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I was going to finish up the second of my recent boar shanks after a show Saturday night.  But the show turned out to include a boar as a character, a symphathetic one.  I just couldn't.


When last we saw these boar shanks, I had accidentally added some Trinidadian mango chutney to what I had intended to be a Germanish sweet-honey-and sage preparation.  It thankfully wasn't disgusting the first night out -- but I had hoped that some refrigerator age would cause the flavors to integrate more.

It did.  This still wasn't successful.  But it was even less disgusting tonight than the first time.

Sautéed spigarello on the side.

Some wine professional oddly stated somewhere that Pinot Noir is good with mango chutney.  Since Pinot Noir is also good with boar shank and mustard, I put aside my skepticism and opened a bottle.

2013 Longoria Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir "Lovely Rita"

This wine isn't supposed to age this much, I'm sure.  But it was fine.  If it ever had any tendencies toward over-fruitiness, these have been overcome with time.  Very nice blend of reticent fruit and dirty minerals and forest stuff.

What was surprising, though, is how good a pairing it was.  That wine professional, whoever they were, knew what they were talking about.  The fruit there is in this -- I said it was reticient, not absent -- plays with the mango.  Meanwhile, the tannins are low enough not to spike up the spice.  The forest stuff goes with the boar.

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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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Potato salad.  Cold pre-cooked fiddleheads.  Beans.

Repetitious.  But the larder requires what it requires.

(Also:  HOT DOGS!)

And I was pretty hot to see how that Appinette grape-apple cider -- the one I had intended to drink with my last hot dog dinner -- went with the dogs.

2019 Aaron Burr Cidery Appinette

Aaron Burr Cidery's breakthrough release (a while ago).  Made with farmed rather than foraged apples, blended with wine (well, I guess its grape juice when they blend it) (well, really it's grapes) made from Traminette grapes (a North American hybrid having Gewürtraminer as its vinafera parent).

The producer claims it uses farmed apples in this because, when blending with a particular grape, it's better to know in advance what kinds of apples you're using.  I have a feeling that, early in its career, this producer was also concerned with price point on what it hoped (correctly as it turned out) would be a popular, attention-getting product.

This isn't as good as Burr's fancy foraged ciders.  But it's really good.  I love the way the Gewürtztraminer undercurrent (you definitely can taste it) plays with the appley apple flavors.

And it's great with hot dogs!  Cider is good with hot dogs, and to my mind Gewürtztraminer is the only wine that goes well them.  The Gewürtz accents make the cider go even better.

An appropriate beer is probably still the best pairing of all, though.

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It's a good thing I planned another quick late supper after tonight's late-starting show.  Cuz a fire scare right after it started caused a half-hour suspension.

WHY I ADORE AVANT-GARDE THEATER:  You absolutely could not tell that the building fire alarm, with its flashing lights and discordant blasts of sound, wasn't part of the show.  They had to have someone come up on stage and announce that the alarm was an alarm, and we all had to vacate the building.

Bean omelet (those beans NEEDED to be finished) (and so did the cheddar, although I didn't finish it).  Sautéed purslane (with some bitter lemon vinegar to brighten it up) on the side.  And buttered milk toast (which I suppose is different from milquetoast).

Yes, even I can eat a vegetarian dinner sometimes.

Especially when I have a wine at hand that I know will be perfect with it.

Except that, once again, I OPENED THE WRONG BOTTLE.  I hope this isn't incipient Alzheimer's.

2019 Bichi No Sapiens

I had PLANNED to drink some Bichi Mistico, a light field blend that would have been just great with the slightly spicy bean omelet.

I DID open this other Bichi field blend, which is considerably heavier.  I noticed as soon as I started drinking that the wine was outweighing the food.  Which was NOT supposed to be happening.

Objectively, I love this wine.  It's got structure.  It's got more depth than you usually expect from a natural wine.

Don't get me wrong:  this isn't a bruiser.  Although no one knows for sure what grapes are in it, the best guess as to the major component is Barbera.  And I mean I could see a Barbera with this dinner.

But it's muggy as hell, and I and the omelet wanted something lighter.

I REALLY have to start paying attention.

At least I didn't put anything funky into the omelet.

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Bluefish with red currant sauce.  I made it up, and it came out pretty much as I intended yo.  (Well I was hoping it might look better.)

Sautéed purslane (with LOTS of green garlic) on the side.

This time I intended to open a Feinherb.  And I did!

2013 Ratzenberger Bacharacher Riesling Kabinett Feinherb

See I wanted a wine that wasn't bone dry, but wasn't so sweet that it would make the berry sauce seem cloying (even with berries as tart as red currants).  (Or maybe what I mean is, a sweeter wine would have made the berries seem even tarter -- whereas a totally dry wine would have been like, WTF am doing here?)  (And of course you need an acidic wine to cut the oily fat in the fatty oily fish.)  Hence a Feinherb.

