Friday, November 27, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #20

This piece in the New Yorker on a former favorite daughter of the Westboro Baptist Church is worth every second.

The Apu Trilogy was just released on Criterion. But this Sunday, Turner Classic Movies will be showing all three starting at 7pm CT. Set that DVR, people.

'Spotlight' is a fine film. Well-paced, nuanced, detailed, and understated performances from people that typically don't choose to go that direction. But here's hoping we don't get all crazy and proclaim it the best film of the decade around awards season.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $104 for food and $100 for wine = $204

Total food and wine cost for the month: $382 for food and $465 for wine = $1404

Sunday: Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Basil and Pugliese with 2012 Barreri & Rovati Barbera d’Asti Superiore

Food Details: Sunday Dinner. Meatballs cooked in "red sauce." Put on a plate, cheap mozzarella sprinkled on top, the entire thing broiled to get the cheese all melty, toasty and gooey. Copious amount of basil on top of that. Sliced Pugliese bread. So...a slice of bread, meatball-cheese-sauce on top of bread, basil on top of that. Eat, repeat.

Did We Like It? Yep. Tasted like chicken parm and Chicago deep dish had a baby, with fresh basil and good bread making it taste much better than what that mashup would suggest.  

How Was The Wine? Medium-bodied, trending bolder. Juicy and structured. Trader Joe's Italian barbera offering, differentiating itself from their Mendocino barbera with its Old World, higher quality, earthy background.

And The Pairing? Big Freakin' Winner. This wine and the basil were bestest friends. Tasted like going to an Old School American-Italian restaurant, one you're not too thrilled about visiting, and finding why the old couple at the table next to you keep telling everyone they've been eating there for 35 years.

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

Saturday: Vegetable Tart and Herb Salad with 2014 Trader Joe's Reserve Pinot Gris Yountville Napa

Food Details: Tart made with red pepper, onion, carrots, celery and herbs. Herb salad on the side.

Did We Like It? It's French bistro food. Always satisfies on such a happy, basic, elemental level. You eat it and say, "I'm completely satisfied and need nothing more here."

How Was The Wine? Missed. We liked it well enough a few weeks ago with porchetta and asparagus flatbread. Didn't work here in the least.

And The Pairing? See above. Watery, flat, boring, and tired.

Cost: $4 for food, $8 for wine = $12

Friday: Goat Picadillo with 2014 La Granja 360 Tempranillo Cariñena

Food Details: Picadillo (from Sam Sifton in NYT Cooking) using one pound of goat meat and half-pound of ground pork. Olives, onions, garlic, leftover tomatoes and juice from pizzas, cinnamon,  cumin, nutmeg, bay, red wine vinegar. A Cuban stew over white rice mixed with leftover wild rice from Thanksgiving.

Did We Like It? It's easy stew with dirty, deep and delicious Cuban flavors.

How Was The Wine? $4 tempranillo that tastes like a bit more than $4.

And The Pairing? Basic wine and food business. No complaints from Mrs. Ney. I skipped wine. Need a break.

Cost: $12 for food, $4 for wine = $16

Thursday: Ottolenghi Quail, Farro-Wild Rice and Snap Peas with NV Moutard Brut Champagne

Food Details: Thanksgiving food! Quail from D'Artagnan in New Jersey, made in the typically weird deliciousness manner of Mr. Ottolenghi. Miso paste burnt in the oven, then blended with sugar, mirin and sherry vinegar. Salsa of pickled walnuts, pomegranate seeds, sherry vinegar and parsley. Quails sautéed, then glazed with the burnt miso butterscotch and placed under the broiler until it bubbled. Farro and wild rice base on the plate, quails on top, pickled walnut-pomegranate seed salsa on top of quails, snap peas with mint on the side.

Did We Like It? Damn fine Thanksgiving meal. Damn. Fine. No family this year for us, which meant no six-hour, round-trip car ride and everything that family holiday entails. Just loafing around, sitting on the couch and then eating this meal. The grizzly, aggressive, dark miso glaze was taken down a notch beautifully by the delicate meatiness in the quail, without the quail flavor being lost in the least. The pickled walnuts brought a funk that you'd think pickled walnuts would bring, while the pomegranate seeds kept them from going too pear-shaped here. Oddly delicious wild rice. Funny what an long absence of a food-type thing will do to your taste buds. Snap peas with mint are snap peas with mint. They = bright and happy. This was a meal worthy of its holiday-ness, all with new flavors galore. Very happy.

