Friday, January 1, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #25

Top...Whatever Number...Pairings of 2015 (no order except the top few, so a bit of an order):

1. Ottolenghi Fish, Cocount-Peanut Salad and Rice with 2013 Darting Muskateller Kabinett Trocken

2. Tuna Niçoise with 2014 Jolie-Laide Trousseau Gris Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard Russian River Valley

3.  Roasted Chicken and Fennel Panzanella with 2014 Broc Cellars Picpoul Blanc Luna Matta Vineyard Paso Robles

4.  Fava Bean and Ricotta Salata Strozzapreti with 2014 Quinta de Porrais Branco Douro

5. Sausage, Zucchini, Tomato and Cream Cheese Surprise with 2014 Alloy Wine Works Grenache Rosé Central Coast

6. Lamb Chops, Charred Shallots, Yogurt, Tomato Vinaigrette and Pita with 2014 Charles & Charles Rosé Columbia Valley

7.  Yakitori-marinated hanger steak, yuca fries and Tuscan kale salad with 2006 Quinta do Vale Meão Douro

8. Lamb Salami, Feta spread, Arugula and Ciabattini Buns with 2014 João Portugal Ramos "Lima" Loureiro Vinho Verde

9. Big. Greek. Salad. With Lillet Sparkling Rosé

10. Bee-Pollened Pork Shoulder and Griddle Cakes with 2009 Jean Bourdy Côtes du Jura

11. Galician Tuna Empanadas With 2012 Forlorn Hope "Que Saudade" Sierra Foothills

12. Argentinian Skirt Steak and Shishito Pepper, Inland Cress and Frisée Salad with 2012 Luca Malbec Uco Valley

Was this our best food and wine year, Mrs. Ney? Probably, I say. I missed a few. There's still a couple of vague notions of "Wow, that's good!" meals rumbling around in my brain that I can't specifically remember. Odd there's no goat meal. Just wasn't an amazing goat-wine year.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $185 for food and $229 for wine = $414

Sunday: Smoked Chicken and Sprout Sandwiches with 2014 Alloy Wine Works Grenache Rosé Central Coast

Food Details: Whole Foods packaged smoked chicken slices, mashed avocado, kumatoes, pickled onions, Monterey jack cheese, mayo, and alfalfa-fenugreek sprouts, on Mariano's Italian-style batard bread. Olive oil potato chips.

Did We Like It? A nice batch, wet overall due to the pickled onions but the crusty bread helped a bit. Fine and good Sunday night sandwich-and-chips meal.

How Was The Wine? $8 grenache rosé in the can. We've been over this. House fav.

And The Pairing? But not here. A bit astringent and a tad boring here, probably due to the copious amount of mustard seeds and peppercorns floating around in the sandwiches from end-of-batch pickled onions.

Cost: $30 for food, $16 for wine = $46

Saturday: Argentinian Hanger Steak and Shishito Pepper-Living Cress-Arugula-Blue Cheese Salad with NV La Posta Tinto Red Blend Mendoza

Food Details: (David Beran recipe) A recreation of this meal from September, using hanger instead of skirt. Overnight hanger marinade of basil, thyme, shallot, peppercorn and olive oil. Salad of living cress, arugula, celery and leaves, mint, charred shishito peppers and Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese. Dressing of charred lemon and olive oil. Trader Joe's potato pancakes for starch.

Did We Like It? I don't know what it is about this meal. There's a lively ping-ponging of flavors, mostly lightly bitter and always popping. Just when you want it taken down a notch, here comes the blue cheese to offer creaminess and depth. Brilliant meat marinade. One of the best we've had. I cooked this one. Notes: use the cast-iron. Easy on the dressing.

How Was The Wine? Laura Catena manages five of her family's wineries in Argentina and owns two of her own (Luca and La Posta), all while working as an ER physician in San Francisco. So...yeah...geesh... We had her Luca Malbec with this meal last time, a classy, polished malbec that liked the food enough. Her 2013 La Posta Tinto, a malbec-bonarda-syrah table wine blend, was better as a pairing with this food prep. Smoky herbs and happy fruit, it tastes wildly similar to the unpretentious non-vintage red blends that we love so much, like the Marietta Cellars line. Blackberry bush notes with a touch of cherry that starts to trend sweet, but takes a quick turn to dry at just the right time. A real personality here. We loved it. And will buy more.

And The Pairing? As I said, we really liked the Luca, but it demanded our attention too much and went a bit pear-shaped with the salad. The La Posta Tinto wants one thing. It wants beef-centric food with other food toys to show off how versatile it is. One of the better table-style wines we've had of late. Big thumbs up.

Cost: $32 for food, $14 for wine = $46

Friday: Green Goddess Chicken Panzanella with 2014 Berger Grüner Veltliner Kremstal

Food Details: First, a few notes on lunch. Caviar and crème fraiche on potato chips with pear-celery-hazelnut salad quickly turned into pear-celery-hazelnut salad with potato chips because the caviar was too fishy. Nice salad, but the real winner was finding our new house Champagne - Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut. When trying to find a $50-ish Champagne that simultaneously will bring elegance without breaking the bank, we've gone from Gaston Chiquet to Ayala to Paul Bara to Pierre Peters to just trying just about every $50-ish Champagne out there. Liked them all to a certain degree, went through phases where we drank multiples of each, but Bollinger tasted like "This is what we want right now." Such elegance and grace with this drinking. Egly-Ouriet is 'for the special' so 2016 will probably be a good amount of Bollinger.

