Thursday, January 7, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #26

Mrs. Ney is sick. So we kept it simple this week. And cheaper.

Sicario = Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation > Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I say that because it's true. The second half of Star Wars is a freakin' mess. I wanted to loop the Benny Hill soundtrack over every move the First Order made. And I understand the use of nostalgia here, but laying it on a lil thick, don't ya think?

I'm not saying Sicario or MI are great films, but at least they took the time and care to give a coherent storyline and had an attention to detail.

*** Half-Year (26 week) Summary: $3542 for food, $4065 for wine = $7607 ***

Total food and wine cost for the week: $111 for food and $82 for wine = $193

Sunday: Charred Onions and Yogurt with 2014 Terrasse du Moulinas Blanc Elégance Languedoc-Roussillon

Food Details: Shallots/onions, charred, dressed with sumac-y vinaigrette with bits of perserved lemon. Big slather of labneh on the plate, shallots/onions 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? Have since the first time we had it, this time going meatless, something that's been happening with more frequency because this meal doesn't need meat in the least.

How Was The Wine? Another love since the first time we had it. Grenache blanc, vermentino, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc. One liter, $10, Whole Foods. This is the best it's shown. Barely any fruit, more of a whiff of an nearby orchard mixed with European country well water. Terrific, graceful cut and bite. Three-act play that tasted like a house wine at some great little restaurant on a European vacation.

And The Pairing? There's technical pairing perfection that can feel a little clinical in its analysis. But there's another level where the food and wine together taste like some part of your history, something down deep that hits you just right and reminds you of vague happy/peaceful moments. This had that, in all its puke-inducing, schmaltzy-ness.

Cost: $10 for food, $10 for wine = $20

Saturday: Sopa Seca with 2011 Trader Joe's Syrah Paso Robles

Food Details: (From Cook's Illustrated's Cover and Bake, page 49-50). Thin spaghetti, black beans, onion, garlic, cumin, tomatoes, chipotle, chicken broth, Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro and sour cream.

Did We Like It? More nostalgic food. It's been years since we had this. STILL GOOD!

How Was The Wine? A wine that's been in the fridge for a month (Preserva disk)! Surprisingly full, flavorful and complete. Thicker, but not unpleasantly. Nice black fruits, smooth finish; a wine completely salvaged from being dumped.

And The Pairing? Happy. It's sopa seca. You're not going to find pairing magic here. Hope for happy, be thankful when you find it. Like here.

Cost: $5 for food, $10 for wine = $15

Friday: Savory Potato Tart with 2011 Kuentz-Bas Alsace Blanc

Food Details: (NYT Cooking recipe) Thinly sliced potatoes mixed with leeks, crème fraiche, garlic, thyme, nutmeg, s & p. Placed in a pie crust, topped with more crust like a pie. Baked. Herb salad on the side.

Did We Like It? I say this every time we have it, which it often, because it's perfect food: easy French bistro food at its best. We need no more than this most nights.

How Was The Wine? Kermit Lynch import (60% sylvaner, 20% auxerrois, 20% muscat). This bottle's been sitting around for a bit, needing to be drunk. Herbs and dryness from the sylvaner, dried honey from the auxerrois, touch of peach buried down low from the muscat. Some gray hairs showing here in the form of walking into a slightly musty basement, but a fruity acid that was still present. Light-bodied, pleasant bounce.

And The Pairing? Nice. I used fennel vinegar on the salad and the wine became a fully-formed, food-friendly, lovely drinker.

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

Thursday: Spanishy Sausage-Artichoke-Kale-Polenta with 2014 Rosa dell'Olmo Gavi Piedmont

Food Details: (Martha Stewart recipe) Very simple plate o' food consisting of sausage, kale, artichokes, onions, rosemary and crisped up polenta cakes, with the addition of paprika to Spanishify it.

Did We Like It? This aged well. I look back on it with food fondness, having that "Here's a bunch a stuff you like. Eat it." And cost $5.

How Was The Wine? Trader Joe's Gavi done well. Dry, crisp, lightly floral, peaches, medium-bodied. A dryness resembling the air of a freshly cut 2x4.

And The Pairing? Fine enough. No comments.

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

Wednesday: Hema's Kitchen with 2013 Crios Torrontés Mendoza and NV Trader Joe's Brut North Coast

Food Details: Carryout of chicken vindaloo, ghosh rogan josh, veggie samosa and three types of naan. Forgot to get raita. Idiot.

Did We Like It? Hema's, when I first had it about 7-8 years ago, was an Indian food revelation. Just loved the poop out of it. It's been less great in recent years, missing on going deep and fresh with about 40,000 different flavors jumping everywhere like it used to. Feels like they're made ahead and reheated. More of a taste memory now than true-blue food wonder.

How Was The Wine/Pairing? When we ate Hema's a lot in the past, Crios and some Trader Joe's sparkling (Albero) was the only play, because they fulfilled everything you'd need with this food. Bubbles for lift and the creation of gaps, flowers in the Crios for 'The Pretty.' Echoes of that here, but we gave up on the Crios rather quick and downed the bubbles.

Cost: $50 for food, $24 for wine = $74  

Tuesday: Smoked Trout and Salami Pasta Salad with 2014 Cuvée Azan Picpoul de Pinet Languedoc and 2014 Berger Grüner Veltliner Kremstal

Food Details: From The New Basics Cookbook; One If By Land Pasta (page 143). This pasta salad tastes EXACTLY like 2004, as this was a fairly frequent dinner right after we moved to Chicago (mainly because Mrs. Ney could find the cervelat sausage/salami in Chicago that the recipe called for). Fusilli pasta mixed with smoked trout, spicy salami, shishito peppers, onion, dill, parsley, salt, pepper, crème fraiche, olive oil and white wine vinegar.

Did We Like It? Old School pasta salad from an Old School cookbook that never gets old.

How Was The Wine/Pairing? Our last bottle of the picpoul, which is sad. It's a favorite. Nothing special here with both wines and their pairing goodness. The leftover grüner from earlier in the week won out, but both didn't offer much.

Cost: $13 for food, $8 for wine = $21

Monday: Lamb Sausages, Fried Cauliflower and Arugula Salad with NV Trader Joe's Brut Rosé Sonoma County

Food Details: Fried cauliflower (Solomonov recipe), Paulina lamb sausages, herbed labneh for dipping and dragging, and arugula salad with pomegranate seeds to finish.

Did We Like It? Interesting one-off with the cauliflower. Don't see us making it again, because this cauliflower is better. Texture here was fine, but it misses on going deeper than merely "here is fried cauliflower." Good lamb sausages, nice to have the yogurt here, as the cauliflower needed it. A fine and good dinner.

How Was The Wine? Sick Mrs. Ney so we kept it cheap. Solid $10 Trader Joe's sparkler, a pinot noir and pinot meunier blend, so Blanc de Noirs done in the Champagne method from Sonoma County. Less fruit, more dry frame with a bit of funk.

And The Pairing? Nice swirl of bright cherry on occasion, but very rare. This food needed a fuller fruit expression to the wine to offer more to the food and it didn't have it here. There's not enough second or tertiary flavors to these bubbles to take this pairing to a broader, fuller place without more fruit showing up to the party.

Cost: $18 for food, $10 for wine = $28

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