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Food, Wine & Friends Page 234


We began a nice little Christmas dinner with a delightful bottle of Schramsberg's Blanc de Noirs to go with the nibbles...

Marian joined in the festivities...



And our special guest of honor was Famous Yoshimi!

We first met Famous Yoshimi when she came to California as a High School student, here for a brief couple of weeks to improve her English.
She ended up returning as a young college student and found her way to Los Angeles.  She works helping visitors from Japan in L.A., working to translate and aid them in their travels in Southern California.

Famous Yoshimi brought her partner Shah with her, along with their son, Famous Brendan (who's all of five years old).

I found an apron for Famous Brendan and he helped me in the kitchen as we prepared the first course, a salad of Romaine Lettuce, topped with fresh Dungeness Crab.

The little fellow had good technique in dressing the salad.

And so we presented a nice little salad to start the proceedings at the table.

Vincent Ricard's 2010 "?" Sauvignon Blanc was terrific.  I had tasted a bottle in early November and felt it was too young and a bit disjointed.  This was excellent, showing good Sauvignon fruit and a nice touch of oak.

Brendan took a snapshot of his Uncle Gerald...


Then we took care of preparing the prawns...a simple recipe from a restaurant in France...

I've used Florida Hopper Prawns, cleaning them out but leaving on the shells.
The recipe calls for simply preparing an olive oil marinade infused with fresh Thyme.  I add some minced garlic and a finely chopped Serrano Pepper.  The prawns are then laid into a small container and bathed in this olive oil bath where they remain until it's time to cook them.
In the glass pan, I pour a bit of coarse salt and lay the prawns on top.  They go under the broiler for 2-3 minutes and then they get flipped over for another minute or two.


The Greywacke 2012 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand's Marlborough region was wonderfully aromatic.  In some respects this is almost like an intensely flowery Riesling.  It has some common notes to a good dry Scheurebe, for that matter.
The prawns are then peeled at the table and a bit messy, but we retain a measure of elegance and refinement with a small fingerbowl for each person at the table.


The Famous Fussy Brendan was enthralled by the prawns and seemed to delight in enjoying them after his Mom peeled them for him.



Famous Brendan, by the way, is a Champion Eater.

Back in the kitchen, we had the potatoes roasting in the oven, green beans braising and some peppers & baby artichokes cooking along with grilling the lamb.

Famous Yoshimi came in to supervise the cooking...


We had a bottle of Almaden's 1972 California Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon...a "Special Selection" bottling!
I recall visiting the winery with my father back in the late 1970s and they gave him a small box of bottles as a souvenir of our visit.   This bottle remained in the cellar rack, untouched, for 30 years.  The cork had shriveled a bit and thanks to a two-pronged opener, I was able to extract it in one piece.
The wine was easy to decant, having been stood upright for a couple of days.
The color was reddish (no browning, despite 1972 being a wet vintage and a relatively modest vintage).  The wine had a nice fragrance of Cabernet, with some red fruit and a vaguely herbal tone.  It was medium-bodied and silky smooth on the palate.
It was not especially complex, but it was a pleasant surprise...a nice wine of 12%, or so, alcohol and soft and supple.
In those days, by the way, the wine needed to be but 51% Cabernet to be so labeled.  They could have had 49% of some "filler" varieties in this if they chose to.
The lesson to be learned here is that some wines, even relatively modest ones, can turn into a satisfying bottle when given some time and paired in just the right setting.

Shah was anxious to try this wine, a bottle which was the same age as he!


This caused Famous Brendan to wonder about the 2007 harvest, as that is his vintage.


Braised Artichokes with Red Peppers, Oven-Roasted Potatoes and Blue Lake Green Beans with Onions.

 


Grilled Lamb.


Marian and Shah passing the plates...



Marian said she especially liked the potatoes...

Famous Brendan displayed his proficiency with a knife and fork...

...as did his Famous Mom.


Famous Yoshimi was often busy posting snapshots on Facebook for her friends and family around the world to see.


Famous Brendan was quite a chatterbox this evening, but we did enjoy a moment of quiet when he put a cork in it.

He was not especially enthusiastic about dessert initially, unsure about the Apple Crisp and not knowing precisely what to make of Cinnamon Gelato.

While his Pop was away from the table, Famous Brendan took the opportunity to eat Dad's ice cream!

 

We re-loaded Shah's plate so he didn't suspect anything.


Well, the good news is Santa had stopped by the previous night and left a few gifts for the crowd.

He left a little bottle of Christmas Cheer for Shah...


...and something for Famous Brendan...

 


Wow...a Spiderman Watch!



Famous Brendan showed his Pop the little word game gizmo he got from Santa...



And with that the evening drew to a close.

A big THANK YOU to Marian for her help in the kitchen!

And it was great to finally meet The Famous Brendan...

Best wishes to all for a Happy Holiday Season...




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