Saturday, May 14, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #44

Here's a nice little reminder from D'Artagnan that air-chilled chicken is the only chicken. Whole Foods carries them as well. Worth the extra greenbacks.

In the novelty food products world, for which I'm a huge sucker, the new Pepsi 1893 line is an...effort, but not worth the greenbacks. And Milky Way brownies are an abomination.

Down week in the wine world but not in the food world.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $105 for food and $119 for wine = $224

Total food and wine cost for the month: $442 for food and $439 for wine = $881

Sunday: Naan Pizzas with 2013 Regis Minet Pouilly-Fumé Vieilles Vignes

Food Details: Naan bread topped with leftover asparagus pesto mixed with cream cheese, ham, onions, leftover smoked mozzarella, peppadew peppers, and a big handful of dressed arugula.

Did We Like It? They're a weeknight house dinner platform for leftover stuff. And it's always, in the least, a satisfying dinner. Tack on "very" to satisfied with this batch.

How Was The Wine? Went fancier for weeknight wine here, and gee-whiz, the acidity and flinty minerals were just lovely. More straight-forward than other vintages of Minet, with predominantly lemon citrus notes, followed by minerals, all wrapped inside a coat of bright acid. But golly that package had all the fanciness of a great piece of furniture. Like when you see something in a living room and say, "Damn, THAT's a great chair!"

And The Pairing? Fairly ho-hum, but fine food and fine wine made for a great end of my week, especially after spending five minutes explaining to a customer who could eat tomatoes but not tomato sauce that our sauce is ONLY blended tomatoes. She wasn't having it.

Cost: $12 for food, $21 for wine = $33    

Saturday: Kielbasa-Potato-Kale Hash with 2014 Charles Smith Velvet Devil Columbia Valley

Food Details: (recipe from The New Spanish Table). Loosely based on that recipe, turning it from cake to hash. This time, using kielbasa as meat. Historically, this recipe is used as a bit of a blank slate to mix together left in the house, with potato and kale as a base. Pecorino cheese to finish.

Did We Like It? The kielbasa took it out of the Spanish realm and into a more generic "hash" world, and it served quite well as a weeknight, "warm you up" plate of food, particularly when it was 38 degrees in mid-freakin'-May here in Chicago.

How Was The Wine? Mostly merlot, with a little cab, malbec and cab franc mixed in. A dancing little number on its own, with pretty, bright, round, dark red fruits with a bit of tobacco underneath and balanced, prevalent, happy acid. But...

And The Pairing? BRU-TAL. Really, quite terrible with this food. But good to find a bargain merlot that offers...something. And this offers much more than just "something," as Mr. Smith typically does.

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

Friday: Tuna Pick-n-Choose with 2015 Baskoli Txakolina 

Food Details: Leftover olive oil-poached tuna from Wednesday, with peppadew peppers, onions, avocado, dressed arugula and mini-ciabatta. Rip, top with everything, and eat.

Did We Like It? Sorta great! If there's a bite of food that represents the bridge between food we ate 5-7 years ago and now, this would be it. Spanish-influenced simplicity with a tapas-pintxos nod, where a bite has all the acid, fishy, bitter, onion-pepper pop, cream and starch you need.

How Was The Wine? It's $9 Trader Joe's txakolina. And nothing here is really in proper txakolina order here. The sea spritz and mineral is off. The fruit perk is nearly nonexistent. Its slight sparkle shows up at weird times, hiding what could be good underneath, but...

And The Pairing? It's $9, half of the cost of a good Txakolina. And with this food, it offered more than enough Basqueness for us to be very satisfied.

Cost: $8 for food, $9 for wine = $17    

Thursday: Green Chorizo Tortas with NV Evolution Sparkling White

Food Details: Melissa Clark green chorizo, made into tortas. Chorizo mixed with black beans, with chihuahua cheese as the meat-cheese base. Habanero vinegar. Marinated onions, sliced avocados and arugula on top. All that inside torta bread. Mexican Bugles for side. Made four big sandwiches.

