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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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Somewhat to my surprise, I found myself using my relatively inexpensive low-grade Gin Donabe so much that it seemed worth upgrading to the TOIRO model that everyone talks about.  This was my maiden voyage.

Everything on the higher-priced model seems to FIT together better.  And there's certainly more capacity, what with its three levels of grills.  But I need to figure its usage out more before I can judge whether it's worth it.  (I mean, it will almost certainly NEVER be six times better than the cheaper Korin one, in accordance with its six-times-more-expensive price:  that's a given.  We're in the land of diminishing returns here.)

What I think I did wrong this time is, I overstuffed it, so things possibly didn't cook as much as they might have.  (I don't think I'm gonna DIE or anything.)  I'll have to mess around more.

My initial plan was to smoke some pheasant sausage I have.  Then a bud recommended that I smoke some Spring alliums along with it.  Then I realized:  why not smoke EVERYTHING I'm having tonight (except the underlying lentils)?  So smoked pheasant sausage, Three-Cornered Leeks, mushrooms, and White Asparagus.  Everything but the asparagus and some of the mushrooms on RG Black Caviar Lentils (not smoked).

As we've been discussing in the Donabe thread, these Gin Donabes give a superficial light smoke -- not the deep smoke we're used to from barbecue.  It's just a different thing.  I like barbecue better as anyone would.  But this is very very nice in its own, different, understated way.

It will surprise exactly no one that I decided on a Cotes du Rhône to drink with this.  Maybe, with all that smoke, a Northern one would have been best.  But I went South.

2018 Domaine Charvin Cotes du Rhône "Le Poutet"

I really like this wine.  It's a Naturalish Southern Rhone, so the fruit flavors emerge from some funk to be clear and (for a Naturalish wine) kind of clean.  And they're so NICE:  all kinds of red berries (sort of prep for what's gonna be in my kitchen in a few weeks).  Not a lot of complexity after that -- but we're having such a good time with the fruit, we don't care.

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On 3/30/2021 at 11:12 PM, Sneakeater said:

I'd always avoided white asparagus, though.  My prejudice was that it looked like all the flavor had been leached out to make the asparagus look fancy.  And, as someone who mainly eats green vegetables out of the guilt-ridden belief that the fatty proteins I vastly prefer must be balanced, why would I want to eat a green vegetable that isn't even green?

A couple of years ago, however, I found myself in the Netherlands around Easter -- when eating white asparagus is something of a national obsession.  Obviously I wasn't going to resist.  Now, as you know, white asparagus is created by keeping the growing stalks under the soil, so they don't develop chlorophyll.  As I was beyond delighted to learn, what this process does isn't to create a deracinated asparagus, but rather to create an asparagus that is earthier -- nuttier, you might even say -- than the normal green kind.  More like the kind of things I like to eat, in other words.

Why doesn't anyone grow white asparagus in the Northeast (that I know, anyway)?

So I found some domestic (but pretty clearly NOT from the Northeast) white asparagus at Union Market.  They were pathetic.

First, compared to the Provençal ones, they're TINY.  They're like CGI runty Steve Rogers compared to pumped-up full-body Chris Evans Captain America in The First Avenger.

Second, that magical earthy/nutty flavor?  Zero zilch nada.  These were like, NOTHING.  Deracinated asparagus.  I must have had some of these in the past.  Cuz this is EXACTLY why I'd avoided white asparagus before my Easter in Holland.

Even after smoking them, all I tasted was the smoke.

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22 minutes ago, Sneakeater said:

(much as I love D'Artagnan in general).

Need to find a source for Quebecoise Salt Meadow lamb now that D'Artagnan has stopped selling it, though.

I've had no luck.  Has anyone?

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OK, I have to say it.  I texted a GF a photo of tonight's dinner (cuz she's a maniac for White Asparagus).  And she replied, "that's kind of a MANLY dinner, isn't it?"  And I looked at the picture and damn:  it's ALL phallic.

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What's so wrong with a manly dinner?

While I dig the fact that you're smoking practically your whole dinner, at once, in the donabe (like an Insta Pot...with smoke!!), I wonder if some stuff deserves the smoke treatment? 

Regarding white asparagus (and asparagus in general, as Ori once noted): unless it's nice and fresh, it loses a lot. I've always felt the white asparagus I've consumed here to be more about it's juiciness (and rarity, as it usually has been consumed in restaurants and comes from Germany, Holland, Belgium, etc.) rather than it's actual flavor, which tends to have been provided by the various accoutrements to the main event.

And to bump that sort of mellow flavor up, I know that at Katja (where I consume white asparagus during its season and when they offer their white asparagus menu), the asparagus is trimmed and peeled, and those trimmings and peelings are used to make a court bouillon in which the asparagus is then poached. Works nicely. 

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The thing is, once I decided to put in the leeks along with the sausage, everything else -- the asparagus, the mushrooms -- was stuff the TOIRO instruction booklet expressly singled out as good for Donabe smoking.

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Cheeseburger.  Just like last time:  with charred cordyceps and Three-Cornered Leeks.  Only this time I remembered to put a rather gratuitous pickle on top.

More Mountain Sweet Berry Farm potato chips on the side.  And raw pea shoots in a za'atar vinaigrette.

