.

How Was The Wine? Trader Joe's $8 chenin blanc from Vouvray. 99% of the time we have this wine, it's with this dak bulgogi. Usually its touch of sweet is the perfect counter to the heat in the bulgogi, and there was some nice back-and-forth on occasion again here, though this vintage (or this bottle) separated out the alcohol in unwelcome ways. Everything that's good about this wine was present, just in more quiet and less vibrant ways. Less round, not as streamlined, and less of its great gaseous finish.

And The Pairing? See above. Meh.

Cost: $12 for food, $8 for wine = $20

Saturday: Chicken and Sprout Sandwiches and Olive Oil Chips with 2014 Alloy Wine Works Grenache Rosé Central Coast

Food Details: Chicken, Monterey Jack, onion, avocado, kumatoes, alfalfa sprouts and mayo on ciabatta. Olive oil potato chips.

Did We Like It? We loved Big Mike's Sub Shop in Iowa City. It was our default 1am dinner after our weekend shifts waiting tables where we had to wait on people listening to superlatively terrible jazz. Here, a recreation of our favorite sub at Big Mike's, tastes like the joy in knowing that the shift is over and we don't have to do that for at least another day. And they taste like Love.

How Was The Wine? More Alloy Grenache Rosé in the can, our fave rosé this year. Dirt-covered, juicy grenache showed up in bunches this night. Bouncy, substantial, bright and delicious.

And The Pairing? Everybody has a favorite shirt. You like the fit, the length, the feel, the color. It has that something that your other shirts don't have - a Completeness. This tasted like wearing your favorite shirt.

Cost: $26 for food, $14 for wine = $40

Friday: Sausage Cacciatore and Pugliese Bread with 2012 Barreri & Rovati Barbera d’Asti Superiore

Source: Marcella Hazan Cacciatore, via Saveur, using sausage instead of chicken

Food Details: Mariano's spicy sausages, with San Marzano tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, red pepper, rosemary, garlic, bay and parsley. It's hunter's stew.

Did We Like It? Yep. Could be a recurring thing. It's easy stew with flavors we want.

How Was The Wine? $10 Trader Joe's barbera. Juicy, with structure. Bit of violet and chocolate. A gutsy wine that finishes smooth and happy. Different from the TJ's Mendocino barbera, as it has that Italian edge that makes solid barbera just that. We like the Mendocino version for cleaner meals. With a stewy meal like this, this one likes it more.

And The Pairing? Tasted like a meal made for a cloudy, cold day with wind that cuts through your too-light jacket. This'll warm you up.

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

Thursday: Dolmas, Muhammara, Split-pea Dip and Toasted Pita with 2014 João Portugal Ramos "Lima" Loureiro Vinho Verde

Food Details: Leftover dolmas from Monday, with yogurt-dip dip. Leftover pita from Monday, toasted. Two dips. Muhammara, from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food (page 58), a dip adjusted for what we had: sunflower seeds (instead of walnuts), roasted red peppers (instead of tomato), bit of bread, olive oil, pomegranate syrup, red pepper flakes, cumin, sugar and alt. Yellow split-pea dip, from Michael Psilakis, using dill instead of basil. Eat dolmas with yogurt-dill dip, dip toasted pita in a duo of dips. It's dips and dolmas!

Did We Like It? Certainly good enough. Used up stuff and made an entire meal out of it. Full and happy.

How Was The Wine? Lightly fruity, lightly floral, lightly acidic. It's $8 loureiro.

And The Pairing? Food with wine. Nice little meal. And for $2 extra in ingredients!

Cost: $2 for food, $8 for wine = $10

Wednesday: Fish Cakes, Celery Root Pita Panzanella and Chermoula with 2014 Desparada Sauvignon Blanc Fragment Santa Barbara County

Food Details: Swai, shrimp and bay scallop fish cakes, a fish ball recipe (page 196) from Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, turned into fish cakes, first had here. Chermoula from the same cookbook (page 180). Garlic, cilantro, cumin, paprika, cayenne, olive oil, lemon. Blended. Blanched celery root, scallions, shredded carrots, arugula, pomegranate seeds and leftover pita (toasted), tossed with a bit of more chermoula = celery root pita panzanella. Chermoula on the fish cakes with a spritz of lemon.

Did We Like It? Huge surprise! Mrs. Ney thought the "chermoula on chermoula" aspect of this meal might make it a bit mono in flavor but...Not. Even. CLOSE! This was a big plate of fresh and poppy flavors bipping and bopping everywhere! Big fans. Big! Made better by this California sauvignon blanc surprise.

