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Venison Tri-Tip.  Black-eyed peas.  Rice with cabbage.

God that venison steak is good.

2015 Xavier Vignon Gigondas

Mostly Grenache with some Mourverdre.  The venison would have liked some Syrah, but it didn't get any.  And I think the venison would agree that, in the end, it did OK without it.

The reason that I have bottles of this maker's wines around, even though I generally think they're too big and serious to do what I like Southern Rhônes to do, is that sometimes I want a big and serious Southern Rhône.  Like when I'm having a venison steak.

Grenache is a friendly grape.  But in this, it's dark and almost foreboding (in a good way).  There's plenty of spice at the end (which is why we didn't miss Syrah).  And Xavier's wines might be a little big for my taste, but they're never syrupy:  he's a good, meticulous winemaker, even if I don't totally agree with his approach.

Just what I was looking for.  (Boy that venison was good.)

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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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Because @Behemothtold me to, I got Nuno Mendes's Lisbon cookbook.*  And she's right:  it's a great cookbook, both for the recipes and the design/presentation, which is outstanding.  One interesting thing is that Nuno seems to be mounting this personal campaign to replace that Portuguese staple bacalhau with confited codfish.

When I make Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa, I put in A LOT of olive oil.  I think that's because one of the first recipes for the dish I ever read, back when I was first trying to get a feel for how to make it, remarked, "be sure to use the best olive oil you can afford:  you'll be eating a lot of it in this dish."  And I certainly do make it that way:  LOTS AND LOTS of olive oil.

Which means that these leftovers, cooked in lots of olive oil and then stored for a few days, under seal, in lots of olive oil, sort of WERE confited.  And they did have that confit silkiness.  But, since they started out as salt cod rather than cod (I mean, obvs they were cod before they were salt cod -- but you know what I mean), they didn't have that confit mushiness.  Maybe Nuno should consider this compromise.

2008 Monje Tradicional

You may recall this as a wine, meant to be drunk young, my stash of which I somehow put in the far reaches of my "age" pile.  So when I found it this year, it was well past it.

It's a trad field blend of (mainly) red and (some) white grapes from the Canary Islands.  So if it were in its prime, it would have been a perfect pairing for the bacalhau (which the Portuguese insist on drinking red wines with).

Interestingly, this wine didn't seem nearly as dead with this bacalhau as it did with whatever I drank my last bottle with.  That must because Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa is so overpoweringly flavorful that it sort of steamrolls over any flaws in the accompanying wine.  But happily, there's a sort of halo effect protecting the dregs I'm finishing now.

I cross my fingers for my final bottle.


* The only food by Nuno Mendes that I've eaten onsite wasn't remotely Portuguese, but rather aggressively molecular/modern.  It's interesting how careers go.  Like if Jordan Kahn were to become a world-recognized authority on Ashkenazic cooking.

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Expanding your cod adventures, you might try salting fresh fish.    Two ways, with two results.   

A fast, light salting (from half hour which firms up a soft fish to this longer salting which produces a dryer product

to this do it yourself method for a. more preserved fish.

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SHAAAAAAAAAAD ROOOOOOEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!  Sautéed (hell, pan fried) in (fancy Iberian) bacon grease.  With (fancy Iberian) bacon, shallots, and capers on top.  Boiled very-much-not-new potatoes, and raw pea shoots, on the side.

Could this have been better?  No, this could not have been better.

My first thought was, of course, to knee-jerk to a Riesling.  But then I thought of this -- from a region where as far as I know they eat neither shad nor bacon.

2015 Fabio Gea Flowers in the Sky with Rain

A natural frizzante rosato Nebbiolo from the Piemonte.  I mean, right?

A little (but not too much) heavy for a rosato, certainly light for a Nebbiolo -- and frizzante for all that frying.

There is fruit here -- dark cherry, sorta cranberry, and (where'd THIS come from) melon -- and a veneer of natural funk.  But it really is light on its feet.  This is a nimble wine that delivers a kind of unbeatable flavor.  A taste sensation, as we used to say in the '60s.

Of course, I was so high just from having shad roe that I could have drunk Tang and thought it was great.

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12 hours ago, voyager said:

Expanding your cod adventures, you might try salting fresh fish.    Two ways, with two results.   

A fast, light salting (from half hour which firms up a soft fish to this longer salting which produces a dryer product

to this do it yourself method for a. more preserved fish.

Thanks for this!

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Beef cheek goulash.  With a Hungarian-style pickled cabbage salad on the side.

