Food Wine & Friends 196
We began the festivities with a bottle of Mumm's deluxe
Champagne, Cuvee Rene Lalou. This was a big, rich, nicely full-bodied
Champagne from the 1998 vintage.
Then Henry opened the second bottle of bubbly, Alfred Gratien's 1999 vintage
Tom was amused by our descriptions of our evaluations of the Champagnes. I
found the Mumm to be a big, fat, somewhat clumsy bubbly, while the Gratien was
laser-like in its focus and acidity. It's a wine with finesse, certainly.
We polished off the second bottle of Champagne and then were
ready to serve the various cruditÚs at the table.
A bowl of Mache & Arugula with small morsels of smoked trout...cucumbers,
shredded carrots, tomatoes & basil and radish slices...and a plate
surrounded by Belgian endive with fresh beets.
Celery root with pickled mushrooms...
Blanched white and green asparagus.
These various veggies were dressed with one of two salad
dressings...both based on shallots, garlic, lemon juice and white vinegar.
One had a bit of anchovy in mix with some olive oil.
The other had a bit of red wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and some walnut oil.
We had a bottle of the famed FX Pichler winery's Gruner Veltliner, an entry
level bottling. This winery is on every connoisseur's short list of top
Austrian wineries and so it's a bit of a trophy wine in a certain respect.
The wine was classic, though, showing nice spice notes, a bit of citrus and
grapefruit with some stony, minerally notes and a hint of white pepper.
Dry, of course.
The Niven family has planted 61 rows of Gruner Veltliner in California's Edna
Valley. I found a nice fruity fragrance to the wine, as it shows a lovely
melon-like character, reminding me a bit of the Schloss Gobelsburg entry-level
Gruner from Austria. The wine was delightfully dry and not too austere.
Both were really good palate cleansers and delicious with our varied little
Manuel had brought a tray full of peppers stuffed with shrimp and goat cheese.
We popped this in the over for 15 minutes and Tom served these...
Henry! hoisted a glass of the Pichler...
Soon it was time to open the red wines...We had enjoyed a little taste of a
granitÚ to cleanse the palate after the fiery peppers...
Henry then shows off the handiwork of his smoking the turkey.
We had purchased a "Heritage" turkey.
These are rather costly, but we did find it to be quite good.
I can't say, though, that I could tell the difference between this bird and one
that's raised locally here in California by good breeders.
We made up an oil infused with garlic and sage and injected it into the
bird. Further, we placed some sage leaves under the skin and some spots
and placed some lemon halves and fresh herbs inside the bird. Henry
started smoking it using cherry and apple woods, so it was nicely cooked in a
slow, even fashion.
In any case, it was delicious.
Cranberry sauce is a snap to prepare...use your imagination in doing so...
Fresh cranberries come in a 12 ounce bag.
You need a cup of sugar and a cup of liquid per bag of berries.
I made one pot with apple juice and a cinnamon stick as the flavoring
liquid. The other had fresh orange juice and I grated some orange zest
You bring the pot to a boil for 5-8 minutes, or so...and it's ready. These
were prepared early in the morning and had been chilling in the 'fridge.
The serving plates and bowls circled the table, as we served everything
Ellen needed more wine...
Tom, as you can see, is a two-fisted drinker!
The two red wines paired handsomely with the meal.
Bollinger makes a small quantity, from time to time, of a red
table wine from Pinot Noir vines in the town of Ay.
It's a lovely expression of Pinot Noir and certainly a "fine" wine,
but since they make only a few thousand bottles, there's quite a "scarcity
tax" for the privilege of owning one.
The wine shows nice dark cherry fruit aromas...quite typical of Pinot
Noir. If it's matured in wood, it doesn't show much evidence of oak
aging. The wine was from the 2002 vintage and offered nice fruit and light
Overshadowing the Bollinger was a Marques de Murrieta Rioja, their 2001 Castillo
Ygay Reserva Especial.
This is a Tempranillo based wine which was matured for about two and a half
years in American oak. There's, apparently, a 10 month period where the
entire batch is in new oak and then some is transferred to more neutral
cooperage. The American oak "woodsiness" really was spectacular
with the smoky notes of the turkey.
We enjoyed this immensely.
Here's a view one rarely sees...
Alexia pouring a re-fill!!!
Manuel was busy...
And then it was time for dessert...
Ellen prepared a "crustless" apple pie.
This was accompanied by a Rosenhof Welschriesling from Austria.
The wine is beautifully balanced, having crisp, brisk acidity to counter its
elevated sugar level.
By the way, the apples Ellen uses are grown in her backyard!
The ice cream is homemade, a cinnamon stick infused into sugar along with a
vanilla bean...Creamy, custardy and rich.
After this, I thought about offering some eaux-de-vie, but given the late hour
and my level of fatigue, we adjourned the proceedings until next year!
Thanks to everyone for coming.
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