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Last of the Passover brisket.  Broccoli rabe on the side

2012 Nicolas Gonin Persan

Persan is a nearly lost red grape of the Savoie and environs (this is from the adjoining Isère).  Nicolas Gonin is the leader of a handful of winemakers in Isère trying revive these nearly lost local grapes.

Persan, at least, seems well worth saving.

This is a strange wine in a way.  Persan has a reputation of being kind of big.  Maybe because Gonin makes wine is a modern (which is the opposite of "Modern") style -- short macerations for reds, etc. -- this wine isn't big at all.  Indeed, whereas typical Persans supposedly last and last, Gonin's are often recommended for drinking in the fairly near term.

This bottle is fine.  There are a lot of berries (not the usual suspects, but blueberries and huckleberries), and a lot of flowers on the nose.  You know what I'd say?  Isère lies between Savoie and the Northern Rhône.  And that's what this wine tastes like.  It has the crisp tension (and high acidity) of a Savoie wine, and the peppery spice of a Northern Rhône.  (Whether I'd think that if I didn't know where Isère is, is anybody's guess.)

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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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Malaysian braised hog jowl (YUM!).  With some steamed broccoli rabe.  On Charleston Gold rice (pretending to be jasmine).

I spent a lot of time this afternoon thinking of a pairing for this other than the obvious Riesling Kabinett.  But why forgo something you know will be perfect?

2019 A.J. Adam Hofberg Kabinett

Duh.  Perfectly balanced blah blah blah.  Tart fruit, just that touch of sweetness, ACID blah blah blah.  Great with fatty pieces of pork, great with a soy sauce-based gravy blah blah blah.

This was a GOOD dinner, with a PERFECT pairing.

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On the time-tested theory that if you make enough of an appetizer it becomes a main dish, percebes and lots of them.  (Actually these are from Portugal, so I guess they're percebas.)  On a bed of cordycep mushrooms (that was a stroke, if I may say) that were sautéed in lots of butter with lots of early Spring leeks and garlic.  Some melted garlic butter to dip.

On the side, white asparagus with butter and ham (this time it was appropriate that the ham was Iberian).  And of course baguette for sopping.

It's funny that what has to be the fanciest dinner I'll ever cook involved almost no cooking, just steaming.  (Well, I did think of the bed of cordyceps under the barnacles.)  (And I thought of putting some dashi into their steaming liquid -- which I'm sure made a difference, even if you couldn't quite perceive it.)

Now the knee-jerk pairing here would be an Albariño.  But I didn't have any.  And anyway, these were percebas from Portugal, not percebes from Galicia.  Sure, they make Alvarinho in Portugal -- but I didn't have any of that, either.  What I had was this.

2017 Quinta de Serradinha Vinho Branco (Arinto e Fernāo Pires)

I'm fascinated by wines that come from the environs of Lisbon, cuz it just seems so unlikely.

This is a bio wine from around there.  It's mainly made from Arinto, the white grape of the Portuguese Atlantic coast, which is acidic with a capital "A".  It's blended with some Fernāo Pires, a common Portuguese white grape that no one thinks is of any particular distinction, but which I suppose calms down the Arinto.

I think the huge success of this wine must be attributable, then, to the winemaking:  the growing and the vinification.  It's bright, it's sharp, it's redolent of the ocean.   It cut through all that butter in the food like a knife.  Think of it any time you make percebas.

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You know, the first time I had percebes was in the unlikely venue of Stockholm.  There was nobody to tell me how to eat them.  I somehow figured out that you twist off the pointy top and it pulls the meat out by myself.  I have no idea how:  I'm not usually that physically adept.  Necessity, you know.

I feel a kinship with the first Neanderthal who figured that out millennia ago.

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This is, obviously, the first time I've had percebes at home.  It never really registered in restaurants how much they squirt all over the place.  Cuz when it's not my table and my dining room, what do I care?

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This is one of the signal anti-restaurant dishes of the Quarantine period.

There's no art whatsoever to cooking them.  The only thing used to be, you couldn't get them to make at home.

Well, now you can.  While far from cheap, it's still A LOT cheaper than ordering them at restaurants.

So -- assuming percebes continue to be available to retail buyers on these terms -- remind me why you'd have them at restaurants.

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Oh wait a minute.

Cordycep mushrooms are pushed nowadays based on bogus health claims (the worst and most decadently degenerate reason to eat any food, as far as I'm concerned).

I'm here to tell you that cordyceps are worth eating cuz they're DELICIOUS and have an interesting texture that contributes to a lot dishes you could put them in (like mine tonight).

One of the bogus health claims, I see, is that they are supposed to be an aid to, shall we say, male vitality.

There's certainly no need for that here tonight.  What a waste of male vitality.

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Tonight the percebes (OK, percebas) reverted to their usual role as appetizers.

It is absolutely stupid how great these taste in light of how dead simple they are to prepare.  If only they were as easy to pay for.  Well, nobody's perfect.

Then, what my new neighborhood butcher calls a salt-and-pepper sausage (which is an accurate description of its flavor) on a bed of lentils (RG Black Caviar:  you hardly need me to tell you how great these are).  Fiddleheads sautéed in butter (it's SPRIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!) on the side.

Now in a large sense this was a triumph of shopping, not cooking.  Nothing required any skill whatsoever to make.  But on the other hand, if anyone claims to have had a better home-cooked dinner tonight, I'm here to tell you they're wrong.

I'll bet you think I had a Beaujolais with this.  Well HAR HAR HAR.

2015 Domaine Ricard Le Clos de Vauriou

A Loire Gamay, from Touraine.  So THERE.

This is as stupid as the percebes (OK, percebas), but in the opposite way.  Vincent Ricard is a favorite producer of mine of Loire Sauvignon Blanc at realistic prices -- but he also makes some red wines from Gamay and Côt.  This Gamay didn't even cost $15.  But it's good, really good:  honest and distinctive.  So it's at least as good a value proposition as M. Ricard's SBs are (if, to be honest, less distinguished:  those reasonably priced SBs rise to almost being special).

To be blunter, this is a good wine.  It has integrity.  It has character.  It reflects the grape and the terroir (it's identifiably Gamay -- but it tastes different from Beaujolais).  It isn't complex -- but Jesus Christ it's a Gamay.  This costs, in today's dollars, what Beaujolais used to cost, back in the day.  But it's better than Beaujolais was back then.  (Which of course is absolutely NOT to say that it's better than -- nor nearly as good as -- the best Beaujolais today.)

I'd recommend this to any novice winedrinker:  a red wine of real quality for less than $20.  But I'd also recommend it to any experienced winedrinker.  For a Wednesday night wine -- the arithmetic definition of mid-week -- it's like perfect.

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