And $65 wine inexplicably on sale at Binny's for $40 last month. (Not my pictures of the food above, but Mrs. Ney's food looked remarkably similar.)
The result was a pairing that turned into one of the newest, most gentle and best pairings in awhile, playing in the lower realms of acid play while still perfectly bringing a level of electricity that kept things bouncing all over the place. All that from a recipe Mrs. Ney didn't even want to make and a style of wine in white Rhône that both of us find rather dull.
Surprises are nice.
Food: Thomas Keller chicken thighs with fennel, lemon and olives and bacon fat crispy potato roast
Thomas Keller crispy braised chicken thighs (our food even looked like the picture in that LATimes write-up) from a recipe in Ad Hoc At Home (page 30). Some alterations. Marinated the chicken thighs in freezer garlic scape pesto from who knows when (no cheese - pine nuts or almonds in it, most likely), hence omitting the garlic from the recipe, and using a celery mostarda from the fridge in the marinade as well. Lucques French olives, added tarragon. Otherwise, the recipe was followed to a tee. Thomas Keller recipes can be fussy but the payoff is usually very much worth it. The presumed fussiness made Mrs. Ney not want to make it. $.99/pound chicken thighs at Harvesttime changed that. Anywhere else and nope! Harvesttime, sure. And the hesitation wasn't even warranted. Easy-peasy weeknight chicken dinner here. Crispy potato roast from this recipe (again, it looked like that picture). Thinly sliced potatoes done on a mandolin and jammed into a mini cast-iron skillet. Herbes de Provence instead of thyme as a base in the skillet, then potatoes, shallots shoved into the crevices, bacon fat and olive oil brushed on top with red pepper flakes. Bake off. Easy as potato pie.
Delicious stuff with a lower acid play. But Thomas Keller does that so perfectly, allowing the little acid touches (in various forms) to lift to just the right level, making the food taste Frenchy fresh. Besides Frenchy fresh, we tried to nail down what this entirely new food tasted like. I said Belgian forest because I'm an idiot and tend to say things like that with a little wine in me.
I'll just say it was delicious, brand-spankin' new in flavors and, surprisingly, nearly perfect food with a good white Rhône. That's something we'd never had - great food that begs for a white Rhône to complete said food. Don't dig 'em.
Dug this one, though.
Wine: 2010 Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Blanc La Crau Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($40 - Binny's)
Regular price = $65. This was $40 during Binny's January sale. Wine Spectator called it Vieux Télégraphe's best vintage yet for their white. $25 off? No brainer, but still wondered when the hell we'd drink it. And with what? Turned out it was this meal.
40% Clairette, 30% Grenache Blanc and 15% each of Roussanne and Bourboulenc. Notice the absence of marsanne. I think that's where our dislike of white Rhône resides. Had a few over the years and found them flatly floral, un-lifty and waxy. Blame marsanne. I do. Being so initially turned off by white Rhône led me to never really experiment and research and that's my fault. Recently had a 2011 Villa Creek white with Moroccan food at Shokrun (grenache blanc and roussanne blend) and sorta loved it. The Villa Creek was better on its own than this Vieux Télégraphe but with the food, criminy! Fancy crap here.
By itself, pears and weird almond cheese with a modicum of minerals but rather confused and little short, which is, at times, typical of French producers. They don't make wine to guzzle on its own. They make wine to drink with food. We've seen it in tons of white Burgundy, oodles of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, even some Champagne. Bet they loved this one with the idea that it would be served with food similar to this.
With this food, the wine fell in line and so generously expanded into a flowers and minerals wonder with an ideal light perk of acid and a body and length that just kept getting larger. Pretty, subtle fruit but this was about its generosity and great structure, tasting quite fancy at every step with every bite of food.
Glad we got this for $40 but we'd pay $65 for one more bottle of this, it's that good with food like this.
Pairing: New, new and new with a big side of new
$8 food (total for BOTH plates) that could be bought at any grocery store on a whim. Easy prep. Match it up with a wine like this number and you got yourself home-fancy on the cheap.
It just kept giving with the wine offering flavors and a finish that gave the food the last little bits of goodness that the food needed to take it to a place of great.
Happy surprises galore.
If you'd had told me two months ago that we'd drink two white Rhône blends that we'd love to death, I'd have said you're crazy pants. Consider me checked.
Two meals for record-keeping purposes:
*** Super Bowl meal of pork carnitas tacos. Carnita'd pork (recipe here), pickled onions with mustard seeds, Brussels sprouts slaw, guacamole, tomatillo salsa, cilantro crema, hot sauce and corn tortillas. Served with Cava sangria. Damn good tacos that fell in the upper half of our home taco world (fish tacos with purple corn sangria is the undisputed champ). Cava sangria that also fell in the upper half of our home sangria world. By not using the cilantro crema, more delicious pork flavor mixing with the tomatillo goodness came through. Liked this muchly with small sprinkles of love.
*** Lunch of City Provisions chicken liver paté, white bean and rosemary dip, baguette and figs stuffed with sheep's cheese and walnuts. Served with NV André & Mireille Tissot Crémant du Jura Indigène ($22 - Binny's). RIP City Provisions. Good people, strange location. Satisfying food here with wine the same. If the label says Crémant, at its most basic, it just means it's sparkling French wine not made in Champagne (there's more to it but that about covers it for starters). Nice one here at a good price. Chalky, a bit wooly and fresh with an orange-fig note that was surprising. Pinot noir and chardonnay blend with some pinot noir red fruit perks peering its head around the corner on occasion. A lunch with no expectations that gave more than that.
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