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Sneakeater

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Montreal steak.

I realized to my consternation that I was out of Schwartz's Montreal seasoning. Schwartz's Montreal seasoning is the kind of thing my butcher would carry, but no.  All they had was Kalustyan's -- and all else anybody in my neighborhood had was McCormick's.

I bought the Kalustyan's.  I'm still THAT much of a snob.

And I am here to tell you that it is noticeably, markedly worse than Schwartz's.

Now I have no illusion that Schwartz's "makes" its bottled Montreal seasoning any more than I think that Rao's and Carbone cook their jarred ragus.  But I assume that Schwartz's has fairly substantial input into the formula for what goes into their product.  And next to Schwartz's, the Kalustyan Montreal blend is just kind of gross.  Maybe it's cuz Schwartz's is Canadian.

I overcooked the steak a little.  But I have a feeling that's idiomatic.  I doubt you'd easily get a steak broiled rare at Schwartz's.

On the side, some oven-"fried" white sweet potatoes.  This is another dish whose effort/reward Q is kind of nuts.

And the last of my pickled cabbage and stuff.  It's been sitting in those pickle juices so long I no longer have to put scare quotes around "pickled" when referring to it.

Finally, some grilled Gruyerre-on-German-horseradish rye (open faced).  Although you'd never see that with steak at Schwartz's (which even though it's not Kosher takes "Kosher-style" very seriously), it just seemed to me like it would be nice with the steak.  It was.  (I still think Reubens are abominations, though.)

Boy did I have a pairing lined up.

2021 Vinas Mora Barbba

This is another everything-old-is-new-again wine, a Dalmatian co-fermented red/white field blend as has always been made in the area but was never thought to be fit for anything other than home consumption by its homemade makers.  It's produced by a cooperative headed by a guy who made a name for himself as a Somm and importer in New York but then went back home to make wine the old way -- and sell it internationally.

All the grapes in this are things you can't pronounce, much less identify.  The taste is sort of Generic Natural, but I mean that in a good way.  Sharp cranberry/rubus fruit at the front.  Then that slightly sour Natural muck that people either love or hate.  And that's it.  Well, that's it except for the extreme vivacity of this wine.  It kind of dances in the glass.

And this is one co-ferment where the white grapes enliven the blend rather than washing it out.

I don't want to oversell this.  It's an excellent quaff, but not any kind of really great wine.  And while I don't remember exactly what I paid for it, I have a feeling that it was too much.

But I'm really enjoying it.  And it was great with that Montreal steak.

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Posted (edited)

You know, I was reading up on Montreal steak recently (to see if there was anything technical I could do to improve my rendition) (answer:  STOP THINKING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE A MONTREAL STEAK).

And I came across this article that seemed to attribute this dish (which was invented on the fly by a Schwartz's broiler man in like the 1940s) to Normand Laprise.

It made my blood boil.

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Tomorrow my impending Big Life Changes begin to start in earnest.  Fortunately, I had some Luck On A Plate ready for reheating.

Cotechino on Sea Island Red Peas on mashed potatoes (while I didn't go full Robuchon in the potatoes, if my luck doesn't come, it won't be for want of dairy fat).  Three kinds of mostarda.  Collard greens.

A Barolo -- but maybe not a particularly lucky one.

2004 Pio Cesare

Pio Cesare harkens back to an earlier day.  A blend of vineyards produced in massive quantities:  what Barolo was like in the Bad Old Days before the Modernists on one side and the Traditionalists on the other raised the bar.

But as this bottle shows, this kind of Barolo, debased as it is in theory, can be pretty good.  This has all the things you want in a Barolo -- the strong but restrained fruit, the tar-and-roses, the stregnth mixed with lightness -- but just in an uninteresting way.  So this wine would never catch your attention.  But there's nothing really to criticize about it.

It probably doesn't hurt that 2004 was a pretty special vintage in the Langhe (which is why I bought this bottle of a label I'd usually abjure).

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It's always a treat when you snag some John Dory, a fish that I believe isn't supposed to come to our end of the North Atlantic -- even though this one was caught off Point Judith.

John Dory:  the round fish that convinces its predators (including us) that it's a flatfish.  And that attains striped bass levels of tastiness.

I was originally planning to make it Meunière:  when you get a John Dory, you want to taste it.

But then I remembered I had some capers and some old bread I wanted to get rid of.  So I pivoted to Grénobloise.  Since it's January, it was a Meyer Lemon Grénobloise.

On a bed of very mashed (I'm too lazy to purée), very buttered and creamed, potatoes.  Tonight's Designer hybrid was Yellow Finn, which is pretty much agreed to be the most delicious around.  You could tell how rich it was even behind all the butter and cream I added to it.

Since I was now in that part of the world, I had some Haricots Verts Suregelés à la Lyonnaise on the side.  Make no mistake:  these were nothing any Frenchperson would recognize as haricots verts.  These were frozen Amurrican big ass green beans.  They took well to this preparation, though, if I may say.

