Thursday, December 17, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #23

Watching a trio of Christian Petzold films, Yella, Jerichow and Phoenix to go along with the previously seen Barbara, confirmed my assumption after seeing the latter that if Mr. Petzold makes a film, and Nina Hoss is in it, I'll be renting it. Dark, honest, adult stuff.

Jon Bonné left the SF Chronicle earlier this year for Punch and it didn't take long for him to embrace the freedom offered by such a move. His 'Wine Stories That Will Shape 2016' is a good read, as has been everything else since he made the move.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $88 for food and $95 for wine = $183

Sunday: Calzones with 2013 Trader Joe's Sangiovese Sonoma County

Food Details: Frozen bread dough whipped up into loafy, calzone-y form, stuffed with Italian chicken sausages, ground pork, green pepper, onion, pickled serranos, cheddar and mozzarella. Jarred 'pizza sauce' on the side.

Did We Like It? We don't eat like this, particularly the jarred, sweet, processed-tasting 'pizza sauce.' But this hit a place reminiscent of an 80s-style corner pizza place growing up. No complaints. Big brown loaf of goodness.

How Was The Wine? Blind, I wouldn't have said it was sangiovese, but pleasant red-black fruits with a modicum of acidity that puts it in the large ballpark of what you'd want from Chianti. Borderline generic wine, but nothing to hate here. Nothing, really, at all.

And The Pairing? As Italian-American from the mid-80s at it gets. Both of us...kinda...liked it.

Cost: $12 for food, $10 for wine = $22

Saturday: Potato Tart with 2014 VinTJ's Arneis Russian River Valley

Source: Savory potato tart recipe, via NYT Cooking (Tanis)

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

Did We Like It? Always. It's bistro food at its best. Delicious rabbit reduction addition.

How Was The Wine? Trader Joe's arneis, a first for TJ's offering arneis under their own label. Not particularly concentrated, evocative or complete, but nice gooseberry notes and something reminiscent of smoked orange peel. Very bright finish that makes up for a watery entry. Pleasing, if not resplendent, but nice texture for the most part. Would buy again.

And The Pairing? The food ripped into the wine and opened up its secret places quite nicely, taking the meal to a more food-wine completeness. The wine loved the fennel vinegar on the salad, offering a perky mango-kiwi-mineral note with a bite and sip. Happy with this pairing.

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

Friday: Pick-n-Choose with 2015 Viñas Chileans Reserva Rosé Valle Central

Food Details: Ham, salami, Scottish aged cheddar, pickled onions, arugula salad, Provencal mustard, and mini-ciabatta buns.

Did We Like It? Strangely, This tasted like the best pick-n-choose in a good long while. No idea why. Just had a ton of flavors bouncing everywhere, and offered space to enjoy all of them.

How Was The Wine? $4. Cab-syrah. Rosé. Chile. It's $4-ness is quickly making this wine our house rosé when we don't want to get spendy.

And The Pairing? Good. Nothing special, but good. Firmly in the realm of Good.

Cost: $15 for food, $4 for wine = $19

Thursday: Chicken Pot Pie with 2014 Quinta do Porrais Douro

Food Details: Your standard chicken pot pie, made with biscuits instead of crust.

Did We Like It? Used to be a fairly regular weekday meal for us. Now, we don't eat like this anymore. This meal has probably been put to bed for years, as both of us found it tremendously boring.

How Was The Wine? A terrible choice, made by me, here. Thinking pot pie was a blank enough slate to serve any wine with a minimum amount of acid in it, that thinking proved woefully wrong.

And The Pairing? Shockingly terrible. One of those times where you say, "By golly, this might be the worst pairing I've had in years!" Fine on its own, but watery, flaccid, with notes of the dumpster on a hot summer day with the food.

Cost: $3 for food, $14 for wine = $17

Wednesday: Orecchiette, Sausage and Rapini with 2013 San Salvatore "Pian di Stio" Fiano Paestum IGP

Food Details: Very good batch of sausage and rapini using free sausage from a co-worker. Spicy. House staple eaten once a month or so.

Did We Like It? Top-2 weekday meal for me. Simple Italian done well. It has everything.

How Was The Wine? Squat little 500-ml bottle of fiano from San Salvatore. We liked their very polished falanghina that took its time to reveal all the goodies within. Similar complexity and length here, with minerals and preserved lemon-basil stem-spice notes mingling together. Very clean, higher perception of alcohol but never got in the way, and would get better with time. Secondary nutty notes should open up, as this was a tad tight even after a two-hour decant. One problem: this is $23 for a 500ml. That works out to about $35-36 per 750ml. Is it worth it? Maaaaaaaybe. We wavered back and forth whether we'd buy it again, finally landing on "it has a small place." Would be a great southern Italian white wine to use as an introduction to someone who doesn't think southern Italy makes serious white wine.

