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7 minutes ago, Sneakeater said:

I'd never made a Thanksgiving dinner before.   The sheer amount of butter that went into this astonished me.

Most people think of Thanksgiving dinner in terms of the big protein while the major player is butter.   

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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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Pork/chicken/foie gras Pithivier.  (I didn't make it -- Aurelién Dufour did -- but I did reheat it.)  On the side, brussels sprouts braised with ventrèche (and a big shot of balsamic).  As sick as I'm getting of brussels sprouts, I must admit that was a very good dish.

The Pithivier was one of those things that you know in your heart should get a white wine, but if you're me you just can't.  In that case, the choice was fairly obvious.

2019 Hervé Villemade Cheverny Rouge

A Pinot Noir/Gamay blend.  So it could have been a Passetoutgrains -- except Cheverny is a lot closer to Pithiviers than Burgundy is.

Wherever they come from, I love Pinot Noir/Gamay blends.  You get the mellow fruit of the Pinot, with the lively vitality (I guess there isn't any other kind of vitality) of the Gamay -- and sometimes (not tonight) a bit of the Pinot's deeper finish.  Still, a lively, lip-smacking, hugely delicious wine.

Very good pairing, too.

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Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá.  I've adored this dish since I first started eating it in Brazilian restaurants decades ago.  But the Brazilians make no effort to hide the fact that the dish originated in their country's colonizer, Portugal.

In fact, the dish was invented by an actual Gomes de Sá, José Luis, who was the scion of a family of cod magnates who also worked in a restaurant in Porto.  Sometime in the 19th Century, he came up with the idea of a sort of deconstructed codfish cake -- and his idea had legs, to say the least.

This iteration benefited from the use of Abra/Feisty Acres' pickled quail eggs in lieu of plain old hard-boiled eggs.  Fit right in, flavorwise (AND I didn't have to bother to cook them).  It really was about as good as any I've had.  MAYBE I put in too much olive oil.  But it was very good olive oil, so it's hard to complain.  (It'll certainly help the leftovers store better.)

Although I understand that technically Venice isn't in Portugal, I paired this with some of Marcella Hazan's smothered cabbage.  The two dishes couldn't have liked each other more.

In Portugal, they would never eat bacalhau with anything other than a red wine.   I find it hard to wrap my head around that -- to me, this bacalhau dish in particular cries out for a white -- but far be it from me to deviate from my future countrymen's practices regarding the consumption of salt cod.  I waffled a bit by choosing a red cut with white grapes.

2017 L'Octavin (Alice Bodvot) Cariboum

You wouldn't expect a natural wine in the Jura to be made mainly from grapes trucked in from the Southwest.  But this is primarily Carignan grown by Rémi Poujol in Herault.  I assume Poujol (or someone else down there) was also responsible for two of the white grapes blended in, Viognier and Muscat (well, Viognier is also grown kind of near the Jura, so maybe some is grown in it as well).  Molette is native to the Jura and I assume comes from L'Octavin's own vineyards.

Anyway, this wine is none the worse for importing grapes from an excellent grower in another region.  It's interesting:  Carignan isn't a light grape, and the interplay of that big dark red grape with the white grapes is piquant.  I guess the inspiration here was those Rhone wines that blend a little Viognier into Syrah to excellent effect.  This is different because it's natural, so all the grape flavors are very distinct:  it actually tastes like a deep red grape blended with white grapes.

I'm not sure this was a perfect pairing with this wonderful bacalhau.  But it's a very interesting, enjoyable wine.

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I really hate to repeat dinners two nights in a row.  When I have leftovers, I like to interpose other things between them.

But when I was getting ready to start prep on the boar hock I was planning to make tonight, I saw I had left out a several-hours' step.  So that gets shuttled to tomorrow.  There was nothing left but to finish off the leftovers of last night's Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá.

To compensate for the too-much olive oil in the salt cod dish (which did indeed render the stored leftovers silken, not even a little dry), I had it over rice (rice, as you might gather, is no longer a problem here).  With some baguette on the side to sop up whatever sauce the rice didn't.  More of the Marcella Hazan smothered cabbage, too.

What I learned from last night's wine pairing is that this dish, despite one's trepidations, needs a fuller red.  The lightened-up red I tried last night just didn't make it.  It occurred to me at some point today that a Monica di Sardegna could be good.

