Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Meatloaf (really)

But made with ground turkey, and red quinoa, and onion, shallot, scallion, and garlic (for a full-spectrum allium attack) herbs fom the deck (thyme, rosemary, shiso, chive, Thai basil, and mint) and an egg. Served with "ketchup" made from tomato paste, miso, wine, lemon, honey, and truffle salt and a side of steamed lamb's quarters along with an Il Mimo Nebbiolo rosé. Comfort food, but light and subtle for spring.


The last of the mung/ramp paste went in a bowl with eggs, flour, milk, and a bit of oil and I mixed it up good, adjusting things until the consistency seemed right. Made into lovely green crêpes, they sat while I caramelized leeks and crimini mushrooms in the same pan and deglazed with wine. Some more of the great yellow carrots blanched until just tender and I rubbed the skin off and tossed them in a little oil, lemon and salt to make them shiny. And while this was going on I mandolined a Chioggia beet into chips and gave them a quick fry so the edges were crisp and the centers were still tender. Yummy with another Raffault Chinon rosé.

Soup and Salad

This is from a week or so ago, as is the next entry; I've been behind on my work. Both meals feature the mung bean/ramp pesto mixture in very different ways.

The first was another fridge soup with chick peas (soaked all day) leeks and sweet potato plus tomato paste and the ramp/bean thing simmered until all was tender and thick, along with a simple green salad with broiled Livarot-raisin bread croutons (I know what you're thinking, but the bread had no added sweetness or cinnamon and the combined effect was like having the fruit and cheese and salad courses all at the same time.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rabbit Pot Pie

Having stewed a rabbit the other night, I made a roux and took the meat and broth and added to them coconut milk, peas, carrots, truffle salt and lemon thyme, and simmered same while I made a batch of my beloved Grandmother Trude's pie crust. Half of this went over the rabbit mixture and into the oven while the other half awaits the next occasion. Bubbly, crunchy, savory, and just right, with a side of sautéed watercress and pea shoots.

We were lucky enough tonight to have a bit of the 2004 Siduri Pinot left over from a couple of nights ago, so we enjoyed it all opened up and evolved since we cracked it and compared it to a 2002 Thackrey Andromeda, which although newly opened showed that elusive middle which to my taste separates the great from the good; it's the part that welds the ethereal fruit and perfume to the earth and structure and tends to defy easy description. Having said that, though, over time it goes to a very dark fruit and licorice place that all good Cali pinot seems eventually to find and Burgundy never even thinks about.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Like dinner, only better

Mary had something very special she wanted to share, so we called John and Scotty away from the studio to join us. As expected, it was pretty ridiculous.

First, a puréed soup of celery root, leek, and jicama with a phenomenal 1993 Kalin Semillon, then John made unbelievable sashimi from more of that beautiful Kampachi plus a tartare from the trimmings and a ramp and micro-shiso and chives from the deck. (I grilled/smoked the collar for a couple minutes and we had that as an appetizer while the first courses got finished.)

Next came mung bean/ramp gnocchi (the purée from the other night plus eggs and flour) with a ragù of short ribs and tomato. The reds began with a 2004 Black Blend, which is made from the same field as Coturri's Albarello but isn't commercially available. It's darker and stranger than the Albarello, and really good. We moved on to a 1997 Quintarelli Cà del Merlo which was a perfect transition from California to Italy, and also into the main course.

Which was a smoked wild boar roast with braised cabbage, ramp/fiddle head sautée, and grilled maitake plus a drizzle of a short rib demi-glace (hence the sugo for the gnocchi.) For this we opened a 1997 Bricco dell'Uccellone which was pretty mighty Barbera, followed by a 1998 Montiano (better by far than the 1997 we had at Debi's birthday last month) and then a 1999 Barolo Marasco which we all agreed was excellent. It started to rain, so we retreated inside for the treat of the evening, Mary's 1986 Yquem (in 750) with cheeses, truffled foie gras pâté, and membrillo. Simply unbelievable; the flavors are so fused and seamless that it was almost impossible to isolate individual notes. We just sipped in awe.

And then, falling firmly into the "seemed like a good idea at the time" category, we came downstairs and drank a 1993 Heitz Bella Oaks, which I'm pretty sure we liked a lot.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Spring greens

I made it to the fish market in Chelsea, and as is so often the case I couldn't make up my mind. Thus we had a seared Toro appetizer with pepper and ponzu, then Black Cod in the skillet with the leftover kale/watercress/basil mixture cooked in the juices after the fish came out, then the mung bean/ramp mixture plus wine, lemon, and miso cleaned the pan up and became a sauce for all. Many layers of spring green, from tangy and fresh to earthy and profound, all mixed together with the sea.

