Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Week

Happy food week.

And a lot of sitting.

Monday dinner of beef bourguignon, Tuscan kale salad with Grana Padano (New York Times recipe) and Pugliese bread, served with 2005 Chateau Fombrauge St.-Emilion ($40 - Binny's). We left most of the meat alone, preferring to dip and dunk with the bread, while loving this kale salad with its dark green depth and parmesan roundness. I don't know what I'm going to do with all the Bordeaux we own, because it's just not doing anything for me right now. Let's hope that changes. Here, this Fombrauge, a solid, value-driven Right Banker that's always satisfied, satisfied with this food as well, linking up, allowing to be itself, which is Good. Just felt perfunctory as an overall meal.

Tuesday lunch of grilled bocadillos (Pintxos cookbook) with La Quercia, manchego and kumatoes on Pugliese. Arugula salad on the side. Served with 2012 Charles & Charles Rosé Columbia Valley ($14 - Whole Foods), a syrah-forward blend. Best pairing of the week, as the sandwiches took the syrah to an earthy, balanced, Old World-ish place, but with the typical Washington freshy freshness. This was fantastic. Something about these grilled sandwiches... Trick seemed to be getting them more burned in parts than just grilled.

Tuesday dinner of chicken adobo (America's Test Kitchen recipe) over WELL done rice, served with 2011 João Portugal Ramos Lima Loureiro Vinho Verde ($8 - Binny's). Fine, forgettable dinner here. All the flavors present. Happy vinegary hit balanced by what should have balanced it. Use full-fat coconut milk, I think. Sauce turned dark, missing the fat to keep it lighter. This vintage of this loureiro is winding down, as bargain loureiro should be drunk very young. But enough floral notes and JUST enough acid to make this an acceptable meal.

Wednesday dinner of post-grill marinade hanger steak (recipe) and potato skin curls with herbs (The New Portuguese Table cookbook) and arugula salad, served with 2009 Buty Columbia Rediviva Phinny Hill Vineyard ($33 - Binny's), a cab-syrah blend. Bittman's post-grill marinade is a winner every time. This potato skin business also wins in potato games. Sage, thyme, parsley, cilantro, marjoram, all roughly chopped and fried with the potato skins at the last minute. All the potato without all of the potato. Could have been fried a wee bit longer. Oil temperature maintenance was an issue. Still pretty great. The wine...fine. Cabernet without being so damn cabernet-ish. Frankly, the 25% syrah showed its face more with meaty bites. Good enough. And half-off at Binny's when bought, so... Buty makes fine wines, particularly when the wallet hit is less than MSRP.        

And Ponzi Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving lunch of Jamie Oliver Indian carrot salad with lamb (recipe) with naan, served with 2009 Ponzi Pinot Noir Willamette ($33 - Binny's). Holy crap, this was good. Always is. With the addition of clover sprouts and pomegranate seeds, this was a Happy lunch on a sunny holiday with no traveling or family involved. Just us. Jamie Oliver is a genius in our house. He makes food we Want. The 2009 Ponzi pinot noir hasn't thrilled us in the past and didn't thrill us this time. It's a blip in an otherwise pretty flawless late-aughts for their flagship wine. Strange transitions with acid that hinders instead of helps. Very little in the pause-worthy secondary realm as well.

Thanksgiving dinner! Oh, that Thanksgiving dinner! Roasted chicken done up Zuni café Tuscan-style (two-day salting). Huge bird. Italian-style stuffing done up Anne Burrell-style with sausage and chestnuts, no fruit. Mark Bittman's Make-Ahead Gravy (we don't eat gravy - this was good gravy, good gravy! - first time Mrs. Ney even made gravy!), with chicken liver included, and following Ruhlman's recommendation of adding some acid (white balsamic, here) to lighten it at the finish. Shredded Brussels sprouts seared in the chicken pan, finished with parmesan and Fustini balsamic (about which product we cannot say enough good things, making cabbage delicious and balancing out the overall potential for fatty fattiness that dinner held).

Best Thanksgiving dinner, I think, ever, for both of us.

In the wine world, we went less obvious pinot with 2010 Darting Pinot Meunier Pfalz ($20 - Binny's) & 2012 Ponzi Pinot Blanc Willamette ($15 - Winery). Nothing special in any way here. The Ponzi Pinot Blanc, in our experience, is merely a nice table white with enough acid to be adequate with what food is thrown at it. Not really distinctive stuff (the gris on the other hand...). And the 2010 Darting, a house favorite, is on its death bed, though we liked its frequent perks of dry earth and nearly dead cherries.

I'll forget the wines we had with this Thanksgiving dinner next week. I won't forget the meal.

This was Great.

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