And it's amazing how much better this wine tastes with food that it goes with.  People say that the whole idea of pairings is bullshit but I'm here to say they're wrong.

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So tonight's show ended at like 10:30, and I had like an hour and half's work to finish after my one-hour's subway commute home.  (The venue also had a two-drink minimum, but that's my problem.)

Lucky that I had planned a quick Midnight Pasta.  And lucky that it turned out to be DELICIOUS.

Linguini with Colatura.  Colatura is an anchovy sauce they make on the Amalfi coast, a sort of Campanian version of Vietnamese fish sauce.  There is evidence that it is a direct descendent of the famous Roman condiment Garum, but nobody knows for sure.

Boy is it good.  The deepest umami you've ever tasted.

And I can emulsify yo!

In the absence of parsley -- and in an attempt to convince myself I was having a green vegetable as part of this one-dish 1 AM supper -- I put in a bunch of shredded spigarello.  I personally -- and I'm the only person who ate this -- think that worked really well (in terms of flavor if not nutrition).

Next time I make this -- and there's no question that so delicious a very quick and simple dish will have several next times -- I'll ramp up its anchovitude by putting in some actual anchovies.  And maybe by then there'll be some fresh Calabrian chili around, instead of the dried Chili de Arbol I used tonight.  (OTOH, by then we'll be using regular garlic instead of the green garlic I used tonight -- copiously -- and which I love so much.)

Geography aside, the wine to drink with this would be a Muscadet:  minerally, saline, smacking of the sea.  Too bad I couldn't find any in my storage units (I'm not saying I don't have any).  My knee-jerk sub for a Muscadet is a Bourgogne Aligoté, and that's what I drank.*

2018 Denis Carré Bourgogne Aligoté "Le Tapeau du Clos"

It was just today in The Times, I tihnk, that Eric Azimov mentioned in passing that Aligoté is an example of a wine that used to suck -- good for nothing but serving as the base of a Kir -- that improved when winemakers in the area decided to pay attention and make it good.

I still don't love it (or at least most of it).  I don't think that's purely prejudice.  In theory Aligoté is just what I like:  a white with almost no fruit, all minerals instead.  But I don't find even the good ones -- at least on the lower level of good like this one (there are some high-level ones that really make it) (but you don't open them at 1 AM on a Tuesday-into-Wednesday with quick Midnight Pasta) -- to be very compelling.  There's some there there -- but not enough.

Don't get me wrong:  it's better than the old norm.  But compare it to, say, the comparable Muscadet (another wine that's gotten a lot better over the past couple of decades).  It just doesn't have that unique flavor, the really interesting set of minerals.

And, of course, Burgundy isn't near any seas.

What's lucky, though, is that the preceding venue's two-drink requirement prevented me from finishing this bottle.  I need some white wine to throw into the sauce for the next dish I'm making.  And I have some!


* I could've opened a Sardinian Vermentino -- a wonderful wine from a not-huge island that by definition is surrounded by the sea -- but I'm saving that for another meal we'll be seeing in the next several weeks.

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You can't imagine how thrilled I was when I saw some lamb kidneys in my butcher's display case after picking out some lamb chops and realized that kidney would go even better than chops with the sauce I was planning.

Lamb Chops and Kidney with Sorrel/Borage Sauce.  On the side, a sautéed Asian green whose name escapes me that's like a more delicate collard green (cooked with plenty of green garlic duh).

The lamb was one of those dishes where I literally could not believe that this was something I was eating in my own dining room, with my own wine, listening to my own records on my own stereo, that I had cooked myself (the lamb, not the stereo).  It was that good.  (I upped the lemon juice Q in the sauce to balance the added richness of the kidneys -- which richness was pure gain, taking what would have been a good dish and rocketing it through the ceiling.)

I had thought that a Cabernet Franc would be a promising pairing.  The acid would both mate with the acid implied by the sorrel and borage and added by the lemon juice and join that acid in cutting through the richness of the cream sauce and the kidney.  And the sheer herbiness of this wine seemed like it would be good with the sorrel and borage (it is a famous sex partner of the wine that you immediately think of with herb/vegetables like those, Sauvignon Blanc).

2018 Domaine Fabrice Gasnier Chinon "Les Graves"

What I wasn't expecting is that this would be one of those perfect pairings, where the wine and food party together, the wine improving the food and the food improving the wine.

It's the acid:  this wine has lots of it.  But it's also the fine-grained tannins, which bind with the fat.  The herbs, meanwhile, just love the sauce:  wubwubwub.

Sometimes dinner just works.

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