Thursday, May 26, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #46

Two New Yorker stories this week:

* 'The Big Uneasy,' on the new political activism at Oberlin College, offers many nuggets that will made you say, "Eeeeeasy, stomach." The $8.20 "activist" wage, though, was the one that got me thinking. Why 20 cents? I'm infinitely curious about the math.

* 'The Bank Robber,' an account of Hervé Falciani, a computer tech guy at H.S.B.C. in Switzerland finds a loophole in the bank's firewalls and steals the names, account numbers and balances of thousands of people using the bank to evade taxes in their home countries. Then the intrigue starts.

A Bigger Splash has its moments, has the setup, has the setting, has the acting chops and has a skeletal arc that seemingly should work. It doesn't. I found it rather lifeless, even borderline tedious in its execution and flow.

Total food and wine cost for the week: $81 for food and $114 for wine = $195

Sunday: Broiled Feta and Garbanzo-Corn-Avocado Salad with 2014 Bokisch Albariño Terra Alta Vineyard Lodi

Food Details: Broiled feta, topped with pistachio oil, olive oil and parsley. Veggie explosion salad of fresh garbanzos, raw corn, avocado, charred scallions, fresno pepper, roasted garlic, cilantro and mint. Baguette.

Did We Like It? Jesus! Yes! Vegetable explosion, indeed! We used to do a version of this salad (with fresh fava) a lot a few years ago. Good to have you back, old friend. You're all sorts of freshy-fresh. And broiled feta is broiled feta. Who doesn't want that? A Great meal, our first Sunday Dinner with our schedules switches. We could get used to this.

How Was The Wine? Mrs. Ney joined the Bokisch wine club this year, receiving a mixed case of Spanish-based wines a few weeks ago. This is our first dive into that shipment. And if this is any indication of what she received, we'll be quite happy with the purchase and membership. Like Palmina, Bokisch likes food-friendly wines, so we like them. This albariño, from the Terra Alta vineyard and aged six months in stainless steel (as opposed to the Las Cerezas Albariño that utilizes 50% neutral French oak), offers a bevy of fruit layers, revealing themselves slowly, casually and cleanly, and finishing with a tart-acid pucker and perk. Long, delicious. And it's delicious in every sense, better than most cheaper Spanish albariños out there. Big fans, and only around $15 with club discount. A case of just this might be in the offing.

And The Pairing? LOVED the broiled feta and was friendly enough with the salad. Mostly we loved this food - beautiful as it gets - and loved finding out that we loved this wine.

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

Saturday: Smoked Trout, Salami, Herbed-up Cream Cheese, Arugula and Bagels with 2014 Orballo Albariño Rías Baixas

Food Details: Trader Joe's smoked trout and Calabrese salami; cream cheese made with charred onion, parsley, pickled serranos, lemon thyme, celery seed and sherry vinegar; arugula dressed with sherry vinegar and olive oil; toasted bagels. Rip, top, eat.

Did We Like It? Lovely back and forth, alternating between a trout bite and a salami bite. It's a pick-n-choose riff on salmon and bagels.

How Was The Wine? All class. We've gone cheap lately on wine, and having this house classic, with all its acid-and minerals driven sparkle and shine, made for a lovely dinner, and a reminder what Good wine brings.

And The Pairing? Most of its goodness came in having a wine of this quality at the table with food that brought a flurry of flavors. Nice pairing, though the sherry and trout together with a sip of wine was stellar.

Cost: $13 for food, $19 for wine = $32

Friday: Shortcut Pipian with 2015 90+ Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Lot 2

Food Details: From Rick Bayless and his Mexican Everyday cookbook, page 235, substituting chicken breasts for salmon. It's short-cut pepita chicken. Instead of roasting and blending pumpkin seeds and making your own salsa, Mr. Bayless takes store-bought tomatillo salsa, chicken broth and tahini to create a short-cut, nutty-green, rich sauce to pair with chicken and rice. So Mrs. Ney did that, over coriander rice with peas and cilantro.

Did We Like It? Big Bowl of Shortcut Goodness. Mrs. Ney tweaked her work schedule after years of the exact same go-in, get-off (giggity). Going in later means getting off later, and that's led to some unintended annoyances. Like getting off at 3pm and immediately diving in to making dinner. No couch time, no TPIR, no decompression. Shortcut is best with that. And this shortcut is a good one, approximating pepita chicken quite well.

How Was The Wine? It's just cheap New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Nothing special. Crisp, clean, with tropical notes and a bit of depth. Still has that New Zealandness that isn't loved in our house by and large. But...

And The Pairing? I Loved It! I could have this meal and wine next week and not love it at all. Time and place kind of thing, I'm thinking. First hot and humid days in Chicago and the wine refreshment of zippy tropical fruits, maybe. A fine, more subdued, darker in tone shine to the tropical notes showed up in the wine with the food, and it took its time to unravel and unwind in such a pleasing way. Big fan.

