Thursday, November 19, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #19


Wonderful Karl Ove Knausgaard piece (speech) in the New Yorker this week, with a bonus video of the superlatively great Jhumpa Lahiri at the bottom.

This piece on Rhonda Rousey couldn't be more spot-on.

The Davis Theatre in Lincoln Square is a dump and has been for decades. That's about to change.

And Jon Bonné checks back in on Abe Schoener of Scholium Project for the Chronicle.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $110 for food and $125 for wine = $235

Sunday: Salmon, Bagels and Cream Cheese with 2014 Berger Grüner Veltliner Kremstal

Food Details: Trader Joe's salmon, bagels, herbed-up cream cheese, kumatoes, arugula. Rip, top, eat.

Did We Like It? More easy food that brings an enormous satisfaction that belies its easiness.

How Was The Wine? All of Berger's freshness here on full display. Stony, peppy, lively, proper hits and hints of greens-citrusy fruit. A bit of an ammonia note kicked up for me, but that didn't deter me from finishing it off.

And The Pairing? The ammonia note, that was more like a farmhouse well next to the pig sty note, actually helped here. Weaved into the salmon, taking it to a down and dirty place that resembled being on said a good way.

Cost: $19 for food, $15 for wine = $34 

Saturday: Pick-n-Choose Meat and Cheese with 2014 Alloy Wine Works Grenache Rosé Central Coast

Food Details: Ham, salami and red leicester cheese with peppers on ciabattini with sundried-tomato mayonnaise and herb salad

Did We Like It? Always and forever. It's pick and choose your bite, in whatever order you want, with whatever toppings that trips your fancy.

How Was The Wine? More Alloy Grenache Rosé in the can, our fave rosé this year. Dirt-covered, juicy grenache showed up in bunches. Perky, substantial, bright and happy can o' rosé.

And The Pairing? Had everything anybody would ever want. It's like standing at the food spread on a table at some sort of function you don't want to be at, and enjoying everything in front of you, while avoiding all the people you don't want to talk to. It's a double-whammy of happiness, with guzzle-able rosé to accompany all of that.

Cost: $14 for food, $14 for wine = $28

Friday: Pizzas and Arugula with 2015 Viñas Chileans Reserva Rosé Valle Central

Food Details: Digiorno tomato/cheese and pepperoni pizzas, topped with arugula.

Did We Like It? Rough work week for Mrs. Ney. Easy food is smart food. Buy two, get one free offer made this an easy choice.

How Was The Wine? Best thing about the meal. This is $4, fresh, fruity, round, bouncy and delicious. Cabernet-syrah blend done up rosé style. Nice find here.

And The Pairing? Good wine, mediocre pizzas. That's what it was.

Cost: $12 for food, $4 for wine = $16

Thursday: Rotisserie Chicken, Charred Onions, Yogurt and Ancient Grains Bread with 2014 Terrasse du Moulinas Blanc Elegance Languedoc-Roussillon

Food Details: Whole Foods prepared rotisserie chicken, charred onions done up Melissa Clark-style, over labneh-yogurt with parsley and pomegranate seeds, and Whole Foods Ancient Grains bread. Rip, top, eat.

Did We Like It? We're going to eat this charred onions and yogurt business until we're sick of it, which I'm betting won't be anytime soon. It goes beautifully with the meat of your choice. Chicken here, lamb and goat in the past. Prepare your food, slice your bread, put it in front of you on the coffee table, turn on your mindless entertainment for the evening, sit back, relax, and enjoy the goodness for an hour or two.

How Was The Wine? Great find, also at Whole Foods. A one-liter bottle of a Langeudoc white blend (grenache blanc, vermentino, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc). It's a four-act play, with the grenache blanc and chardonnay offering softness, freshness and roundness in different forms, while the vermentino (which shows up big here) and the sauvignon blanc offers perkiness, cut and bite, also in different forms. Keeps vacillating back and forth between the four and the result is impressive for the price. It's $10, one liter, and one of the better wine bargains found this year. Should be a very versatile white blend that's cheap and plentiful. What else does one need?

And The Pairing? Exactly what anyone would want here. Not transcendent, just a cheerful pairing offering slice-and-dice acid when needed and softness, body and depth when wanted.  Delicious.

Cost: $16 for food, $10 for wine = $26

Wednesday: Sean Brock Patty Melts and Punched Potatoes with NV Marietta Christo #2 Sonoma-Mendocino Counties Rhone Blend

Source: Sean Brock burger patties (from Heritage, page 121), Sam Sifton faux pomme frites, Serious Eats sun-dried tomato-garlic mayo

Food Details: Burgers griddled, on seeded light rye bread (I can't hear "rye bread" without thinking of this now), with pepper jack cheese and shaved raw onion. Punched potatoes, drizzled with rabbit oil, baked in the oven. Quick dipping sauce of sun-dried tomato and garlic for both the potatoes and patty melt.

Did We Like It? Yes, sir. And the patty melt got oodles better as it came up to room temperature. Classic patty melt flavors (a "fancy food" when I was 19) with all the patty melt nostalgic goodness (maybe should have gone with American cheese). Damn fine, crunchy, creamy, rabbit-oiled potatoes. Delicious as heck dipping sauce. Everything we wanted from patty melts and potatoes-in-some-form was here.

