Thursday, February 4, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #30

Remember when Trump lost Iowa. Remember that? Remember the onslaught of media coverage for months, then two out of 100 registered Iowa voters voted for him?

That was awesome.

The Assassin, Hou Hsiao-Hsien's first film in eight years, might be one of the most beautiful, visceral, and perplexing films I've seen in years.

A.O. Scott releases his new book, Better Living Through Criticism, this Tuesday. Public notice.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $130 for food and $102 for wine = $232

Sunday: Choucroute Garnie with 2014 Domaine Weinbach Gewürztraminer Clos des Capucins Cuvee Theo Alsace

Source: David Leite's choucroute garnie recipe, using pork ribs and kielbasa instead of smoked pork and other wursts; Muscadet instead of beer.

Food Details: Kielbasa, pork ribs, bacon, sauerkraut, potatoes, onions, juniper berries, clove, garlic, bay, salt and pepper; all thrown in the crock pot for about five hours. TJ's baguette and Kerrygold butter.

Did We Like It? Merely fine and never reaching the point of like. Used Paulina sauerkraut instead of Boar's Head and it didn't create the sauerkraut glue between all the ingredients that this meal had last time. Everything tasted...separate instead of having that Old World, Alsatian, cold weather deliciousness. Pork ribs were tough as well. Same prep as last time, just didn't get off the ground.

How Was The Wine? It took awhile to show itself, but as it warmed/opened up, a gewürztraminer richness and floral-spicy underpinning showed its face. Lightly fruity and round, with grapefruit acid and lychee bounce. Nice enough. Probably needed a decant. Probably wouldn't buy it again.

And The Pairing? Meh. Food was there. Wine was there. Very little in the way of linkage or pairing love.

Cost: $22 for food, $30 for wine = $52  

Saturday: Lamb Salami, Broiled Feta, Arugula, Pepper Relish and Bread with 2014 Caves de Charmelieu Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc

Food Details: Sliced lamb salami, broiled feta, arugula, pepper relish made with roasted red peppers with preserved lemon, scallions, parsley. Pugliese bread. More pick-n-choose. Bread topped with all of said ingredients.

Did We Like It?  We LOVED it. It had everything. Creamy, broiled feta goodness, playing off the lamby salami, playing off the pepper-preserved lemon pop, playing off the arugula peppery cleanse. Had verticality. HUGE fans!

How Was The Wine? This was Greeky, and a Greeky wine would have been DE-licious here, but we didn't have any in the house. The Saint-Bris served a tick more than adequately, offering lemony cream and grassy verve. Not wow-inducing, just easy, cheap SB on the cheap.

And The Pairing? Good. Enough. Initial mild skepticism led to a general "this ain't too shabby!"

Cost: $18 for food, $10 for wine = $28  

Friday: Fenugreek-perfumed Black-Eyed Pea Curry, Naan and Raita with 2014 Domingo Molina Hermanos Torrontés Salta

Food Details: (From 660 Curries, page 321, "Fenugreek-Perfumed Black-Eyed Peas") Black-eyed peas, onion, garlic, ginger (added), peppers, tomatoes, dried fenugreek leaves, turmeric. Make the day before. It's better. Cucumber/cilantro raita and naan, to dip, dunk and cool.

Did We Like It? A fine version of this curry. Not the best version, but a good version. But a curry, with raita, with naan, with all of the back-and-forth eating that entails, led (and always leads) to a satisfying meal.

How Was The Wine/Pairing? Basic torrontés, nothing special. And nothing special here, as it drank like it was missing something in mineral form and more than its tiny wisp of floral notes. BUT had just enough goodness to think, "meh...we're good."

Cost: $7 for food, $12 for wine = $19  

Thursday: Rotisserie Chicken, Kumatoes, Salad and Bread with NV Trader Joe's Brut Rosé Sonoma County

Food Details: Mariano's rotisserie chicken, kumatoes, sweet pea salad (pea tendril-heavy), take-and-bake Italian-style batard bread and mayo. Rip, top, eat, repeat.

