Thursday, June 23, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #50

When you have the urge to hate on something, the New York Times Style or Weddings section will usually fit the bill.

I've wandered over or stumbled upon pieces in those sections over the years and came out with an adrenaline rush of hatred combined with gut-busting laughter so weirdly pleasurable that I felt like I really should examine why I found those pieces of garbage so pleasurable.

But then I read something like 'The Sound of Music Is in His Blood and Now His Heart' from yesterday's Weddings section and I know that there is objective terribleness in this world and it really should be resoundingly mocked.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $117 for food and $120 for wine = $237

Sunday: Tapas Spread with 2011 Juvé y Camps Brut Nature Reserva de la Familia Cava

Food Details: Iberico ham, Harriet sheep's cheese, marinated grilled artichoke hearts, piquillo peppers, rosemary marcona almonds, ciabatta and arugula/parsley salad.

Did We Like It? Feels like it's been years! We used to have this "rip open some packages and open some jars" Spanish-style tapas meal quite often. Good ham, good cheese, all the Spanish accoutrements; eat pokily, drink good Spanish bubbly, enjoy. This wasn't even great Iberico but it's been so long that we loved it. The big star here, though, was the Trader Joe's artichokes. They're grilled, then marinated, and the result on top of ciabatta with some parsley (maybe some cheese) was the bite of the night/week - offering a taste that was long, wide and delicious. This was a two-hour meal that reminded us why we love Spain so much.

How Was The Wine? Another reminder of Spanish goodness. I feel like I would have done a write-up on our last drinking of this Cava favorite. Looking back in the history, it's been 2 1/2 years since we've had it. Odd. Very odd. One of the problems of buying wine in Chicago is that everyone carries the same wine when it comes to non-hot/less popular regions. We've drunk every Cava in our market - there's only about six - and Juvé y Camps is our undisputed go-to Spanish bubbly in that group. It has the rawness and grizzle all Cava should have, not bubbles trying to be Champagne and coming up short. It should taste like an quiet explanation, and not a justification, of why Spain doesn't have to compete against other European or Mediterranean food-type stuffs. You be you, Spain. You. Be. You. This Cava tastes like that. Plus $5 TJ's Palomino as an alternative to the Cava.

And The Pairing? Pure Spanish breeze.

Cost: $36 for food, $23 for wine  = $59    

Saturday: Ham and Pretzel Bread Panzanella with 2015 Field Recordings Fiction Grenache Rosé Paso Robles

Food Details: Garbage salad of baby kale, ham, pepper jack, vidalia onion, tomato, dill, pretzel bread croutons and honey mustard dressing.

Did We Like It? No need for a plate, just eat it straight from the bowl you mixed everything in. Perfect Saturday night food that tastes like a nostalgic hug.

How Was The Wine? I can't find anything on this bottle around the webs. Feels like a Field Recordings one-off to get some rosé on the market due to the fact that the Alloy rosé cans sold out so quickly this year. Frankly, we liked this one more than the 2015 cans. It's very much a straight-up grenache rosé, no frills, just dirt and fruit with brightness and balance. Paso sun without the Paso syrup. Kudos on this one for $15. Perfect price for a rosé that gives much.

And The Pairing? It loved the mayo-honey in the dressing and the copious amounts of dill in the salad. And of course...rosé and ham are besties. Big pairing success here. Wasn't superlative, just a damn good garbage salad with a rosé that liked it.

Cost: $10 for food, $15 for wine = $25    

Friday: Green Beans, Peanuts, Lime and Radish Sprouts with 2015 Lila Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough

Food Details: Yotam. Ottolenghi. Always. An enormous amount of green beans mixed with a slurry of peanut, kaffir lime, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, etc. Over white rice, topped with radish sprouts, cilantro and a lime spritz.

Did We Like It? I mention the radish sprouts twice (not included in the recipe) because they brought a garden-dirt quality and verticality to an already delicious Asian-y green bean curry-like bowl of happiness. It's the summer of radish sprouts in our house, it seems. They brought something akin to mung beans without being too mung bean-y as mung beans can be.

How Was The Wine? Barely worth mentioning. Mrs. Ney was sick, so no wine. I had a can of Lila, which brought a bit of grassiness that linked with the food in basic ways, but it lost its cleanse. Meh.

And The Pairing? See above.

