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FOOD, WINE & FRIENDS PAGE 298



We finally were able to organize a meal at home with some friends.

The table was set as we were ready to host our little friends Winnie and her big brother, Chewie.

The chandelier has finally been repositioned closer to the center of the dining room table.
The hook it's been on for three+ decades busted, possibly as a result of a recent earthquake.   As I'm out the door when it's still dark in the morning, I did not discover this mess until a few days after the quake.

The sorbet and gelato had been made and were stashed in the freezer.  We had a bit of a hurdle to deal with.

Our friend Chef Vincenzo said cooking an octopus was easy.  He was unsure about the Italian ritual of simmering it in water with a cork from a wine bottle.  In perusing the internet, many contend this is simply an old wives' tale, but chefs such as Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali swear by it.


I did include a cork.

Meanwhile, I prepped a roasting pan of small potatoes.

And then I rinsed off the baby artichokes.

The Octopus spent 4 minutes in a vigorous boil and then maybe 50 minutes simmering.
I rinsed off the peppercorns (cooked with several garlic cloves, black peppercorns, a lime and that wine cork) and then cut the octopus into pieces for grilling.
Once grilled, I cut those pieces into bite-sized bits and set it aside in a bowl until serving time.

Now I put some Nibbles on the coffee table to pair with the bubblies.

Edamame, Marcona Almonds, Bruschetta with an Olive Tapenade, Dolmas and Prosciutto di Parma.

The guest of honor arrived and we were ready to go!

Winifred Scout O'Poon.

Connie took care of opening the bubbly...

...under the watchful eye of Winnie!

Chapel Down Non-Vintage Brut from England.

This was a rather standard bottle of bubbly and I was a bit disappointed, so we opened the second bottle a few minutes later.


Ralph and Kareasa.


Dad and Daughter.

Connie opened the second bottle of Bubbly...Chapel Down 2011 "Three Graces."

This was certainly better than the first bottle, but we solved the mystery of Chapel Down sparklers and will wait to be shown their wines in the future.
This was a bit more chalky and mildly yeasty...but given that it costs as much as Grower's Champagnes, we'll opt for the French, thank you.

Now it was time to sit down at the dinner table.

The 2017 Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc was quite good and more the style we've liked with winemaker Kevin Judd's wines.
We're told the 2017 vintage was a bit tricky and challenging but this wine was delicious and it paired well with the Octopus.
We included some small bits of celery and red onion with a garlicky vinaigrette.

Winnie had a new Sippee Cup courtesy of her Uncle Gerald and she was delighted by this.

"What, no Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc for me?" she asked.

Winnie's Brother was now interested as to what was on the dinner table.

Winnie decided to come sit at the table and see for herself what was going on.

She seemed to enjoy the octopus and had several more "tastes."

Next on the menu was a bowl of Steamed Clams.

Manila clams steamed with Domaine Duffour C˘tes de Gascogne Blanc.
There was some Pancetta, Dandelion Greens, Onions and Garbanzo Beans in the mix and some locally-made, artisan Backhaus Bread.

 


The 2014 Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon is really intense on the nose, showing citrusy, gooseberry notes...very expressive and flashy.

The Greywacke 2015 "Wild" Sauvignon Blanc was excellent and a bit less herbal.  Most of the crowd seemed to give the nod to the Greywacke.

Winnie, meanwhile, was enjoying clams and the bread.


As a palate cleanser, I prepared a Pineapple-Ginger Sorbet.

It was pretty good, showing a bit of snap from the fresh ginger.
I probably should have used a bit less sugar.
The recipe called for 4 cups of pineapple and a cup of sugar...I'll pull back on the sugar next time, I think.


Winnie seemed to enjoy this.


Then we had three bottles of Pomerol to pair with the main course.

Winnie said she'd stick to milk or water.

Kareasa, meanwhile, extracted the corks from the bottles.


Grilled Duck and Oven-Roasted Potatoes.


Baby Artichokes Braised with Zucchini and Red Peppers.

Chewie had his own special treat...grilled chicken.


Winnie was ready for the main course.


Vieux ChÔteau Certan.


The 2014 was fairly fruity and had some dark berry and plum notes.
The 2013 was showier with similar fruit elements but framed with a nicely cedary tone from the oak.

The 2015 La Gravette de Certan was clearly a second wine...not anywhere close to the first wine.


Winnie said she enjoyed the Thursday Vintage of Whole Milk.

For dessert we made a Vanilla Gelato and "drowned" it in strong Espresso to make an Affogato.

Cascina Gilli's lovely Malvasia was served first...nice red berry fruit to that.

We shaved a bit of chocolate on top.

Some cookies from Burlingame's excellent "The Cakery" also accompanied the Affogato.

Additionally there were some holiday gifts.

The O'Poons received some "Chewie Socks."


"I have my own socks?"

Kareasa and Ralph now own "Mercutio Socks."

Winnie had a couple of surprises, too.


"This is for me?"

 


"Thanks!"


"Wait, there's more?"


And with that, the evening came to a conclusion as Winnie had to go home to Tickle Elmo.

Thanks to all for coming.


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