Thursday, July 7, 2016

365 Days Of Food And Wine: Week #52

This is it, our last week chronicling every day of food and wine for an entire year.

The sheer volume of red herrings and incomplete explanations in Marcella made for a confounding consumption of a TV series.  Worth it? Marginally.

Taste of Cherry is on Hulu if you're interested in perfect filmmaking and seeing why Abbas Kiarostami's death was so mourned this week.

*** Full-Year Total: $7307 for food, $8161 for wine = $15,468 ***

*** Last Half-Year (26 week) Summary: $3765 for food, $4096 for wine = $7861 ***

Total food and wine cost for the week: $100 for food and $75 for wine = $175

Total food and wine cost for the month: $492 for food and $339 for wine = $831

Sunday: Scaccia with 2013 Cleto Chiarli "Vecchia Modena" Lambrusco di Modena

Food Details: Fitting that we end this 365 Days of Pairings with one of our new favorite things. It's pizza babka/lasagna bread (recipe). Semolina dough, San Marzano tomatoes, sharp provolone and smoked mozzarella standing in for caciocavallo, basil and garlic. Arugula salad to finish. It's layered, folded, Sicilian deliciousness.

Did We Like It? It's our new definition of Sunday Dinner. Fairly easy, fairly cheap, and the payoff is through the roof. Satisfaction to the nth degree.

How Was The Wine? An older Cleto Chiarli we found for $10. It's Lambrusco. Put a lil chill on it and you got tart red wine juice that knows what to do with Italian-type things. This one showed its age, with flavors somewhat muddled and a lack of top-notch verve, but even as it's settling in on its way to death, a lot to like. Nice cherry with a touch of tart red apple.

And The Pairing? It was $10, so no complaints. And overall, very little to carp about here with the pairing. The wine didn't cast its usual wide, frothy, tart, energetic net, but we didn't find much to dislike.

Cost: $16 for food, $10 for wine = $26  

Saturday: Salmon, Sprouts and Bagels with 2015 La Peña de España White Wine 

Food Details: Trader Joe's salmon, bagels, tarragon-dill cream cheese, kumatoes, and clover sprouts. Rip, top, eat.

Did We Like It? This is all anybody needs in life. The simplicity with this batch made it the best batch we've had of salmon and bagels. Sometimes, it's been with avocado. Though nice, it's sometimes too clumsy in the compilation of a bite and generally makes for too much "stuff." Usually, it's with arugula. Clover sprouts are better, here bringing a spiciness and a more delicate touch of greeny-ness that was rather perfect. Ripe kumatoes, perfect touch of herbs in the cream cheese, oddly very fresh bagels that had a wee bit of rye flavor to them. We loved the stink out of this.

How Was The Wine? A blend of 25% each of sauvignon blanc, muscat, verdejo and chardonnay, with a tiny wisp of Spanish air to it. It's mediocre at best, but showed its best face here.

And The Pairing? A fresh well water note popped up in this wine that previously was there the first time we had it. Wasn't resplendent, but a fine effort was being made on the part of the wine to lead to pairing satisfaction.

Cost: $25 for food, $6 for wine = $31

Friday: Uzbek Lamb Plov with 2015 Innovacíon Rosé Mendoza

Food Details: Recipe here, via Cucee Sprouts. Leftover lamb shoulder from here, chickpeas, carrots, barberries, garlic, cumin, turmeric, rice. A one-pot meal that's considered the national dish of Uzbekistan. It smells like the worst gym sock ever while it's cooking, but it's damn delicious.

Did We Like It? We love it. Something about the low-level perkiness of every flavor coming together to create a unified, elevated, delicious whole makes for an utterly satisfying dinner every time.

How Was The Wine? We loved the 2014 for its price-to-happiness ratio, then its focus faded rather quick-like towards the end of last year. Only our second 2015 of this rosé. One-liter rosé, malbec and syrah, $7.50 at Whole Foods (on sale with 6-bottle discount). Tastes like dirt and iron, backed up by dark cherry and plum. And right now, it's so gosh-darn bright and fresh.

And The Pairing? PER-FECT! Weaved right into the food, giving beautiful, shiny fruit and refreshment reminiscent of a cold glass of water after laying sod in 90-degree sun. It glowed.

Cost: $4 for food, $8 for wine = $12    

Thursday: Pork-on-Pork Pizzas with NV Ocarossa Cuvée Rosso 

Food Details: Pork rib meat from the 4th, with ham, onion and tomato sauce, on Whole Foods cornmeal pizza crusts. Fresh basil on top after baking.

Did We Like It? Porky. Plenty of pork. Pork galore. We liked them. Didn't love them, but we liked them.

How Was The Wine? 100% ciliegiolo, one of the grapes used with sangiovese in Chianti blends (among others). It's essentially another in a long line of regional, light Italian quaffers in the style of Lambrusco, broadly speaking (I can recommend wines from the Lettere DOC in Campania). This is a wine made for a little chill to be put on it before serving. Big basket of cherries covered in dirt. On the drier side, with moderate acid and softer overall, with a tiny bit of pucker at the end. For $'s an option, and a good chance to try a grape most haven't. Can't say it's better than putting a chill on a TJ's barbera from Mendocino where, for $10, you can get a more sunny disposition to its fruit and acid while finding more length, lift and depth.

