Thursday, July 16, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #1

Let's mix it up. 

We're going to track every meal and wine pairing for one year: the contents, source, success, lessons, and the cost. 

Each post will be one week's worth of meals, from Monday to Sunday, and added to as we eat-and-drink it. 

Monday through Wednesday is our weekend and Thursday through Sunday is our workweek.

Week #1, so far, has had a "nostalgia food" feel to it.

Total Food and Wine Cost for the Week: $83 for food and $130 for wine = $206

Sunday: Edwardo's Pizza with 2012 Trader Joe's Barbera Mendocino

Food Details: Strack & Van Til-bought Edwardo's Chicago-style spinach pizzas, topped with rosemary onions to up the quality here. They were the best part of these pizzas that won't be eaten again. Not our bag. Malnati's is better and it's not even close. We do the Chicago-style business a couple times a year and we'll stick to Lou.  

Did we like it? Edible, filled a hole.

How was the wine? Typically good with Chicago-style pizza, the barbera was nothing more than present. Better than the wine we originally opened, a bottle of 2011 Luis Pato Beira Atlântico Colheita Seleccionada Baga-Touriga Nacional (hence the addition of rosemary onions), which tasted like Christmas coffee cake gone wrong, then a LEAN cab after a quick aeration. In the fridge. We'll check it.

And the pairing? Food was on the table. Wine was in the glass. That's it.

Cost: $13 for food and $23 ($13 - Luis Pato) for wine = $36

Saturday: Smoked Turkey, Ricotta and Asparagus Naan Pizzas with 2013 Berger Grüner Veltliner

Food Details: Trader Joe's Naan, topped with smoked turkey, ricotta blended with cream cheese and basil oil, asparagus, corn, onion and pepper jack cheese, baked until everything was melty and warm, with a handful of arugula on top of each afterwards.

Did we like it? Yes. Had to use up some ricotta so dinner turned into this. And it made ten naan pizzas for just the two of us, so lunches over the next couple of days are covered. Arugula on top completed it.

How was the wine? The one-liter Berger is a fantastic deal. Basic, everyday grüner done well. Its 2013-ness here made for a less shiny and sparkly grüner but a basic goodness was present...enough.

And the pairing? Fine. The primary-tertiary flavors were fading but the acid was still there. Asparagus is a pairing asshole, particularly for the weekday, "nothing too spendy" wine realm. Grüner can get close.

Cost: $13 for food and $13 for wine = $26

Friday: Turkish-style Braised Green Beans, Meatballs and Bread with 2012 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Bourgueil

Source: Recipe here, from John Willoughby, via NYT Cooking

Food Details: Turkish-style braised green beans is the star here, with a dollop of yogurt, spritz of lemon on top. Freezer meatballs (have no idea what meal they were originally from). Whole Foods freshly baked wheat bread loaf with a underdone, doughy center. Used the non-doughy edges. Take some bread, top it with the beany-yogurt mixture and a bit of meatball, eat, pause, think about it, and enjoy the goodness. In the same sort of family as Turkish beany surprise (which is sorta like Egyptian ful), swapping out borlotti beans for green beans.

Did we like it? Remember when you ate meatloaf and green beans growing up? Remember when some of soupy juice off the meatloaf and green beans began to mix together? Not great, right? Here, it's fancy-ass delicious soup that has eight different flavors bouncing around in your mouth, all playing off each other.

How was the wine? This is the abandoned Bourgueil cabernet franc from Monday. We put in the fridge and served it chilled. It's nice when abandoned wine can be salvaged into something useful. Four days open and chilled turned it into a twiggy, raspberry chocolate truffle that was dropped in dirt. Rather delicious.

How was the pairing? Happy. They liked each other. Made better by the fact that the wine wasn't a total write-off.

Cost: $7 for food, $17 for wine = $24  

Thursday: Chicken, Kumatoes, Herb Salad, Ciabatta & Cilantro Mayo with NV Grifone Bianco Sicily

Food Details: Strack & Van Til BBQ-flavored rotisserie chicken, kumatoes (salt and peppered), TJ's herb salad dressed with olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, TJ's mini-ciabatta buns and cilantro mayo from Wednesday's cheeseburger tacos. Put all of it on a plate, rip your ciabatta, assemble into open-faced mini-sandwiches with all of the ingredients, eat and enjoy. It's a house staple, pick-and-choose meal when Mrs. Ney doesn't want to cook or spend any time in our tiny-ass kitchen. It's delicious every freakin' time.

Did we like it? Always. The Strack & Van Til chicken wasn't BBQ-y in the least. First time for this chicken. Wouldn't do it again. Mariano's chicken and whatever glaze they put on it is oodles better.

How was the wine? It's a $5 Trader Joe's riesling/moscato blend from Sicily. Boring on its own, we happened upon this stupid-great pairing about a year ago. It goes from borderline insipid without food to this wispy, light, balanced, refreshing $5 quaffer with THIS food.

