Thursday, January 14, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #27

We came to the halfway point in this 365-day experiment and arrived at a total cost of about $7600 for food and wine.

That number is about 90% of our spending on food and wine, which includes most lunches, as they typically are leftovers from the previous day, and that number includes about $1200 on food and wine for a week-long vacation to California.

So, taking out vacation (because that's vacation), it averages out to about $35/day ($6400/182 days) for overall great food with wine that matched. Not. Too. Shabby...Given:

A) This is basically our hobby.

B) We rarely go out to eat anymore due to the "We're Fabulous!" tax restaurants charge, particularly on wine but also for the level of food satisfaction that can be gotten at home for a quarter of the price if you're smart (not smart is spending $3000 for four people at Per Se, apparently).

C) For a comparison, Americans average about $150/week on food, or about $7800/year. There's two of us, so we're right in line with the food average without even including wine (tons of caveats and calculations in there)!

We've had some spectacular food and wine over these six months and haven't broken the bank.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $85 for food and $75 for wine = $160

Sunday: Meat and Cheese Plate with 2014 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Valley

Food Details: Mortadella, salami, dill havarti cheese, arugula, mustard, and homemade bread from this recipe, using Gold Medal AP flour (bread flour in the works).

Did We Like It? Both of us found it somewhat boring. Mini-ciabatta would have helped, and the arugula wasn't the best. This bread loaf was punched down and shouldn't have, leading to a somewhat dense bread.

How Was The Wine? Chilean sauvignon blanc on the cheap. Tangerine and grapefruit and herbs with nice, punchy acidity.

And The Pairing? No complaints, but nothing to love here.

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

Saturday: Allium Tart with 2014 Montinore Borealis Willamette Valley

Food Details: Leek, pearl onion and chive blossom (cooked down with rabbit stock) tart with smoked cheddar cheese, tarragon, and dill. "Spicy spinach" salad blend. Tart shell recipe.

Did We Like It? Bistro food! Tart with salad. You don't need more than this, people. This tart had more of a cold weather, foggy, northern France feel. Great slight black char on the veggies.

How Was The Wine? New wine for us. A müller thurgau, riesling, pinot gris, and gewürztraminer blend. Brilliant bright funk to its peach, kiwi and floral notes. Shows like it's going to be sweet at first, but the high acid leads to a crisp, clean finish, leaving everything bouncy and happy. Frankly felt more like some poop and hay got into a vat of pinot a good way. Liked it muchly and has a place in our food world.

And The Pairing? Really great little pairing place. Very Alsatian, but with a more New World transparency, clean brightness and aggressiveness. Wasn't subtle as the food and wine matched up, but the tarragon, dill and touch of char and smoky cheese, the aggressiveness in the wine turned into vibrancy and class. Big fans.

Cost: $9 for food, $15 for wine = $24      

Friday: Coconut Goat Curry, Raita and Naan with 2014 João Portugal Ramos Lima Vinho Verde

Source: From 660 Curries, Raghavan Iyer, page 230.

Food Details: Substituting ground goat for pork and adding mustard greens in the curry. Celery raita. Trader Joe's naan.

Did We Like It? The recipes we've made from this book has been hit-and-miss, mostly falling into a very "meh" territory, always feel like something's missing, rarely grabbing our attention, rarely bursting with flavor. Like here. Tasted fresh and moderately vibrant, and it was nice to have an Indian spread of food. But we have little to say.  

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

And The Pairing? Wonky with the curry but got better as the meal progressed, good with the raita. We ended up finishing fridge wine just to get them out of there.

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

Thursday: Zucchini Goop with 2014 Charles Smith VINO Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley 

Source: Based on a recipe from Mexican, by Jane Milton (page 186).

Food Details: Quickly became a weeknight staple a few months ago, it's goopy zucchini-meat surprise to top on bread and get our "pick-n-choose" on. This version used up Family Dinner leftovers: zucchini, onions, garlic, tomatoes, leftover pork shoulder, leftover pimiento cheese, oregano and dill. Harvesttime isn't carrying LaBriola anymore. Sad face. So we gave that large, fat, pale, basic-looking baguette that's ubiquitous at so many Latin grocery stores a try. DON'T DO THAT! It's bread that tastes like my early 20s depression.

Did We Like It? Food. This wasn't the best batch of zucchini goop but it had some nice underlying heat and veggie-centric goodness. But that bread, man... That bread.

How Was The Wine? Juicy, silky, peppy, fresh and clean. We'll be drinking this guzzler until Mr. Smith stops making it. When one talks value wines, if this isn't on the list, stop reading that list.

