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I had a couple of cups of fish stock left that didn't fit into my ice cube trays for storage.  I had to use it.  I figured I'd make a shrimp-and-rice dish (cooking the rice -- and really everything -- in the fish stock).  There were also leeks, ventríche, garlic, and mushrooms in there.  And tarragon and marjoram.   I had been thinking that the dish would benefit from some corn -- and then my sweetheart from PA Dutch country brought me, for my birthday, a couple of cans of John Cope's Sweet Corn:  PERFECT!  (Don't worry:  those were the least of her birthday presents.)

This is the kind of thing I'd have never been able to do right in the past.  I'd have fucked up the method (for one thing, I'd clearly have contrived to overcook the shrimp -- but other stuff as well).  I'd have fucked up the proportions.  I'd have fucked up the seasoning.  Now, I can do this off the top of my head (I mean, don't get me wrong:  it took me a couple of days to conceive of this dish) (but I didn't check any recipes).  And it's GOOD.

You can decide whether this was closer to a risotto, a paella, or a soupy rice.  (OK:  it DEFINITELY wasn't a paella.) (But it wasn't in the least bit soupy.)

Leftover cabbage 'n onions on the side.

I had a clear choice for the wine with this.

2016 Corte Gardoni Bianco di Custoza "Mael"

This is a blend of Garganega (the main Soave grape) and other white grapes from around Verona -- and Riesling.  I honestly don't know how they thought of it.  But the Riesling definitely brings something to the Soave table.  It adds a touch of sweetness -- but also a touch of exoticism, and of minerality (it's that interplay between exotic fruit and minerals that makes Riesling such a great wine) (good Chardonnay, too, now that I think of it).

This is another of those sub-$15 wines where you kind of can't believe how distinctive and authoritative it is -- even if in the scheme of things it isn't anything spectacular.  Just very good, is all.

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I read all these threads about these fabulous dinners people have at home, with photogenic, obviously labor-intensive food, and legendary bottles.   I can't speak for anybody else on this board, bu

If I'm not enjoying wine when I'm seventy, then my nieces and nephews are going to be stuck with a shitload of wine they won't know what to do with.   Or my next wife, who by then should be almost

Whaddya mean? That's more than half the meals I serve. Tossed with great care, I might add.

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5 hours ago, Sneakeater said:

You can decide whether this was closer to a risotto, a paella, or a soupy rice.  (OK:  it DEFINITELY wasn't a paella.) (But it wasn't in the least bit soupy.)

I don't think we can, unless you tell us a bit more.  Like - what type of rice did you use?

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1 hour ago, Wilfrid said:

I have some frozen fish stock I should use up, thanks for the reminder.

Note that frozen fish stock doesn't last forever.    The joy of  homemade fish stock is its fresh ocean flavor.   I recently chucked a half gallon of halibut stock that had lost its edge.    When it is flat, I'm as well off using really good powdered fumet.

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Veal chop Valdostana.  I sort of fucked it up in the prep phase -- I think a Milan chop is too thin for this preparation -- but pulled it out in the cooking.  Yay me.

A few adjustments to account for my larder:  I don't think they use Cinco Jotas Pata Negra as the ham in this dish in the Val d'Aosta -- but I'll bet they would if they could.  And, not having any Fontina on hand, I thought about how to replicate its flavor profile with what I have and came up with with a combination of Mozzarella and aged Gouda.  My chef friend Richard implored me not to try this, as the Gouda wouldn't melt and the Mozz would melt all too much.  But I'm here to tell you (and Richard) that if you cook this low and slow (after the initial browning), as I did, the cheese all comes together.

If I had a white truffle, I'd have put it in.  Since I didn't, I sautéed some mushrooms on the side.  I also sautéed some Spigarello.  I LOVE Spigarello.

Another case where there was one clear wine choice.

2010 Caves Cooperatives de Donnas

A wine from the Vallée d'Aoste (as this producer calls it).  It's mostly Picotendro (we'd call it Nebbiolo), with a little Freisa (a grape most of us know) and Neyret (a grape most of us don't).  It tastes like . . . a Mountain Nebbiolo, which is exactly what it is.  Lighter than a Barolo/Barbaresco, and more agile.  But much less profound.

You'd think they drink nothing but this wine with this dish in its home territory.  And you'd be right.

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The most boring possible dinner:  the leftover shrimp and rice reheated, with leftover sautéed spigarello, not reheated.

I tried to choose one of the most boring possible wines to go with it.

2017 Stephan Steinmetz Elbling

Elbling, as you must know by now, is probably the first wine grape to have been introduced into Germany, predating Riesling.  It's mainly grown in the Mosel, in terrains that are inhospitable to the area's principal grape (ironically, to misuse that word, the Mosel produces my single favorite expression of its principal grape, Riesling).  It's one of those unknown local grapes that had been used mainly for blending (and in this case for low-level sparklers) that are now the subject of attention as varietals in their own right.  I find most such wines -- especially the whites -- to be uninteresting:  it turns out there were often reasons these grapes were ignored.

