Tuesday, September 29, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #12

Three links:

For decades, the concept of a 'hot hand' in sports was considered a fallacy. Not so now. And the reason is so simple. It's a overall modest adjustment on a long-held theory but a big one nonetheless.

Tonight, on 'Frontline,' the brother of a victim of the Lockerbie bombing spent 25 years trying to find the culprits. He just might have found the big fish. This great New Yorker piece last week has all the background.

When Taylonn Murphy's daughter was shot and killed over a turf war between rival gangs in New York's projects, he got angry, then went to work.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $82 for food and $79 for wine = $161

Total food and wine cost for the month: $557 for food and $627 for wine = $1184

Sunday: Pick-n-Choose with 2014 La Granja 360 Verdejo-Viura Castilla y León

Food Details: Salami, dill havarti cheese, kumatoes, arugula dressed with white vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, mini-ciabatta buns. Rip bread, top with the ingredients of your choosing. It's pick-n-choose.

Did We Like It? A nice version, a happy version. Arugula wasn't the best, but didn't distract. When there's pick-n-choose in front of you, and an easy, friendly, Spanish white, I recommend watching some food TV, like Bourdain's 'Parts Unknown' with Eric Ripert in Marseilles. It makes for a Good Time.

How Was The Wine? House white. Spanish verdejo-viura from Trader Joe's. It's $5 and suffices for meals like this. Its flavor tastes like a random Tuesday when we decided it was time for afternoon wine.

And The Pairing? Good. Enough. By no means anything great, just weekday food and wine together that made for a breezy, two-hour meal.

Cost: $11 for food, $5 for wine = $16

Saturday: Chili and Cornbread with 2011 Trader Joe's Syrah Paso Robles

Food Details: Black bean soup from the freezer - Mrs. Ney had no clue of its origin - turned into chili. Quick cornbread from this recipe. Bowl of chili, cornbread on the side. Butter.

Did We Like It? Just chili and cornbread. What originally was chili-soup right out of the freezer became chili-chili with a little adjustment. And it used stuff up.

How Was The Wine? We don't drink wines this big, typically, so in that sense, a nice change of pace. Big, indistinguishable fruit, wet cigar notes, pepper, something like candied violet. With black olives on the plate, this wine has always shown very well. Here, barely interesting enough for $10.

And The Pairing? Meh. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Cost: $3 for food, $10 for wine = $13

Friday: Dirty Rice with Andouille and 2013 VinTJ's Gewürztraminer Mendocino

Source: Susan Spicer's wild and dirty rice recipe, via Food and Wine.

Food Details: Andouille chicken sausages, wild rice, mirepoix, chicken stock, herbs, ground pork, chicken livers, chopped scallions on top, hot sauce added. It's a big, honkin' bowl of rice chockablock with meaty, herby, Cajun flavors. This batch had a big bundle of thyme cooked with it, turning it into the best batch of dirty rice we've had, I believe. Delicious thyme background pervading every freakin' bite. Golly, this is good.

How Was The Wine? It's cheap Trader Joe's gewürztraminer. Nothing special, but does have the ripe, sugary edge to counter to heat in the dirty rice, while maintaining enough energy to never turn sappy.

And The Pairing? This is a good example of cheap wine chosen well and matched well with food. Alone, this wine is fine enough, representative of the grape, but that's it. With this food, it takes that mere representation of the grape and utilizes it nicely to counter what's on the plate (or in the bowl). You have a weekday meal that tastes better, you find yourself wanting to take longer to eat it, and everything feels more complete. It becomes a pause in the day. Who doesn't want that everyday? We were quite happy.

Cost: $9 for food, $7 for wine = $16    

Thursday: Meatloaf and Potato Salad with 2013 La Caumette L'Authentique Languedoc-Roussillon

Food Details: Meatloaf (recipe here), made with ground beef, oats, onion, ketchup, egg, Worcestershire, garlic, s/p. Tried a new potato salad recipe to use up the mountain of russets in the house.

Did We Like It? It's meatloaf and potato salad, a 2-3 times a year thing, because it tastes like food from our childhood. Plus, it's getting cold, which we enjoy, so meatloaf and potato salad, with its loaf of meat and carb overload fits.

How Was The Wine? It's non-vintage, $5, Trader Joe's, GSM-like red from Languedoc-Roussillon. Smooth, medium-bodied, darker cherry-raspberry fruit. Tough to find the grape blend here but I wouldn't be surprised if the 'M" was merlot. It's French table wine that won't offend in the least.

And The Pairing? Mrs. Ney loved it with the ketchup. I haven't been a huge fan of this wine over the years, but didn't hate it here. Didn't love it...but didn't hate it.

Cost: $8 for food, $5 for wine = $13    

Wednesday: Flaming ouzo shrimp, braised cucumber-radish salad and Ancient Grains bread with 2014 Schwarzböck Grüner Veltliner Austria

Source: Tony Mantuano shrimp recipe here. Julia Child cucumber recipe here.

Food Details: Simplified Mantuano shrimp (without the potato), serrano pepper, parsley, salt, pepper, lemon thyme, flamed up in the cast-iron. Spritz of lemon. Braised cucumbers and radishes. Basil, butter, white wine vinegar, onion, sugar, salt and pepper, braised in the oven. Ancient Grains bread from Whole Foods with butter.

