Sunday, April 3, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #38

We've always avoided New York because it always seemed like an enormous annoyance and hassle in terms of vacation-relaxation payoff.

Completely wrong on that.

We had a relaxing, easy, enjoyable three days in Manhattan with a bit of Brooklyn.

It's not annoying or a hassle. There's just more people. Big distinction.

More garbage, but everyone was so nice!

Total food and wine cost for the week: $664 for food and $880 for wine = $1544

Sunday: Kielbasa and Lentils with 2015 Miraval Rosé Provence

Food Details: (recipe) Green lentils cooked up with shallot, bay and white wine, fennel sweated tender-crisp, kielbasa sliced and warmed up with lentils and fennel. Fennel fronds rat-a-tat-tatted and mixed in. Warm mustard-cider vinegar-walnut oil dressing tossed with all of that. A big pile of curly endive thrown on top of ALL that. Mini-ciabatta, buttered.

Did We Like It? A big pile of "move it along" fiber! And lovely. Subtle mustard mixing with the endive, fennel and lentils brought an Alsatian-ness. Warm, huggy, happy.

How Was The Wine? The Pitt-Jolie Provence rosé that used to sell for around $35, if I recall correctly. $18 at Whole Foods. At that cheap, why not give it a try? So we did. And it's forgettable. A minimum goodness exists here, showing a distinct Provençal character at its core, with a basic red and white fruit back-and-forth, but nothing to see here. Move along.

And The Pairing? So-so. Something with more pizzaz and grizzle would have helped.

Cost: $8 for food, $18 for wine = $26

Saturday: Curried Chicken and Green Beans with 2014 Sellbach Incline Riesling Mosel

Food Details: Chicken and green beans in red curry paste and coconut milk sauce, over rice with cilantro. Spritz of lime on top.

Did We Like It? We could taste the 'can of curry paste' addition, but I found it became more than the sum of its (jarred) parts. Oddly delicious rice.

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 spritz of lime aided in providing a linkage to the riesling, along with the light heat and sugar interplay. It completed the meal and made it taste like more than 'weeknight dinner.'

Cost: $6 for food, $12 for wine = $18

Friday: Jamie Oliver Greeky Couscous with 2014 Garzon Albariño Uruguay

Food Details: (recipe subbing tuna) Whole wheat Israeli couscous, red bell pepper, peas, scallions, olives, dill, oregano. Romaine hearts as a base. As do mar oil-cured tuna. Pita. Tzatziki (half a cucumber + leftover charred onion business + yogurt, mint).

Did We Like It? Tasted like a memory. This was a version of a meal we ate regularly a few years ago, particularly right around my sequestered jury duty, as I remember it. It's a bevy of vaguely Greek flavors plus 'other stuff' that brings the happy.

How Was The Wine? We opened this for Thursday's dinner and it tasted cheap, short and boring. Into the fridge! This time, it picked up more defined fruit, length, and a delicate acidity that brought the refreshment. Happy with it. Very happy.

And The Pairing? Flavors flying everywhere and this wine picked up most of them quite well, particularly with a tuna bite. Glad it wasn't a "dump it" wine and glad that it performed well with the food. Win-win.

Cost: $15 for food, $16 for wine = $31

Thursday: Melissa Clark Charred Onions and Yogurt with 2014 Quinta do Porrais Douro Branco

Food Details: Home to Home Food. Charred onions, shallots and radishes over yogurt. 'Spicy Spinach' salad. Ancient Grains bread. Recipe here.

Did We Like It? Home to Home Food, indeed! Loved it. Always do.

How Was The Wine? I wasn't sure about this pairing. The Porrais hasn't performed well lately. I was wrong. Beautiful space and length, with life and maturity.

And The Pairing? See above. Caught everything thrown at it and turned into a less-fruity, savory, mature, thoughtful wine. Didn't think it had it in it and it did. Coming home to this meal after an extremely easy New York trip door to door...Yes, please. Always.

Cost: $10 for food, $14 for wine = $24

Wednesday: Momofuku, Keste and Prune

Momofuku Ssäm Bar: Skip it. We've had these flavors too often and everything tasted shockingly similar to each other. No punch, no pop, no broadness or surprises. Milk Bar next door, though, brought the SUGAR. So we skipped out and went to Keste Pizza.

Keste: Diavola and sorrentina with a half-bottle of gragnano. ... I like our diavola at my place of employment better. Kind of shocked by that. But a delicious sorrentina with smoked bufala and lemon slices, and the gragnano LOVED the smoked cheese.