Did We Like It? We could sell these out the apartment window and make a silly amount of money. Had that perfect meat-cheese melty-ness, freshened up by the avocado and arugula, and an overall composition of delicious.

How Was The Wine? Nine grapes done up Champagne-style. Muscat, gewürztraminer, pinot gris, white riesling, chardonnay, pinot blanc, sylvaner, muller-thurgau and semillon. You read that list, particularly since it leads with muscat and gewürztraminer, and you'd think this would be sweet-ish. At least highly fruity. It's not. It's quite dry, with some very pleasing bitterness and herb stem notes. More pinot blanc and muller-thurgau than anything else. Quite nice, and we'll be buying it again.

And The Pairing? Didn't really go with the sandwiches, but we weren't displeased. Good food and surprising wine that don't ultimately go together but don't horribly clash can be Just Fine.

Cost: $14 for food, $14 for wine = $28  

Wednesday: Scaccia with 2012 Paringa Sparkling Shiraz Barossa

Food Details: Saveur recipe, and will be had six times a year henceforth. It's lasagna bread, but has none of soupy boringness that, for me, comes with lasagna. Semolina dough, San Marzano tomatoes, sharp provolone and smoked mozzarella to approximate caciocavallo, basil and garlic. Arugula salad to finish.

Did We Like It? It's our new Sunday night dinner! Fairly simple, just takes (mostly inactive) time. It's tastes like my first experience with good Italian food as a child in the 80's. Better, of course, but quite evocative. Everything is in proportion and everything is offered at the right level. Not bready, not too cheesy, not too tomatoey. Just DE-licious.

How Was The Wine? Shiraz likes basil and we had to drink this sparkling shiraz. Licorice, black fruits and froth. Fine enough, nothing super-duper by any means.

And The Pairing? Same with the food. Fell into the category of "nice to have wine here." That's really all it offered.

Cost: $15 for food, $13 for wine = $28

Tuesday: Tuna Niçoise with 2014 Terrasse du Moulinas Blanc Elégance Languedoc-Roussillon

Food Details: Olive-oil poached tuna Niçoise on butter lettuce with gaeta olives, capers, onion, grape tomatoes, haricots verts, fingerling potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs for me.

Did We Like It? A less delicious version of home tuna Niçoise. The on-sale butter lettuce sat there, limp and tasteless, offering nothing. Made it feel like there was a hole in the meal.

How Was The Wine? Started with an older 2010 Domaine de la Pepìere Quatre Muscadet and it offered little in the way of anything resembling enjoyment. Moved on to this year's house white, a grenache blanc, vermentino, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc blend from the Languedoc that has the acid and sparkle we do enjoy. Thought it was fading when last drunk, but here it matched up rather beautifully in the way regional food and regional wine tend to do.

And the Pairing? This tasted purposeful together. Not spectacular, just Provence Purposeful. With that, we found tons of enjoyment.

Cost: $23 for food, $31 for wine = $54

Monday: Hanger Steak and Watercress-Shishito Pepper Salad with 2012 Broc Cellars Cabernet Franc Central Coast

Food Details: (recipeWhole Foods hanger steak (medium-rare) with a salad of watercress, shishito peppers, celery and leaves, and Rogue Flora Nelle cheese. Potato pancakes for starch.

Did We Like It? Our third time having this deliciously meaty-bitter-creamy dinner and it's still is all kinds of lovely. A bite with everything - hanger, watercress, shishito and cheese - is stupid how great it is. Get good cheese. Rogue is essentially our only source for blue cheese-like cheeses now. The fresh edge it offers is perfect.

How Was The Wine? Last had with Persian beef and barberry sauce, it's full of shiny red fruits, violets and cinnamon on the nose, a bit less in the intensity of that on the palate for the first 2/3, then finishing with something like a rum raisin smack. Still chugging along quite nicely. One left.

And The Pairing? Not as good as the La Posta Malbec with this meal, but there was a grace here that was welcome. And it showed some guts with the bevy of bitterness on the plate.

Cost: $28 for food, $19 for wine = $47

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