Did We Like It? Fine. Good. Basic version of a house classic. Should have made a white BBQ sauce.

How Was The Wine? $10 Trader Joe's sparkler, a pinot noir and pinot meunier blend, so Blanc de Noirs done in the Champagne method from Sonoma County. Rather fascinating how personality-free this drinking was. "Well, it's"

And The Pairing? Meh. The wine was better on its own.

Cost: $20 for food, $10 for wine = $30

Wednesday: A Quick Note

I had a work meeting. Mrs. Ney ate use-stuff-up leftovers by compiling naan pizzas with scallion cream cheese from Sunday, empanadas filling from Tuesday, almost-forgotten asparagus from the crisper and (why do we have these?) fish sticks and drank leftover fridge fié gris. What easily could have been quite depressing became an utterly delicious textural meal with a fridge wine that was so much more than that. A big surprise. Huge! [$5 in odds and ends.]

Tuesday: Flap Meat, chimichurri and Empanadas with 2011 Three Wine Co. Zinfandel Contra Costa

Food Details: Paulina Meat Market flap meat with churrasco marinade, seared medium-rare. Red chimichurri. Homemade potato and smoked cheddar empanadas (Tanis recipe). Whole Foods Asian blend salad to finish.

Did We Like It? Meat and potatoes in Latin form. We always like it. Chimichurri on the beef was nice. Chimichurri on the empanadas was boss! An all-around delicious meal.

How Was The Wine? Opened up a Pruno Ribera del Duero to start, but the chimichurri gutted it. This $13 zinfandel blend (77% zinfandel, 17% petite sirah, 4% carignan, 2% alicante borscht) from Contra Costa falls right into the Marietta/La Posta world of very affordable and very delicious table reds that we could drink by the bucket. Good fruit, impressive second act, finishes savory, and wants/loves food. What else do you need? Dark, richer fruit, zinfandel profile but never gets California-heavy, nice length, good spice, bright overall. Happy juice.

And The Pairing? No complaints in the least. Enough guts in the wine to stand up to the stronger flavors in the food, so the wine turned into another flavor on the table that felt like it was meant to go with everything. No gushing here with the pairing, just an appreciation for what it did and an appreciation for how it continued to like what was on the table to the last bite.

Cost: $24 for food, $13 for wine = $37      

Monday: Duck Confit and Dirty Rice with 2014 Broc Cellars Carignan Alexander Valley

Food Details: Whole Foods Mary's Duck Confit, crisped up in cast-iron, served with pomegranate gastrique (from this recipe). Susan Spicer wild and dirty rice, substituting tasso for ground pork, poblano for green pepper, and Carolina Gold Rice for long-grain. Broiled asparagus.

Did We Like It? Jeebus, yes! And the duck confit was a bit tough! D'Artagnan duck confit always and forever after this. Carolina Gold Rice, after shipping, is $10/lb. Ten bucks a pound...for rice. And it's worth every freaking cent. Such...grace in the rice. It's tough to describe why it's so good. It simply lifted up and broadened out all the other flavors it played with, creating a more complex, full picture of what was happening. Like the best bass player in the world...or something. Mixing in the duck confit with a drizzle of gastrique into the rice was a perfect bite. And it got all matchy-matchy with the wine.

How Was The Wine? Broc...being...Broc. Perfect here. Sneaky depth, spice and length for a wine that initially comes off as a light, fruity, floral quaffer. It shows itself first as a simple little number, then it shows just how deep, complex and interesting it really is. Raspberry, wild burning herbs, wonderfully broad and generous. We love mostly verything Broc makes. But we love his carignan the most.

And The Pairing? This is where it shined. The Broc dug into the dirty rice and became so much more complete and wide and pairing-perfect. This wine needs food. This food served it oh-so well.

Cost: $34 for food, $27 for wine = $61    

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