Cost: $10 for food, $3 for wine = $13

Thursday: Allium Tart with 2013 Jean Masson Jacquere Savoie

Food Details: Allium tart (garlic scapes, chive blossoms, charred spring onions) with tarragon, dill, and feta. Arugula salad with pomegranate seeds on the side. Tart shell recipe here. It's bistro food.

Did We Like It? A damn solid tart. Elevated weekday grub.

How Was The Wine? Another wine that slipped through the storing cracks. This meal seemed like a good opportunity to get some value out of it. At three years old, it's lost some of its crispness and floral nature, coming off as slightly better than basic white wine here. Touch of oily peach pit notes that was pleasant though.

And The Pairing? Merely okay.

Cost: $7 for food, $13 for wine = $20

Wednesday: Chicken-Radish Sprout Sandwiches and Chips with 2013 Heidi Schrock Muskatellar Burgenland 

Food Details: Paulina Meat Market smoked chicken, radish sprouts, pickled onions, avocado and tomato on pretzel bread. Olive oil chips. Mrs. Ney finished the chive blossom-garlic scape pancakes for her side.

Did We Like It? Radish sprouts are delicious, and turn an already well-crafted sandwich using up some leftover stuff from the week into The Fancy. Delicious.

How Was The Wine? This is aborted wine from yesterday's pairing, and it's helpful when you can take fridge wine and find food that turns it into so much more than "fridge wine," like here. The radish sprouts pried open a depth and mineral-driven fruit in this muskatellar that was never present in yesterday's food. A real roundness and tick-off of deliciousness. At $24, it's a bit pricey compared to Darting's muskatellar that offers similar goodness and less finickiness, and it's $6 cheaper. But big fan here.

And The Pairing? See above.

Cost: $8 for food, $24 for wine = $32  

Tuesday: Bittman Fish Sauce Chickens and Chive Blossom/Garlic Scape Pancakes with TJ's Lambrusco

Food Details: From Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World, Vietnamese cornish game hens, page 334; Lucky Peach spicy fish-sauce sauce; crispy chive blossom/garlic scape pancakes (instead of scallions), from Serious Eats. Charred yu choy (Chinese flowering cabbage).

Did We Like It? It's the kind of meal that reminds us, "God, food is Good!" Even when we've now had this meal a handful of times. It always tastes new and punchy and possesses everything anyone who likes food would ever want or need. This batch a touch salty overall (from the fish sauce bottle) and the yu choy offered nothing in the way of interestingness, but we loved nearly everything about this meal.

How Was The Wine? Our original bottle, a 2013 Heidi Schrock Muskatellar Burgenland was DOA with the food. And another bottle in the fridge, a 2013 (!) Ponzi Pinot Gris, which slipped through the wine-storing and monitoring said wine-storing cracks, was dead, period. The only other thing chilled was a Trader Joe's Lambrusco. We gave it a go and had absolutely zero issues with its ice-cold-water-like refreshment and sweet, bright fruit.

And The Pairing? The Lambrusco salvaged what could have been a disaster. Its sweet-like fruit and frothiness stood up to the aggressiveness SE Asian flavors quite admirably. Tailed off as it warmed up but no complaints given the situation. In fact, the fish sauce and salt negated the cheapness inherent in this wine and allowed it to ONLY give nice fruit, dirt, acid and cleanse. Surprise. Big one.

Cost: $20 for food, $20 for wine = $45

Monday: Sean Brock Cheeseburgers with NV Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot #63    

Food Details: Sean Brock's Heritage cookbook, page 131. Double stack burgers with American cheese, onions, mustard-pickle sauce, potato buns. Bagged fries. This meal plus two more meals in the freezer cost $26.

Did We Like It? We like many cheeseburgers from around town. Kuma's is a great burger. Bill's Drive-In is fantastic. Recently, we had the Au Cheval burgers and found it quite good. Five Guys works. Shake Shack is good... But when we think of the most superlative cheeseburgers that exist in this world, it's Sean Brock home cheeseburgers. Not really even close.

How Was The Wine? Merely fine, and that was a surprise. Zinfandel, petite sirah, syrah, mixed Italian blacks blend. Came off a bit thin and reticent, lacking a forceful or focused personality, compared to other drinkings of this series. Reached the point of just enough pleasure but never went beyond that.

And The Pairing? Fine.

Cost: $26 for food, $12 for wine = $38    

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