This wine is simple:  apples at the front, lots and lots (and LOTS) of acid at the end.  And nothing much in the middle.  It was decent enough with the food.  Now, without food, it's mildly unpleasant.

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Maccheroni with smoked steelhead trout and broccolini (and obvs lots of other things).

I thought a Chenin Blanc would be the thing.

2018 La Grange aux Belles "La Roche de Mûrs"

I was thinking of a mainstream Chenin Blanc, but I ended up reaching for this natural Chenin Blanc from Anjou. 

You can guess what it tastes like:  the honeyed fruit you expect from a Chenin Blanc, but with a slight fizz, a funky finish, and a sour aftertaste.  If you think that sounds like a pejorative, you wouldn't have liked this wine.  If it sounds like a way you'd want to spend your Saturday night, then line up behind me.  (I especially find the interplay between the honey and the sour aftertaste quite piquant.) 

As with many natural wines, though, I'm not sure about the value proposition.

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Lamb burgers!

It's funny.  Notwithstanding all the fancy stuff I try to make, I always get most excited when I'm having hot dogs or burgers.  I mean, I like the fancy stuff:  I wouldn't make anything I didn't think I'd like (if only it were prepared well).  But nevertheless, it's the hot dogs and burgers I look forward to all day when I’m having them.

One was topped with ramp kimchee (not homemade) and a Le Boite Tangier mayonnaise (also not homemade -- except to the extent I myself mixed the spice blend into the Duke's mayonnaise).  The other was topped with melted Tomme, with my once-famous homemade cape gooseberry-tomato catsup (I'd honestly forgotten about it:  good thing catsup keeps forever) and an onion slice.  On Martin’s buns, of course.

Raw Savoy cabbage very heavily dressed with vinegar and oil (and Le Boite Ana) on the side.

When you've convinced yourself over the course of the day that a Cabernet Franc/Grolleau blend is the thing to drink with dinner, nothing's going to change your mind.

2019 Les Vins Contes R19

Natural.  Loire.  You know just how this tasted.

At cellar temp, went pretty great with the burgers (especially the one with ramp kimchee).

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Back to real food.

Grilled boar chop.  I will now announce that, as far as I'm concerned, D'Artagnan has better product than Fossil Farms (where this one came from).  Sure, Fossil has a lot of weird shit you can't easily source elsewhere (which does not, to be clear, include boar chops).  But D'Artagnan's quality, for what it has, is just higher.

My boar-chop-grilling skills are, if I may say, at an apex.  I brushed this one with a blend of olive oil, mustard, and tarragon, and let it sit for a while -- and then did a long slow cook on the stovetop grill (you want the boar to be cooked -- but you don't want it to dry out).  I was going to do a reverse-sear at the end, but it didn't need it:  it developed a char just from the long slow grilling.  It was good.

On the side, I had planned to cook some squash I defrosted a while ago and then lost track of, as I put it in the wrong place in my refrigerator.  Then, I noticed that the squash was spotted and mushy.  So I called an audible and made some beans:  RG Ayocote Blancos.  These were better with the boar chop than squash would have been anyway.

Also, collard greens.

My default wine for boar also happens to be one of my very favorites.

2016 Poderi Sanguineto I e II

The junior red cuvée from these insane natural winemakers in Montepulciano.  I've never had their Vino Nobile, but to be honest, I love this so much that I can't believe I'd like the Vino Nobile better.

This is one of those natural wines that just pops out of the glass at you.  The dusky black cherry fruit leaves you no doubt that you're drinking a Sangiovese-based wine.  And this is one of those natural wines that makes you understand what people mean when they say the fruit in such wines is "laser-focussed" (which is said more often than it's the case).  Then we go on a merry romp through the natural-wine flavor repertoire -- except all of it in the most lively, least bothersome way possible.

This is the kind of wine that makes people who are just getting into wine understand what the fuss is about.

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Montreal steak.  Savoy cabbage that's been soaking in oil and vinegar for a couple of days.  John Cope's sweet corn.

I can really make Montreal Steak.  If I get a job as a grillman at The Main, then there'll be a path to citizenship in Canada for me, right?

Back to basics with the wine pairing.

2019 Les Vins Contes Gama - Sutra

This is Olivier Lamasson's Old Vines Gamay (from the Loire).  By this point, natural Gamay almost tastes more "normal" than unnatural Gamay.

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11 hours ago, Sneakeater said:

Montreal steak.  Savoy cabbage that's been soaking in oil and vinegar for a couple of days.  John Cope's sweet corn.

I can really make Montreal Steak.  If I get a job as a grillman at The Main, then there'll be a path to citizenship in Canada for me, right?

Back to basics with the wine pairing.

2019 Les Vins Contes Gama - Sutra

This is Olivier Lamasson's Old Vines Gamay (from the Loire).  By this point, natural Gamay almost tastes more "normal" than unnatural Gamay.

Where do you get the Cope's corn? I can't find it. 

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On 11/12/2020 at 1:08 AM, Sneakeater said:

my sweetheart from PA Dutch country brought me, for my birthday, a couple of cans of John Cope's Sweet Corn . . . .  (Don't worry:  those were the least of her birthday presents.)

 

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