How Was The Wine? Sancerre is a derogatory word in some circles. To that, I call bunk. Quality Sancerre loves food when it offers a back-and-forth of grizzle and grace. This Santa Barbara sauvignon blanc did just that, while offering a California sunny sheen, with oak that offered a perfect roundness and THAT'S IT, which is how oak should oak. We sorta loved it. And at $20, a bargain for what you're getting. Didn't love it on its own, but loved it with this food.

And The Pairing? Nothing too spicy or aggressive in the food in a relative sense, and that let the wine do its dance. It flat-out LOVED the celery root. Loved-loved-loved it. I'll remember that eat-and-sip for awhile. Happy, bright, perky food with depth that liked the drink. What more could you want in life? And a second bottle of Espiral Rosé Portugal wasn't too shabby here as well.

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

Tuesday: Hanger Steak, Potato Latkes and Tuscan Kale Salad with 2009 Villa Creek Granadina Paso Robles

Food Details: Hanger steak marinated in garlic, parsley, rosemary, evoo, balsamic and soy; seared medium-rare. Trader Joe's potato latkes with sour cream, and Tuscan kale salad (recipe, subbing parmesan).

Did We Like It? It's our standard beef and potatoes meal, and it's delicious (and different) every time. Great beef. Good to have hanger again. Feels like it's been months. These TJ's latkes are the best easy-starch complement to beefy meals on the planet. Don't wanna cook three things at once? We don't, especially in our cracker-box kitchen. Throw these in the oven. Done. They're delicious with a bit (or more than a bit) of sour cream. Eat your kale. Many kale recipes aren't that great. This one is. It makes you want/crave kale. Good meal made better by this wine:

How Was The Wine? A cabernet-mourvèdre blend that came in a wine club shipment from Villa Creek a few years ago, put on the shelf, and promptly forgotten. It has cab in it. 50%. It's not our...first choice. But here's lovely cab that lets the mourvèdre play as well. A true-blue blend where the combination elevates itself to something more. Happy red fruits mixing with black fruits, with a bit of leather and prickly brush in a medium-bodied "look how light I am!" expression. Very loose and malleable. Pleasant by itself, better with food:

And The Pairing? All mourvèdre with the latkes, and Frenchy-Bandol mourvèdre done well. Cabby with the beef, and good cab at that. It was cabernet that let the meat talk as well instead of the cab shouting over everybody. A mix of the two with the kale. Here's a versatile wine seemingly made for food, something we haven't seen in some of the previous Villa Creek wines we've had.

Cost: $19 for food, $40 for wine = $69 

Monday: Solomonov Hummus, Pita, Dolmas and Fattoush with NV Andrea Calek Blonde Ardèche

Source: Hummus here, pita here, fattoush here, Ottolenghi dolmas here.

Food Details: After eating Mr. Solomonov's hummus and pita at the Spiaggia pop-up last Tuesday, replicating it became a mission. The incredible texture of the hummus and perfect lightness of the pita are two things this house would like with the current versions of hummus and pita in our world somewhat lacking. The result, using the Vitamix and adding baking soda to the soaked chickpeas, was the identical texture we had at that dinner. It's so luscious, rather easy to make, and a big upgrade. Done. Found our hummus going forward. Pita in our world has been the same. Semiramis pita is nice. But we don't love our grocery store options. This recipe makes pita that taste better. They have that homemade quality in a good sense. Fattoush of romaine, tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, scallions, toasted naan, parsley, lemon juice-olive dressing, homemade za'atar (fresh marjoram was key) mixed in. Nice dolmas (Mr. Ottolenghi) in that we liked the fact we could taste every ingredient, but don't know if we'd do it again. Dill-yogurt to dip.

Did We Like It? Yep. Tons to like. Tons! We found a great hummus recipe (though I still think there's the perfect hummus out there that I haven't had), very serviceable pita that I could work on, nailing down the process, making it quicker and getting the perfectly spare and fluffy insides. Oddly great fattoush; the za'atar was lovely. Dolmas that offered a meatiness that the meal needed. We loved this and it wasn't too annoying to make. Pokey time in the kitchen for about three hours for me.

How Was The Wine? Chenin Blanc (particularly Saumur) and hummus love each other. But a bottle of Broc Cellars Chenin Blanc was corked. Moved on to our last bottle of Calek Blonde, a chardonnay-viognier natural wine with a slight bubble to it (other two drinkings here). Overall impression of a spring breeze with apple-fennel upfront and slight brushy herbs underneath, with a pleasing acidity. Really nice bounce to its personality. This last bottle has been around for awhile. No deterioration in the least. Has the same pleasure as biting into a chilled, juicy apple.

And The Pairing? No complaints at all. The wine loved the fattoush, picking up on the marjoram and spices in the za'atar and running with it. Wasn't a transcendent pairing, but the fact that this wine was already chilled after the corkage of the Broc, and how well it slid into the food and played nice...happy people.  

Cost: $20 for food, $30 for wine = $50

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