And The Pairing? Helped me from focusing too much on the wretchedness of the bread. "Got goop, got wine, good enough."

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

Wednesday: Dinner with the Family

Food Details: Pimiento cheese with crackers as an appetizer, Sean Brock pork shoulder, rice cakes, bbq sauce and kale salad for dinner. Pistachio meringue-cherry sorbet-chocolate sauce "spumoni dacquoise" for dessert. A low-key, easy-ish family gathering. No complaints. $60

Tuesday: Bittman Game Hens, Scallion Frybread and Roasted Carrots with 2013 Darting Riesling Kabinett Trocken Pfalz

Source: From Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World, Vietnamese cornish game hens, page 334. Lucky Peach spicy fish-sauce sauce (with the addition of keffir lime leaves). Crispy scallion pancakes from Serious Eats. Lucky Peach roasted carrots (using scallions instead of red onions).

Food Details: Mariano's cornish game hens (2/$7), marinated in garlic, shallot, fish sauce, keffir lime leaves (added), ginger and honey; roasted in a 500-degree oven on a preheated griddle for 22 minutes, drizzled with sesame oil after roasting. Spicy fish sauce on the side of Red Boat fish sauce, garlic, Thai green-manzano-fresno chiles, white wine vinegar and keffir lime leaves (added) for dipping, dunking and drizzling on everything. Scallion pancakes, fried up in the cast-iron. Roasted carrots made with said fish-sauce sauce and topped with arugula, mint, cilantro and pomegranate seeds.

Did We Like It? I don't know what I'm gonna say... A bite of frybread topped with game hen breast meat and skin, drizzled with spicy fish-sauce sauce is a top-12 bite of food I've probably ever had in my life. Mrs. Ney pretty much agrees. This was a most incredible dinner, right up there with Ottolenghi fish, cocount-peanut salad and rice. Funny that both are Asian. Delicious carrots, Thai chiles that didn't hold back its heat, an absolutely complete dinner that was one of the best in recent and not so memory. We're going to do a top-100 dinners of our lives at some point. This one is going to be right up there.

How Was The Wine/Pairing? We abandoned a bottle of 2013 Forlorn Hope Trou Grit (trousseau gris) rather quick-like because the aggressiveness of the fish sauce and heat were messing with it. It was trying but didn't get all the way there. The Darting riesling's sweet underpinnings offered a fine and good counter to everything on the plate, never reaching a level of great, but offering a touch of lemongrass on the finish that played happily with the Vietnamese-centric food. A Selbach-Oster would have been more lovely/complete here, but enough of a cleanse/reset with the Darting to not really care about the wine's intimate details because the food on the plate was so F*&^^$#ing fantastic. A ridiculous dinner. Absolutely perfect. And look at the cost.

Cost: $25 for food, $16 for wine = $41          

Monday: Bison Short Ribs and Zucchini Cakes with Marietta Cellars Christo Lot #1

Food Details: (David Leite recipe) Whole Foods bison short ribs (when they're there, buy them - it's not often), rubbed with coffee, cumin, smoked paprika,  chipotle powder, salt and pepper, marinated overnight. Seared then roasted 2-3 hours with garlic, onion, marzano, drizzled with espresso-tomato-vinegar mixture. Pan juice sauce on the side. House-standard zucchini cakes (recipe) on the side, our veg and starch in one package.

Did We Like It? I'm no fan of short ribs. I am a fan of bison short ribs. Leaner, meatier, less fatty and less greasy. This dinner had all the backyard bbq goodness without the bucket of fat that typically comes with short ribs. We were happy campers, especially eaten with this wine:

How Was The Wine? Our last Lot #1. Syrah, grenache, petite sirah and viognier. Fresh dirt, smoke, tar, blackberries, blueberries, lavender, grizzle. Savory. It's so damn lovely. A complete red, so versatile with food, always adjusting, always showing its best side with each different bite.

How Was The Pairing? This food would have been fine with a lot of red blends geared towards food. Spanish, maybe a Washington blend. But there's something about the fresh cut and transparent flavors with the Christo that's not trying to be anything other than it is. It's not trying to hew to traditions, or regional styles, or worry about what their next-door winemaker will think. Marietta Cellars just makes wine that's going to like food, first and only first. That's why it's a favorite. Here it took the meal from "Well...this is quite good" to "Did you taste that? Cripes, that's good!"

Cost: $24 for food, $16 for wine = $40

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