How Was The Wine? For $35, this was perfectly fine Champagne, even playing above the Champagne price tier. All pinot noir and funky as heck underneath its standard Champagne-ness on entry. Medium bubbles, medium acid, medium fruit expression, but all adding up to something more for $35. Nice stuff.

And The Pairing? Mrs. Ney worried about this one. What were the burnt miso and pickled walnuts going to do to the wine? This ended up ab-sol-ute-ly scrummy for the most part. A sturdy backbone in the wine allowed it to play well, only flattening out once or twice, but mostly staying buoyant and utterly interesting here. A big Thanksgiving Miracle!

Cost: $37 for food, $35 for wine = $72  

Wednesday: Homemade Sheet-Pan Pizzas with 2014 Broc Cellars Love Rosé California

Food Details: Same pizza prep as two weeks ago, using pizza dough recipe from Lucky Peach, this time substituting Caputo's blue bag pasta flour instead of farina 00 because we had that on hand. Would not do it again. 48-hour proof, but the gluten and its elasticity was a bit moody. Sausage, fresh oregano, tomato sauce (from Cook's Illustrated) and Boar's Head Mozzarella (which isn't the best, but served and we had it on hand) for one pie. White pizza of grape tomatoes, mozzarella and arugula for the other.

Did We Like It? Good. Nice to have two big sheet-pan pizzas with flavors in front of us for a leisurely two-hour meal. Didn't match the extreme goodness of the potato-rosemary pizzas from two weeks ago, though. That crust was boss.

How Was The Wine? A grenanche gris-zinfandel-barbera blend, done up rosé style from Broc. $17. Had that gloss and buff to the fruit we love from Broc Cellars, with underlying earthy flavors, all coming at you in a low-alcohol format. A drier veneer, but a trampy sweetness deeper down that wanted to be liked, and was in spades. Big fans.

And The Pairing? Pizzas and a friendly wine with zinfandel and barbera in it. What's not to like?

Cost: $10 for food, $17 for wine = $27    

Tuesday: Fried Haloumi, Beet Salad and Green Beans with 2013 Garzon Albariño Uruguay

Food Details: Fried haloumi: sliced, fried in mini-cast iron at a lower temp than usual, resulting in fabulous haloumi, probably the best we've had. Herbs put on late in the frying helped as well. Palmina winery yellow beet salad (recipe) using marcona almonds instead of walnuts this time, just for funnsies. Tangerine-marinated cerignola olives (from The New Spanish Table cookbook). Blanched green beans with onions and red bell peppers, made into a salad and tossed with the olive marinade. Baguette to dip, top and dunk in the cheese oil.

Did We Like It? A big pile of vegetable and cheese happiness. Great haloumi. Wouldn't do the marcona again, as it resulted in a sweetness with nothing to counter that, but beets are always welcome. Good to have green beans. Felt like it had been a long time. Delicious meal overall.

How Was The Wine? Our second Uruguayan albariño, after the Bouza. Won't be our last either. These two rank right up there with Rías Baixas albariños in terms of quality, and offer a distinctive well-water and sunshine edge. Six months stainless steel on its lees for this one and you can taste it. A bright-light creaminess throughout, with notes of peach and tangerine. Bumpy-bouncy acid. We really enjoyed it. For $16, a great deal in the GOOD albariño world.

And The Pairing? The wine loved the green beans. A lot! And the beets and green beans together. This was a good example of a veggie meal with a moderately zippy and distinct wine offering something new to a meal we love and have had a dozen times.

Cost: $18 for food, $16 for wine = $34

Monday: Trader Joe's French Pizzas with Trader Joe's Brut Rosé Sonoma County 

Food Details: Take these French pizzas from TJ's and gussy them up with asparagus, walnuts and pecorino. Done.

Did We Like It? Ham, gruyere, caramelized onions, asparagus, walnut, pecorino. Flavors. On the cheap. Virtually no work. A lunch trip to Garcia's, where I inexplicably ordered fish tacos...from Garcia's, resulted in easily a top-five worst meal ever for me. I was comical how overcooked and under-seasoned they were. Rough work week for Mrs. Ney, so easy-peasy pizzas were just the ticket.

How Was The Wine? New Trader Joe's product, a brut rosé from Sonoma County made from pinot noir and pinot meunier, done up in the Champagne method. Quite delicious for $10. Fruit plays in the background here, with its dryness and a touch of funk dominating in a nice way. Guzzle-worthy stuff for $10.

And The Pairing? Fine enough. This wine will be popping up a lot over the next month or so.

Cost: $13 for food, $10 for wine = $23  

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