Saturday, October 12, 2013

Anniversary Cavalcade Of Flavors

Anniversary week!

I suggest taking time off work, plan to do nothing and do that, take naps, set aside entire blocks of time and fill it with no plans whatsoever. Do. Nothing.

In other words, we crushed it.

Eat good food. Eat Szechuan tuna, Moroccan rabbit loin, souped-up hanger steak, anchovies and mint pasta, Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce with linguine, fattoush with pita and hummus. Make your tummy happy. Happier than people in my world that I KNOW had buffalo wings twice this week and washed it down with a bag of red-hot Cheetos and Monster energy drink. Do you know why you're crabby, on edge and staring out into a dark abyss? That's why.

And drink good wine with good food. It makes life happier, longer, broader, prettier, even more evocative. Better than stuffing grub in your craw in order to merely fill a hole.

And keep the wine varied. Open up a bottle of good bubbly, just cuz. Drink a Paso Robles cab-mourvèdre blend, an Oregon pinot noir, a northern Rhône viognier, a Spanish pinot noir brut, a pink Cava, a Washington chardonnay, a Spanish albariño. Who wants the same wine every day? There's too much wine goodness out there in the world to drink the same thing all the time.

But these are mere suggestions. Live your life the way you see fit. You have that right, just as I have the right to roll my eyes when I see someone with another styrofoam container of hot wings, a bag of red-hot Cheetos and an enormous can of Monster energy drink. I judge because I know they know better. It's not about eating healthy, though that's a by-product. It's about taking something you do 2-3 times a day and making it feel like you're eating it for the first time, every time. And feeling good afterwards, instead of the wings-Cheetos-Monster shame shower that inevitably feels needed.

This week wasn't even a Great food-wine week. Too much wine strangeness with great food.

Monday lunch of anchovies and mint orecchiette, from Michael Symon's 5 in 5, a solid starter recipe book that I suspect would lead to a beginner cook having a well-stocked kitchen and get them to try stuff that never would. Kudos to that. From what I can tell, it's basic Symon food. Dig deeper on the interwebs to get the real goods. Fine and good anchovy, mint and butter play here. Served with a bottle of 2011 Orballo Albariño Rías Baixas ($18 - Binny's), the best vintage of this wine we've had and it's still pumping along quite nicely, with cleansing acid and a delicious foamy seawater quality with the pasta. Happy.

Monday dinner of hanger steak with post-grill marinade (heavy on horseradish & garlic), grilled potatoes and rapini. Big blitz of hearty American flavors here (rapini oddly over-the-top good as well) that needed a bigger American wine. Both of us think if cabernet were to somehow contract a grape-specific disease and leave this Earth, our wine lives wouldn't be altered one bit. Might even get better as we watch the annoying cab lovers hilariously weep uncontrollably. Had a bottle of 2009 Villa Creek Granadina ($40 - Winery), a cabernet-mourvèdre blend, that needed more than a little back and forth in and out (bah!) with the decanter to get going. Once it did, it was like a balloon, extremely pretty swirl of elevated dark plum/raspberry not-sweet red fruit and earth with a cabernet first personality. Liked it, then the balloon popped and turned into maple syrup. Good while it was, then it wasn't.

Tuesday dinner of Whole Foods on Halsted (best - not even close) rare tuna crusted with szechuan, white, and red peppercorns, coriander, cardamom, ginger, sel gris; roasted beets with orange segments, lucques green olives, cumin & lemon thyme vinaigrette; baby kale, pomegranate seeds, seeduction bread. Favorite meal, now, always and forever. It's impossible not to feel happy and optimistic about the world during and after eating this. Unfortunately, at $60 a bottle, the 2008 Evening Land Pinot Noir La Source Willamette Valley (WDC), when the first bottle is corked and the second bottle Un. Der. Whelms (!) it makes for a meal that feels incomplete, and expensive. Quiet wine to start, opened up to a something resembling delicate and ethereal, then quickly went away again. I think we had five sips total that brought the pinot noir happy. Shame. This was a spectacular meal with a 2007 Seven Springs a couple of years ago.

Marcella Hazan died two weeks ago. So, Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce with linguine, parsley and oregano for Wednesday lunch. Somehow, the butter (and there's a lot of it) amps up the brightness in the San Marzano tomatoes and the onion brings a grip. Frankly delicious sauce. Touch overdone pasta. With the butter, why not a chardonnay, I say? It's simple pasta and tomato sauce. What's going to get in the way. And it didn't with a 2011 Owen Roe Chardonnay Columbia Valley ($18 - Winery). Both of us just looked at each other, saying, "How is this doing THIS well?" Toss chardonnay in with cabernet. We don't really care about it unless it's white Burgundy. We're those people. Roll your eyes. You have that right. But we're making strides with coming around to GOOD American chardonnay. I expect by the time we're 80, we might like a few. Like...three. This one's fine stuff.

Happy-slappy Wednesday dinner of fattoush, falafel, pita and hummus. Gi-normous plate of Lebanese vegetable happiness from an NYT recipe. You make that and don't skip or sub anything. It's good as is. As is pink Spanish bubbles. Two bottles, a NV Juvé y Camps Pinot Noir Brut Cava ($17 - Binny's) and Gran Sarao Brut Cava ($10 - WDC). The Juvé y Camps was clean, clean, clean; maybe too clean, as the Gran Sarao (typical Cava blend with 10% chardonnay) brought a perfect dirtiness to its spritz that played better with the Lebanese spice and bite on the plate. Both were happy, but the Gran Sarao, a simple and cheap bottle, brought a welcome extra dimension.

Open up a bottle of NV Ayala Brut Majeur ($33 - WDC), cuz it's your anniversary.

And for dinner, rabbit loin marinated in ras el hanout, stuffed with dill, wrapped in caul fat; onions stuffed with [mustard greens, apricots, pistachios (flavored with ginger, preserved lemon, saffron, rabbit stock)]; brown/wild rice blend. D'Artagnan had a big sale. Lamb osso buco coming. Delicious rabbit. Rabbit is Good. Flavors everywhere. Moroccan flavors. It as too bad the 2010 Les Vins de Vienne Condrieu La Chambée ($55 - Binny's) acted like our dog on a midnight walk when a door slams two blocks away. Skittish would be the word. We kept saying, "C'mon now, get moving, do your thing." It wasn't gobbled up by the food. This one was scared to show anything from the get-go. Mostly got nothin' with occasional wisps of Condrieu originality. Pear, anise and cream with a fine balance and beauty with about four sips. The rest was essentially flavored water.

Good anniversary week, our ninth for those counting (nobody's counting, right?). Spend a little on protein and wine. For the rest, shop at Harvesttime where six full bags of vegetable, dairy, bread and spice joy is about $30. It all balances out. Don't shop at Dominick's anyway, since you soon can't. It's a wonderland of overpriced, boring food.

And watch funny dog videos:

No comments:

Post a Comment