I opened a 2001 Hecht & Bannier Faugères, having just bought some on Mary's recommendation, but it's so big it didn't work with the subtle harmonies of the dish. It's really nice now that the food is done; it would be much better with the short ribs which bubble on the stove for tomorrow's dinner. Shoulda had a rosé...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Wok and roll

Reaching the bottom of the fridge, I made a pot of brown rice (I always make too much so there's plenty for Christine & Milo to make breakfasts and lunches from) and threw some mung beans in a pot- actually into the still-hot water I cooked Milo's pasta in. Washed bok choy and did a quick sautée in the wok with olive and sesame oils plus garlic, lemon juice and ponzu. Wilted chiffonaded kale in the wok liquid once the cabbage came out, and set aside. The mung beans fell apart in the pasta water, and expaned to fill it (I was putting Milo to bed,) so I added a fat dollop of the ramp pesto (I made a lot) and stick-blended the whole thing into a smooth purée. This was originally going to be a stir-fry over the rice, but since the beans exploded I changed course.

Seasoned then with salt and ume vinegar to balance the rich earthiness, the purée went on rice spread on nori, then a shake of gomasio, then basil leaves, then the wilted kale rolled up into maki served with more of the bean/ramp sauce, miso mayo, and sriracha with the bok choy on the side. Surprisingly enough, we enjoyed it with a Mas de Gourgonnier rosé, grown outside of Les Baux, in my old neighborhood in Provence. I'm sure they'd be horrified to know that their wine accompanies vegan food just beautifully; it has enough grip to handle the richness of beans, ramps and miso, but the freshness and delicacy don't overwhelm the subtler flavors.

Lest any of you deride me for my rampocentric menus of late, I remind you that they're only around for a short time, and in their own way are as profound a taste of spring as peaches and tomatoes are of high summer, and with as short a season. And as for the rosés, what else goes with everything from bison to bok choy?


So today the fridge needed thinning, and thus the last of the lamb from Christine's birthday, chopped, browned along with onion and carrot until all crispy. Then water, a can of kidney beans, a bit of remaining tomato paste, and the remains of the parsnip purée also from last Monday, sweet potato, broccolini stalks, zucchini, anellini, thyme, and after about 10 minutes basil leaves and the broccolini tops. Served with fresh pepper and good oil on top, and with a yummy 2005 Chinon rosé from Raffault.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Another dinner with friends

Tonight a dinner with other new friends, also courtesy of an event at Pasanella & Son, this time in Brooklyn, and in a building I've admired since we moved here no less, which followed a stroll through the Botanical Garden. Bread and cheese began, with a crisp, minerally, and herbaceous Greek white from Santorini which tasted, appropriately, like a Greek island (chalk and oregano.) Then a dry Austrian riesling was a perfect match with a marinated calamari salad, and then the Barolo Marasco I bought the other night at the tasting sang pretty well with some yummy steaks grilled with peppers and portobellos and asparagus on the side.


A simple pasta made with ground bison, crimini and dried porcini, plus herbs and garlic and tomatoes, but caramelized and then cooked slowly to really get at all those deep flavors, with penne and a side of blanched watercress. It was so good that Milo had a second dinner sitting on my lap after he had just eaten his own dinner. I had it with a Crios rosé (100% Malbec) by Susanna Balbo which is just gorgeous and one of the many beautiful rosés we've had lately, now that the weather is perfect and the food has lightened. Today I planted herbs on the deck...

Dinner with new friends

I went for a lovely meal at the equally lovely home of some new friends, Kris and Ken, who have elevated love of food and wine to an extraordinary level and delight in sharing it. We began with a creamy shrimp risotto which we had with both a 2003 Riesling and a Savennières, both of which I've forgotten the names of. Next a gorgeous salad of wilted frisée and squab, with an oxidized 1989 La Nerthe, replaced promptly by a much better Châteauneuf, a 1990 I think, which I'm also at a loss to remember. I liked it more than my hosts, and it got better in the glass. The third course was lamb, wrapped in bacon, served with my (now seemingly inevitable) 1992 Beringer which we enjoyed; it does have subtle character which is not easily found in California. We also had something else with the cheese- a Chave Saint Joseph- but who takes notes at such a nice meal? Simply great.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Christine's Birthday

A simple meal, with a few friends at their place in Saugerties. I made some ramp pesto and kumquat-habañero chutney ahead of time, and marinated venison loin in tequila, white wine, chile powder, cumin, jalapeño, and garlic for a couple of days. The venison (see below) seared up in a cast-iron skillet, and then the chutney mixed with duck broth reduced in a pan went over it, as did the marinade which I dumped into the skillet post-meat to deglaze and reduce. Shelled more fava beans and cooked them slow with onion, oregano, and tomato paste. Steamed parsnips and puréed with truffle oil. Roasted a butternut squash and puréed with very little. Chris cooked collards in dashi and onion, and we slathered a big hunk of lamb leg with the ramp pesto and threw it on the grill. Dessert was an unbelievable vegan chocolate raspberry cake from the Alternative Baker.

We drank a lovely Domaine du Bagnol rosé, and a killing 1996 Colin-Déléger Chassagne-Montrachet to start. With the venison, we had Bugey Cerdon sparkling gamay rosé which, because it's off-dry, handled the heat from the chutney and worked surprisingly well. With the meal we had a 2001 Kristial Châteauneuf and then a 2000 Beaucastel which was just tremendous after a couple hours in a decanter.