Thursday, April 7, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #39

In about 3 1/2 months, we'll be done with this 365 experiment.

At the end, we'll do a breakdown of protein, veggies, grapes, cost, etc.

It will be laborious to compile, but I think quite interesting to see how the entire year ate-and-drank out.

And I'll have the time to do it, because my favorite baseball team, the Angels, are one Garrett Richards injury from being easily one of the worst teams in baseball.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $113 for food and $104 for wine = $217

Sunday: Spanish Hotel Picnic with 2015 Barbadillo Palomino Fino Cádiz

Food Details: Petit Basque cheese, La Quercia borsellino salami, quince paste, marcona almonds, salad, baguette.

Did We Like It? When you're in Spain and just finished a long car trip to your next city (maybe your fly-out city like Madrid), you check into your hotel, really haven't eaten outside of your last hotel's breakfast and a travel granola bar, and need to get some sort of food, any food. If you've planned well and chose a hotel near things, like a Hipercor (or Carrefour), and wander into the strange and glorious K-Mart/Mariano's hybrid that is Hipercor and buy a quick mid-afternoon snack to tide you over until your 10pm dinner reservation. So you buy a spread. Meat in salami form, some cheese, bread, some nuts, maybe some quince paste. All of it is rather cheap and you'll have a true spread of food to lay out on your hotel bed to eat, watch some weird game show on Spanish television that you can't, for the life of you, figure out the rationale or rules of, and enjoy a brief rest from traveling before taking a stroll around town. In other (and shorter) words, this meal tastes like vacation, particularly a part of our Spanish vacations that we've done many times. And you need a wine. It should be cheap and it should be something you can't taste at home. Like un-sherried palomino.

How Was The Wine? Trader Joe's palomino in not-sherry form. We love how the label says it's "fruity." Nope. This is categorically not fruity. This is dry, clean, savory as hell, light, refreshing, dry, and dry. It's a blank slate. Add food that likes it and things happen. It gets into the food and tastes like standing in a dried-up wheat field in a hot, late-summer day. And it tastes like something an old Spanish man has been drinking at the exact same time everyday for 60 years. In a world of superlatives, this is not something to call some superlative. It's a nice, quiet, evocative drink. A teeny-tiny small moment in the glass. It simply makes you smile.

And The Pairing? Tastes. Like. Vacation.

Cost: $22 for food, $6 for wine = $28  

Saturday: Rick Bayless Tomatillo Chicken with 2015 90+ 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.

Did We Like It? Always. This version was much less spicy than usual, but didn't detract from the joy that is Crock-Pot tomatillo chicken.

How Was The Wine? In our effort to replace the cheap, weekday, Trader Joe's sauvignon blanc, which hasn't been delicious or interesting for a couple of years now, we gave this one a go. Nothing revolutionary at all, but nice. Crisp, clean, bright tropical fruit with a modicum of depth that satisfied, just enough, our weekday sauvignon blanc jones. At $9, it's an option, but we're still searching.

And The Pairing? The wine had a bouncy tropical fruit bubble gum brightness by itself. That was gobbled up by the food, turning into a more subdued, pleasant quaffer that paired moderately well. Nothing great, but after a couple of wine clunkers this week, it was nice to have something that gave an effort.

Cost: $8 for food, $9 for wine = $17

Friday: Sandwich with More Leftover Wine

Food Details: Italian subby-type sandwiches filled with capicola, genoa salami, mortadella, provolone, onions, romaine, kumatoes, vinaigrette and mayo on Harvesttime Italian bread.

Did We Like It? We like sandwich so much that it's now referred to in the singular in this house. This version of sandwich had all the meaty-cheesy-goopy goods in one Italian-American sub shop-like package. Damn fine sandwich. And made A LOT!

How Was The Wine? More using up of fridge wine. Finished off the Lagar de Cervera, and the drinking further confirmed that this albariño ain't fo' us.

And The Pairing? Tasted like sadness.

Cost: $25 for food

Thursday: Puttanesca with 2014 Charles Smith VINO Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley

Food Details: Linguine puttanesca consisting of gaeta black olives, capers, briny green peppercorns, anchovies, garlic, red pepper flakes and extra virgin olive oil.

