Sunday, June 12, 2011

McDonald's Party is Surprisingly Delicious

For dinner, I had McDonald's. With wine. Please don't exile me from foodie blogland. But it was surprisingly decent.

The impetus was this article, discussing pairing wines with McDonald's food. We thought it would be interesting to approach bad fast food in this way, with pairings gleaned from Trader Joe's cheap wine selections (because pairing with Boone's Farm is taking irony too far).

The first course consisted of chicken nuggets, paired with a rosé (Cotes du Rhone) and a white (the macabeo I've been all over lately)

(Thanks to Brian and Stephanie for hosting, and for the lovely china. I'm really sick of our plates, and I'm sure the two people that read this blog are as well)

The nuggets were better than I remember. Apparently, they've changed the recipe since I've had them, many years ago. The dipping sauces were also interesting- a pretty nice buffalo sauce, and a very good sweet chili sauce. I liked the rosé best with the nuggets, but there was no consensus at the table. The only thing I feel comfortable generalizing about is that wine makes McDonald's better.

The next course was the Filet O'Fish, with the same two wines. It should be noted that, if I am stuck at McDonald's for some godforsaken reason, the Filet O' Fish is my go-to order for its inoffensive and vaguely healthy nature.

It was ok. I usually get it without the tartar sauce, but we ordered everything in its ordinary state. The tartar sauce was extremely briny and intense, and the fish was fishier than usual. I preferred the macabeo with the fish, but again, there was no consensus.

The third course was the McChicken. It was peculiar- very flat and compressed looking, with flecks of black pepper and an excess of mayonnaise. In fact, someone was compelled to comment that the quarter pounder (proposed next course) would be a palate-cleanser, given the extensive use of mayonnaise.

On to the reds. With the red meat courses, we tasted a meritage
and a zin. Honestly, I strongly preferred the meritage as a drinking wine. The zin was extremely "hot" to me, and had an extreme ABV. Interestingly, it did pair well with the heavier meat courses.

The Big Mac was surprisingly tasty- the consensus at our table was that the sauce provided a compelling counterpoint to the sandwich that made the entree extremely good.

Next came the McDouble, a double cheeseburger that was probably the overall evening favorite for taste and value. The melty cheese and meat proved a strong counterpoint to the heavy zin.

Our final main course was the Angus Mushroom and Swiss Burger. I was a bit disappointed in the overall quality, though we are unsure if this can be partially attributed in part to its long tenure in the oven through our other courses.

The mushrooms tasted like they came from a jar, and there were heavy umami/MSG/"fake" overtones. The meat itself seemed more substantial and flavorful than that of the other courses. The burger, still, was puzzling- as someone noted, this isn't the kind of burger you'd seek out at McDonald's. It's a peculiar, and probably unfruitful niche product at a fast food place better known for cheap, flat patties.

Finally, the dessert course. We sampled the apple pie, with and without the addition of cheddar, with a white lambrusco and a port.

The port was tasty, but a bit sweet to pair with the sugar-saturated pie. The lambrusco was nicely balanced, and had a great apple note that echoed the apple dessert. The cheddar is highly recommended, as it added a sharp, tangy note to cut through the sweetness.

Overall, it was an interesting experiment, and one we will have to recreate in the future with different cuisine. I found particularly interesting how persistent flavors can be across time- I recognized their "spicy mustard" (it's not spicy) sauce from my own childhood nugget-dipping days- and how oddly compelling even bad fast food can sometimes be.

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