And the pairing? Not as delicious as with the Mariano's glaze, but it mimicked that with enough completeness to satisfy.

Cost: $12 for food and $5 for wine = $17 

Wednesday: Stupak's Cheeseburger Tacos with NV Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot 61

Source: recipe from Alex Stupak, via Lucky Peach

Food Details: Goopy meat and chihuahua cheese cooked in lard (added onions). Flour tortillas, salsa roja, cilantro mayo, avocados, tomatoes and limes. Bagged curly fries with more cilantro mayo for dipping. Assembled and went to town.

Did we like it? the first two were rather spectacular - nostalgic, fresh, fatty, early 80's family reunion-y with my brother playing Jethro Tull on the banjo - but it suffered from a sameness and diminishing returns. Mrs. Ney would make it again. In a year. Maybe.

How was the wine? Marietta Cellars Lot 61, at $11, proves California can make table wine very well (Jon Bonné's interview with Levi Dalton three years ago discusses this - good listen). This drinking, it was more dirt, meat char, balsamic strawberries and spice, showing more of its zin-based heft and less brightness this time. Always delicious and a house favorite.

And the pairing? Good. Fine. Nice. Nothing wrong here. Picnic goodness, but few surprises.

Cost: $12 for food and $11 for wine = $23

Tuesday: Waxman Spring Gnocchi with 2013 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Blanc

Source: recipe from Jonathan Waxman, via Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking

Food Details: Homemade gnocchi, using Caputo pasta flour. Frozen peas and fava beans. Grape tomatoes and freezer celery pesto. Topped with parmesan, parsley and mint.

Did we like it? Yes. Needed soft food due to Mrs. Ney's dental cleaning. Tasted a bit out of season (and frozen is a nice substitute, but not ideal), but the gnocchi were light and delicious, and everything was cooked well. DO NOT make gnocchi ahead of time and layer them with wax paper! Lesson learned. And salt your pasta water, idiot.

How was the wine? Perfection. Hot damn, Vacheron makes a delicious sauvignon blanc. Lemongrass and smoky lemon/lime peel. Darker minerals galore. Great balance, weight, pauses and length. It's Sancerre without the moodiness. Less of a unwelcome cloudy day, more of a springtime sunny breeze.

And the pairing? The wine ruled the day, boosting the springtime-veggie-in-the-dead-of-summer meal to a better place.

Cost: $8 for food and $30 for wine = $38

Monday: Lamb Skewers, Potatoes and Green Beans with 2011 Jonata The Paring Red Blend

Source: For lamb marinade, go here (under Greek grilled chicken). Standard Greek meat marinade for this house.

Food Details: Paulina lamb skewers, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, onion, parsley, oregano and garlic, oven roasted Yukon Gold potatoes with paprika-garlic oil drizzled on top, sautéed green beans.

Did we like it? Yes. Happy, Greek/Spanish meat and potatoes meal.

How was the wine? We didn't go Spanish or Portuguese here. Didn't crave it. Started with the 2012 Domaine de la Chanteleuserie Bourgueil and abandoned quickly. No presence, watery finish. Not the first time with that one. Popped the Jonata The Paring cabernet-centric blend (40%, with merlot, cab franc, sangiovese, petit verdot and syrah in there). This one is cabernet without screaming it. Fresh, figgy, cinnamon, touch of coffee. Round, dark, pretty edges, very nice.

And the pairing? Head and shoulders above the Bourgueil. It loved the potatoes and saddled up to the lamb quite happily.

Cost: $18 for food and $24 for the wine = $42

Inter Alia:

* Christina Tosi's Birthday Cake is A Thing. Recipe here, via MilkBar Store (where it's $48 if you simply want to buy it).

Altered a bit. We had 8" pans, so Mrs. Ney used those. More simple to make than a cursory reading of the recipe would suggest. And the Crisco in the recipe makes it like crack. Can't stop eating it! It tastes like every birthday cake you had growing up jammed together, then drizzled with delicious fat in the form of a frosting-like crumble. It's over the top, but not offensively in the least.

* Decent batch of the best chocolate chip cookies recipe on the planet, from Saveur. Used white sugar this time. Liked it.

* The 2014 Laurent Miquel Pere et Fils Cinsault Syrah Rosé ($10 - Lush), paired with homemade margherita pizza and a bianca with tomatoes and arugula, was light and fresh, but forgettable. Wouldn't buy again. Very good margherita and boring, overcrowded-with-cheese bianca. Worst dough experience yet, though. Loads of cursing. Don't use homemade dough made three months ago and then frozen. Lesson learned. Good dough recipe (looking for it...) with a great salt level. Almost pretzel-like. Better than ATK. And we lost the pizza stone. Cracked in the oven.


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