The panzanella...was an enormous amount of food! Whole Foods chicken marinated in Ms Clark's green goddess dressing, roasted. Heaping plate of fava, roasted ancient red pepper (seriously, "ancient" is its variety name), charred red onion, arugula, scallions, crushed marcona almonds, Pugliese bread croutoned-up, and more green goddess dressing tossed with all of it.

Did We Like It? Not the best version of panzanella but a damn good one. The fava beans took center stage here, taking everything into a realm of a fava garden-warmness (if that makes sense). Juicy chicken, different flavor combination with each bite, all that you'd want from Food.

How Was The Wine/Pairing? A bit off. Grüner is typically a workhorse with food, but this bottle, while technically fine, seemed a bit tired when drunk by itself and offered the same with the panzanella. Opened a bottle of cheap Trader Joe's La Granja Blanco Rioja and found a surprisingly nice matchy-match with the food, tasting like they were oddly made for each other. Much better than the Berger and not even close.

Cost: $58 for lunch and dinner, $70 for wine = $128  

Thursday: Persian Beef, Barberry Sauce and Buttered Almonds with 2004 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva

Food Details: (Recipe, with beef shank instead of chicken) Last had in April, this is essentially Iranian stew that doesn't resemble any stew we'd ever had before first eating it. Beef shank, tons of marrow, barberries, almonds, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, rice, snap peas, mint.

Did We Like It? It's perfect stew, because every ingredient constantly bounces off each other in every bite, going deep but staying bright and lively. A wonderful back-and-forth between the dark, deep beef-marrow that played with the spices, then the barberry sauce tart-sour lifty perk. Buttered almonds that calmed all of that down with a huggy-bear nutty finish. It's brilliant stuff.

How Was The Wine? Stupid Spain. You're lovely. And you feel and taste like Home. Fruit remained in the background with this drinking, offering only a roundness and occasional cherry punch. This one was all about the sweet spice, vanilla, cedar, tobacco and Spanish air that makes good, old-style Rioja so great. We took one drink and we were back in Villabuena de Álava.

And The Pairing? This stew is right in our wheelhouse for the wine we like, but the barberries can be tricky. A graceful red with sneaky guts is needed. This one was just that. We loved it.

Cost: $15 for food,  $33 for wine = $48    

Wednesday: Chiarello Chicken Tacos and Jicama Slaw with Argus Cidery Tepache Pineapple Wine

Food Details: Michael Chiarello chicken taco recipe. Basic. Chicken thigh meat slowly simmered in onions, garlic, serranos, both paprikas, cumin, and oregano. Jicama slaw made with herbs, mayo and sour cream. Lime to spritz. Hot sauce to douse. As basic and minimalist as great tacos get.

Did We Like It? After having these, this quickly jumped right to the top of our "I want tacos that are easy and cheap, but delicious" list. We have mostly everything to make these tacos on hand at all times. The juice alone I'd drink. Loved it.

How Was The Wine? Pineapple wine made in Texas. We're fans, ever since having it at Minero in Charleston. Spicy grilled pineapple in a bottle. Frothy, almost beer-like but never all the way there. It demands you to pay attention to it in the best way.

And The Pairing? Here's a meal that settles things. No much futzing about with various fancy sangrias with tacos for us. Chill and drink this. It's everything you want-need from a taco-pairing beverage.

Cost: $16 for food, $16 for wine = $32

Tuesday: Ottolenghi Tuna and Blood Orange-Black Olive Salad with NV Philippe Glavier Rose Idylle Celeste Champagne

Food Details: (tuna recipe) Half-pound of Whole Foods tuna oiled, seasoned, seared, chilled, coated in mustard and ground pistachios and blood orange zest, chilled, sliced. Charred fennel and shallots, blood orange supremes, nicoise olives, raw mustard greens. pink peppercorns, fennel fronds and pistachio oil on top.

Did We Like It? We have a bit of a thing for blood oranges and black olives with rare tuna. Typically, Mrs. Ney studs it heavily with various shades of peppercorns, cardamom and ginger. This meal was a switch-up, looking to Mr. Ottolenghi for a different tuna prep. We liked it muchly, digging the mustard and pistachio goodness that got deep into the tuna. But it wasn't the superlative love we find from white-pink-black peppercorns, coriander, cumin, cardamom, ginger and fleur de sel. Nice change of pace, though. This meal had everything anybody would ever want from "Flavor."

How Was The Wine? Roasted carrots and curried-up watermelon rind. You read that right. That was the biggest, most clear impression we got from it. For $50, meh.

And The Pairing? Didn't love it, didn't hate it. Like stadium popcorn, "It's neutral!"

Cost: $22 for food, $50 for wine = $72  

Monday: Anne Burrell Chicken Milanese with 2014 Matthiasson Tendu White California 

Food Details: Recipe here. Make it, eat it, and you'll make it 200 more times throughout the course of your life. It's that good.

Did We Like It? Top-third of all the Anne Burrell Milaneses we've had. Not the best, but a very strong version. This meal just has that extra something that makes you say, "THAT's perfectly balanced food!"

How Was The Wine? We haven't loved the 2014 version of the Tendu White, feeling that the chardonnay toned down the spritely bounce that the 2013 offered. Mr. Matthiasson said the vermentino - which is the vast majority of the three-grape makeup here, along with French colombard - didn't have the requisite acidity to go 100% vermentino in 2014. But this drinking was adequate. While still not getting as much distinction as the 2013 had, nice acid-vague fruit back-and-forth to be happy enough.

And The Pairing? Fine. Frankly better than I expected.

Cost: $12 for food, $30 for wine = $42

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