Wednesday, March 9, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #35

Here's a thought: 

For all the people consuming each primary result like it's an indication of a sea change in American thought, consider this: In 2008 at this time, like the Republicans now, we were talking about a possible 'stalemate, vituperation and disillusionment' at the Democratic Convention and hadn't even heard of Sarah Palin yet. In 2012, we were still talking about Rick Santorum.

It's a long slog. To put how long in perspective, and for all you people who complain about the length of a certain sports season, we have an entire baseball year to play before anybody even votes in the general election. 

So take a breath.

Just a thought.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $94 for food and $116 for wine = $210

Sunday: Asian Pork, Peppers and Snow Peas with 2014 Selbach Incline Riesling Mosel

Food Details: Freezer BBQ pork from banh mi, stir-fried red peppers and snow peas, scallions and cilantro over rice.

Did We Like It? A big bowl of Asian goodness. Clean, ample, deep and satisfying. Big winner and a big surprise.

How Was The Wine? Selbach's entry-level riesling. Perky, fruity, light sugar mixing with minerality, refreshing. A fine example of riesling on the cheap.

And The Pairing? The hoisin, fish sauce and hot sauce in the pork wants a touch of sugar. Then you get the Asian-riesling "aaaah" and "yes!" So...happy.

Cost: $5 for food, $12 for wine = $17 

Saturday: Ham-Asparagus Naan Pizzas with 2014 La Granja Blanco Rioja

Food Details: Naan with [cream cheese, feta, roasted red pepper spread], charred asparagus, onion, ham, with arugula with walnut oil.

Did We Like It? Naan pizzas. They're what's for dinner. We love 'em. Topped with arugula and it's a bite of that has everything you'd want.

How Was The Wine? $5 Trader Joe's verdejo-viura blend. Big tropical fruit notes this time, with a fine snappy finish.

And The Pairing? Not great, not even really acceptable. But something about it tasted like some thrown-together meal we've had in our hotel room in Spain. So we didn't mind.

Cost: $9 for food, $5 for wine = $14

Friday: Lamb Pan Bagnat with 2015 Espiral Vinho Verde Rosé

Food Details: (Bittman recipe) Leftover slow-roasted lamb from Tuesday, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, kumatoes, olives, basil on ciabatta; smushed. Olive oil chips.

Did We Like It? Southern French smushed sandwich! It's becoming a fav. This iteration had that extra something, with the lamb and artichokes mixing into a taste that was almost...Turkish (?). Pretty great stuff.

How Was The Wine? Just released new vintage of the Espiral rosé. And it tastes exactly like Mateus. Mateus isn't...the best.

And The Pairing? Meh.

Cost: $12 for food, $5 for wine = $17    

Thursday: Persian Chicken Stew with 2011 Georges Descombes Morgon 

Food Details: (Sifton recipe) Fesenjan, or Iranian chicken stew, using several more onions and 50% less pomegranate molasses, over white rice with cumin and orange zest. Pomegranate seeds on top.

Did We Like It? The result was a nutty, goopy chicken stew with a molasses depth, but a brightness that kept everything light. Tart, sweet, dark, bright; typical Iranian goodness, at least as we're starting to understand. Happy food that will be put into the weekday rotation.

How Was The Wine? Put into the fridge with a Preserva disk after Tuesday's pairing failure with slow-roasted lamb, this drinking was much more delightful, with a sort of undersweetened mulberry-cherry pie filling note backed by a lil bit of thyme. Light, easy, nice.

And The Pairing? Firmly in the camp of nice. Nuts and chicken with Beaujolais. Nothing wrong with that.

Cost: $7 for food, $21 for wine = $28      

Wednesday: Ottolenghi Fish-Coconut-Peanut with 2013 Darting Durkheimer Hochbenn Muskateller Kabinett Trocken

Food Details: Ottolenghi's mackerel/coconut/peanut recipe (a little down the page), substituting smoked milkfish for mackerel, with steamed mustard greens, soba noodles dressed with sesame oil. Nearly every Asian flavor in the book: Coconut, peanut, (manzano) peppers, fish sauce (tripled), mirin, rice vinegar, ginger, cilantro, lime, mint, everything. First had here. After that eating, we knew we'd be eating it once or twice a year until we die.