Prune: This restaurant was basically the reason we broke down and went to New York. Her food on Mind Of A Chef seemed like Our Food. And it got pretty close. Beautiful beef rib special to start. With the char, it tasted pretty gosh-darn similar to the beef at Etxebarri, which is saying something. Radishes with butter and salt to start as well. Chicken with ham and oxtail. Skate wing Milanese with radicchio. Perfect Milanese, the chicken less so. Bottle of 2015 Idlewild, 'Flora and Fauna,' Mendocino, a nebbiolo, barbera and dolcetto blend, which was pleasant. But the best pairing of the night was a glass of 2009 Montenidoli, 'Il Templare,' Tuscany, a vernaccia, trebbiano and malvasia blend that had a lovely oxidized quality to it and was beautiful with the skate wing. Prune is a beautiful place; a sane, happy, and breezy experience that feels like the world needs more of.  

Ended the night with seeing Neal Brennan and his '3 Mics' show just a few blocks away from Prune. One of the better dinner-and-a-shows we've had.

Cost: $185 for food, $190 for wine = $375

Tuesday: Le Bernardin and Pok Pok

One of the best restaurant food days we've ever had, me thinks.

Le Bernardin: Sort of one of those restaurants we needed to visit before we die. Bacalao and octopus to start. Lobster and black bass as entrées. Billecart-Salmon Champagne to start. A bottle of 2008 Didier Dagueneau "Le Monts Damnés" Sancerre with everything else.

It lived up to what we thought Le Bernardin would be, and not necessarily because of the food, which was, of course, cooked perfectly and delicious. It was more about the precise and lovely service and beautiful room. As one would expect, it's service at the highest level, which is so damn welcome and wanted every once in awhile. We'll remember the Dagueneau's lightly sherried quality to its gooseberry/tangerine notes and confident strut. Perfect choice for this meal/restaurant, because at a place like Le Bernardin, you drink a wine like one of Dagueneau's. and it was ridiculous with the tomato water on the "bacalao" starter. A pairing we'll remember. We almost didn't go to Le Bernardin, but so glad we did. Pure class.

Pok Pok: But, I have to say, in terms of pure food pleasure and down-and-dirty, roll up your sleeves food enjoyment, Pok Pok won the day. We visited the Portland location a few years ago. Order the whole bird, whole fish, steak salad, papaya salad and sticky rice. Lay it out in front of you and go to town. Flavors galore and flavors you want. Stop by Chambers Street Wines beforehand. Buy a bottle of 2014 Falkenstein, Hofgut Niedermenniger Herrenberg Spätlese Feinherb and a bottle of 2014 St Rey (Revolution Wines) Clarksburg Sutter Ranch Pet Nat Chenin Blanc. You'll have a riesling that's like eating rocks. Not licking them, EATING them in the bestest sense. And a natural sparkling chenin blanc that has an earthy edge and frothy loveliness. You'll love the mucus out of what you just consumed.

Cost: $325 for food, $500 for wine = $825   

Monday: The Breslin

Food Details: Seafood sausage and ramp toast with a fried egg with appetizers. Lamb burger and poussin for entrées.

Did We Like It? The lamb burger is rather ridiculously great. Easily one of the best burgers we've ever had and probably the main reason Ms. Bloomfield just opened up a burger place. Everyone around us also ordered it. And the cumin aioli with the fries is stupid-great as well. A fine meal right after touchdown.

How Was The Wine? A bottle of 2014 Combe Trousseau Pet'Nat Stoplam Vineyards Ballard Canyon to start (Rajat Parr has/had a hand in it). Natural sparkling trousseau and quite nice, with enough of a backbone to allow its more delicate levels to linger. Solid with the appetizers. I'd buy it again. We were excited to try the Gotham Project tap wines, but the rosé we had was a bit too simple and overly tart. A fine enough 2013 Frederic Magnien Bourgogne Rouge to go with the lamb burger. The glaze on the poussin was a stubborn one with wine, but after a ribolla gialla failure, a fresh-floral-juicy Jean Foillard Beaujolais will be a taste I remember from here. Real presence.

Overall: Very much liked The Breslin. With restaurant food and us, it's mostly about finding a couple of great things with new wine at a reasonable price to match. So...lamb burger, check. Foulard, check. Combe, half-check. Good time. And with Chicago so segregated, it was nice being in New York where you can watch evening prayer and three Pakistani-Indian-Middle Eastern restaurants across the street from a British pub, and watching how the night unfolds.

Cost: $115 for food, $130 for wine = $245

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