Thursday, December 10, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #22


Jacques Pépin on a lifetime of food memories here.

Marilynne Robinson on fear here.

How The GOP came to be...whatever they are now here.

This week's movie roundup:
Highly recommend: The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, Calvary, The Salt of the Earth.
Cautiously recommend: Clouds of Sils Maria, Meru, What We Do In The Shadows.
Can't recommend: While We're Young.
And Kingsman: The Secret Service was rip-roaring good fun. Not good...but fun.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $112 for food and $65 for wine = $177

Sunday: Charred Shallots, Yogurt, Arugula and Ancient Grains Bread with 2014 Terrasse du Moulinas Blanc Elégance Languedoc-Roussillon

Source: Charred shallots, via Melissa Clark. Learn it, know it, love it. Mrs. Clark is the best.

Food Details: Shallots, charred, dressed with preserved lemon vinaigrette. Big slather of labneh on the plate, shallots on top. Arugula salad with pomegranate seeds on the side. Whole Foods Ancient Grains bread to serve as a base for all of that. Rip, top, eat, repeat.

Did We Like It? (swear) yeah! Seriously, people. Eat this. It's food catered to what you like and you don't even know it.

How Was The Wine? $10. One-liter. Grenache blanc, vermentino, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. More grenache blanc and vermentino this time with this food. Not as round and complete as the last time we had it. But plenty of punch to bring a Mediterranean freshness and breeze to food that's the same.

And The Pairing? See above.

Cost: $12 for food, $10 for wine = $22  

Saturday: Potato, Kale, Picadillo & Pumpkin Hash with 2010 Caves du Fournalet Côtes du Rhône

Food Details: "Use Stuff Up!" hash for an extra $4 in "out in the world" goods consisting of a bag a kale and a few potatoes. Leftover goat picadillo from a couple of weeks ago. Leftover pumpkin filling from empanadas a couple of weeks ago. Potatoes boiled. All of it thrown together and crusted up in the cast-iron skillet.

Did We Like It? Mighty fine and filling hash.

How Was The Wine? Started with a 2011 Trader Joe's Syrah from Paso Robles. Terrible with this food. Opened this bottle, a wine that's been sitting around like a neglected puppy in the apartment. We had no plans to drink this. Try it maybe, as a lark to see how bad it's become, but not serve it with any sort of real food. We had a period where we drank this wine as a pleasant, softer, weekday Rhône red, and this bottle was leftover from that time, buried in the wine stock. But this stood up to time quite well. Soft, with friendly blackberry fruit and a pleasing, earthy finish. STILL drinkable. I don't know how.

And The Pairing? Good enough, we say. Liked the pumpkin.

Cost: $4 for food, $5 for wine = $9

Friday: Muffuletta Sandwiches

Food Details: Mortadella, genoa salami, provolone and olive relish on muffuletta bread. No wine.

Thursday: Big Greek Salad with 2015 Viñas Chilenas Reserva Rosé Valle Central

Food Details: Lamb, arugula, baked pita chips, cascabel pepper, orange bell pepper, fresno pepper, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, onion, Barcelona olives, mint, oregano, parsley and good sheep feta.

Did We Like It? Big mound of salad on a plate for Mrs. Ney. I eschewed such fancy things like a plate and went with the biggest mixing bowl we have. Satisfying Greeky Goodness.

How Was The Wine? This is $4, fresh, fruity, round, bouncy and delicious. Cabernet-syrah blend done up rosé style.

And The Pairing? One of those times when a rosé made from bigger grapes serves to stand up to the gaggle of different flavors on the plate (in the bowl) instead of being a big, obvious bore. Liked it.

Cost: $13 for food, $4 for wine = $17

Wednesday: Choucroute Garnie and Rye Bread with 2012 Chateau d’ Orschwihr Bollenberg Pinot Gris Alsace

Source: David Leite's choucroute garnie recipe, using pork ribs and kielbasa instead of smoked pork and other wursts.

Food Details: Crock Pot meal! And another easy-as-heck crock pot recipe, along with Rick Bayless's tomatillo chicken, that we'll be using often going forward, particularly on a colder day than it was yesterday. Beautiful 55-degree day on December 9 in Chicago. Kielbasa, pork ribs, bacon, sauerkraut, potatoes, onions, juniper berries, clove, garlic, bay, salt and pepper; all thrown in the crock pot for four hours. Whole Foods "Old World" rye bread.

