Thursday, December 3, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #21

Geology is boring to most people. But if you have one bone in your body that's intrigued by it, this piece on the misuse of geologic terms by wine writers and winemakers is entirely worth it. NOVA's 'Making North America,' a three-part series still available through their app, is a good companion to it.

This piece on the the rise of consumer comedy - or the shoddy, cheap, and ubiquitous use of reference bait in comedy, I say - is spot on.

That Monday Night Browns' game...I'm in my early 40's, too late to switch NFL teams. Plus, it's the NFL, an ugly, sordid organization barely worth my time. But that Monday Night game... In a way, everyone should have a favorite team like the Browns. It reminds you, every game, that fate exists and it can kick you right in the nuts, even with three seconds left.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $110 for food and $109 for wine = $219

Sunday: Spicy Korean Chicken "Stir Fry" with 2014 Lacheteau Vouvray

Food Details: Oven-charred korean-ish chicken sausage, brussels sprouts, red bell pepper, and onion tossed in a gochujang-based sauce over white rice.

Did We Like It? We did. Korean-funk in a good sense.

How Was The Wine? Adequate. This Trader Joe's Vouvray has that touch of chenin sweetness that counters Korean flavors nicely, typically served with (and really only served with) dak bulgogi, a weekday staple. But the 2014 hasn't been great to us. It's a more quiet and shy Vouvray than it has been in past vintages.

And The Pairing? Adequate is the word.

Cost: $10 for food, $7 for wine = $17

Saturday: Chicken Panzanella with 2013 Chateau Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé

Food Details: Chicken [marinated in leftover nicoise dressing and freezer salsa verde with almonds, spatchcocked and roasted on top of fennel in a 450-degree oven]; slow-roasted grape tomatoes and lemon slices, tangerine-marinated castelvetrano olives, arugula, scallions, parsley; dressed in a tarragon-tangerine vinaigrette over toasted, cubed Pugliese.

Did We Like It? At first, we thought this wasn't close to the best panzanella Mrs. Ney has made in this house, then, as we got into it, we were left saying, "This is Gooood!" Still not the best version, but with panzanella, that doesn't matter. It had all the panzanella goodness and flurry of flavors that takes a fairly easily-made plate of garbage salad to a place that hits all of the buttons.

How Was The Wine? This Tavel rosé is nothing special. Solid Tavel rosé on the cheap ($15), good guts, admirable structure, fine fruit and acid balance. It's pleasant. But...

And the Pairing? ...It was rather obstinate with the food. It wouldn't look the food in the eye when it talked to it. So we opened a can of 2014 Alloy Wine Works Grenache Rosé Central Coast, our favorite rosé of the year (I don't count the Jolie-Laide as a rosé - that's something else) and it gave the Trinquevedel a lesson in how pairings work. A complete wine-food weave happened in such a pleasing, refreshing and complete way. I can't recommend this can of rosé more. It's what's good.

Cost: $20 for food, $22 for wine = $42

Friday: Tuna Salad, Arugula and Ciabbatini Buns with Two Picpouls

Food Details: Nice, basic tuna salad, dressed arugula salad, Persian cucumbers and mini-ciabatta buns. Rip, top, eat, repeat.

Did We Like It? For as basic as this meal was, this hit a pleasant food place.

How Was The Wine? Trader Joe's is running low on the 2014 Cuvée Azan Picpoul de Pinet, but a new one just popped one, the 2014 Ormarine Les Pins de Camille, also from Languedoc. This, at first, was sort of exciting. Another cheap picpoul in our lives would be a good thing. We like picpoul. But it's...not...good. Picpoul is about the snap and finish; that distinctive herb-and-stone-licking finish. The Ormarine's finish tastes like licking a rusty truck bed. Looks like a trip to various Trader Joe's is in the offing to clear out all the Azan.

And The Pairing? Pret-Ahhh good. No complaints with the Azan.

Cost: $10 for food, $8 for wine = $18  

Thursday: Lou Malnati's with 2014 La Granja 360 Tempranillo Cariñena

Food Details: Lou Malnati's frozen spinach pizzas. A meal you have when cooking is "RIGHT OUT!"

Did We Like It? Sure. It's the only Chicago pizza we enjoy.  

How Was The Wine? $4 Trader Joe's Spanish tempranillo.

