Sunday, June 18, 2006

More Boar

Another boar roast, this time brined in red wine, maple syrup, salt, pepper, rice vinegar and water for most of the day. It went on the grill while the marinade reduced on the stove. I recooked some brown rice in some of the lamb broth, which made it all creamy and risotto-like, and folded in some scallions and chives with truffle oil at the end. Sautéed watercress in garlic went alongside and we drank a 1998 Guado al Tasso which tasted more like a wild boar than the meat did. A great wine, and a great pairing.

Friday, June 16, 2006

20th reunion

In honor of 1986 and Jody's safe return from Iraq we drank a Lynch-Bages from said year after dinner and a cocktail party with our former classmates. A fun night, and it was a treat to enjoy something so subtle, fascinating, and delicious in such a context. Wine is always best with the right people at the right time.

"Fried" chicken

Took a bunch of chicken thighs and rolled them in cornmeal/curry/salt/pepper/cinnamon/oregano mixture and cooked them in a pan with almost no oil; their rendered fat and careful heat crisped them up just right. Then zucchini, celery root, and leeks into the same pan to brown in all that fat, and grape tomatoes plus balsamic vinegar to clean the pan and finish. Yummy with a 2002 Andromeda, which we tried along with the last of the Siduri from the night before. This is the same sequence we had recently, and the result was the same: Thackrey always wins, and it's because of that divine middle palate. The Siduri is damn good, but the Andromeda is so seamless and sexy it's irresistible.

Meal in a bowl

As is so often the case, the next day everything is better. The lamb went back in a pot with water, herbs, and more to make a stock; this got strained and further enhanced with miso and wakame, then had rice noodles, pea shoots, and remaining lamb meat added back into it. Finished with gomasio and scallions, it had all the depth one could want. Leftovers rule. We had it with a 2004 Siduri Sonatera Pinot Noir, which starts out tangy and funky and ends up a cherry-licorice sundae.

Rainy dinner

Kris and Ken came over and I tried to do justice to the time I had at their place last month. It was raining, so we ate inside, and I tried to make things that straddled rainy-day comfort food and spring freshness. We started with seared scallops, shiitake, endive, leeks, and fiddleheads in a simple pan sauce. We had a Sine Qua Non Albino which was delightful with the caramelized winter vegetables and the sweetness of the sauce.

Then smoked duck breast on blanched yellow beets with a yellow beet juice/turmeric/ginger/saffron sauce and a croquette of brown rice and hijiki with some steamed lamb's quarters. No picture f this one, but it was pretty. The rain threw the smoking off a bit by pulling too much heat from the chamber; a bigger fire would have made it perfect. This we enjoyed with a 1999 Domaine de la Mordorée Cuvée de la Reine des Bois, which was much better the next day; it needed more time.

Then, braised lamb shoulder with a coulis of pea shoots and fresh green peas, done my usual way; it could have been deeper but since it's different every time this comes with the territory. We ate it with a 1998 Beaucastel which really jumped out of the glass and tasted more like Barolo than Rhône.

Last, an Epoisse and a Robiola, both very ripe but the Robiola sweet and creamy against the profound feet funk of the other. These we enjoyed with their bottle of 1989 Cuvée du Papet, which proved definitively the value of a good cellar over time. The young wine we mostly have can never go to the places these older ones get to after 15 years or so- so always leave a few for later.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Today for lunch, something I call the Thai peanut butter sandwich: on good bread, a layer of good peanut butter, then a few drips of sesame oil, smoothed around, then hot sauce (here Sambal Oelek) and lime juice, then scallions pressed in, then basil leaves. Awesome, and with a salad of Vermont mesclun with herbs from the rock garden and a glass of Il Mimo Nebbiolo rosé, a perfect lunch on a perfect day in the nicest place in the world to spend Memorial day.

For dinner, some of Pascal’s sausages from the farmer’s market, specifically the chicken and wild mushroom and the pork and porcini (he was out of the duck wrapped in caul fat.) Dude makes some serious sausages. I whipped up some more ketchup, this time with tomato paste, cider vinegar, maple syrup, and hot sauce. Along with grilled sweet potato and zucchini, brown rice, plus the rest of the rosé and then a Sine Qua Non #6 Pinot Noir that is sublime and to my taste one of the very best New World pinots along with the Andromeda. Having said that, I have been missing those Old World flavors and can’t wait for the incredible juice in the basement to be ready.

Country cookin’

Upon arrival in Vermont the last thing we wanted to do was go shopping, so instead we played with Milo all over the place and made do with what we brought and what the house had to offer from the cupboards (and cellar) for dinner. A can of tomatoes plus dried porcini, dried tomatoes, a few dried herbs, onion, wine, and chives from the garden became the sauce, and I went out and picked a bunch of dandelion greens which I cooked in a pot with sweated onion, dashi, and grüner vetliner (left over from September- really.) One of the great pleasures of this house is the ability to walk out the door and pick things to eat; granted dandelion greens are not that exotic, but later in the summer when the fraises de bois and then blackberries are ripe there’s nothing on planet Earth that’s better.

We had this simple feast with a Hollerin’ E by Sine Qua Non which tasted for all the world like candied pineapples and hazelnuts- like a great white Hermitage but without the minerality and with some of the California decadence that the great Chardonnays have, then we followed it with a 2000 Gemstone which despite its expansive fruit still has a cedary structure which sets it apart from your average high-end Cali cab.