Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pesto and White Wine

The one lovely thing about living away from ones parents is the sudden ability to cook exactly what you are craving at any given moment. The one problem about living away from my parents in particular is that my father is such a stunning cook that everything I make by comparison is bland and unfortunate.

Of course, he has a lifetime of experience more than I have, and he probably has the sense not to use homemade pesto on rotini of all things. What was I thinking?

For those of you who don't know (and those of you who should but are just ignorant doofuses, and I'm looking at you here, BeerSnob), there is actually a very good reason for the wealth of different shapes for pasta. Each shape is designed to be a very specific sauce-delivery mechanism. Rotini is good for creamy sauces that would fall off of spaghetti, but terrible for thicker sauces like this particular pesto I made. The Pasta to sauce ratio is sadly lacking. Also? It needs more garlic.

Though, I will say, the sardine toasts I made taste AWESOME with a spread of this pesto. I know what I'm having for lunch tomorrow!

With this pesto and sardine-toast monstrosity, I am drinking Picpoul de Pinet Couteaux de Languedoc. If you're looking for a cheap, dry white that won't scare the neighbors, this is it. When you open the bottle (a screw cap, which honestly I'm starting to like more and more) you are instantly hit with the aroma of apple cider. The apple sweetness on the nose is not indicative of sweetness in the bottle: it is quite tart, blood oranges up front with a touch of that yeasty flavor you get from a particularly good bottle of champagne on the finish, which is not particularly long or complex, but smooth and pleasant. It has a very prickley mouthfeel. It makes the finish cleaner, the flavors crisp where they could have gotten stodgy. It handily brings out the garlic in the pesto I'm eating, which is really useful, since it lacks flavor.

Oh well, nothing for it but to try again. Luckily, basil is cheap at this time of year, and the Boyfriend's basil plant is freaking HUGE. No, that's not a euphemism. The basil and pineapple sage in his garden are merging into one massive plant of deliciousness. I am so jealous, since my basil plant died a spindley death.

I will try this recipe again, probably with better nuts (oh yeah, did I mention that I used walnuts too? yeah pine nuts are expensive and I'm a graduate student). The wine, on the other hand, will remain the same. This is a fabulous house white, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shiraz and a cat

Last week our home was graced by the presence of the MusicMan. MusicMan and I went to high school together, and then pretty much stopped hanging out for a much longer time than was actually reasonable. We used to walk home from school, singing terrible Nu Metal and occasionally building a nightclub in his basemant. Oh yeah. We were pretty cool guys.

Anyway. MusicMan, RieslingSnob, Designbroad and I went out to dinner at Joe Squared last Thursday, which is a pizza place a few blocks away.

Holy crap. People had been telling me for ages how excellent Joe Squared is, and I kept brushing it off. I mean sure, I like pizza, but meh. I went to a few pizzarias in Naples and pretty much decided that I've been ruined for pizza in this country. I was so wrong. Joe Squared is awesome and you should go. Right now. Yes, even those of you who live in England. Don't argue with me. I'll cut you. Like a pizza.

MusicMan and I decided that what we really needed was a bottle of wine. Now, the wine list is broken down into varietals, but doesn't tell you what the actual wine you're getting is. So you see that it says "Cotes du Rhone" and "Merlot," but whether it's Sutter Home or H3, you don't know! This is probably for the best, because had I read its name I probably never would have ordered the Royal Bitch Shiraz.

Anyone who has known me in any capacity knows my predilection toward swearing like a sailor with a stubbed toe. I like cussing. "Shit is Fucked Up" is a great song (they played it at the concert. I squealed like the fangirl I am). Still, I tend to look askance at wine bottles with coarse language. If you have to stoop to cussin' to make your wine interesting, you've probably not made very good wine, is my thought.

It was actually pretty tasty. Mellow, light bodied, and pleasantly spiced. My first impression was pork loin with peppercorns, which is a pretty bizarre first flavor impression. The heavy, gamey taste, thankfully, dissipated as the wine breathed, leaving behind black pepper and dark red cherries. It was quite enjoyable, and it disappeared rapidly.

On Friday I went to a party at WAC, which was delightful because I haven't seen Captain Class, Cashew, Lady N or Matchatchee in quite a while. It was good, especially since Matchatchee (she's Polish, her name uses more consonants than I know what to do with) is headed off for more hipster-y climes. We'll miss you, you hippie.

At any rate, at this party I brought my strawberry infusion. You know, the one that has been sitting unopened since March 11. Holy science that is some good liquor. It's all sweet strawberries, and about two seconds after you swallow a wave of alcohol hits you. Lady N summed it up pretty well: "It's like strawberry pie's whore sister!" It's really really good. Like, almost too good to mix with anything else, though I'm tempted to mix it with a little cream just to see if it works.

On Sunday, for the traditional Land Otter Sunday Night Dinner, I made chicken braised in hard cider with apples. I'm eating the leftovers now. It is insanely delicious. Like, even without the bacon that the recipe recommends. It's sweet and meaty and appley and whooooa I'm all about it. Oddly enough, it involves one of my least favorite foods: the onion. But this onion gets cooked and cooked and cooked until it absolutely melts in your mouth, leaving you with perfect sweetness and chickeny apple goodness. It's totally worth the bottle of cider used for cooking. It's also worth it to buy the darkest and driest cider you possibly can. I used 802, though Strongbow might have been better. I would have used Magners, but I don't think I could let any of that go without drinking it down immediately. I LOVE HARD CIDER.

It's surprisingly good with a glass of the Chandon sparkling rose that's been sitting in my fridge, opened, for the past four days. There's a recommendation for you. You want a wine that will last for bloody ever, even open? Chandon sparkling rose. It even still has some bubbles left!
Free Hit Counter