Thursday, February 25, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #33

Movie reviews:

If you ask me what Spectre was about a week from now, I'll have no clue. No a one. Completely forgettable Bond installment.

But 99 Homes, Ramin Bahrani's newest, writer/director of the superlatively good Chop Shop, Man Push Cart and Goodbye Solo (and less successful At Any Price), digs in there, sets up shop and doesn't leave your head. Quite good.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $130 for food and $162 for wine = $292

Sunday: Tuna-Caper-Pistachio-Shallot Pasta with 2014 Desperada Sauvignon Blanc Fragment Santa Barbara County

Food Details: Leftover olive-oil poached tuna, pistachios, capers, serranos, charred scallions, anchovies, toasted bread crumbs, basil, mint, lemon zest on bucatini; kale salad.

Did We Like It? Big plate of happiness! A big surprise. Mrs. Ney expected it to be good as she was cooking it, just not THIS good. So breezy, leisurely, delicious, broad and deep.

How Was The Wine? Last (and first) had with fish cakes, celery root pita panzanella and chermoula, where it had a perfect back-and-forth between its grizzle and grace. This time it brought a quiet elegance and suppleness to go with its wisps of fruit and perfectly perky yet controlled acid. Fine on its own, nothing special, but wow with this food.

And The Pairing? Snuggled right up to the pasta and Mediterranean-ness of all the ingredients and turned into a perfect "expander of the flavors." Put this is front of me at some seaside restaurant at three in the afternoon after a dip in the water and I'd chew peoples' ears off about it for years. California sauvignon blanc gets a bad rap. It's taken great leaps in the last few years.

Cost: $8 for food, $22 for wine = $30      

Saturday: Smoked Chicken and Sprout Sandwiches with 2014 Terrasse du Moulinas Blanc Elégance Languedoc-Roussillon

Food Details: Paulina Market smoked chicken, clover sprouts, kumatoes, monterey jack cheese, avocado, onions, mayo on toasted baguette. Olive oil chips.

Did We Like It? Pretty damn good sandwiches, as usual. A home interpretation of a Big Mike's classic. It has everything.

How Was The Wine? Grenache blanc, vermentino, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc. One liter, $10, Whole Foods. Top-three wine of 2015 in our home in terms of price-to-enjoyment ratio. It's fading. The flavors, order, sparkle and energy is becoming jumbled and tired. Almost bought a ton more recently, so I saved money there!

And The Pairing? Did nothing for me.

Cost: $25 for food, $10 for wine = $35

Friday: Iraqi Chicken, Yogurt, Salad and Naan with 2014 Amancay Torrontés La Rioja

Food Details: Based on this Saveur recipe, it's Djaj bil-bahar il-asfar, or dry-spiced Iraqi chicken. Click on link to see the bevy of spices. 500-degree roast on the chicken. It'll chicken up everything in your house but it's entirely worth it. This meal was more stuff on top of a bread-type substance. Naan slathered with cilantro yogurt, topped with the Iraqi chicken and herb salad. Eat.

Did We Like It? We've come a long way since wine-can chicken. Now, Iraqi chicken is chicken we want. Such a beautiful, dirty, gnarly, dry spice blend on the chicken that makes you declare "This is Better chicken!"

How Was The Wine? More TJ's torrontés. Flowers, acid, fruit, cheap.

And The Pairing? Again, very acceptable. The floral notes in the wine mixing with the spices created the gap and pause you want from a pairing. Happy.

Cost: $13 for food, $7 for wine = $20

Thursday: Charred Shallots, Labneh and Pugliese Bread with 2014 Amancay Torrontés La Rioja

Food Details: The usual. Hey, vegetarians. If you complain that it's tough to cook easy veggie meals that simultaneously come off as substantial, filling and delicious, you're not trying. Here's one. Charred shallots and onions with a lemon-thyme (?) vinaigrette (based on this Melissa Clark recipe), Middle Eastern yogurt, Pugliese bread and arugula. Piece of bread, top with yogurt, shallots and salad. Eat.

Did We Like It? We'll probably eat this meal once or twice a month until we die. Satisfies every crevice of your being.

