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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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Bigoli in Salsa.  This is a traditional variation on the famous Venetian dish of Sarde in Saor (over pasta), made because this version uses anchovies, which I had on hand, instead of sardines, which I didn't (perhaps because I prefer anchovies).

Instead of onions, I used (you can see THIS coming) RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMPPPPPPSSSSSS.  Because, given the brevity of the season, I wanted to know I was eating RAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMPPPPPPPPSSSSSSSS, I let them maintain some of their formal integrity, instead of cooking them down to a mush as is traditional with the onions.  (Not so the anchovies, of course:  I cooked them down to mushissimo.)

Some barely sautéed flowering arugula on the side.

The good thing about eating specifically Venetian sea food is that you don't have to think very hard about the wine.  In the Southern Veneto, if you're not drinking Soave, you're driking Custoza.

2018 Corte Gardoni Custoza "Greoto"

Corte Gardoni in Bardolino is another of those wine makers, like Domaine de Robert in Beaujolais, that makes traditional wine to the highest standards.  Wines like these tend to fall through the cracks, cuz they're not "Modern" for the Modernists but they're not "Natural" for the Kool Kidz.   The happy consequence for consumers is that this keeps prices quite low, especially given the wines' quality.

This is just a splendid (everyday) wine.  It's loaded with character:  it tastes just like what it is -- but a really good version.

Custoza, so you know, is practically identical in its composition to Soave -- it's just made a few miles away.  They taste about the same.  Herby/spicy fruit, round but with a sharp finish.

It goes with this pasta like you'd never drink anything else with it.  Cuz, other than Soave, you really wouldn't.

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I love bluefish.  You can take the boy out of the Guyland, but you can't take the Guyland out of the boy.  (Actually, you can't even take this boy out of the Guyland:  other than school, I've lived on Long Island my entire life from age 2 on.)

Extrapolating from the apparent classic British combo of mackerel and gooseberries, I made bluefish with sorrel/rhubarb sauce.  It looked like shit.  Boy did it taste good!  (I commend myself for managing to use the appropriate chives, rather than the self-indulgent RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMPPPPPPPPPSSSSSS, as a garnish.) (I expect we'll see that wild Spring allium tomorrow.)

On the side, I steamed some asparagus to an extreme (you'd hardly have known it wasn't canned).  Just the way I like it!  (Good thing Voyager was on the other side of the continent.)  Topped with morels sautéed in lots and lots of butter.

I thought for a while this afternoon, while doing my writing, about alternatives.  But it was pretty clear this was going to get a Sauvignon Blanc.

2018 Domaine Vincent Ricard Les Trois Chênes

This Dagueneau protegé from Touraine is (one of) the kind(s) of winemaker(s) I really love:  Organic but not Natural, with an insane attention to detail and quality -- but since his wines are not particularly fashionable, he can't and doesn't seek a lot of money for his stuff.  This wine cost around $20.  And it's worth every penny.

An interesting thing about this cuvée is that, despite its fairly modest price, it requires some bottle age:  it's never very good upon release.   Upon release, the various elements are completely unbalanced (with punishing acid To Rule Them All).  But give it a few years, and everything comes together -- and it becomes one of the most sheerly delicious (and surprisingly complex) $20 Loire SBs you can find.

This is just entering its window.  I don't know how long it will last (my bottles of Les Trois Chênes never stick around long enough in my cellar for me to find out).  There are the usual SB flavor and aroma elements -- citrus, some apples, grass -- and some ringers like pineapple(?) (I dunno:  I call them as I taste them).  What sets this apart from your usual Sancerre (from a bit down the Loire) is a dose of salinity at the end (which I just love) and slightly greater roundness (which was just what this moderately rich dinner wanted) -- tempered, of course, by the acid (which doesn't go away but rather joins the chorus instead of insisting on singing lead).

The (as always, likely embroidered) backstory goes that Vincent Ricard inherited some vineyards from his grandfather that had been used to grow grapes for bulk sale.  When, fresh from Dagueneau School, he started paying attention to the details in growing and harvesting, and taking great pains in making his grapes into wine on his own, everyone in the neighborhood laughed at all the unnecessary work.

I hope he keeps this up forever.

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Since I haven't mentioned this in a while:  if you read Dumas père's The Three Musketeers -- which you should, since if you're an arrested adolescent like me, it's fucking great -- you'll see that the Musketeers and d'Artagnan are all about Touraine wine.  They drink amounts of it that are stunning even to me.