I'm the first person to ever think of having this wine with a burger.  (JOKE)

2019 SARL Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme Le Telquel

Mainly Gamay, as you know.  You never know, in any given vintage, what else is mixed in (as you also know).  Given the pepper I'm tasting, I'd be surprised if there wasn't a decent dose of Pineau d'Aunis in this, though.

Fun guessing games aside, this wine has a high reputation that, year in and year out, it lives up to.  But don't let that mislead you:  its reputation is for fun.

Being a Loire wine, it's never over-generous with the fruit.  The interest lies in the other stuff:  the herbs, and the strong mineral finish.  (Which is not to say that there isn't some nice dark brambly fruit in there:   just that nobody would confuse this with a Beaujolais.)  This year, as I said, there's a lot of pepper (but that's far from all).  A nice spicy gulp of wine.  Many gulps, actually.


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Omurice.  With some third-rate white asparagus on the side.

Amazing how one dinner (which was more a glorified breakfast) could use so many things that needed using.

Including the wine.

Bodegas Tradicion Fino Tradicion

I won't lie:  this wasn't as good as it was in the beginning of the week.

It was good enough, though.

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A repeat of my Manly Dinner from a few nights ago.  Except that tonight, I was, as far as I could tell, out of any kind of lentils entirely.  (I'm sure that's not true:  I'm sure I have some that are only hiding.)  So I made some flageolets.  Which I like better than lentils anyway.  So there.

Otherwise, pheasant sausage, yellowfoot mushrooms, pathetic domestic white asparagus, and Three-Cornered Leeks, all smoked in the Gin Donabe.  I'm getting the hang of this new one.  I see that my main mistake last time was that, out of fear that I'd put in too many wood chips, I put in too few.  That, and that I overstocked the Donabe with things to cook.  This time, more wood chips and fewer mushrooms (and, of necessity -- this was the end of them -- fewer leeks) (I'd be bummed about finishing the Three-Cornered Leeks -- which were revelatory, a new favorite -- if I didn't have a couple of bunches of our own fabulous local Northeastern Spring allium waiting in the wings) (you'd almost think I'd planned it -- which I sort of did, but I never dreamed it would work).

Without putting too fine a point to it, this was all delicious.  I LOVE my Gin Donabe.  Within its limits -- it isn't barbecue -- I can't think of a bad thing to say about it.  Joethefoodie chides me for using it like an Instant Pot, loading it with ingredients all at once and cooking away.  But the thing is, he's exactly right:  that's just how I use it.

I mean, look:  it gave those pathetic domestic white asparagus stalks some flavor.  And what a GREAT way to cook sausage (assuming, as I dearly hope, it was cooked).

Back to the Southern Rhône for the wine.

2015 Xavier Vignon Gigondas

I criticize Xavier for making wines that are too solemn (Rhônes, especially Southern Rhônes, should be fun).  But this one hit the spot.

What you get is a huge huge hit of dark berry juice.  Now unlike the Domaine Charvin I had a few nights ago, this wasn't joyous berry juice:  that will never be what Xavier does.  But there was LOTS and LOTS of it, and it tasted GOOD.

It didn't stop there:  this is a wine from Provence, and of course there was a garrigue follow-up.  But it was only a follow-up (and to be honest it didn't last that long).  The news here was the copious and very enjoyable (if DARK) fruit.

I was afraid I was opening this too early.  But while it isn't anywhere near the end of its window, it's very very drinkable this very minute.

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I came into some Boer goat meat!  As @Orik has said, this stuff is THE SHIT.  The greatest goat of all time.  That's right:  the GOAT goat.

Roast leg of goat, cooked with sorrel, ramps, spring garlic, garlic garlic stuck into incisions in the leg, potatoes, anchovies, preserved Meyer lemons, and white wine.  Oh, and some rosemary/sweet pepper hot sauce rubbed into the meat.

That might sound like too much going on, but honestly, the flavors blended beautifully:  one of the rare times that one of my conceptions worked as conceived.  (I might have put in a few too many anchovies -- but I have a feeling that'll resolve itself as the dish rests in my refrigerator.)

This is closer to a Greek dish than anything else.  But despite my great affection for the Natural wines coming out of Greece these days, I don't have any on hand.  I was going to crack open an old Rioja -- but then I thought Grenache (yeah I've been drinking a lot of that lately) and went for a relatively light Priorat (with a Greek name!).

2007 Viñedos de Ithaca "Akyles"

A little long in the tooth for this wine (actually QUITE long in the tooth).  But Priorats are hardy -- even relatively light ones.

Actually, this isn't all Grenache (OK:  Garnacha) (two kinds).  There's also some Carignan (OK:  Cariñena) and Cabernet Sauvignon (there's no Spanish word for that totally unindigenous grape).  Really a perfect combination for goat if you think about it.

This wine isn't all about the fruit (at age 13 and a half, how could it be?).  The dark berry fruit is nice -- but it's all grown up and refined.  And then you get tons of herbs (they don't have garrigue in Catalonia) and some minerals to follow. 

This was probably REALLY good five or so years ago.  But it's very good now.

And since I've already patted myself on the back for the food, let me also pat myself on the back for the pairing.  I don't think I'll surpass it over the long life of this dish.  (Hmmmmm:  rhymes with loose car . . . .) (Comes from a geographical location that shares a name with the nerdy youngest Thatcher daughter on '90s TV . . . .)

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