One benefit of pivoting to a Grénobloise is that it took all the brainwork out of the wine selection.

2015 Domaine Finot Verdesse

Verdesse is a grape that is only found, as far as I know, in Bugey, Savoie, and -- where this one is from -- Isère, the department of which Grenoble is the prefecture.

It's very very aromatic.  It's full-bodied (and very alcoholic:  this label comes in a 500 ml bottle).   It tastes of apple and then of citrus.  It's like a Chardonnay and a half -- but not in a New World way.  The wines of this area are known for their sharp acidity, and this one is no exception.  It's the interplay between the full-bodiedness and the acid sharpness -- it's too tense to call it a balance -- that makes this wine so compelling.  (The saline finish doesn't hurt.)

Was it invented to drink with a sauce Grénobloise?  I'm not gonna say it wasn't.

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I read somewhere once that sauce Grénobloise was invented because in the days before refrigeration, ocean fish got kind of rank by the time they reached landlocked high-altitude Grenoble.  So they needed a full-flavored sauce to cover up the rankness.

That makes you think we should be making bluefish Grénobloise, although I don't recall ever seeing it anywhere.  Might have to try that.

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I so enjoyed the lamb leg steak I had a couple of weeks ago that I couldn't resist repeating it (seasoned a bit differently and a little more assuredly prepared blah blah blah).

With housemade Perpetual Chimichurri and some jarred Irish tomato relish.

On the side, some roasted potatoes (I think they were Evas f/k/a NY103) and a sautéed mizuna with fish sauce recipe that seemed improbable when I read it but turned out to be rather delicious.

A couple of Parker House rolls.

Especially with the chimichurri, this seemed like a good time to repeat the Pretentious Argentine Wine pairing.

2006 Achaval Ferrer Quimera

Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and maybe a little bit of Petite Verdot.   A standard Bordeaux blend actually, except for having Malbec predominate rather than support.

This wine strives for elegance and for better or worse attains it.  It's balanced, fairly mellow, and just this side of boring.

It manages to seem both perhaps a bit past its peak and in a very good place.  It certainly goes down easy.  But it doesn't have the sublimity that would make the lack of energy worth it.

It was very good with this food.  Very good.

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Pappardelle with long leftover pheasant ragu.  Sautéed kale with garlic and a little balsamic drizzled on at the end.  Better bread than you'd get in Tuscany.

2007 Ferrero Rosso di Montalcino

OK, Rossos di Montalcino aren't meant to age like this.  This is when you'd be drinking your 2007 Brunellos.

But that's not to say the aging doesn't work.  If, like me, you just find these wines too big and blatant inside their windows, there's some appeal to drinking them after they've faded some.

I'm quite enjoying this.  There may only be a hint of black cherry fruit up front, but it's nice.  The herbs that follow it are pleasantly persistent.   And perhaps because everything else has receded, the acid kick at the end is really pronounced:  very very good with a rich ragu like this.

So yay me for keeping my hands off this for so long.

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A broccoli rabe/parmesan sausage and a garlic confit sausage, over leftover red field peas and mashed potatoes (cooked into a kind of disc).

Frozen green beans sautêed with shallots and drizzled with balsamic.

Let's not forget it's the middle of winter and fucking FREEZING.

2017 Chateau Viella Madiran "Tradition"

What everybody says when faced with this wine is how weird it is to now encounter Madirans that are made to be drunk young.  I haven't tried my usual trick of aging one of these bottles anyway, so who knows?  But yeah, this is certainly drinkable now.  Indeed, it tastes like it might be nearing the end of its window.

I've faulted past bottles of this for being too smooth.  Oddly, this one makes me think that maybe I drank the others too young ("oddly" because too-young wines tend to be too harsh, not too mellow).  This isn't smooth at all.  It's almost rustic.  In other words, what you think a Madiran should taste like.  (This has some Merlot in it to soften the Tannat -- but I'm not tasting that tonight.)

So this gives you some very dark very brambly berries.  Then there's a very long sequence of what can only be called muck -- but good muck.

I don't want to oversell this.  This isn't excellent, outstanding, or anything like that.  It's just good.  And today's Thursday, so that's fine.

And Madiran with sausages over beans and potato?  Um DUH.

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I wanted to try to make another Montreal Style Steak to see if I could regulate the amount of Kalustyan's Montreal Steak seasoning to account for its relative grossness.  It worked!  It is in no way idiomatic to have Comeback Sauce with a Montreal Style Steak -- but they sure taste good together.

I decided that the mizuna sautéed with garlic and fish sauce that I had earlier this week would be even better with a Montreal Style Steak than with what I'd had it with.  I was right!  This is a dynamite pairing!  Schwartz's should add this mizuna dish to their menu.

Also some roasted potatoes.

Good pairing.

2020 Floral Terranes Loving Cup

55% Cabernet Franc, 45% its child Cabernet Sauvignon, Naturally sharp, and what could be better with a Montreal Style Steak?  Well, I can think of things -- but this was good.

