Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Step-By-Step Guide To A Great Food And Wine Week

A map to a week of flavors:

Day 1: Make David Leite's Portuguese orange-olive oil cake. Because it's the best snacking cake on the planet. Breakfast, mid-afternoon, after dinner. It covers all your snacking cake needs for the week. DO NOT eat it the day you make it. This is best after a day or two or three. Soak five pinches of fenugreek seeds in water overnight.

Day 2: Drain fenugreek seeds and toss in the processor with garlic, cilantro, salt, green chile, lemon to make a paste. Forget to take out the seeds from from the chile. Enjoy the mouth burn. Set aside.

Glaze some marcona almonds that have to be eaten and roast them off for Day 3 vadouvan-bee pollen pork with beet-pickled rhubarb salad and griddle cakes. Wonder if they will come off remotely resembling Ubuntu's vadouvan almonds circa August 2011.  Nope, but still delicious.

Begin Afghani leek-scallion fry bread recipe. Roast some leeks, chop some scallions, set aside. Make the dough. Knead for 10 minutes. Think this is quite relaxing for eight minutes. Get sick of it. Ruminate about how impatient you are in life. Let sit (the dough and the rumination). Dump your fenugreek paste into a bowl with a 1/2 lb. of shrimp that's been in your freezer for weeks.

Make a fry bread dipping sauce of honey-lime-cilantro-garlic-walnuts. Taste it. Like it. Set aside.

Start the fry bread cutting, rolling and compiling. Think it's going to be easy. Realize it's a huge time sucker. Curse. Get through it. Heat your oil. Don't use two inches of oil. That's a TON of oil. Think that, with the cake and this, too much damn expensive oil in various forms is being used this week. Use barely an inch in the cast-iron. Turn it down when you forget about it and your wife says she can smell your oil from the living room and recalls an oil fire from her childhood. Wait. Start frying.

Heat shrimp pan. Use a bigger one than a nine-inch. Because, when you add tomatoes to the shrimp to beef up the main dish, it crowds the pan and you're poaching, not sautéing. Think about switching mid-stream. Realize it's shrimp. Know that you don't screw with shrimp mid-cook. Wing it. Realize they turned out quite good. Be happy.

Make an arugula salad. Put it on a plate with the fry bread and dipping sauce. Bring to the (coffee) table with shrimp. Open a bottle of 2013 Susana Balbo Barrel-Fermented Torrents Mendoza ($18 - Vin Chicago). Go to town.

Eat, sip, eat, sip. Realize that this barrel-fermented torrontés might be the best value white wine you've had in a long damn time. Such length, subtlety and grace. Mouth-watering salty-mineral touch. Beautiful oak mingling with white flowers in a perfect way, never letting the oak become OAK! Think that this might be one of the best uses of oak you've had, because you Love it with the food.

The honey in the dipping sauce matched up with the chardonnay-like strut and texture perfectly. A touch of sweetness from the tomatoes in the shrimp let it expand beautifully. Heed the molecule-based pairing suggestions from Taste Buds And Molecules and know that barrel-raised wines love caramelization (leeks), nuts, and fenugreek (page 80). Realize that that book is one thing: essential.

Know that you had new flavors and terrific wine. Know that they were great together. Bask.

Day 3: Open a bottle of 2009 Jean Bourdy Côtes du Jura ($24 - Binny's) because you were told that it needs hours of decanting (and that it can age for 100 years - think that you're in your early 40's and wonder how that relates to you drinking it). Roast some yellow beets. Set aside. Pickle up some rhubarb, from this roasted beet and pickled rhubarb salad recipe that you're using. Ask your husband if pickled rhubarb is okay, because he grew up in Iowa where there's entirely too much rhubarb and everyone begins to hate rhubarb except for crazy people. Proceed.  

Rub cheap pork shoulder with vadouvan, bee pollen, sugar, and kosher salt. Begin roasting it. Start making another Sean Brock concoction that makes you realize yet again that Sean Brock is a genius - Carolina rice griddle cakes. Fry them off, and think that we're having a lot of frying things this week. Don't care because it's been a rough year.

Compile the beet salad. Use leftover sheep feta instead of gorgonzola because it's better. Entirely too much gorgonzola in this world. What is this, 1994? Slap a big hunk of pork on the plate next to the salad. Toss on the griddle cakes. Bring it to the table and go to work.        

Take a bite of griddle cake and be thankful that you didn't really get into Southern food until you started eating Sean Brock's food and bought his cookbook. It's like your first wines being the some of the best wine in the world; the highest bar that allows you to avoid all of the dreck, crap and false starts.

Eat beets. Come to the conclusion for the 1000th time that beets are freakin' delicious. Take a sip of wine and enjoy something that tastes like someone put bay leaf oil in a beautifully-aged López de Heredia. Or a Jurançon. Or, well, a Jura. Salty, oily, with yellow raisins and caramelized apples. Wonder if this is the oiliest wine you've ever had and love every sip of it. VIS-cous with lift. Lament the fact that your wife is sick and her tongue is stubbornly only tasting certain elements. Think that, when you take a bite of pork, bee pollen and vadouvan and pork are BESTEST friends with this wine. Bask in the fact that this meal was stupid-great and know that you've just had two of the best value white wines you've had in years on two straight days.

Day 3: Make Anne Burrell chicken Milanese, because if there's one meal that sits at the top of the perch of the best/easy to make/want-to-repeat-over-and-over-again house meals, this is it. It's fancy food in the disguise of cheap and easy food. Bright batter. Nuts-parsley-pecorino crumble that somehow makes that meal. Pickled onions because they're boss. Baby kale salad. It has everything in every bite. For some reason, this meal is best with Trader Joe's mini-ciabatta buns. Don't know why. Just is.

And don't get complicated with the wine. Drink something with snappy acid, yet is made by someone that knows snappy acid means bringing more than that. Owen Roe Pinot Gris has probably been the bestest, but that's exclusively a club wine. Matthiasson Tendu White. It's dumb how great this meal is with that wine. But at $13, the 2013 Charles Smith VINO Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley has become our default. Because its acid gracefully shoots through the nutty cheese and batter without devouring it, while the food brings a roundness and length to the wine that makes you say, "Geeeeeeeeesh! What more do you need in life?"            


No comments:

Post a Comment