Thursday, April 14, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #40

A certain Portuguese wine, in 2013 form, that is NEVER available in Chicago has popped up at a certain Chicago wine shop, Vin Chicago. We haven't seen this wine on any Chicago shelf for years, usually shipping them in and paying the premium. At $90, it doesn't get cheaper.

Put me out to pasture. I got a lil too excited about the prospect of a new vacuum cleaner this week. Get. Older.

September vacation plans are underway and this place looks infinitely intriguing.

And by September, I may have to be out of town as Chicago as a baseball town promises to be wildly stupid.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $120 for food and $142 for wine = $262

Total food and wine cost for the month: $987 for food and $1312 for wine = $2299

Sunday: Lou Malnati's Pizzas with 2012 Trader Joe's Barbera Lot #88 Mendocino County

Food Details: Sausage for her, pepperoni for me. Kale salad for both of us.

Did We Like It? Pizza snobs say they "never eat Chicago pizza." Eat. Me. 2-3 times a year, it's delicious.

How Was The Wine? Oddly fresh. It's 2012, it's cheap, it's Trader Joe's California barbera. Everything says this wasn't going to be freshy-fresh or lifty. It was, which is a good thing, because we have three more left, as these 2012s got lost in the wine shuffle over the last couple of years.

And The Pairing? Pizza and barbera. It's what's good. Juicy with acid, making for a good match with tomato sauce.

Cost: $30 for food, $10 for wine = $40

Saturday: Wild Boar Dirty Rice with 2014 Amancay Torrontés La Rioja

Food Details: Susan Spicer's wild and dirty rice recipe, via Food and Wine, using leftover wild boar from Tuesday instead of ground pork. Andouille chicken sausages, wild rice, mirepoix, chicken stock, herbs, wild boar, chicken livers, chopped scallions on top.

Did We Like It? It's a big, honkin' bowl of rice chockablock with meaty, herby, Cajun flavors. This was a Great Batch.

How Was The Wine? More TJ's torrontés. Flowers, acid, fruit, cheap.

And The Pairing? Did what gewürztraminer does with Cajun food: serve as a foil for everything in the bowl in the best possible sense.

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

Friday: YO-marinated Chicken Breasts, Chermoula, Avocado, Kumato, Cucumber, Arugula and Bread with 2013 La Val Orballo Albariño Rías Baixas

Food Details: Cheap bone-in chicken breasts marinated in leftover Ottolenghi three-chile sauce from last week and equal amount of evoo. Chermoula sauce (cilantro, garlic, cumin, paprika, chile pepper, white wine vinegar...)  from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. Avocado, kumatoes, arugula, cucumber and mini-ciabatta buns. Rip, top with combination of ingredients of your choice, and eat. Repeat. It's pick and choose.

Did We Like It? Stupid chermoula. It's delicious. Bevy of flavors bouncing everywhere. Delicious. Always. It's Good Food.

How Was The Wine? Stupid Orballo. All the other albariños under $20 try, but nothing beats the fruity, pitty, parsley-leaf-like, minerally, aggressive, confident goodness that is Orballo. And it wasn't even at its freshy freshest. Still perfect to us. Every time.

And The Pairing? The spiciness in the chermoula beat up the wine a bit but we didn't care. This was Good Food and Good Wine. On a Friday (our Tuesday). Lucky.

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

Thursday: Black Bean Soup with 2015 Dark Horse Rosé California

Food Details: No recipe. Whipped-up black bean soup using a hambone, chipotle and cumin, topped with tortilla chips, cilantro, sour cream, and cheese for me.

Did We Like It? IT MADE A LOT OF SOUP! And I've eaten it three times in the last three days. Clean you out! Soup doesn't inspire grand visions of delicious dinner for me, but this was fine soup. Simple, clean, filling.