And The Pairing? We were surprisingly devoid of sausage and rapini pairing fits in the house. In our book, it's gotta stay Italian. Force-fitting a sauvignon blanc into this meal tastes like just that. This was the only Italian white in the house and shame on us. Gave it a pop and loved the 'Italian food with Italian wine' interplay. Loved the pecorino. Liked the sausage and orecchiette together. A bit leery of the rapini, but nothing went pear-shaped. Nice.

Cost: $5 for food, $23 for wine = $28

Tuesday: Goat Leg Greek Cassoulet with 2013 Cascina degli Ulivi Semplicemente Vino Belletti Rosso

Source: Mediterranean braised goat leg with fennel and white beans, via the Boston Globe, with the addition of fennel pollen rubbed on the meat.

Food Details: It wasn't Greek cassoulet, merely giving the elemental impression of that. Five-hour roast of goat leg. Roasted leg meat mixed with white beans, garlic, fennel, oil-cured black olives, tomatoes, lemon zest, oregano, white wine, salt and pepper. Ate like a drier cassoulet and it was light, complex, and delicious. All the ingredients stayed in its medium-bodied lane with each perking up just enough to offer a different angle and depth with each subsequent bite. We sort of loved its subtlety and complexity. Kale salad on the side. The entire meal tasted like crossroads city food where 87 cultures pass through on a regular basis offering their own little touch to a hodgepodge dish.

How Was The Wine? We almost aborted drinking it, because this was good food and deserved more after our first drink impression. Barbera-dolcetto blend served slightly chilled. Notes said it has a slight petillance but it's barely perceptible here, showing up more in a verve and jump on the tongue that comes from carbonic maceration than anything resembling spritz. Tart, lively, full. Basically a wine that the winemaker said, "Here. Here's some juice I just threw together. Try it. You'll like it." We typically gravitate towards such a thing. This one at first tasted a little too hastily thrown together, wandering into church wine territory. But as it opened up, full dark red berry fruit mixing with forest floor showed itself, becoming more distinct and interesting. At about $22, Cleto Chiarli makes three different versions of Lambrusco that occupies a similar, cheaper place and offers more length and pockets to enjoy. Intrigued by their cortese though.

And The Pairing? Food was better than the wine but we weren't displeased with the pairing.

Cost: $25 for food, $22 for wine = $47  

Monday: Best Fried Chicken Ever with Lillet Rosé

Food Details: (I'll hand it off to Mrs. Ney, as we'll be eating this often ["Not that often," says she]):

Chicken: Whole Foods air-chilled fryer. Cut into 8 pieces: 2 breasts, each cut in half; two thighs; two drumsticks. Save the wings, backbone, and other stray parts for the stock you'll surely need someday.  Combine Mr. Brock's and Mr. Keller's recipes as you see fit, as both are Experts. This is what happened to our chicken, and it worked out pretty well:
24 hours refrigerated in brine:  4 cups strong-brewed hibiscus tea, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1/4 cup sugar, juice and shell of half a lemon, 2 tbsp garlic, thyme bundle.
Rinse off brine.  Pat dry.
One hour on the counter in 2 1/2 cups of buttermilk, 1 tbsp hottest hot sauce (in this case ghost pepper vinegar), 1 tbsp ground black pepper.
Don't rinse. Dump into flour coating (2 cups flour, 1/3 cup masa harina, 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1/2 tbsp kosher salt, 1/2 tbsp onion powder, 1/2 tbsp garlic powder, 1/2 tbsp paprika).  Use your hands to aggressively toss the chicken and bury it in the flour, let it sit 30 minutes or so.
Use lard--however much you have--or chicken fat in addition to your frying oil.
Follow Mr. Keller's fussypants directions for cooking thighs/drumsticks and breasts separately. They will come out
Frisee, celery, pickled onions, pomegranate seeds, roasted garlic/mustard vinaigrette.
Buttermilk biscuits.

BEST. FRIED. CHICKEN. I'VE. EVER. HAD. I tried to think of better that I've had in my life and came up empty.

How Was The Beverage? From 'Everything's Coming Up Rosé' in Saveur. Link up that hibiscus tea in the chicken with hibiscus tea in your beverage, people. Lillet is delicious, as is Aperol. Find them, drink them, love them. This was perfect.

And The Pairing? Had that finger weaving quality that good pairings have. This is how to start a weekend!

Cost: $18 for food, $14 for beverage = $32 

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