Friday, June 17, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #49

This is the last month of our 365 experiment. For that, I'm glad. I'm running out of words.

In one important way, this experiment was to see our real cost of food and wine and the home-joy it brought over the course of one year, and comparing that to eating out 3-4 times a week like most people do now, as you can see by this piece. We'll see the comparison with a big breakdown once this is over.

Avec has always had the bones to do something like these Island Dinners they're doing this summer. Digging into the minutiae of Mediterranean food and wine, breaking out of that vague, broad definition and getting into the more place-specific nitty-gritty makes for utterly more interesting stuff.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $178 for food and $60 for wine = $238

Sunday: Fish Tacos with Argus Cidery Tepache Pineapple Wine

Food Details: (recipe - don't mess with it) Mahi mahi marinade = shallot, garlic, jalapeño, olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cilantro and cumin, then fish cooked up in cast-iron. Cabbage slaw. Homemade guacamole. Jalapeño crema. Hot sauce. Charred tortillas.

Did We Like It? A great batch. A bigger bitter punch from the marinade truncated the typically broad flavor with these fish tacos, but that didn't detract from these universally sublime fish tacos. The crema made up for it, offering a more layered taste than it usually does. Loved these tacos.

How Was The Wine? We've messed around with different wines and sangrias over the years. This pineapple wine, with its frothy refreshment, grilled pineapple-like juiciness and spicy depth, is now our one and only beverage with fish tacos.

And The Pairing? Perfect.

Cost: $18 for food, $16 for wine = $34

Saturday: Smoked Chicken, Pickled Walnuts, Watercress and Heirloom Tomatoes with 2015 La Peña de España White Wine 

Food Details: Paulina Meat Market smoked chicken (oodles better than Whole Foods), blue cheese and heirloom tomatoes. A salad of watercress, pickled walnuts, radish sprouts, celery, parsley, etc., dressed. Mini-ciabatta buns and butter. Top bread with any combination of the above ingredients you like and eat. It's pick-n-choose.

Did We Like It? Utterly new and so golly-gosh-damn-darn delicious. Flavors galore! New is good. Flavors are good. New and tons of flavor is Great. I loved the combination of pickled walnut, celery and radish sprouts. Never had anything like it and now I want so much more of that. Golly, I loved this.

How Was The Wine? New Trader Joe's offering, a blend of 25% each of sauvignon blanc, muscat, verdejo and chardonnay, with a tiny wisp of Spanish air to it. It's mediocre at best. Nothing great. Changed often throughout the meal, though, giving what blends can give with food - versatility. Can't say we'd buy it again.

And The Pairing? See above, though the verdejo showed up a little too much for my taste. Verdejo can go to hell.

Cost: $24 for food, $6 for wine = $30  

Friday: Work Party

Work party at the Museum of Science & Industry.

Thursday: Minty Brown Rice and Wilted Greens with 2014 João Portugal Ramos "Lima" Loureiro Vinho Verde

Food Details: More Ottolenghi doing what Ottolenghi does so well - make simple food freakin' delicious. (Recipe - halfway down), using only mustard greens. Feta, mint, garlic, olive oil and mustard greens over brown rice. Threw in smoked sundried tomatoes because they were in the cupboard.

Did We Like It? Mrs. Ney wanted a huge bowl of mac-n-cheese, not 'this healthy stuff!' Then she ate it and we loved it and it was the usual Ottolenghi food joy.

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

And The Pairing? Great length to the wine. Real delineation of flavors and a slow revealing of said flavors. With this food, you have a few basic ingredients mingling together with copious amounts of mint. That gives this lightly floral and fruity wine a chance to get in there and play around. Nothing obstructive, nothing bullying. Just pairing love.

Cost: $7 for food, $8 for wine = $15

Wednesday: Picadillo with 2013 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles Paso Robles

Food Details: Sam Sifton picadillo, subbing fresh chorizo for dried, leftover pork shoulder for beef, currants instead of raisins, adding roasted poblanos, over white rice.

Did We Like It? It's beefy, tomatoey, spicy-sweet bouncy, olivey. It's Cuban stew over rice and it's quite good. This was probably the best version of this we've had.

How Was The Wine? Cheap, chilled, Trader Joe's Rhône red blend. A glass for each of us.

And The Pairing? Its blendy-ness and chill here made for a surprising friendliness. This wine is NOTHING special, but...very friendly here.

Cost: $6 for food, $5 for wine = $11

Tuesday: Moroccan Lamb Shoulder and Mint Dressing with 2011 Domaine de la Mordorée Tavel

Food Details: NYT recipe. Slow-roasted lamb shoulder (from World Fresh Market on Devon), with cumin, coriander, harissa, garlic, etc; roughly shredded. Mint dressing altered, using basil, cilantro, lemon balm, and mint. Corn on the cob slathered with harissa butter. Arugula salad with pomegranate seeds to finish.

Did We Like It? Delicious lamb, brought on sale.Wonderful integrity of lamb flavor. Coupled with the dressing that tasted really earthy and balmy in the best possible sense, this dinner came off perfectly simple and perfectly delicious.

How Was The Wine? This one's been sitting in the house for four years, waiting for it to mature. The biggest impression we got was, "This rosé has its big-boy pants on." We've been drinking a lot of rosé quaffers lately, cheap stuff that brings joy, compared to anything more serious. This is serious. We didn't even love it, but its earth and balance and pace reminded us that we should probably be buying more quality Rhône rosés again. We took a break. This reminded us that we should get back on that horse.

And The Pairing? Happiness. Very nice. Loved the lamb, dressing and wine together.

Cost: $13 for food, $25 for wine - $38         

Monday: Spacca Napoli

Food Details: Margherita, Diavola and a focaccia with anchovy, arugula, oregano and garlic.

Did We Like It? If not for a certain employment situation, we'd be here twice a month. On the patio.

How Was The Wine? A bottle of 16 Marzo Falanghina and an assortment of glasses: a fiano, biancalella, Lettere and Nepente. Satisfying back-and-forth, trying each with each pizza.

And The Pairing? Good enough. Patio + sunny day + great food + nice wine = a delicious, lazy, VERY satisfying dinner.

Cost: $110

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