How Was The Wine? $7 rosé from Dark Horse, a bargain California brand that's seemingly everywhere in town right now. 40% grenache, 20% barbera, 20% pinot gris, and 20% tempranillo. Nothing wonderful, but a 2015 freshness was present, the pinot gris REALLY showed up here, and it served our black bean soup needs. In moments, I got a big Charleston Chew hit.

And The Pairing? Food and wine. Nothing more than that, but good enough.

Cost: $5 for food, $7 for wine = $12

Wednesday: Barberry Boar with 2007 Angela Pinot Noir Clawson Creek Vineyard Willamette Valley 

Food Details: (recipe) A chicken recipe that Mrs. Ney typically does with beef, this time was done with wild boar shank. Slow-roasted boar, barberries, rosemary marcona almonds, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, rice, mint. Roasted Brussels sprouts.

Did We Like It? It's just boar. Mainly, it was in the freezer because Mrs. Ney tacked it on to a D'Artagnan order to get to free shipping. Boar is fine and good, but rarely is it more than that. Here, it served as fine template-vehicle for everything else. Barberry perk and lift, spice-marrow juice, all the goods. We love this recipe for just that. Iranian dinner that we love every time we have it.

How Was The Wine? Here's an example of a well-crafted Oregon pinot noir that nearing the end of its run, yet still brings complexity and intrigue with every sip and each one was different. Sometimes dark cherries, other times wet leaves, iron at times, birch beer-sassafras others. Every sip wasn't delicious, but every sip was interesting and welcome. Very drinkable and quite fun to watch the progression.

And The Pairing? Worked. A slight sourness in the cherry fruit matched up with the barberries quite nicely, and enough in the way of guts in the wine helped to stand up to everything on the plate. We were very happy with this one.

Cost: $15 for food, $50 for wine - $65          

Tuesday: Fritto Misto with NV Cantina Sociale del Canavese Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante

Food Details: David Tanis NYT fritto misto. Bay scallops, calamari, shrimp, dover sole, fried up. Gabrielle Hamilton NYT tartar sauce, arugula salad to finish.

Did We Like It? Just look at it! When you don't want to leave the house, go down to Nico Osteria and get their fritto misto, here's an option that I frankly thought was better. Frying each fish-seafood separately seemed key. Great textural contrast, fresh batter. Arugula salad to finish so we could trick ourselves into thinking something nutritious was involved in this meal. Perfect.

How Was the Wine? We'd never heard of the erbaluce grape. After this, we want more. Sparkling erbaluce from north of Turin. Creamy pits of pit fruits to open, then it turned into a bevy of bright sherry notes with lemon peel popping up later. Long finish, delicious, and VERY interesting all-around. Most likely has been sitting in the bottle a wee bit too long for this grape, but we sorta loved the snot out of it.

And The Pairing? By no means a perfect fried-food-and-bubbles pairing, but everything separately and together was oh-so wanted and loved. Great meal.

Cost: $16 for food, $34 for wine = $50    

Monday: Nando's

Food Details: "I want a big plate of hot chicken and an enormous glut of fries with a bottomless amount of spicy mayo to dip them in." If that is a dinner thought, then go to Nando's. Whole chicken in hot peri-peri. Two sides of fries. Four sides of peri-peri mayo.

Did We Like It? For $60 with a bottle of wine, tip, no cooking or dishes, it's a great deal.

How Was The Wine? 2014 Cara Viva Branco Lisboa. Zippy, fruity, crisp, cheap Portuguese white wine. Nothing spectacular, but fine refreshment, and acid that stood up to the peri-peri in admirable ways.

And The Pairing? It works. Again, Nando's overall is not earth-shatteringly great. It's simply a whole hot and spicy chicken, tons of fries with mayo and a bottle of wine for $60 out the door. It wins in the cost-benefit analysis of end-of-week tiredness vs. roasting up a chicken and frying up fries at home. Just go to Nando's.  

Cost: $34 for food, $16 for wine = $50

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