Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hanger Bo Ssäm & Scallion Pancakes With 2008 Rôtie Cellars Southern Blend + One

Ridiculous wine savings alert!

All Dagueneau Silex is $25 off at Binny's right now. You won't see a better price for the best wine on the planet (not just white wine) in my book.

Mrs. Ney just gave me the 2010 and 2011 for Christmas! Mrs. Ney knows what Mr. Ney likes.

And Mrs. Ney had a "fun" time picking up one of the vintages. We're not snobs about pronunciation of wine-related things. Call it what you want, pronounce it how you must. It should never stop a happy wine conversation. Just don't get all uppity and be entirely wrong at the same time. It's...

Oh, and this is the furthest thing from a trophy wine.

Strange customer service experience all around in Chicago of late. Happens every year when it's extremely hot or extremely cold. People get cranky and weird.

Two meals this week that reinforce the idea that food and wine together don't have to be GREAT in order to feel necessary, happy and important. Many times, it's about raising the floor of meals instead of shooting for some enormously high ceiling. If your seemingly average, everyday meals can attain unique levels of satisfaction, you've won.

And you'll be fat and happy.

#1 - Stripped-down David Chang hanger steak ssäm with red kimchi purée and scallion pancakes, baby kale/spinach salad (balsamic/evoo) to finish. Served with 2008 Rôtie Cellars Southern Blend Washington ($30 - Binny's).

From Momofuku cookbook (page 169). Stripped down (go here for the full effect in a different, pork butt form). Marinade on the hanger steak made according to the recipe. Apple juice, soy, onion, garlic, sesame oil and pepper, bagged for 24 hours. Hanger seared a frickin' perfect medium-rare. Beautiful meat. Placed over red kimchi purée.

On that purée, our Vitamix (got ours free, long story) is buried on the top shelf in the pantry. Dragging it out is a chore. So first attempt in the regular blender needed the addition of water to get it to a purée. That turned it into a soup. Lesson: Use the Vitamix. Still good, but lost its intended intensity.

Scallion pancakes from Trader Joe's. Best packaged product from TJ's since seafood sausages! These are boss, hitting the level of satisfaction that comes with making them yourself without having to make them yourself.

So...perfect hanger, watered-down kimchi purée, packaged scallion pancakes and salad to finish. This wasn't in any way great, but it simply HIT A SPOT! The wine played a big part in that.

We can't for the life of us remember what we had with the 2008 Rôtie Cellars Northern Blend a few months ago. We just remember it was stupid-great, and the Northern Blend from the same vintage was probably better than this Southern Blend (70% grenache, 15% each of mourvèdre and syrah). More broad, deep and interesting. But as with so many Washington reds, the Southern Blend nailed something so Old World, bringing a funk and zippy cherry-laced fruit and acid that only comes from small-producer French and Italian goodness. Tasted like a darker Les Pallières Les Racines in many ways. Medium-bodied, tons of energy, funky barnyard poop floating in and out, and just happy stuff all around.

As a pairing, both elements remained themselves for the most part, with minimal integration, but the wine here came off like another welcome flavor added to the overall meal. Good food on the plate. We liked it. Adding the poopy-funky-happy acid wine flavor to it made the meal taste more like a buffet with oodles of choices to choose from. Again, nothing great here. Just GOOD.

#2 - Zucchini-grape tomato salad with La Quercia prosciutto, marinated manchego, baguette and butter. Served with 2012 Caves de Charmelieu Sauvignon Blanc Saint-Bris ($10 - TJ's) & Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Columbia Valley ($6 - Binny's).

For a "use stuff up" meal, big, basic winner here. La Quercia prosciutto bought and not used from a couple weeks ago. Manchego marinated in leftover jarred artichoke juice, which was a shock of the night because this was delicious! Zucchini bought for a reason Mrs. Ney can't remember. Grape tomatoes, scallions, serrano pepper, tossed in with the sliced zucchini with vinegar, olive oil, dill, mint, basil, parsley, Aleppo pepper, salt and pepper.

So...zucchini salad, prosciutto, marinated manchego, bread and butter. Simple. Nothing great here as well. Just flavors all over the place. On La Quercia, their first Iberico was just released this month. Gotta hunt that down.

Two wines, nothing matchy-matchy in the pairing realm, but good to have around on the (coffee) table with food we liked. The Saint-Bris seems to be slowing down a bit, losing some of its delineation of flavors and pop in its expression, but the pretty gray minerals, proper acid and creamy edge are still around. Nice. The Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut is a doorbuster at Binny's right now. $6 in the bargain bin. Six bucks for a bubbly that has a lower ceiling but a much higher floor than most sparklers at two-three times the price. Unsophisticated, but uncomplicated. Basic, but proper. Quiet, but happy. Oh, and did I mention it's six bucks? Winter afternoon sipper, I say.

Floor raised this week.

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