Did We Like It? Wonderfully mellow Alsatian flavors, perfectly seasoned, all mingling like the ingredients were made for each other, because they were.

How Was the Wine? Chilled peach and tangerine fruit, with all the nerve that comes from solid pinot gris.

And The Pairing? Alsatian food and Alsatian wine together... .... ... "Who doesn't want that?!"

Cost: $22 for food, $15 for wine = $37

Tuesday: Fenugreek Sea Bass, Braised Endive Salad and Farro-Barley with 2013 Jackys Preys Cuvée de Fié Gris Touraine

Food Details: Whole Foods sea bass topped with hilbeh (a fenugreek-dominant goop made with garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, serrano and olive oil). Braised endive and onion with fresno pepper, tangerine, and more hilbeh. Fava beans on top of endive salad. Farro and barley mixed with ginger and shallot for starch. Mint over everything.

Did We Like It? We wanted fish and we got damn delicious fish. Sea bass ain't cheap, but it's the best fish in our world. This one glistened, with a perfectly light fenugreek pop permeating every bite. Great endive offering texture yet give. Surprisingly good frozen fava from Harvesttime. They didn't look the best right out of the package. Farro and barley with a ginger pop that kept giving lovely brightness staying within the food lane offered by everything else. I keep saying "We Loved This" over the last few weeks, but...We Loved This.

How Was The Wine? Fié Gris from Touraine, a grape pretty much dead in the Loire but being resurrected by Mr. Jackys Preys. There's a wine we serve at my job that fills the needs of every white wine request. Like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio? Or any other basic wine jones people ask for that's not riesling? I have one wine at work that lines up with all of that and they like it every time. This Touraine and this grape reminds me of that. It offers a bevy of flavors and it shows different with each sip. Sometimes floral and vegetal, other times limey and salty. Sometimes quiet and nicely herbal, and even other times a big basket of about eight different citrus fruits. Offered Asian fruit leaves throughout every sip with a perfect pop of acidity that never became a bully. Best at a lower temp. This was $11. Eleven dollars during the Whole Foods 30% off sale. We'll be buying as much as we can.

And The Pairing? 50 different flavors in the food and the wine pivoted and adjusted with every freaking combo it had to tackle. Hell yes.

Cost: $42 for food, $11 for wine = $53      

Monday: Ottolenghi Beef, Roasted Carrots, Latkes, and Fennel-Celery Salad with 2013 Domaine Cousin-Luder Pur Breton Val de Loire

Source: Yotam Ottolenghi recipe here, via Wine Spectator, omitting truffle oil

Food Details: Trader Joe's tri-tip slathered with mustard and marinated in rosemary, thyme, pink/black peppercorns and salt, seared and finished in oven. Fennel, celery, parsley and pecorino salad on the side to eat with the beef. Tri-colored carrots dressed with coriander seed, thyme, honey, garlic and olive oil, roasted. Trader Joe's latkes for starch.

Did We Like It? Double surprise. Another Ottolenghi shocker with a delicious wine we didn't think would necessarily hold up to the flavors on the plate. VERY savory beef that offered space to enjoy every ingredient involved, particularly the rosemary, with a pink peppercorn loveliness down deep. And delicious and new with said bite of beef accompanied with the fennel-celery-pecorino salad. Happy carrots. Easiest starch in the world and always adds to every meal with have these latkes with, particularly when you're already cooking three different elements. We Loved this.

How Was The Wine? Cabernet franc, biodynamic-natural, light and well-paced. Its strawberry and apple fruit serve as a backup here with bright earth and mushroom notes serving as the opening act. Bright-ish, lilty acid present from front to back that never overwhelms anything, getting darker as it went down, and letting every flavor and combinations of flavors to take its time to show itself. Quite good.

And The Pairing? We thought after the first sip that this wasn't going to stand up to this food. The fruit only took one step back, adjusted, and took on a new role and order, remaining its happy self, just in a new form. The food was surprisingly light, but with a firm and expressive background. The wine was the same. Matched up in ways that were constantly new.

Cost: $19 for food, $20 for wine = $39          

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