Thursday, March 17, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #36

I didn't love Carol, unlike the rest of the planet. Felt underdeveloped with respect to exactly why Carol and Therese are attracted to each other, outside of the physical, which is fine to build upon, but a bone or two thrown my way on the emotional angle would have helped.

Beautifully filmed, fantastic use of score, visually sumptuous, great performances. Blanchett and Mara are two of the best working today. It simply felt initially unformed, and the rest of the castle was built on that.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $96 for food and $130 for wine = $226

Total food and wine cost for the month: $431 for food and $519 for wine = $950

Sunday: Green Chorizo-Zucchini Goop with 2014 Alloy Wine Works Grenache Rosé Central Coast

Food Details: Based on a recipe from Mexican, by Jane Milton (page 186), with the addition of green chorizo, from Melissa Clark in NYT Cooking. Cook your chorizo. Remove from pan, and then brown two sliced onions. Add garlic and four [previously salted and rinsed] sliced-into-sticks zucchini, sautée some more. Add half-pint of halved cherry tomatoes and sliced pickled serranos; sauté briefly. Dump in chorizo, warm through. Turn off burner, add half a block of cubed cream cheese to melt in residual heat. Fresh oregano, dill and parmesan. Pugliese bread to top with zucchini goop.

Did We Like It? Bready, porky, touch spicy, vegetabley, happy as all-get out. This version brought the heat.

How Was The Wine? Fading. Still perky-sunny, but the distinctive, round, bouncy guava-strawberry fruit is fading into rather flat generic fruit.

And The Pairing? The acid still present in the wine saved it from being a pairing dud.

Cost: $9 for food, $14 for wine = $23

Saturday: Ottolenghi Chicken Salad with 2014 João Portugal Ramos "Lima" Loureiro Vinho Verde

Food Details: Mr. Ottolenghi's take on chicken caesar salad, which tastes vaguely like caesar salad, but with the signature Ottolenghi "crap! this man can cook!" spin. Yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Half for marinade on the chicken, other half for dressing. Easy-peasy. Chicken seared, then ovened. Salad of romaine (sub for radicchio - too tired to run to WF), arugula and tons of basil. Charred onions (added to the recipe). Chicken. Green Peppercorns. Pecorino (instead of parmesan). Dressing. Mix. Ciabattini slathered with butter-garlic-parsley. Eat.

Did We Like It? Toss it on the food rotation pile! The great thing about Mr. Ottolenghi's recipes is that his ingredients are ingredients we always have in the house. Calling this chicken caesar salad sells it short, but the outline is there. The green peppercorns in this application tastes like a perfect funky stand-in for anchovies. The copious amount of basil brought an ideal herbal pop. Yogurt-lemon creates a bright framework without overwhelming. It's a big plate of perfect. 

How Was The Wine? We've probably had two cases or more of this wine over the years. It's started to become merely "wine" lately, but here it excelled. Juicy, lightly floral, even a bit tropical. Lovely.

And The Pairing? It LOVES this food, something the Lima hasn't of late. Bright, refreshing, delicious, cleansing... We'd do this again tomorrow. It was that good.

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

Friday: Merguez Kebabs and Kale Tabbouleh with 2014 Marqués de Cáceres Rosé Rioja

Food Details: Another Yotam Ottolenghi recipe that makes us say, "Jebus Cripes, that guy likes food the way we like food!" Merguez lamb sausages made with ground lamb, harissa, cumin, coriander, fennel, paprika, etc. Along with a stupid-delicious Melissa Clark (modified) kale tabbouleh recipe, subbing beets for tomatoes. Tahini (plus lemon juice, garlic and water) with pita.

Did We Like It? Yep. It will be put right into the food catalog and eaten, most likely, 6-8 more times this year. This is weeknight food and weekday food. Fancy food and everyday food. Frankly, if this becomes your everyday food, you're eating extraordinarily well. And isn't that the goal with food? Eat well. It makes you happier.

How Was The Wine? Probably a decade ago, we used to drink this rosé on occasion. Checking back in reminded us why we haven't in a decade. There's nothing necessarily wrong with it, just nothing necessarily gripping or compelling about it.

And The Pairing? Best with the merguez on its own, with no tahini or pita. Nondescript with everything else.