Did We Like It? I believe it's what's called a Nutritionally Complete meal! Each bite subtly different; each bite meaty, substantial, clean, deep, springy, popping and delicious. It's statement food. It's Armani worn well. And Andy's Fruit Ranch Filipino milkfish makes for a cheaper, delicious substitute for whitefish/mackerel.

How Was The Wine? Don't mess with a good thing. This meal wants Darting's muskateller. It's peachy-limey, almost paper dry, direct, focused, round, and tastes like a cool breeze.

And the Pairing? The first time we had this, it was the best pairing we'd had in a long time. Very similar love here. And we've had this pairing with the food enough to make it feel as nostalgic, wanted and enjoyed as grandma's cooking. Perfect.

Cost: $14 for food, $18 for wine = $32          

Tuesday: Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Fennel, Blood Oranges, Olives and Anchovies with 2011 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre Rouge

Food Details: This slow roast is really an amalgam of about seven different recipes based mostly on Nrs. Ney's slow-roasted goat over the years. Lamb leg slow-roasted with fennel, blood oranges, oil-cured olives, anchovies and herbes de provence. Broiled tomatoes on the vine. Potatoes in a mustardy vinaigrette with tarragon. Mâche salad to finish. 

Did We Like It? We love lamb. It's been awhile since we had lamb. That distance from the last lamb we had doesn't influence my next statement, due to some 'distance makes the heart grow fonder' kind of thing. This is my favorite lamb going forward. It's benchmark lamb. Bring up lamb and I will point you to this lamb. Because it took lamb's funk and upped the funkiness in the most wildly funky sense. It tasted like an OLD recipe; proven, loved and eaten monthly by some group of migrated Uzbek people in the French-Swiss Alps or Andorra or something. We loved every part of this.

How Was The Wine? took us opening three bottles to get to a wine that approached acceptable with the crazy goodness of this food. A 2011 Georges DesCombes Morgon came off sappy, hollow and flat with the food. A 2012 Arnot-Roberts Syrah tastes merely like grape juice with a bite (shame - pretty nose). But the Reverdy pinot noir from Sancerre brought enough layers, transitions and something approaching an actual pairing dimension absent from the other two for us to be satisfied enough. Nice cherry, smoke and raw spice.

And The Pairing? We were just happy to find something with the Reverdy after opening $60 of wine that was useless with the food. Those two with show up later this week with some meal. Overall, with the Reverdy, a nice pairing. It was just one we wouldn't have chosen, tasting more like a pairing someone else loves. Pleasing. We get why they like it. We just wouldn't have chosen it.

Cost: $32 for food, $25 for wine = $57              

Monday: Jacques Pépin Brandade, Crostini, Shishito and Salad with 2014 Day Wines Malvasia 'Mamacita' Applegate Valley

Food Details: Jacques Pépin recipe (celery root instead of potato, almond milk instead of dairy, pecorino instead of parmesan), with grilled baguette. Charred shishito peppers and arugula-dill-celery leaf salad.

Did We Like It? Yes. The brandade got a lil mousse-y but still maintained all of its loveliness. Three things here: the celery leaves in the salad, taken from the top of the celery root and looked beautiful, were so goshdarn good. So was the bread. That sounds silly but there's something about perfectly grilled bread. And shishito peppers are always welcome. And then there's light, pillowy, tasty brandade. It's fish in spreadable form. Who doesn't want that?

How Was The Wine? We say "I could drink that by the bucket" a lot. And that applies here. Pet-nat sparkling malvasia from Oregon. Mrs. Ney saw that and rightfully said, "Yes. Always. Now." Big mouthfeel of orchard fruit skin to start, transitioning to a sunny, white flowered, yeasty core, and finishing with a refreshing, lemony acid and perk. People on the interwebs have called it beer-like or cidery...maybe just a little bit, much less from the initial impression compared to the final, overall picture. It's picnic wine at its finest. Available at Vin Chicago and Pastoral in Andersonville. 

And The Pairing? A perfectly not-perfect pairing that was perfect. Tasted like love on the table and in the bottle and boy were they happy and relieved to be in each other's company. 

Cost: $15 for food, $30 for wine = $45    

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