And The Pairing? Fine. Can't say much more than that.

Cost: $15 for food, $6 for wine = $21    

Wednesday: Charred Onions, Yogurt, Greens and Bread with 2014 Barão de Figueira Beira Interior

Food Details: House staple, because it's Great food. Charred onions (recipe) with yogurt, sunflower sprouts, Trader Joe's lemon-herb greens blend, Ancient Grains bread. Rip, top, eat, repeat.

Did We Like It? Always. Always. Always. Usually use labneh, this time used Krino's. No diminishment of deliciousness. Nice greens, and a good break from the pounds of arugula we eat each week. Pita is fine with this meal, but Ancient Grains bread from Whole Foods is perfect.

How Was The Wine? This one was quickly dispatched to the fridge Sunday with fish cakes. Way too soft for the aggressiveness in that meal. But here, and we were initially quite skeptical, it stretched out nicely for a $9 siría from Whole Foods. Started out soft and rather ordinary, but quicked up halfway through, offering more distinctive lemon notes and finishing with the signature wooly siría broadness. For $9, here's a chance to find out if you like siría. It's delicious on the more spendy end. This one gives glimpses of what it can do.

And The Pairing? This is one of those meals where you can drink an acid-driven white sitting around the house that you don't really care about or your house white that you intimately know, because the food makes up for it. The food will always allow the wine to show its best face, as it did that here. And this pairing is growing evidence that Portuguese whites really like this food.

Cost: $12 for food, $9 for wine = $21  

Tuesday: Chicken Thighs with Clementines and Fennel with 2014 Louis Antoine Luyt Coelemu Cuvee Des Brasseurs Gordo Blanco

Food Details: Ottolenghi chicken thighs with clementines and arak (using ouzo). Essentially smothered chicken, Ottolenghi-style, with fennel, clementines, mustard, fennel seed, thyme, etc. White rice with onion on the side.

Did We Like It? Our third time having this and it was the best batch. Beautiful marriage of everything together. It's easy food that's fancy food. I'd pay $25 for this in a restaurant and I'd do it a few times a year.

How Was The Wine? Natural Chilean muscatel (great interview with Mr. Luyt on the Louis-Dressner site here). You say yes to that when you see it. You say double-yes to it when you drink it. Natural wine nose, the kind where you say, "I know what that fermentation tank smelled like!" A ton of smoked oranges and a bit of chile heat to this one, even a brooding moodiness to it. Beer-like, but only as a façade and not in its guts. Sometimes natural wine can come off as more of a beverage than wine. Not here. Its wine pedigree is intact, with just enough wildness to enjoy its weird and strange ride. Big fans.

And The Pairing? Hot damn! This wine love fennel, clementines and chicken thigh skin. Loved-loved-loved it! We'll be having this exact same pairing again, fo sho!

Cost: $13 for food, $22 for wine = $35

Monday: Fourth of July Ribs and Hushpuppies with Grilled Fruit Sangria

Food Details: Govind Armstrong ribs (The Daily Meal); a different white barbecue sauce than Armstrong's (Serious Eats); hushpuppies (Saveur); salad of cabbage dressed in Alabama white barbecue sauce and topped with Farmers' Market tomatoes, avocado and basil.

Did We Like It? I hate (mostly the concept of) ribs. The payoff in terms of deliciousness usually falls short of the utter mess they inherently tend to be. Not these. These are dry ribs with dry, savory notes everywhere, making for delicious rib meat, particularly when you drizzle on a lil bit of white barbecue sauce and top it with a basil leaf. Them's Good Eats. Basil and white barbecue sauce together are already bestest buds. Put this rib meat with it and it's Holiday Food. BIG hushpuppies that served as another Holiday joy. With those two things, this stupid freshness of the cabbage-tomato-avocado salad was a perfect counterpoint to all of it, a salad that could have almost been a (gassy) meal on its own. This is the first American-y meal we've had on July 4th in a long time. Glad we did.

How Was The Wine? Well, it was sangria actually. Grilled fruit sangria, a beverage we loved the first few times we had it and then it lost its newness/cachet for us (Chiarello recipe in F&W). This batch came off quite savory with less of a fruit punch. Batches of this sangria aren't sweet, but the level of fruit that comes through varies (used clementines, lemons and white grapes; no simple syrup). This batch came off like wine more than sangria, with fine balance and subtle tannic notes. Tasted like a blood-red sunset on a hot day. Used two bottles of Espiral rosé and Metaxa brandy, which we felt that next day. Funny what even a tiny bit of hard liquor does to us now.

And The Pairing? Fine, festive Fourth of July feast. These ribs aren't terribly bullying in flavor. They're more toned-down and graceful. The sangria liked that, and the bevy of flavors all over the plate like the sangria as well.

Cost: $15 for food, $14 for sangria = $29

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