Cost: $9 for food,  $9 for wine = $18            

Thursday: Vietnamese Lemongrass Beef and Noodle Salad with Leftover Wine

Food Details: NYT Cooking recipe. Made as is, except swapping out skirt for flank. Flat Asian rice noodles, beef, daikon, scallions, cucumber, carrots, fish sauce-based sauce (garlic, ginger, Fresno, lime, etc.), cilantro, mint, basil... All the goods.

Did We Like It? Firmly planted into the weekday food rotation! It has everything and anything everyone and anyone would need and want and love. Two things: this salad doesn't need any beef more than $6/lb. Good, quality cheap beef from a good place is sufficient, and the flat Asian noodles got in the way a bit, particularly after a few hours (when I ate it after work) and the next day for lunch. True, thin vermicelli is probably the play. Otherwise...crap. This is Great. Oh, and cut the sugar in half at least. Needs a little. Not four tablespoons.

How Was The Wine? Leftover fridge wine for both of us. The intended and intentional wine choice, a bottle of Charles & Charles Riesling was a non-starter with the food. Mrs. Ney had a can of Lila Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough. I finished up the Lima Loureiro and the Chilean Rosé. The Lila was acceptable. The Lima, same, with a veggie bite. And the rosé was slappy-happy-pappy with a beef bite. Just the tops.

And The Pairing? The rosé was the biggest surprise. With the fish sauce, lime, Fresno and everything else in the food that seemingly shouldn't excel with a cab-syrah rosé from Chile, the opposite occurred. Delicious bright dirt and shocking length with a mouth-watering finish. Who knew? Crazy stuff.

Cost: $18 for food, $3 for wine = $21    

Wednesday: Chicken Salad, Arugula and Mini-Ciabatta with 2014 João Portugal Ramos "Lima" Loureiro Vinho Verde

Food Details: Leftover yakitori chicken from Monday turned into chicken salad, with Solmonov pickled cauliflower-vegetables, cilantro and mayo. Dressed arugula. Mini-ciabatta buns. Rip, top, eat.

Did We Like It? Nice, fine, good. Light, used stuff up, satisfied.

How Was The Wine? Lightly fruity, lightly floral, lightly acidic. It's $8 loureiro.

And The Pairing? Meh. I started with a can of Lila Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand. WOW! That Was Awful with this food.

Cost: $5 for food, $8 for wine = $13

Tuesday: Au Cheval

Food Details: Single for her, double for me. Two orders of fries and two root beers.

Did We Like It? It's a fine-ass burger, one of the best in the city. After years of people telling me "You HAVE to go to Au Cheval," we finally went. Best in Chicago/Best in the Country? We disagree. But a fine-ass burger, indeed.

Cost: $0

Monday: Yakitori Chicken, Green Garlic, Cucumber Salad and Grilled Miso Corn on the Cob with Bollinger Champagne and Trader Joe's Brut North Coast

Food Details: Saveur yakitori sauce, made with duck and rabbit bones. Yakitori slathered on spatchcocked chicken cooked under bricks (Bittman) in the cast-iron, split in half, one for each of us. Green garlic stalks charred under bricks in empty cast-iron. Grilled in-husk corn slathered with white miso butter and sprinkled with togarashi. Smashed cucumber, Fresno pepper and mint salad on the side (mashup of Nancy Singleton Hachisu and Fiona Beckett). Basil sprinkled around. More yakitori on the side for dipping.

Did We Like It? Oddly, we cared less about the chicken than everything else on plate, because everything else was delicious, though the duck-rabbit bone yakitori offered serious funk and gamey undertones. A Japanese-ish feast. White miso butter and togaroshi on grilled corn will be had a few more times this summer, I'm thinkin'. Deeply flavored and refreshing cucumber salad. All in all, a joyful and scrumptious array of flavors flying everywhere.

How Was The Wine? Bollinger is Bollinger. Elegance, length, shine. It's the best under-$50 Champagne in our book. And it was happy here. But the Trader Joe's sparkling, serving as a second bottle because we knew we'd blow through the bottle of Bollinger toute-suite, was the winner of the night with the food.

And The Pairing? The Bollinger was ever-so-slightly clipped by the food. A teeny-tiny bit of its shine and glow was dimmed. Then the TJ's Brut entered the playing field and, in one of the bigger pairing shocks in a long time, we got bubbles that brought an insane level of mouth-watering length and integration into the food. It was like this $10 wine was specifically made for this meal and this meal alone, particularly with the miso-togaroshi corn. This wine has NEVER been like this. Not even close. There was a lot of gasping.

Cost: $20 for food, $60 for wine = $80  

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