Cost: $15 for food, $8 for wine = $23    

Thursday: Red Lentil Dal and Rice with 2014 Amancay Torrontés La Rioja

Food Details: Nigella Lawson recipe from NYT. Red lentils, sweet potato, onions, ginger, garlic, chile, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cilantro, etc. Over rice.

Did We Like It? A fine dal with enough depth and guts to say, "Yes. This will work just fine, thank you very much."

How Was The Wine? A better drinking than our first one of this cheap Trader Joe's Argentinean torrontés offering. Peachy-floral, bouncy, nice.

And The Pairing? No complaints.

Cost: $5 for food, $7 for wine = $12  

Wednesday: Potato Focaccia with Petit Basque Cheese and Quince Paste with 2013 Raventos i Blanc L'Hereu Brut Reserva Conca del Riu Anoia

Food Details: Yotam Ottolenghi potato focaccia (at the bottom) with petit Basque cheese, quince paste, serrano ham and arugula salad.

Did We Like It? Weirdly wonderful focaccia that we'll be making again. Like the lightest potato pizza that never gets too potato-heavy. Easy to make, just a lot of rest-time involved. Topped with quince paste and petit Basque cheese, it went from a thrown-together dinner into something much better than that. The serrano ham was barely needed. A focaccia-quince-cheese bite repeated over and over again was enough for us. And paired with Come Dine With Me New Zealand was perfect.

How Was The Wine? We used to drink this (former) Cava a lot, but we stopped buying it after a couple of bottles didn't exactly thrill and we got into Champagne more heavily. This drinking will bring us back. 45 % macabeu-40 % xarel.lo-15 % parellada. Biodynamic. You can read about Raventos switching appellations here. Refreshing was the word of the night with this drinking, with the smallest touch of apple-lime and very happy minerality. The L'Hereu hasn't tasted like this for us before. It's lighter, shinier, more polished and direct in the best sense.

And The Pairing? Tasted like a Spanish picnic.

Cost: $20 for food, $20 for wine = $40      

Tuesday: Anne Burrell Chicken Milanese with 2013 Jackys Preys Cuvée de Fié Gris Touraine

Food Details: Home Food eaten dozens of times. Anne Burrell recipe: read it, make it, know it, love it. Breaded chicken breasts, pan-fried. Hazelnut-parsley-pecorino blend. Pickled onions. Arugula salad. A piece of fried breast, bit of nut blend, some pickled onions - eat.

Did We Like It? Al. Ways. And this was a very good version. We love it every time we have it. Felt like it had been too long since the last time.

How Was The Wine? Fié gris grape. Natural wine. Loire. Our third bottle and it's been natural-different every time. That's a good thing everyone, if you're inclined to get into such things. This time, a burnt-out candlewick note, mostly, with a wee touch of Asian fruit and white flowers. And a frothy impression that seemed like it was going to get into beer territory but never did. Wild is the word, and we loved it.

And The Pairing? Nothing wrong with that. Best when the wine was cooler.

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

Monday: Hanger Steak, Blue Cheese and Potato Pancakes with 2012 Arnot-Roberts Syrah North Coast and 2010 Abacela Tinta Amarela Umpqua

Food Details: Hanger steak marinated in Chinese black bean and brandy marinade, seared medium-rare. Trader Joe's potato pancakes for starch. Rogue Creamery Caveman Blue Cheese. Haricots verts seared in cast iron with soy and balsamic spritz.

Did We Like It? Delicious marinade, delicious beef. Rogue blue cheese in any form is so gosh-darn good. With a bite of beef with blue cheese and a lil bit of potato pancake...that's all we need in life. Very happy meal.

How Was The Wine? Two wines that were put in the fridge with Preserva disks over the last week or so. Gotta drink up 'em up and this meal seemed a good time to save on bit of wine dollars since they were already a sunk cost. The tinta amarela came off like before - a touch flat and lacking in depth. The Arnot-Roberts, though, turned into a cool climate syrah with personality, with cooling fruit frame backed by a touch of VERY black olive and a bit of thyme. Had a nice pep to its step.

And The Pairing? There wasn't any point during the meal where we thought about opening something fresh/fancier because the food warranted it. That's how well these fridge wines performed with the meal. The syrah was the overall winner on the night, but the tinta amarela loved the green beans. Good start to the weekend.

Cost: $30 for food, $55 for wine = $85

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