Saturday, December 26, 2015

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #24

No family holidays for us this season.

So Christmas, for us, this year, was food, wine, and the second season of 'Fargo.'

It's not The Wild Bunch, but how many people are killed in 'Fargo?' Gotta go with about 60-70 at least. Geesh!

Before watching that, I consumed Making A Murderer on Netflix, an 10-part documentary that's infinitely intriguing while you're in it, but loses much of its impact in the last third when the filmmakers decide against employing a wider social lens.

I was busy.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $161 for food and $183 for wine = $344

Total food and wine cost for the month: $471 for food and $452 for wine = $923

Sunday: Guinea Hen "chicken and rice" with 2015 Viñas Chilenas Reserva Rosé Valle Central

Food Details: Guinea hen bits and juice from Christmas dinner, onions, walnuts and amaranth greens, over wild and brown rice.

Did We Like It? A very nice dinner compiled with things from the freezer. Tasted healthy without tasting "Oh...this is healthy food."

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

And The Pairing? No complaints. The wine remained its juicy, bright self while never interfering with the delicate nature of the food. Nothing great, nothing not. $6 meal, wine included!

Cost: $2 for food, $4 for wine = $6 

Saturday: Pick-n-Choose with 2014 Charles Smith VINO Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley

Food Details: Mariano's rotisserie chicken, kumatoes, avocados, arugula-parsley salad, mayo, and mini-ciabatta buns, with pickled red onions for me.

Did We Like It? Siempre. It's pick-n-choose your bite, which really isn't pick-n-choose, technically. We top each ripped ciabatta with the same collection of flavors, each of which like each other so very well together, it becomes a heaping mound of happiness. They're friends, hence this oft-eaten meal.

How Was The Wine? Sparkle and polish, acid and citrus blossom notes. There MIGHT be some fade going on here, as there was a wee touch of a jumble in flavor delineation happening with this drinking. We'll see.

And The Pairing? Assembled bite: ciabatta carb, mayo, glazed chicken, kumato dark-tomato flavor, creamy avocado, herby-peppery salad. Pickled onion pop for me. Add the wine's citrus and acid cut and cleanse. You'll be happy. We were.

Cost: $15 for food,  $13 for wine = $28

Friday: Christmas Crab Rangoon Empanada Lunch and Guinea Hen Dinner

Lunch: Homemade faux-crab Rangoon empanadas with mâche salad and pomegranate seeds for Christmas lunch, served with NV Gaston Chiquet Brut Tradition Champagne. The crab empanadas are probably a one-off, but what a nice one-off they were. Fish sauce-based dipping sauce for the empanadas. So, happy Asian flavors in a Latin wrapper.

But the fish sauce killed the Gaston Chiquet, our first Champagne love that we haven't had in a couple of years. Good food lunch with bubbles that fell flat. Something with a bit of sugar like riesling was the play here.

Dinner: Delia Smith guinea hen with 30 cloves of garlic, with the addition of cumin, caraway and tarragon; Ottolenghi harissa pommes Dauphine (feta instead of goat cheese), and Ottolenghi roasted carrots with coriander seeds and garlic, with the addition of lemon thyme, served with 2013 Matthiasson Refosco Napa.

THIS is a Christmas dinner. Perfectly seasoned and spiced guinea hen meat with more pan garlic-juice poured over top. Succulent, is the word. Little pillows of fried potato balls studded with harissa. Best roasted carrots on the planet. "Post-Ottolenghi world," my butt, Saveur. A great Christmas dinner that ranked right up there with all the other great Christmas dinners we've had when not seeing family. I think there's a connection between those two. Wonderful linkage between each element on the plate with the crossover of seasoning.

Paired with watching 'Fargo' more than the Matthiasson Refosco. A one-hour decant still didn't crack open this low alcohol, but very tannic and ripe refosco. This one was a good example of a wine that tasted very well-made, but offered little in the way of openness, ingratiation or friendliness with the food. Too tight, too tannic, too oddly full to give much here. A surprise given my perception of the nature of refosco. Tasted more like a tight-fisted cabernet without the alcohol. At times, it felt like it was trying, but nothing to see in terms of pairing here.

Cost: $52 for food, $85 for wine = $137      

Thursday: Jacques Pepin Brandade and Mustardized Asparagus with 2009 Michel Brégeon Muscadet 

Food Details: (recipe) Fussy-but-easy = lots of fiddly but uncomplicated steps that you MUST follow: Pepin brandade, using Whole Foods salt cod, half celery root and half potatoes, almond milk instead of dairy, white balsamic vinegar instead of lemon juice, pecorino instead of parmesan. Mustard-y marinade on asparagus (grilled), chopped marcona almonds, and grilled baguette.

