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The weather has been good and I'd ventured to The City to do a bit of grocery shopping.

Monday night I began preparing some home-baked breads...and Tuesday afternoon got busy putting the finishing touches on the preparations.


Our friend Silvia Heinrich had given us a spice grinder filled with her own blend of salt and spices.  Silvia is a top Burgenland winemaker and produces exceptional Blaufrankisch...and a lovely spice blend!

I used the spice mix as a rub for the pork roasts, too.

The pork roasts were stuffed with green garlic, leeks and lemon zest...

I prepared some parchment paper packages, filled with Capanelle Pasta, Shrimp, Bay Scallops and Clams in a tomato sauce.


I purchased two really aromatic cheeses--one from Austria and the other a German kńse.
Black olives...anchovy-stuffed olives, an assortment of radishes, rosemary crostini, home-baked bread...

...Macadamia Nuts, More home-baked bread with Fatted Calf's Pork Rillettes.


Connie took care of pouring the Duval Leroy 2005 Clos des Bouveries, a single vineyard Champagne from a site near the village of Vertus.
It's made entirely with Chardonnay...and was a delight!

The wine had a nice texture and richness, thanks in part to some of the base wine having been fermented in small oak.
The fragrances were more reminiscent of ripe pears and there was but a hint of wood...the wine was dry, but not shrill and angular.

After we'd drained the bottle of Duval-Leroy, I was busy in the kitchen preparing the first course...a little salad to accompany some dry Rieslings from Germany.


Kareasa is a big fan of German Riesling and had just returned from a week in Deutschland where she visited numerous wineries.


Damn!  That's good!!!


Schloss Reinhartshausen 2009 Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling.
Two weeks earlier I'd visited the winery with our good friend Norbert Auth and we'd tasted this wine.  And it was a "corked" bottle.  The tasting room lady begged to differ with our assessment of the wine being corked.
"That's the character you get from the Marcobrunn vineyard.  It is NOT corked."
I told her the wine showed the characteristics of a "bad bottle" and anyone being offered this bottle in a restaurant, for example, would have solid ground for refusing the bottle and asking for a new one to be opened.
"No...it is not a tainted bottle!" she insisted.
Other Marcobrunn bottles were being offered for tasting that day and we found them to be in perfect condition.  After more arguing about "corked" wines, she relented and opened another bottle which was, in fact, just fine and far superior to the wine she'd been insisting was "good."

Well, we opened a rather nice bottle here in San Francisco! It had no cork taint and was a delicious and dry Rheingau Riesling.  From the 2009 vintage, now 4+ years of age and still youthful and fresh.

The Wittmann 2007 Westhofener Riesling "S" Trocken was amazing!  This was beautifully fruity and teeming with Riesling character, but it was almost as though the wine had been produced by a top Burgundy winemaker.  Not to slight Wittmann, but the wine had elements of seriously good French White Burgundy and yet brilliant Riesling character.  Six+ years of age and this wine is remarkable!  (Too bad I'd acquired the last bottles available from the distributor!!)

These wines had been chosen to pair with the salad of Mache, Arugula, Shaved Fennel, Red Onion, Tangerine sections and Golden Beets topped with Smoked Trout and some Salmon Caviar.


Connie then opened two bottles of Dolcetto and Ralph immediately snapped a photo...


2012 Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d'Alba was dark in color and beautifully berryish and fruity.  The Marcarini was a year older and comes from their Boschi di Berri vineyard site, a half-hectare vineyard with vines said to have been planted in the late 1800s.
It was a bit less fruity than the Giacosa wine...still a nice wine, but I preferred the Giacosa.


I should have used dried pasta which would have had a bigger 'window' of a cooking time to capture it "al dente."  I'd used some locally-made fresh Capanelle pasta and this was a bit soft and a tad past the 'al dente' stage.
The parchment paper package was filled with the Capanelle, fresh clams, prawns and Bay Scallops in a tomato sauce...this was a "tip of the chapeau" to Gaby and Norbert who prepared a stellar version of Spaghetti with Seafood in Aluminum Foil...


The Dolcetto bottles had been chilled a bit to give them a bit more 'bite' and they were good accompaniments to this pasta course.

We had more to do, so Connie took care of opening both 2006 and 2007 vintages of Chateau Pontet Canet.

Meanwhile, we checked on the roast in the oven...


Some small Champignons with crisp Asparagus...

Everyone then hoisted a glass of Pontet Canet and we dug into the main plate!


The 2006 was a bit bigger and deeper, but the 2007 had brighter fruit and a more youthful tone.
Perhaps the 2006 will emerge as the finer bottle in a decade, or so, as it seemed built to last.  The 2007 offered more immediate "instant gratification" and we enjoyed its lovely dark fruit notes.
Some reviews have likened these recent vintages from Pontet Canet as being of "First Growth" quality.  While the wines are good, I don't think I'd mistake these for First Growth Bordeaux.

Somebody wanted a taste of the pork roast...


For dessert, we had a Draeger's Apple Pie which Connie had procured...


We had a 1994 vintage Trockenbeerenauslese from the Gysler winery in Germany's Rheinhessen region.  It was made of the hybrid grape called Ortega (honoring a Spanish poet) and it's a cross of Muller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe.
You can see the color was dark...sort of a brownish tone as the wine was made from very raisined grapes.  It had a nice fruity quality to it, however, and there was ample acidity to balance the high sugar level.

I had brought back a box of dark chocolate Truffles from Italy and we enjoyed those, as well.

And with that, the little fellow said it was time to hit the sack, so he jumped on the chair, awaiting the leash and the ride home.

 

Thanks to everyone for coming on a school night...

 

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