Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#207 - Great Lunch With Greek Sparkling & Not So Great Dinner

New digs here at Food With Wine.

That stretched picture up above?  That's Quinta Do Vallado in the Douro Valley, a place that made us feel the most relaxed we'd been in years.  Best views and the best pool ever.

Say hello to Cristina and Francisco for us if you ever go.  They're nice people.

Up was down and black was white Monday in the food and wine department.  We had a tossed together lunch using leftovers that was just the tops while a more thoughtful dinner in terms of recipe and what we thought should have been delicious fall oh-so flat.

Dinner made Mrs. Ney angry but lunch saved the day simply by having one food and wine match that we'll be having again and most likely often.

Lunch:  Lidia Bastianich veggie salad with Greek feta, honey and pink peppercorns

Watching Mrs. Bastianich whip up a leftover refrigerator veggie salad on the Martha Stewart Show (didn't turn the channel to it, I left it on the Hallmark Channel after watching Cheers the night before - I feel I need to say that) both of us thought, "I'd eat that," so we did.

Cucumber, tomato, roasted onion, piparras [Spanish jarred peppers], oil-cured olives, mint, oregano, lemon thyme, extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.  The oil-cured olives were a mistake, especially with the wine but we got our veggies in spades and it was delicious.

Whole Foods Greek feta (not the fat-free stuff, which is the vast majority of the Whole Foods feta selection (?) and this was actually from Greece, not California, which is the vast majority of the feta as well) leftover from the beet salad last Wednesday, slathered in Michigan blueberry honey and pink peppercorns.  Bingo!  Winner, winner!  A 50/50 split between goat and sheep's milk, great stuff here made better by the honey and peppercorns.

Baguette to accompany everything.  With a piece of bread, some cheese and a bit of picked off black olive from the salad as a bite, it was food that tasted deliciously three-dimensional, deep and almost perfect.

Fresh and light, but substantial and filling all around.

The non-vintage Tselepos Moschofilero Amalia Brut Methode Traditionelle ($25 - Binny's), especially with certain combinations, the pairing had that It factor.  Bubbles everywhere with the wine in the beginning, leaving me thinking the bubbles would cloud any distinction or purpose in the wine but it settled down quick and nice, showing graceful and typical Moschofilero tastiness.  Smelled like pears, tasted like a very light lemon tart with a vinous edge.  Medium depth with a gravel rock finish.  A pleasing and open sparkler by itself that stretched itself out with food.

With baguette and honey-peppercorn feta, it was ridiculous stuff.  Exploded with each element dancing a beautiful dance all the way down the throat with a finish and echo that lasted for minutes.  Pause-worthy stuff and I can't use too many superlatives to describe it.  Probably a perfect match.  Check that.  It was, perfect.  It left a taste in our mouths that would not go away and we didn't want it to.  Solid with the veggies once the olives were removed.  Pairing Score:  100 with the feta, 89 with the veggies  

Dinner:  Basil-Anchovy Chicken thighs with cauliflower skordaliá and pita

Not much to speak to with this meal.  A Food & Wine recipe of basil-anchovy chicken from this month's issue that left us saying, "What the hell was that?"  White anchovy left over from last Wednesday's lunch used.  Acid in the form of lemon was present in the recipe but the result was a chicken dish that tasted somewhat unfinished.  Tasted like the element of depth was achieved with a nice anchovy-basil mix, sending the flavor down deep, but it never bounced back, never vacillated, never offered a pep or verve that rebounded the flavor back up from the depths it went to; a one-trick pony, going down a hole and staying there with not enough energy to offer a flavor in stereo.

Cauliflower skordaliá that was nicely balanced though, giving the essence of cauliflower without giving the ESSENCE OF CAULIFLOWER!  Tasty stuff that saved the meal from being a total dud.

The pairing certainly played its part in the blah arena as well.  A 2006 Niepoort Douro Redoma Branco ($30 - Binny's) seemed it would be a good match here with the singular Portuguese minerals Douro whites usually offer.  A blend of Rabigato, Codega, Donzelinho, Viosinho and Arinto.  Different, interesting experience than that.  Big-boy Douro white, offering tons of depth in the form of beeswax, dust, lemon oil and toasted butter at its core but overwhelmed by oak, signifying a decant was right and proper but nevertheless not done.  This needed to settle down to find its place and never did right out of the bottle while never being helped along with the food.  We'll give this one another go today. Has a wine disk in it.  Dud, actually, for the food, the wine and the food and wine.  Pairing Score:  An angry 50

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