Did We Like It? Best brandade yet. Mrs. Ney usually uses Goya pollack, but Whole Foods had true-blue salt cod this time. Great balance between the fish, creaminess, nuttiness and celery rooty-ness. Silky texture, great depth. Weirdly delicious asparagus. We like asparagus. This mound of spears, with the marcona and mustard, made them more than just a green side dish. A Christmas Eve dinner that should be a new tradition. Our own 'Feast of the One Fish.'

How Was The Wine? The 2002 Brégeon was a bit of a revelation, that time with chicken and skordalia. It was eight-year-old Muscadet that tasted like it was made yesterday. A bottle of 2005 was funky swamp water, something so rank that we've been a little gun shy about diving back in to the Brégeon. This 2009 was a touch muted and probably needed a decant/more time in the bottle. Pleasing lemon-lime zest, lovely minerals, moderately punchy acid. But in all, a bit quiet. We opened a bottle of 2013 Jackys Preys Cuvée de Fié Gris Touraine to compare and got a wild, bucking, natural wine that showed its naturalness, both the good and the not so. An explosion of grass, flowers, smoked lime and iron at times, other times it turned rather beer-like. Really enjoyed its gregariousness at first, but with the food, we turned back to the Muscadet, as it played in a much more friendly manner with the food. The fié gris wouldn't shut up!

And The Pairing? The Muscadet never got out of the realm of "pleasant" with the food, liking the brandade well enough, even if a bit withdrawn. The middle of the meal was like a huge action scene in a movie with the fié gris, bringing all the explosions and crashes, but leaving us a little exhausted with the effort. We went back to the Muscadet and found pleasing nuggets of good-enough-ness.

Cost: $20 for food, $45 for wine =  $65       

Wednesday: Solomonov Kofta, Pickled Persimmons and Zucchini Baba Ganoush with 2011 Pascal Janvier "Cuvée du Rosier" Coteaux du Loir Rouge

Food Details: Goat kofta and pickled persimmons from Saveur (in the piece, would somebody please tell me what the hell "post-Ottolenghi world" means?). Zucchini baba ganoush (from New Middle Eastern Food), subbing in zucchini for eggplant. Pita. Arugula salad on the side.

Did We Like It? First, goat kofta and pickled persimmons together in one bite is certainly something everyone should try, because it's stupid-delicious, and will be had be us again. And again. Golly, that's good stuff. Zucchini baba ganoush as a veg in dip-and-dunk form. Salad freshness. Meat-veg-carb-green. But in an utterly different and exquisite form.

How Was The Wine? I expected a floral frame, and got aromatics in the form of spice. Light-bodied with guts, crushed berries, a dancing flurry of lightly toasty spice. Delicately tart finish. 100% pineau d’aunis from the coolest part of the Loire. Low alcohol, bright acid, lovely wine. Buying again. This one fits into a unique wine place that also caters to the food we like.

And The Pairing? It threw a couple of moody fits with the food, but overall quite happy with the pairing here. Somewhat muted with the baba ganoush, but very much liked the goat and persimmon.

Cost: $15 for food, $16 for wine = $31

Tuesday: Bucatini, Anchovy, Caper and Chile with 2012 Regis Minet Pouilly-Fumé Vieilles Vignes

Food Details: When you're a little groggy after a work Christmas party, you want to go out to eat. We wanted to. Then we looked around the interwebs at menus, saw one list that had bucatini with anchovy and chile, and both of us thought, "THAT'S what we want!" Then we started doing the math. $18/bowl of that pasta dish at the restaurant. Bottle of wine. Probably an appetizer or two. Maybe some starter bubbles. Tax. Tip. That could easily be $150. All the ingredients for "What we want" are in the house. And we have wine. Better wine. So...

Bucatini, evoo, anchovies, capers, garlic, manzano pepper, pepper flakes; separately-charred tomatoes, parsley, mint, toasted bread crumbs dumped on top.

Did We Like It? Jeebus, yes! Tasted exactly like what great pasta can be. A perfect blend of carbs, flavor and satisfaction.

How Was The Wine? Flinty, grassy, smoky, citrusy; everything that Regis Minet is and three years old to boot. Crazy producer that makes what became our house Pouilly-Fumé years ago.

And The Pairing? The wine fell right in line with the weight and balance of the pasta, offering an even more stream-lined, broad feeling to the meal. Couldn't ask for more happiness.

Cost: $7 for food, $18 for wine = $25    

Monday: Work Christmas Party

Food Details: Potluck. Brought chicken liver pâté, toasties, ginger-scallion sauce and Korean hot sauce for the supplied Sun-Wah whole pig, and farro-olive salad.

Wine: Alloy Wine Works Grenache in the can, from Field Recordings.

Result: A good time had by all.

Cost: $50

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