How Was The Wine? I finished the rest of the Broc Cellars grenache blanc, which wasn't...good...with this meal. Mrs. Ney had a new Trader Joe's $7 torrontés, which has just enough flowers, just enough acid, and just enough cheapness at $7 to have a place in this house with the type of food we eat.

And The Pairing? Mine, terrible. Mrs. Ney's very acceptable.

Cost: $8 for food, $7 for wine = $15

Wednesday: "Spread" with 2013 Broc Cellars Vine Starr White Central Coast and 2004 López de Heredia Blanco Gravonia Rioja

Food Details: Roasted red and cubanelle peppers, charred onions, garlic, anchovy, parsley, white balsamic, evoo. Olive-oil poached tuna (made at home) with thyme, rosemary, garlic, bay. Castelvetrano olives with lemon zest and black pepper, mâche, batard bread.

Did We Like It? It was just "spread." But it turned into such much more. Stellar peppers served as the base with nice tuna and great herb-infused oil. This was pick-n-choose bread topper, mostly. Piece of bread + peppers + tuna + mâche = eat. Vaguely Spanish, but easily could be southern French. We Loved This.

How Was The Wine? This Heredia has been in the fridge for a month (!) with a Preserva disk in it. By itself, no bueno. But with food, unbelievably, this turned into everything that makes Heredia, Heredia. Length, nutty, touch of lemon and smoked orange peel, all of it. Classy. I have no idea how. We just needed to get it out of the fridge. The Broc Vine Starr (100% grenache blanc) is lightly herbal, lightly mineral and lightly fruity, while being the perfect blend of all three, with each taking the reins at different times while the others served their supporting roles admirably. Nice acidity, as grenache blanc has/does. Clean, dry, Broc being Broc. Best wine club decision I've made.

And The Pairing? With the Heredia, this was Spanish goodness. With the Broc, this was southern French. The back-and-forth was so damn good. It took a meal that was already good and made it even wider/better. Paired with more Come Dine With Me. Great two-hour dinner.

Cost: $23 for food, $53 for wine = $76        

Tuesday: Pizza Art Café with NV Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Secco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Monovitigno Emilia-Romagna

Food Details: Greek salad to start, Diavola with arugula and Pugliese with smoked beef pizzas.

Did We Like It? Something about their Greek salad. It's loaded with freshy-freshness. We don't divert from what we like here. It's consistently good pizza. This time...something about the cheese on was better this time.

How Was The Wine? Lambrusco done well. Blackberries all over the place. Juicy, dark, smooth, twiggy forest floor, dry, tart. You taste it and it tastes like what Kermit Lynch likes.

And The Pairing? Zero complaints.

Cost: $40 for food, $28 for wine = $68    

Monday: Goat Kofta and Roasted Cauliflower with 2014 Frank Cornelissen Etna Rosato Susucaru 

Source: Goat kofta from Yotam Ottolenghi (do a book search here). Cauliflower, hazelnut, pomegranate salad based on this recipe, from NYT, and Ottolenghi's as well.

Food Details: Goat kofta made with allspice, cinnamon, etc. (similar flavors used in the salad). Roasted cauliflower-hazelnut-pomegranate salad. Celery, parsley, onions, mint, adding preserved lemon and serrano, leaving out maple syrup. Tahini and pita.

Did We Like It? "This is what all other food wants to be!" Spicy, nutty, crunchy, fresh, bright, slightly sweet, every flavor and food sensation, all put together on a plate. There is absolutely nothing missing here. You don't like this, you don't like food. It's perfect, perfectly balanced, makes your tongue go, "Wow!" It's been a few months since the last time we have this, and that gap made it taste oh-so new again.

How Was The Wine? Our first 2014 Susucaru after drinking a good amount of #5s. You stick the 2014 next to any other Susucaru vintage (this is only our third) and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Exact same expression (maybe less rosewater here) and a lovely one at that. Light, fluttering red fruits in the background with dried roses, stones, and a happy buckwheat-rye-cinnamon note. Dry, gutsy, easy, refreshing and fun.

And The Pairing? The Susucaru wants North African-Middle Eastern flavors. It has the backbone to stand up and expand with the spice while having the gaps and space to slowly and gracefully mingle with the flurry of flavors on the plate. Great pairing. Great.

Cost: $13 for food, $35 for wine = $48      

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