I can totally see why.

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Grilled ham and cheese sandwich.  On einkorn/ramp bread.  To be honest, there might have been a few ramps inside the sandwich, too.  More than a few, actually.  This was very much a "will you have some sandwich with your ramps?" situation.

More of that German potato salad on the side.  And some flowering arugula (I'm becoming very attached to this stuff) in a lavender vinaigrette.

The wine choice was obvious (and not just to contradict @small h).

2019 A.J. Adams Riesling Kabinett "Hofberg"


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Pan-roasted (well, barely) sable with a rhubard/ramp sauce.  Oversteamed (YUM) asparagus with cultured Harbison butter melted on top.

The sauce was a little risky (if I were talking about anyone other than myself, the word I'd use might be "stupid").  You use onions or shallots in savory rhubarb sauces because the sweetness of those alliums compliments the extreme tang of the rhubarb.  But nobody would ever call ramps "sweet".  Nevertheless, maybe it was the excess of brown sugar I poured in, but this worked (at least to my taste) (and there was no one else here) as an interesting interplay of tang and funk.

What finally made the sauce, though, was this:  as I was pulling the seasonings for the fish out of my pantry, a package of dried hibiscus flowers literally fell on my head (pulling things out of the pantry is a pretty action-packed activity here at Chez Sneak).  I thought, gee, hibiscus would be really good in this sauce.  And it was!  It was like a bridge between the tang and the funk.

Sable is great.  I've loved it, in its Ashkenazic Jewish cold-smoked form, since I was a boy.  But eating this conventionally cooked version tonight, I figured out why:  like Hokkaido Snow Beef (another current obsession) (the most Erotic Beef there is), these animals develop A LOT of fat living up there in the Frozen North.  This fish was like buttah.  Almost literally.  (Except butter doesn't have quite so many bones.)

The pairing showed the virtues of educated adventurousness and intuition in wine pairings.

2014 Nicolas Gonin Verdesse

Verdesse is a grape that originated in Isère.  Now it's mainly grown in nearby Bugey and Savoie.  Nicolas Gonin, however, leads a cadre of winemakers trying to revive traditonal winemaking, using traditional grapes, in Isère.

Verdesse is mainly used these days as a blending grape.  There's a general trend, though, among those trying to revive trad local grapes, of using localized blending grapes as single-grape varietals.   Often it turns out that the reason the grapes grew to be used in blends is that they lacked the quality to stand alone (I'm looking at you, Albillo).  But sometimes, you score a hit.

This wine was succulent.  It may be because it's gotten some bottle age.  This is one of those white wines where there isn't a ton of fruit, but rather a ton of herby secondary flavors.  A whole bouquet of herbs, in fact -- and then some white licorice.  It's just lip-smacking.

Which made it go perfectly with the tangy/funky sauce.  And, coming from where it does, you won't be surprised that there was a strong dose of acid at the finish to cut the fat in the fish.  I mean, it just tasted like it was made for this dinner.

Gonin and his followers really have it going on over there in Isère.

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Good as it was, though, this food LOOKED abominable.

The burly guy at Manresa at Intersect by Lexus might have thought it was an acceptable plating.

This is why I feel I can't have people over.

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It's funny, when you think of it, that one of the great dishes in Ashkenazic Jewish cuisine is called Montreal Steak.  Such are the vagaries of living in a Diaspora.

My experiment today was to find out if it's possible to overseason a Montreal Steak.  I suspected it wasn't.  It turns out it is -- but it's still pretty delicious.

With grilled RAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMMPPPPPPPPPPPPSSSSSSSSSS and cordyceps on top (cordyceps really ARE the shit).

The end of my not-bad German potato salad on the side.  And some steamed bok choy rabe.

I said a couple of weeks ago that I'd have a Telquel with my next Montreal Steak.

2019 SARL Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme Le Telquel

Yeah this peppery Gamay blend is great with a Montreal Steak, just like it'd have to be.

What's striking me tonight is how unctuous it is for a Natural Wine.  One of the features of the style is that the wines are kind of thin.  I'm not gonna call this bottle glyceriney or mouth-filling (thank GOD).  But there's more of it in your mouth than you'd expect, knowing what it is.

I'm far from alone in loving this.

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