Thursday, January 28, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #29

This Ted Cruz piece in Mother Jones is bananas. HI-larious!

The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer's follow-up to The Act of Killing is worth every second. It's not so much the stares and enthusiasm from the killers, it's the giggles and pat, uniform responses over regret. 

20 days until pitchers and catchers report.


Total food and wine cost for the week: $103 for food and $191 for wine = $294

Sunday: Salmon and Bagels with Two Wines with 2013 Jackys Preys Cuvée de Fié Gris Touraine and 2014 Terrasse du Moulinas Blanc Elégance Languedoc-Roussillon

Food Details: Trader Joe's smoked salmon, charred-scallion cream cheese, kumatoes and arugula. Rip, top, eat, repeat.

Did We Like It? Something about this meal on Sunday night, as my workweek ends and Mrs. Ney's comes to a close, helps reset things. It's clean, fresh, bountiful and delicious every time. The charred scallions in the cream cheese with the kumatoes made it taste a whole lot like bacon to me. Strange and welcome.

How Were The Wines And The Pairing? Both were what they always have been for us in the past, but both fell flat here with the food. VERY flat, never getting off the ground in terms of integration, cleanse or lift. Probably the charred shallots. Who knows? 

Cost: $20 for food, $21 for wine = $41   

Saturday: Rick Bayless's Tomatillo Chicken with 2014 Sauvignon Republic Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough

Food Details: From Mr. Bayless (recipe). Layered in the crock-pot: onions, potatoes, chicken, cilantro, tomatillos, pickled jalapeños and juice; salting each layer through the tomatillos. Four hours on high. Over rice with toasted coriander seeds.

Did We Like It? Always. A big dollop of sour cream here helped tone down my "free-form" dispensing of the hot juice. If we made a '50 Essential Meals' list, this would be on it.

How Was The Wine? $7 Trader Joe's New Zealand SB. Juicy tropical notes with lemongrass background and big acidity.

And The Pairing? Its perception of sweet fruit countered the spice, while the acid helped cleanse. Nice match with this food. Felt a couple ticks above a basic weeknight pairing.

Cost: $7 for food, $7 for wine = $14

Friday: Banh Mi Sandwiches

Food Details: Sifton's "vaguely Vietnamese pork tacos" for the pork turned into banh mi with the addition of lemongrass and carrot/jicama pickled salad. Ba Le baguette ($1 for two! - big bargain). Olive oil chips.

Did We Like It? Big Win! No wine.

Cost: $13 

Thursday: Hummus and Tabbouleh with 2014 La Granja Blanco Rioja

Food Details: Homemade hummus using up Monday's Solomonov tahini sauce plus two cans of chickpeas. Kale tabbouleh (Melissa Clark recipe) using fregola instead of bulgur. Pita.

Did We Like It? Perfectly simple hummus, pita and tabbouleh dinner. Had everything we'd want, plus ALL THE FIBER. That's all I'm gonna say about that. This tabbouleh is certainly 'a thing.' Loved it.

How Was The Wine? $5. White Spanish wine, a verdejo and viura blend, with crispness, dryness and creaminess; lightly floral, lightly citrusy. Tastes like vacation every time.

And The Pairing? No complaints.

Cost: $4 for food, $5 for wine = $9  

Wednesday: Jamie Oliver Indian Carrot Salad with 2014 Broc Cellars Vine Starr Zinfandel Sonoma County

Food Details: House staple. (Recipe) Crisped-up ground lamb with garam masala. Carrots and shallots dressed with lemon, ginger, cumin, Thai peppers and olive oil. Roasted cauliflower as a new addition, cuz we had to use up the cauliflower. Spinach blend mixed in with cilantro and mint. Sesame seeds on top. Naan and radish raita on the side. 

Did We Like It? A very good, spicy version of something we have often, because it had all the vitamins and tastes like Love. Roasted cauliflower was very welcome, though wasn't essential and didn't improve this already great meal. Don't make any radish raita recipe that says to sauté the radishes. Completely loses the radish effect, turning the raita from a refreshing, crisp cleanser to something quite boring. Overall, such a good meal. And the wine helped.

