Clam Soup – Zuppa di Vongole

One of the best things about living near the ocean is the availability of fresh seafood.  While in Whole Foods I noticed how nice the littleneck clams looked, so I immediately decided that clam soup would be on the night’s menu.  On the way back to the apartment I stopped in at Kashkaval and picked up a baguette and a few mini boreks.  Using a recipe from a family favorite, “Every Night Italian“, I made Zuppa di Vongole (before and after photos below).  With this we had some Vinho Verde from Portugal.  Another great night!

Myers of Keswick – Cornish Pasty and Pork Pie / Chelsea Fish Market – Red Snapper

After two days of constant snow and nearly 2 feet of accumulation, we were getting cabin fever.  The cure for cabin fever?  Go exploring in a different neighborhood in search of food.  In the West Village, just south of Chelsea, is a lovely little British shop called Myers of Keswick.  We have wanted to go there for some time, and it seemed like the perfect day to do so.  Plus, Brie has wanted to make Flapjacks for me (the British version, not the “pancakes” often referred to here in the U.S.) and we needed some Golden Syrup.  M.o.K is a tiny shop, but their shelves are packed with canned goods, teas, sauces, and snacks to the ceiling.  On the other side of the shop is a refrigerator case where they offer a wide variety of homemade meat pies and fresh sausage.  I couldn’t resist.  We purchased one Cornish Pasty and one Pork Pie in addition to Lyle’s Golden Syrup and a few snacks (bacon flavored crisps!).

On the way back to the subway we decided to swing into the Chelsea Market to see if anything looked good for dinner.  I made a beeline to The Lobster Place and tried to decide what to make that evening.  There are so many different types of fish and seafood available at this market that it can be overwhelming.  Luckily, a beautiful red snapper got my attention and I had the fish monger (I love saying that)  remove the fins and gills.  It weighed in just under 2.5 pounds and was incredibly fresh.  I also grabbed a dozen cocktail shrimp and some fresh cocktail sauce for dipping.

Once we got home I got to cooking, like a good husband.  I wrapped the whole fish in foil and roasted it with garlic, thyme, lemon, and butter.  With the snapper we had roasted carrots with an aged balsamic glaze, and pan-fried cauliflower with curry.  And of course, don’t forget the wine!  We enjoyed a bottle of Granger 2007 “Le Bouteau” Beaujolais Village (I know, red wine with fish, but this went really well with it!!).

The next day (today) we had our Cornish Pasty and Pork Pie.  The Cornish Pasty was filled with ground beef, potatoes, peas, and onions.  It was very similar to a hash or meatloaf, but wrapped in a delightfully flaky crust.  The Pork Pie was filled with, as you might have guessed, pork.  The crust was very buttery and made a perfect home for the meat.  I can’t wait to go back and try their other pies!

The photos:

Pizza al Taglio – Pizza Rustica / 2005 Chateau Moulin de Tricot

With the bounty of vegetables in the refrigerator calling our name, Brie decided that a pizza would be a delicious way of reducing the supply. 

The whole wheat crust was made from scratch and the toppings included garlic, marinated diced tomatoes, olive oil, chopped mushrooms, roasted eggplant, thinly sliced yellow onions, thinly sliced italian salami (on my half), fresh basil, a dash of fennel, a dash of oregano, and finished with some mozzarella.  It was then put into a HOT oven until browned and bubbling.

I think one of my favorite things about pizza is the texture difference between the different toppings.  The chewiness of the crust, the softness of the cook vegetables, the crisp edges of cheese.

I think I’m going to have to go eat some leftovers now, I’m making myself hungry.

With the pizza we split a bottle of 2005 Chateau Moulin de Tricot.  It was a very smooth Bordeaux that is drinking well right now, but would probably be even better after a few more years of aging..  However, since we have no wine cellar or wine refrigerator, these bottles need to be consumed sooner than later.

01/29/10 – Recent Wine and Champagne Experiences

Astor Wines and Spirits is an oasis in a city filled with overpriced alcohol.  Not only is their selection unrivaled, but their prices simply can’t be beat.  The also tend to purchase wine from a great number of small importers.  This allows us to experience some very small vintners that you can get nowhere else in the U.S.  And finally, the icing on the cake:  Top 10 under $10.  They choose 10 different bottles (a mix of white and red), of which 2 are doubled, for a unique case of 12 wines that always comes in at around $80 a month.  It simply cannot be beat for the wine drinker who is searching for incredible value at a great price.  Now that I am done with my unpaid testimonial for Astor W&S, I will move on to some of the recent wine and champagne we have had over the past week or two.

This Sangiovese Toscana from Le Chiantigiane came in at a whopping $5.99 and tasted like it cost much more than that.  I love Sangiovese.  In fact, it is probably my favorite varietal from Italy.  This bottle, although incredibly cheap, was delicious!  The tasting notes from Astor mentioned “soft cherries”, which couldn’t be more accurate.   This Sangiovese went down very easily and had the qualities I like in an every day drinking wine (cheap, delicious, and not over the top with tannins).

This week was all about the cheap wine.  Usually when you get to the under $7 mark, your options become extremely limited.  What a surprise then when I find this Colli Vincentini Cabernet Sauvignon for a whole $3.99 a bottle.  That’s entering Mad Dog 20/20 territory, people!  The best thing about a $3.99 bottle of wine is if it is absolutely rank, you can pour it down the drain without much guilt.  We were so happy when it turned out to be a completely drinkable bottle of red wine.  Like the Sangiovese above, it was very mellow/soft, making it a perfect wine to have without food.  I also used a bottle of this to make the Beef Burgundy last week (scroll down for details).

What can I say about the widow Clicquot?  She’s a foxy ol’ girl, but how I love her.  Veuve Clicquot is one of the premier Champagne producers in France and the orange-yellow labeled bottle is probably one of the most easily recognized labels on the market.  Usually a bottle runs around $40-$50, but when I lived in Colorado they were on sale for $24.99 so I had to buy a case.

2006 – Barbera D’Alba Sori’ Del Drago

This wine is an amazing find.  It had some lovely full-fruit flavor (I was getting cherry) and had a great texture and smell.  Very drinkable!  I always like it when I get to the end of the bottle and find some unexpected sediment.  It’s like my own little bonus!

The worst part??  I can’t even buy the 2006 anymore.  The 2007 is the now the only one available.  Sigh.

Pork Chops with Leeks and Mustard Sauce

After a long week, the thought of staying in and having a nice meal and a bottle of wine is quite possibly my version of nirvana.  Brie made pork chops in a lovely leek, mustard, bacon (oh thank you!) and yoghurt sauce featured in the May, 2009 Bon Appetit magazine. The Chobani brand of yoghurt that she used is so thick it easily replaced the sour cream/crème fraîche that the recipe called for.  Along side the entrée was a side of steamed broccoli and roasted butternut squash from the Door to Door organics delivery that arrived earlier in the week.  With the stronger flavors of mustard and bacon I decided to go with a lighter red and chose a 2006 Saint Joseph Domaine Faury Rhone Syrah.

It was a great meal and a decent bottle of wine, although I don’t think I would buy another bottle again: it was fair, but it didn’t deserve the price tag.  To top it all off, Brie is pulling out a loaf of banana bread from the oven.  Happy place, happy place, happy place!