And The Pairing? Nothing to report with the wine. I paired it with the Lions-Packers game. I'd like to thank the Lions for one-upping the Browns' Monday night performance in terms of last-second futility and pure buffoonery.

Cost: $26 for food, $4 for wine = $30

Wednesday: Hummus and Fattoush with 2013 Cave de Saumur Les Plantagenets Saumur

Food Details: Same prep as five weeks ago, Solomonov hummus and pita with fattoush and homemade za'atar. Very good hummus with luscious consistency. Solid pita, but still working on the puff. Clumsy fattoush, as it was too wet.

Did We Like It? Filling, solid, good enough.

How Was The Wine? Most of the delicious nuggets that come from Saumur for $15. Fresh, higher acid, a pleasing smoky lemon salt finish. Got better and more complete as it approached room temp.

How Was The Pairing? Saumur and hummus is a thing. Better Saumur is, anyway. This one was more cozy with the fattoush, but no complaints overall here.

Cost: $12 for food, $15 for wine = $27

Tuesday: Hanger Steak with Chimichurri and Homemade Empanadas with 2010 Villa Creek Mas de Maha Paso Robles

Food Details: Hanger steak marinaded in churrasco marinade, homemade empanadas filled with potato, pumpkin, onion and cheddar. Chimichurri sauce to top on everything.

Did We Like It? South American meat and potatoes! We loved it, frankly. Perfect-perfect-perfect dough recipe here. Probably because of the lard. Lard is good. Wonderful chimichurri with a perfect acid pop and gnarly chimichurri-ness. Hanger was a tad tough, but still tasty. Very good dinner.

How Was The Wine? We haven't had a Mas de Maha in ages, a tempranillo-forward blend backed up by grenache, mourvèdre and carignane. It's stupid-great with Cuban-ish food, but alas, it's allocated now. Only available to club members, if I recall correctly. Looser, more soft and bright in the past than this drinking, the 2010 shows darker fruit flavors and more structure, more figgy secondary flavors and broodiness overall. Enjoyed it.

And The Pairing? Not the superlative pairing loveliness that Mas de Maha and Cuban food has been in the past, but very good meat and potatoes with a bigger wine that never went to the sappy fruit bomb world. Nice.

Cost: $20 for food, $50 for wine = $70  

Monday: Ottolenghi Chicken Thighs, Clementines,White Rice and Pistachios with 2013 Binigrau Vins I Vinyes Nounat Mallorca

Food Details: Chicken thighs (recipe) marinated and roasted in ouzo, orange and lemon juices, mustard, fennel, clementines, thyme, fennel seed and salt (omitting sugar). Chicken on plate, fennel on the side as veg, white rice with pistachios for starch. It's smothered chicken, Ottolenghi-style!

Did We Like It? We thought it quite nice before Mrs. Ney brought out the clementine and cooking goop to the table. After adding the clementine peel and roast goop to any bite, this turned into Food We Like. Crazy people on the interwebs that adapted this recipe say to omit this bitter peel and goop business (one calling it inedible) when serving. That's nonsense. It turned this meal from "that's nice" to "that's delicious!" Perfect bitter component to an already mighty fine chicken thigh meal. Wonderful texture on the fennel. Great cook on them. Oddly delicious white rice, though the pistachios didn't add much. We liked this and will be having it again, particularly after tasting the bitter peel goop.

How Was The Wine? Parker said this Mallorcan white wine, a chardonnay-prensal blend, is the greatest wine he'd ever tasted from Mallorca, giving it a 95. We wouldn't go that high, but it is reminiscent of a chardonnay-viognier blend from the southern Rhône with a touch more minerality (reminded me a bit of Kermit Lynch's Vaucluse Blanc from a few years ago). Interesting, unusual, delicate, smooth. More perky at times. Apple backed by tiny but prevalent tropical fruit notes. Seamless acid. Flavors that introduce themselves out of the typical order in very pleasing ways. We debated whether we'd buy this again at $25. Cautious yes, mainly because it would fit into a relatively small food box for us. We like more acid in our food and this wine COULD be more finicky with that.

And The Pairing? That said, this was pleasant. Loved the fennel. Liked the chicken. Big thumbs-up with the rice. Happy.

Cost: $12 for food, $25 for wine = $27

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