How Was The Wine? Syrah, grenache, petite sirah and viognier. This is our first Lot #2 after having Lot #1 a half-dozen or so times. Lot #1 was pure joy in the bottle; loose, expressive, a wine that takes its time to give you everything it has. Lot #2 felt quiet here, giving some of the smoke-blackberry-lavender business that we love from this wine, and taking its time to give it all in one sip. This might need a bit of time, as it opened up more as the meal progressed, but it missed a completeness the Lot #1 had (and last had with a very similar meal).

And The Pairing? A ton of basic happiness here, but it somewhat lacked that second and third level that we've found in the Lot #1; that viognier-like "voooooop!" at the end; that point where you can't stop taking a bite and reaching for the glass because it's so gosh-darn good. After an hour open, we did find whispers of the Christo magic, so... We'll see.

Cost: $10 for food, $16 for wine = $26

Tuesday: Vietnamese Cornish Game Hens, Scallion Pancakes and Spicy Fish Sauce with 2013 Darting Muskateller Kabinett Trocken 

Source: From Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World, Vietnamese Cornish Game Hens, page 334. Lucky Peach Spicy Fish Sauce. Scallion pancakes from Serious Eats.

Food Details: Aldi Cornish Game Hens ($3.59 each!), marinated in garlic, shallot, fish sauce, ginger and honey; roasted in a 500-degree oven on a preheated griddle for 22 minutes, drizzled with sesame oil after roasting. Spicy fish sauce of Red Boat fish sauce, garlic, chiles, white wine vinegar and lime zest (added) for dipping, dunking and drizzling on everything. Scallion pancakes, charred up in the cast-iron. Salad of cucumber, radish, scallions, arugula, basil, mint, cilantro and pomegranate seeds.

Did We Like It? Mrs. Ney, after seeing the lacquered-burnished-blackened birds, said, "Well, at least the salad will be good." But the full-blown glossy char on these lil birds was absolutely essential. It created a quick crust that seemingly protected the bird from drying out, leaving perfectly juicy bird meat throughout (the breast meat was freakin' perfect). Perfect inside meat with fish sauce-sesame oil crusty skin, dripped in a Lucky Peach fish sauce-sauce that's bright, perky and crackling delicious. Best scallion pancakes yet (or Chinese fry bread - we like the fry breads). A salad where the basil's bitterness took over, unfortunately. But this meal was an enormous shock, though it shouldn't have been, really. That Bittman book has hundreds of recipes and we have all our lives to cook through it. It's $5 right now on Amazon! The beef cheeks in chickpea purée was one of the better meals we've ever had.

How Was The Wine? Speaking of best meals ever, we last had this muskateller with probably the best meal of the year. Certainly the best pairing. Less so here, as it lost its definition of classiness and pure sunshine. This time it delved more into its fruit and talc, becoming more of a blue collar, workhorse wine attempting to counter the flurry of Asian flavors on the plate and mostly succeeding.

How Was The Pairing? We were rather content with the muskateller. Loved the talc that remained steadfast in its presence. But a cheap Trader Joe's Mosel riesling was cracked to compare and it did things with its fruit and seamless transition to that second, gaseous, riesling-and-minerals level that the muskateller didn't. It wasn't fancy riesling in the least, though it found a place with this food quite nicely. But if a wine has talc, it comes from a place we like. That's the truth.

Cost: $17 for food, $18 for wine = $35  

Monday: Uzbeki Lamb Plov with 2008 Avanthia Mencia Valdeorras

First, a Monday lunch of Greek sandwiches and olive oil chips with 2014 João Portugal Ramos Lima Loureiro Vinho Verde kicked off a very productive weekend of house cleaning and winter-is-coming organizing. Feta-pepper spread (from week #17) with cucumbers, tomatoes, arugula, onions and black olives from Barcelona, from a sister of a work friend, marinated in herbs from said garden. Leftover Pugliese bread, toasted. Trader Joe's olive oil chips. Our favorite, cheap, $8 loureiro. THAT was a Happy Lunch. A new favorite dinner, which is basically Uzbeki paella in a way, rounded out a great food day.

Source: Recipe here, via Cucee Sprouts

Food Details: Last eaten in July, and we loved it then. This version was better, simply because the lamb bones were cooked in the braise. A savory, boney, gelatinous, succulent juice-sweat resulted, and it was be-aut-i-ful. Farm City lamb shoulder, chickpeas, carrots, barberries (doubled the barberries, omitted the raisins in the recipe), garlic, cumin, tumeric, basmati rice. A one-pot meal that's considered the national dish of Uzbekistan. Tomato-onion-mint salad on the side.

Did We Like It? (Swear word) yeah! That marrow sweat-juice was a sumthin-sumthin. This is homey, country-style lamb stew taken to another, complete place. It's the bestest.

How Was The Wine? We opened this wine a week ago, didn't find it interesting in the least, put a Preserva disk in it, and left it on the counter. With its $40 price tag, dumping it, or even drinking it with a more simple, weekday meal seemed sad. So we gave it a go here and were rewarded. This settled into a medium-bodied beauty with smoky cherries/raspberries and spicy tobacco, bright minerals and perfect jolt of acid with this food. Maybe we opened this too soon. Maybe it needed a healthy decant. While we found the smallest bit of a watery thread from it being opened for a week, this was a complete pairing surprise.

And The Pairing? There's some elemental crossover between plov and paella, mostly in presentation and strut. Like the first time we had this food, with the Abacela Tempranillo, there was some nice pan-Spanish pairing perkiness, with the mencia loving the lamb and lamb sweat, leading to a "good enough!" experience. And it loved the tomatoes. Just loved them. So...good stuff, we say.

Cost (for lunch and dinner): $22 for food, $48 for wine = $70      

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