Did We Like It? A fine pasta bowl. We liked it. Yes.

How Was The Wine? Using up wine in the fridge. We love Charles Smith's pinot grigio for its zip, fruit and cheapness. But it must be fresh. This 2014 showed as other 2014s have of late - getting a little tired and lacking chisel, cut and verve.

And The Pairing? Nothing to see here. Move along.

Cost: $8 for food, $11 for wine = $19

Wednesday: Ottolenghi Three-Chile Fish and Pickled Potatoes with "Wine"

Food Details: (recipe) Mrs. Ney tried a recipe that's been sitting on the computer desktop for too long. Three-chile fish from Ottolenghi, using smoked milkfish, with a harissa-tomato sauce and tahini. Solomonov pickled potatoes to dip and dunk in harissa-tomato and tahini as well. Parsley. Arugula salad to finish.

Did We Like It? A fine one-off. Fine enough, but wouldn't have it again. Clean and light, with a sneaky depth. And I could eat tahini seven days a week.

How Was The Wine? Huge fail across the board. Finally found some level of acceptable with a bottle of Trader Joe's torrontés after opening a 2014 Lagar de Cervera Albariño Rías Baixas and found an unacceptable lack of salinity and acid for our albariño taste. Came off like a wine that would only work with the simplest of seafood prep, like octopus with the tiniest amount of lemon spritzed on top, or the simplest of oysters, which isn't how we eat. We need some guts. This one is too delicate and soft. Shame, because I've been looking forward to this one, as it's made by the La Rioja Alta people.

And The Pairing? Dud.

Cost: $15 for food, $26 for wine = $41        

Tuesday: Bittman Fish Sauce Game Hens and Scallion Pancakes with 2010 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese Mosel

Food Details: From Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World, Vietnamese cornish game hens, page 334. Lucky Peach spicy fish-sauce sauce. Crispy scallion pancakes from Serious Eats. Charred rapini.

Did We Like It? After Pok Pok, this was the meal we were most excited about, and it's probably our favorite meal right now. A piece of scallion fry bread with some ripped game hen on top and a healthy dose of fish-sauce sauce might be a perfect bite of food. You have to like salt to really dig in and LOVE it, but we do. It's a shame there are about three people in our life that would get why this is the Best Food, because it's pretty damn perfect food.

How Was The Wine? Tasted like the ripest apricot we've ever had. Lower acid, but beautifully balanced sugar with its acid. The nose alone reminded me why we need to drink more German riesling. Smells like the feeling I get when I realize I'm reading a Great book, at that exact moment about 40 pages in, when I feel how everything is coming together.

And The Pairing? About as lovely as we could expect. A higher acid riesling might have brought more electricity, but the balance here was perfect. Happy-happy-joy-joy all around.

Cost: $22 for food, $27 for wine = $49  

Monday: 'Kansas City BBQ' Sirloin and Fries with 2010 Owen Roe Ex Umbris Columbia Valley

Food Details: Meat and potatoes. Trader Joe's 'Kansas City BBQ' Sirloin steak, frozen fries with charred scallions-rosemary-garlic-balsamic mayo for dipping.

Did We Like It? We did. Sirloin ain't our thang, but Mrs. Ney bought it to have in the house for an easy dinner after our New York trip. Both of us probably wanted a burger and fries more, but this version of meat and potatoes brought enough of that to satisfy.

How Was The Wine? A mix of syrah from different Washington Vineyards around Columbia Valley, The Ex Umbris was usurped by the Marietta Cellars line of juicy, bouncy, red blends over the last 2-3 years in our world, mainly because pure syrah on the more bargain end of the cost spectrum can be oddly finicky with food. Pleasant here, with black fruits, tobacco and a moderately big black olive nose. Nice acid, more than expected. A good showing for a wine we haven't had in quite awhile.

And The Pairing? Pleasant again. Missed on a complete roundness, depth and full-blown presence, but succeeded in bringing what we want from a basic steak and fries meal with a red wine that completes said basic goodness.

Cost: $13 for food, $25 for wine = $38

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