Did We Like It? Best cooked shrimp we've had in this house. Perfect, with a perfect blend of herbs with ouzo hit. You ask me if I'd like to have some braised cucumbers and I'd say, "Eeeeh, sure, why not?" Nope. This was one of the oddest disconnects between look and taste. Looked like merely "braised, liquidy veggies" and tasted utterly...not that. The cucumbers retained much of their texture, sunniness, and juiciness, just in a toned-down way. Essence of cucumber without being cucumber-y. Quite delicious. Reminded me of Waxman's braised endive salad, something we loved a couple of years ago and have to have soon. Ancient Grains bread. If there's a better bread out there that brings more to the table, adding so much to so many different food preps, I haven't had it. Butter. We loved this.

How Was The Wine? Schwarzböck grüner, one-liter, $15. It's basic grüner with lemon-mineral notes, dry, high acid, nice length and balance. We'll be buying it until they stop making it.

And The Pairing? A technical problem with all three elements - shrimp, cucumber, wine - possessing the same level of high acid, but that didn't detract from us feeling like this was a fine dinner. Mrs. Ney said if she took away the spritz of lemon on the shrimp, we'd have had better balance and back-and-forth between acid levels. But happy enough.

Cost: $15 for food, $15 for wine = $30
Tuesday: Rick Bayless chicken, charred onions, Creek frybread and tomatillo sauce with 2014 Field Recordings Pinot Gris in the Can

Source: Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday, page 178-81 (or here). Tomatillo salsa, page 154 (essentially this, leaving out avocado and adding whole-grain mustard).

Food Details: Chicken marinated in ancho chile, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, garlic and apple cider vinegar, roasted on the griddle in the oven. Charred knob onions. Tons of cilantro on top. Tomatillo salsa made with charred tomatillos, garlic, roasted poblanos, cilantro, onion and whole-grain mustard.  Creek Native-American frybread (slightly different than Blackfeet fry bread, with buttermilk as dairy instead of low-fat milk) to top, dip and dunk.

Did We Like It? Yes, sir. All the flavors we like in sufficiently different taste and form. The cinnamon on the chicken showed up just enough to turn this chicken darker and deeper. Plus, beautiful roast on the chicken. "Moist." This frybread will be happening again. All your frybread needs are here. Subtle differences between all of them but it matters in terms of taste. The Creek version has a brightness, substance, and slight chewiness we like. The mustard in the tomatillo salsa played in the same world as the cinnamon in the chicken: taking everything into a darker realm, which we liked muchly. Essentially, this was pick-n-choose. Rip a piece of frybread, top it with whatever combo you like, eat, take a sip of wine, enjoy. On that wine...

How Was The Wine? Second straight night of Field Recordings canned wine. Mostly pinot gris here, with some chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc and malvasia tossed in for expansion, depth and guzzle-ability. Tons of sunny fruit in vaguely Asian form with some sort of Asian floral fruit leaf thrown in. Bright disposition, delicious acid, VERY nice. Stayed dry and loved this food.

And The Pairing? With the relatively darker food flavors, the sunny brightness in the wine served as a counterpoint while never clashing. Loved the salsa with frybread, and enjoyed everything else just fine. We wish this can was $7-8 like the grenache rosé here in Chicago, but it's $11. We'll still buy it, because it's lovely, just not 20 cans like the rosé.

Cost: $21 for food, $22 for wine = $43  

Monday: Indian Carrot Salad, Goat, Naan and Raita with 2014 Alloy Wine Works Grenache Rosé Central Coast

Source: Jamie Oliver recipe.

Food Details: We don't really mess with this recipe. It's a house joy eaten every 4-6 weeks. Fresh and delicious Indian flavors, made quickly and easily. Subbed ground goat for ground lamb this time, because we had goat and not lamb in the freezer. Arugula base, carrots, onions, ginger, garam masala (on the goat), cumin, cilantro, mint, lemon, sesame seeds. Crisped-up ground goat on top. Naan and raita on the side.

Did We Like It? Spicy, fresh, meaty, vegetable-y, dip, dunk, eat, cleanse. This was a great version. We probably like lamb more in this recipe, but the goat brought its subtle meaty funk while letting the veggies and spices shine more than lamb does here. If we were asked our top-10 house meals that we return to over and over again, this one is right up there, because it offers a feast of freshness with depth, takes forever to eat, and checks all the boxes in terms of satisfaction, on every level.

How Was The Wine? After we left a tasting at Field Recordings in Paso Robles a few weeks ago, we had to go back and get their grenache rosé in the can. It was so sparkly, fresh, broad and perfectly simple. A guzzler if there ever was one. $7 for a 500-ml can. We LOVE it with grilled lamb, arugula, tomatoes and bread back at our little Airbnb cottage in the country. And we were quite shocked to see it at a wine shop in town (not telling - we want more and they don't have a lot). It's been a rather terrible year for rosé in this house. Nothing's been particularly interesting and/or deep. This one has such a sunny disposition with pretty, bright strawberry and guava fruit and hints of brush, like the air as you sickle the weeds out back in the dead of summer (does anybody sickle anymore? I haven't seen a sickle in years).

And The Pairing? Big explosion of guava with the naan and raita. Delicious! Darker and a bit shorter with the goat. Nice balance with a veggie bite. Picked up the ginger and ran with it. We have 12 cans of this left. They'll be gone by mid-November. Gotta get more.

Cost: $15 for food, $14 for wine = $29

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