I almost always knee-jerk into a Rioja pairing with goulash, on the ground of The Paprika/Pimentón Identity.  (That's the name of a paperback thriller I'm writing, in which a Hungarian governmental operative loses his memory and thinks he's Spanish.)  Tonight I had some other ideas.  Unfortunately, I didn't have time to hunt down the wines in my "cellar" necessary to effectuate them.

2004 Lopez de Heredia Rioja Riserva "Viña Bosconia"

Bosconia is the more Burgundian -- lighter and more acidic -- of L de H's riservas.  They must think so, too, as it's the only one they put into Burgundy bottles.  Accordingly, it seemed like the choice for this (mildly) spicy dish (OK OK I used an Anaheim chili instead of a bell pepper) (and hot Paprika instead of sweet) (My rather unsubtle palate thought it tasted great, if you want to know the truth).

L de H don't need any praise for me.  This 16-year-old wine is fresh, bright, and complex.  It lasts and lasts (I mean the flavor on your tongue:  the wine in the decanter depletes all too quickly).  I don't think I could find a flaw if I wanted to.

It was really good with the goulash, too.

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Mmmm, beef cheeks.

Spouse made beef cheek cholent for shabbat. So, so good. (and it wasn't a carb laden mess!) Drank it with Lagavullin to cut the richness.

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Shad roe smoked in my Gin Donabe (an appliance that I now can't imagine having lived without).  On a buttered slice of einkorn toast.  I Can't Believe It's Not Sauce Grebiche(c) as a condiment.  Steamed baby bok choy as the  obligatory green vegetable.

2014 Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie "Le Feu"

There are something like 22 acres of Gringet grown in the entire world -- and Domaine Belluard has 11 of them.

I think of Muscadet as a wine that's all mineral, no fruit.  This is mostly mineral with a little fruit.

You often see Gringets compared to Chablis (cuz Savoie is near Burgundy).  But to me this wine (Belluard's senior Gringet cuvée), at least, is more like a Sauvignon Blanc.  An extreme one, to be sure.  But it has that tart opening (and now that I think of it an even more tart finish).

Another thing is, this white wine can age.  There is no question in my mind that this is the best bottle I've had yet from the 2014 vintage.  And it doesn't taste like it's going away anytime soon.


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You know what?  This is more like an Aligoté than a Chablis.

But even in today's world of unimaginably good (by previous standards) Aligotés, this is better than any Aligoté you're going to find.

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Imagine my mortification when I unwrapped the veal shank I had defrosted for tonight's dinner and saw it was a veal Porterhouse.  Prep had already started, so I had to plow ahead as planned.

Braised veal Portherhouse with preserved Meyer lemon (from last year!).  Over couscous.  With steamed baby bok choy on the side.

Let's remove our hats and acknowledge that this is a Molly O'Neil recipe (RIP).  (Aside from substituting Porterhouse for shank, I substituted black Spanish radishes for the turnip O'Neil stipulated.  I cannot imagine that the added sharpness was not an improvement alongside the preserved Meyer lemon.)

So can you braise a Porterhouse?  The question is more, why would you?  What I did was cook an expensive cut of meat like a cheap one.  It was good -- the fillet side was unsurprisingly better than the strip side -- but after I'd browned it and it looked like a very nice steak, when I dropped it into the braising liquid, my heart hurt a little.  (It was a little weird to see a Porterhouse fall off the bone when it was finished.)

It turned out to be appropriate that I had selected a rather grand wine for this (a little bit of it in the braising liquid, too).

1996 Château de la Roche aux Moines (Nicolas Joly) Clos de la Culée de Serrant

A proto-natural wine:  remember when this was the vanguard of the vanguard?  Whatever:  it's still fantastic.

Eric Asimov always says he'd as soon drink a Savenièrres with steak as any red, so this was doubly appropriate tonight.   I chose it, however, because I thought it would complement the preserved Meyer lemon -- and fuck if I wasn't totally right!

This is another wine that doesn't need any praise from me.  Even more than Vouvray, it's not so much an off-dry Chenin Blanc as a dry one with semi-sweet elements.  So oodles of exotic fruit (as Robert Parker would have said) at the start, but a very very sharp acid cut coming right after.  I would say there's less honey in this than in a normal Chenin Blanc.

As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the great wines of the world.  And Joly has always said that 1996 was one of his very best vintages.  Who am I to disagree?  This wine is quite simply spectacular:  extremely complex, extremely balanced, extremely delicious.  (And, patting myself on the back, an absolutely perfect pairing:  could not have been bettered.)

Joly always says that he intends his wines to be drunk over several nights, as they develop with exposure to air.  Since the Porterhouse obviously had more meat than a shank would have, tonight's dinner unexpectedly generated leftovers.  I'll get back to them on Friday.  Let's see how the wine tastes then.  Tonight it's heavenly.

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