How Was The Wine? Gotta drink the Broc. More is coming. 12.8% alcohol on this zinfandel, with fresh red berry fruit and enough heft to identify as a zin while loving how so stupid light it is. Screams for food, and it didn't disappoint. 

And The Pairing? This food was spicy and the zinfandel, as zin does, countered that spice, opening up a great length in the wine and lovely fresh berry refreshment. Initially thought this might be a somewhat odd choice for this salad, but it worked in spades. Both of us fell in love with the wine. 

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

Tuesday: Beef Cheeks and Chickpea Purée with 2008 Sanguis Endangered Species Act 1-3 Santa Ynez Valley

Food Details: Recipe from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes In The World. Paulina beef cheeks marinated in garlic, cloves, black pepper/corns, green peppercorns, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and the TJ's barbera. Braised/roasted for 3 1/2 hours. Chickpeas skinned (creates a wonderfully smooth texture) and puréed with rosemary, stock, salt and pepper. Fried shallots on top. Parsley over everything.

Did We Like It? Curious. Yes, we liked it a lot. Both of us felt some diminishment from having this a couple of times before relatively recently. Blew our minds when we first had it. Now, it feels like something we should have every other year to maintain that "blowing of the mind." Curiously, when we first had it, the first 8-10 bites were utter enjoyment and it tapered off after that. This time, it got better as it cooled down. Fried shallots are boss. 

How Was The Wine? A surprise. We bought a fair amount of Sanguis wines after a Sanguis dinner at Blackbird a few years ago, then we sort of lost interest and they sat in the cellar neglected. This one, a syrah blend with a little viognier and roussanne in there, was essentially popped and poured after checking it an hour before. Lovely savory blueberry, black olive, some sort of cinnamon-driven spice mixture, and mint notes. Fairly concentrated but never a big fruit bomb. And remained savory throughout. Happy viognier lift at the end. A bigger wine in terms of alcohol but this maintained its happy place admirably. Shocked by how savory it was. It's drinking well right now and currently half the cost of what we bought it for (gulp).

And The Pairing? Very good, almost great. Loved the purée and shallots. Liked the beef cheeks. Mostly, we were happy to find a meal that utilized and served this wine so well. That's the goal. Always. 

Cost: $35 for food, $83 for wine = $118        

Monday: Fish Cakes and Fried Pickled Potatoes with 2009 Domaine des Baumard Clos du Papillon Savennières

Food Details: Fish cakes made with swai, three freezer scallops, eggs, pepper, coriander, ginger, cayenne, garlic, breadcrumbs, cilantro and flour, pan-fried. (from "fish balls" recipe in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, page 196). Michael Solomonov's fried pickled potatoes (recipe). Cilantro and sesame seeds on top. Harissa tahini to dip in everything.

Did We Like It? This is the best fish cake recipe we've ever had, and we've had these fairly often of late. The texture of them allows for space and enjoyment of every ingredient. The "new" in this meal were the pickled potatoes. Potatoes soaked in pickling juice; drained and patted dry, then fried. It's like having delicious fry-based food that comes off so gosh-darn light and peppy. So two fried items on the plate and not one bite tasted like a big plate of fried food. This was a great meal.

How Was The Wine? Quiet compared to other Savennières we've had, including this one from a different vintage. All the notes of Savennières chenin, but with a paced, ethereal quality, and that was frankly welcome, as we worried over whether this was going to work with the food. Light chamomile and tea,very little wax that showed up more as an impression of wax, poached apricot and pear, and a finish that was a brief summary of everything before. 

And The Pairing? At first, we weren't sure this was working as we starting eating, but as we got into it, we enjoyed the subtlety and grace it offered. Backward expression that took some getting used to, finally landing on a great deal of enjoyment. 

Cost: $10 for food, $43 for wine = $53    

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