2018 Cardedu Monica di Sardegna "Praja"


In some ways, Monica is like a Rhône, with friendly fruit.  But it's more floral, haunting in a way Rhônes never are.

So this natural entry is likeable, but with an intriguing hard-to-place edge.

And a much better pairing for the bacalhau.

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Slow-roasted crisped boar hock.  (LIFE LESSON:  if you think a recipe is telling you to put in way too much salt, believe yourself.)

On the side, I know I said I was gonna have leftover stuffing with this, but in the event I thought leftover mashed rutabaga/carrots would be better.  Also -- obvs -- Marcella Hazan smothered cabbage.

2017 Cantzheim Riesling "Die Gärtnerin"

I was bummed that I couldn't find a Spätlese (see, Stephanie, I can use a diæresis [or umlaut, as the case may be] when it's called for).  But this Feinherb hit the spot.

Bright apple start.   Stone fruit to follow.  Lime.  Minerals.  The slightest hint of sugar.

Very nice.  Obviously made with a lot of care.

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Morcela and sea scallops (cuz God knows there aren't gonna be any local bay scallops) over, you know, rice.

Sautéed broccoli rabe, with obscene amounts of garlic, on the side.

2013 Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce Buena Pinta

I recently came across a small stash of this vintage of this house favorite wine.  I was a little worried:  I'm sure it's not meant to age this much.

It's fine.  It's a little different from its younger self, but it's still good to drink.

This is a blend of Moravia Agria -- one of those forgotten regional grapes that people now take pleasure in reviving (this is from Manchuela) -- and Grenache (or Garnacha, as they call it there).  To Ponce's credit, with each vintage the percentage of Moravia Agria increases and that of Grenache decreases:  by 2013, I think the Moravia Agria was up to 90%.

Because nobody -- least of all me -- has ever had a pure Moravia Agria wine, though, it's still easier to talk about this cuvée as a blend, a gestalt.  People sometimes call it a Manchuelan Beaujolais, but I don't think that's right:  even at its youngest and flashiest, it's not that racy.  It's more like a Passetoutgrains:  it's got the fruit -- but it's smoothed out, a bit mellowed.  So while I think the people who sometimes call this wine "like a Manchuelan Pinot Noir" are wrong, they are onto something:   the truth is between them and the "Manchuelan Beaujolais" folk.

So what we have here, at this late date for this vintage, is an even more smoothed-out Buena Pinta.  The fruit (I'ma say currant, both red and black), while mos def still there, has receded; the secondary flavors are more prominent.  Now don't get me wrong:  the secondary flavors aren't particularly distinct, as they would be in a higher-level wine more suitable for aging.  But they're there, and you now can't help but taste them -- cuz they're most of what's now left in this wine.

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Veal chop in a truffle wine gravy (with more truffles sprinkled on at the end).  Leftover stuffing (some truffles made their way to be sprinkled on that as well).  Sautéed spigarello.

This was obviously getting a grand old Barolo.

1990 Prunotto Bussia

By 1990, this producer had been taken over by the Antinori powerhouse from Tuscany.  Like Antinori's Tuscan product, it seems to be trying to walk a line between Trad and slickly Modern.  I find their Tuscan wines quite enjoyable (although I hate myself in the morning).  As for this, I would say that 30 years in, the Trad/Modern distinction seems less important.

What I mean by that is, 30 years on, the fruit is not going to be very forward in any event.  Where this loses out to a strictly Trad wine is that there isn't as much backing the fruit up as there could be.  So there aren't as many fascinating compelling secondary and tertiary flavors to savor here as there are in a real aged Old Skool Barolo.

But, as I said, this isn't purely Modern.  There's some stuff here.  So after the always enchanting tar-and-roses thing at the start -- it gets me more than anything else in the world of wine -- there's a touch (very little) of tobacco, a bit more leather, and lots and lots of mushrooms.  Nice with the truffles!  (The best thing about eating at home is that I never have to beg the truffle shaver for more.)

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Maguro Zuke Don (that's Marinated Tuna on Rice to you gaijin).  Room temperature roasted PA Dutch Crookneck Squash on the side.  (It was my own idea to garnish the tuna rice bowl with the crisped tuna skin.)

Sake, right?  But I wasn't feeling it tonight.  So I opened something that I knew from drinking it at sushi bars (one of the people I go with most often unaccountably doesn't like sake) would go really well with this dish.