This is a very nice wine.  Sharp fruit with a hint of licorice, then indistinct but very pleasing Natural murk.  It isn't very persistent -- but it isn't that kind of wine,

I didn't pop and pour, but I decanted it just before drinking, right out of the storage unit.  I would not recommend drinking this at much above cellar temperature.

The only thing wrong with this wine is that you pay Long Island real estate prices for it.  It's almost worth it.

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On 1/15/2024 at 1:15 AM, Sneakeater said:

I read somewhere once that sauce Grénobloise was invented because in the days before refrigeration, ocean fish got kind of rank by the time they reached landlocked high-altitude Grenoble.  So they needed a full-flavored sauce to cover up the rankness.

That makes you think we should be making bluefish Grénobloise, although I don't recall ever seeing it anywhere.  Might have to try that.

No bluefish today.  But Spanish mackerel.

So  yeah:  Sauce Grénobloise with fishy fish.  It works beautifully, as the fish stands up to it.  Sauce Grénobloise really kind of overwhelms more delicate fishes.  They'd do better with a Meunière.

Sauce Grénobloise is a really good example of The Wisdom Of The Folk.  No one person made up this recipe.  It just developed, to meet a need.  But it's genius.  The balance of the acid and the dairy fat, with heft supplied by as frugal an ingredient as fried stale (at least in my case) bread.

Echoing the sauce on the fish, vinegary sautéed green beans and shallots.

Used up a lot of stuff with this meal!

And the wine paired itself.

2015 Domaine Finot Verdesse

If you're going to Isère, then go to Isère.

Now for all I know if you actually went to Isère they'd tell you, "Nobody drinks Verdesse with a Sauce Grênobloise!  Everybody knows that."

But they'd be wrong.

With that sauce, you want a wine with a fairly thick flavor, but lots of acid.

And that's what Verdesse is.

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One of what all of us in the store were told was the last batch of smoked pig's knuckles Morscher's will ever make.

Roasted over apples, onions, and sauerkraut (with lots of caraway), over which it was also served.

Most of the recipes I saw advise you to make sure it's salted a lot.  My tears insured that.

On the side, PA Dutch egg noodles with Pfifferlingen and peas (and butter, lots of butter) (oh, and shallots -- but that's not interesting).

If you're not drinking beer with this, it's pretty obvious what wine you're having.

2022 Weiser-Kunstler Wolffer Riesling Kabinett "Wolfer Sonnenlay"

Minimal intervention, very old vines.

In this Kabinett, Weiser-Kunstler achieve more acidity than sweetness.  Which was good with all the fat in the knuckle.  But all the salt in the dish (from my tears as well as the seasoning) might have liked a touch more sweetness.

Objectively an excellent wine -- very flavorful, and tingling with tension -- this is maybe especially good for people who think they're afraid of QbAs because they insist their wines be dry.

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To my absolute non-surprise, getting internet installed the way I wanted in my new apartment turned out to be much more of a production than the service provider purported to expect.  So by the time I stopped at Wegman's seafood counter on the way home (one of the reasons I'm moving to Ridgewood is that Astor Place is on the way home to Adult Brooklyn from there by subway:  a ridiculously indirect route to get to and from a place where I very frequently find myself) the fish butchers had all decamped, leaving me with only precut pieces.

These Amadai fillets looked pretty good, though.  And God that fish turned out to be excellent.  Buttery, even irrespective what I put on top of it (see below).  I really now have to get to Wegman's in time for the really good stuff.

If you get Amadai you're obviously going to make something Kyoto-adjacent, if not a real thing.  Pan-crisped Amadai with Ponzu butter.  I'm pretty sure they don't thicken Ponzu with butter in Kyoto (someone with actual knowledge instead of surmise can correct me).  Their loss if they don't, I now think:  this was just dandy.

Some similarly crisped enoki on the side.  And raw Mizuna dressed with sesame oil and rice vinegar and dusted with roasted sesame seeds.

This is one of those meals where the flavor is all out of whack with how much work it takes.  Cuz it took practically no work at all.

If I had some Albariño around, there might have been some decisionmaking put into the pairing.  But I didn't.

2019 Domaine Dominique et Janine Crochet Sancerre "Cuvée Prestige"

Don't know about the name of the cuvée, as there's no prestige whatsoever attaching to this wine.

This is another of those no-fashion no-cachet beautifully made high-typicity wines that probably make up the bulk of my drinking.  They can't charge a lot for a wine like this, cuz nobody would pay it.  But you can't point to any flaw with this:  it was clearly made with great care, and if you like Sauvignon Blanc, you've got to like this.  A lot.

So grapefruit, hint of gooseberry (only a hint cuz this is a Loire wine, not a New World) -- but mainly grapefruit.  Only a hint of grass, for the same reason.  Tons of slate.  Decent persistance -- but nothing show-offy.

This would have married the Ponzu butter, if our laws permitted wine-condiment marriages.  (Without that condiment/sauce, the fish itself might have wanted a Chardonnay.)

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