2014 Domaine Cornu-Camus Bourgogne Aligoté

Generally I find Aligotés completely uninteresting, fit only to be mixed into Kirs.  There are some new natural ones that are very good, but generally I find trad Aligotés like tonight's entry boring beyond belief.

But they have a role to play.  When you want an all-mineral no-fruit wine, they fill the bill.  They're not as good as Muscadets -- but they have more body.  Which, when you're eating tuna marinated in soy sauce, mirin, dashi, and sesame oil, is a good thing.

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Cholent is one of the few dishes we know as "Jewish" that actually was created exclusively by Jews.  Most "Jewish" dishes -- bagels and lox, corned beef and pastrami -- are adaptations of dishes Jews encountered in the surrounding communities in which they settled.  Cholent wasn't -- because cholent was formulated entirely for the purpose of complying with Jewish ritual law.

The issue was:  how can you eat satisfying food on the Sabbath when you're not allowed to cook?  So the Jews came up with a meat/bean stew that cooks by itself overnight (it can also be made vegetarian:  the Diamond Dairy on 47th St. served a legendary vegetarian cholent):  once having started it off before the Sabbath restrictions kick in, all you have to do is ladle it out, after overnight cooking, when you want some.  The key to the dish is the long slow cooking.

It is therefore not surprising that cholent is one of the few dishes shared by both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions (although they use different seasonings, and have different names for the dish).  So essential, and beloved, is cholent that Heinrich Heine wrote an ode to it, parodying Schiller's "Ode to Joy".

I loved cholent as a boy.  My father had a cousin he was particularly close to.  And that cousin had, on his other side, a group of four maiden cousins, unmarried sisters of a certain age who lived together in a huge apartment (with a really huge sofa) in Rego Park.  (Back then we called women like that "career girls".)  They were known in the family as "The Girls".  Every once in a while, word would get out that The Girls had made a cholent; and everybody in the family would find an excuse to show up at their apartment.  I remember my mother explaining to me, the first time that happened, that cholent was a dish you cooked for a whole night and day.  I was awestruck.

Given my extreme adoration of cholent (and my extreme reliance on a slow cooker), I have no idea why I never made it before.  But when I saw I had about a pound of (American Wagyu) boneless short ribs that needed to be removed from my freezer and transferred down my gullet, the preparation seemed obvious.

I'm sure Lior Lev Sercarz wasn't thinking of cholent when he created his "Catalunya" spice blend.  But I'm equally sure that he wouldn't be a bit surprised to learn it's a killer cholent seasoning.

On the side, I decided a try for the first time a Yerushalmi Kugel, a sweet-and-savory, very peppery noodle pudding that's popular in Jerusalem.  I fucked it up a little -- but I know the two things I did wrong, so I'll be able to correct them in the future.  (And, happily, I didn't fuck it up in a way that rendered it totally unpalatable.)

Since you always have pickles with Yerushalmi Kugel, my vegetable of the night was pickled green beans.  (Which got a bottle out of my refrigerator that really needed to leave there.) (These days I'm all about making space in my refrigerator/freezer.)

My wine choice came from analogizing cholent to another slow-cooked meat/bean casserole/stew you might have heard of, cassoulet.

2013 Domaine du Château Larroque

This house favorite was, if anything, a bit too elegant for this rather blunt dish. 

It's a Gascón blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Tannat, and (crucially for tonight's dinner) Syrah.  And really, it tastes just like you'd think that blend would taste.  The fruit is dark, and there's pepper and smoke at the finish. 

What you wouldn't expect -- especially not at this wine's rather moderate price point -- is how smooth it is.  Not smooth to the point of facelessness, not at all.  But you would never call it rustic.

Usually, I view that as a good thing.  Tonight, I'm not so sure.  But still, it sure loves food -- and I still love it.


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5 hours ago, Sneakeater said:

And that cousin had, on his other side, a group of four maiden cousins, unmarried sisters of a certain age who lived together in a huge apartment (with a really huge sofa) in Rego Park.  (Back then we called women like that "career girls".)  They were known in the family as "The Girls". 

And when other members of the family referred to them in less auspicious terms, they were known as "The Meeskites."

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Cross culturally, Maine grandparents spoke of putting beans in the embers on Saturday night so as to have a cooked meal after church on Sunday.   Navy beans, onion, water, molasses, chunk of salt pork.    Their bean pot is now our cookie jar.    .  

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