Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cellar Discoveries at years end

Mom called today and wondered why 'no news' on the blog. I'd actually written something at home and just hadn't gotten to the computer yet.
Here it is Mom, enjoy the delicious words and have a wonderful warm and sunny holiday!

There is always a new wine to get excited about, some new varietal grabbing headlines from South America, or a fabulous new label from the farthest reaches near Cap Finesterre. Every once in a while, I have been lucky enough to experience and enjoy the brilliance of fine wines that have had the time and opportunity to become memorable.
This Christmas presented one such opportunity. I was invited to spend Christmas Day with my friend Colleen and her family. They were planning a prime rib roast with all the fixings, I volunteered to bring the wine. My day began quietly, I was both thankful for and exhausted by the very busy season at the BELLA and I slept in a bit before getting up and baking Huckleberry Scones. I arrived just in time for the opening of the stockings with those aromatic scones warm from the oven! Colleen greeted me at the door with a glass of Prosecco and showed me to my place... where I discovered my very own stuffed stocking.
It was a banner year for Smart Wool! Mom sent me a bundle of new Smart Wool socks, and Santa must have gotten the memo too as there was a purple pair in my stocking with fabulous "dot" earrings as well.
We went for a walk after the stockings and gifts- it was an absolutely beautiful day in Baker City with clear blue skies, warm sun and perfect white snow everywhere except the nicely shoveled walks! The air was crisp, and it was a treat to spend
unscheduled time with such a good friend (oh my, there should be much more of this in my life- must make a note for New Years Resolutions!) When we returned,
the whole house was filled with the perfume of roast beef and garlic. Such a glorious aroma!
We teamed up and to play SCRABBLE and I opened the 2000 Corton Charlemagne from Boillot. We marvelled over the cork (does anyone use higher quality corks than those bottling Corton Charlemagne?) and were amazed by the youthfulness of the color- still brilliant and bright with no signs of age. The mouth was every thing you expect from such a great wine, even more so for it's lengthy rest in my basement over the past 7 years! I certainly could have planned a menu around this wine, but matching it with a word game and good friends gathered at the base of a decorated tree seemed the perfect way to celebrate this beautiful wine. Colleen and I won the first game, making up some rules as we went along but having a great time. At last the prime rib was ready to serve, the candles were lit and everyone pulled their poppers and put their paper crowns on as I pulled the second cork. This baby had been resting in my cellar for a very long time, it was a wine I had saved from my very first BELLA store in McMinnville,a magnum of Bethel Heights Reserve Pinot Noir 1990. Bethel Heights has been one of my dear favorite Oregon producers, I loved their old labels which featured a small photo of the grape varietal on each label and although the new labels are very classy and elegant, I really have a soft spot for this label and all the memories of my early days in the Oregon wine business that it evokes!
the wine was simply beautiful. I remember doing a tasting at Salishan Lodge once with Oregon Pinot noir from the 1980 vintage-in 1989!! We were so worried about how old the wines were and how they would show. I remember the Adelsheim very specifically, although it's moment of brilliance was fleeting, it was absolutely brilliant and complete for a window of time. This bottle of wine was made the next harvest following that tasting and while the larger format bottle certainly has allowed it to age longer,the wine was in perfect condition. I have always liked the Pinot noir from the region just northwest of Salem and there are qualities from the grapes in this microclimate that remind me of Vosne Romanee, my favorite French Burgundies. There is an element of spice, and sometimes candied orange peel, along with a depth of color and intensity that defines the Pinot of the Eola Hills region.
The Bethel Heights Pinot noir had intense color, with no browning at all and the flavors were very defined and elegant with an exceptionally smooth finish although still well built, not lacking acidity or structure. It was delicious with the beef and extremely satisfying, 6 adults and a lengthy dinner and there was still 3 glasses left in the bottle at nights end.
Not to worry, we gathered for leftovers the following day after a long and busy day at the store. The wine, even after being open for an entire day was still just gorgeous. I was truly impressed by the color and the fact that the fruit was still so center stage. It's not often that you find Pinot noir that is still beautiful and lovely at over 10 years of age, and Oregon is still such a young grape culture! The last glass was savored, and the sediment reminded us about all the reasons why we think unfiltered wines are better... especially in the LONG RUN!

Birthday Dinners
I want to cook more and I want to try really new things. I started last night with a Thai inspired menu idea and a package of frozen squid. As I worked out on the eliptical yesterday morning, I flipped through the pages of a Thai cookbook. I took stock of my pantry and freezer and made a few notes before going to work. I finished work at 2, grabbed a few produce items and the Holy Basil Chile Sauce and headed to my kitchen.
First was the dessert, afterall, this was a birthday dinner and Will loves pie, especially Rhubarb Pie! I made a whole wheat Pate Brisee crust and filled it with frozen huckleberries and rhubarb, the juice of 2 mandarin oranges and some fresh grated cinnamon and nutmeg. I cut stars out of the rolled pastry and topped my tart with overlapping stars- I should have taken a picture! (Note #2 for New Years Resolutions!)
I had written up my menu and began prepping my ingredients:
Carmelized Leeks
Sauteed Edamame, Broccoli and Green Beans with Fish Sauce
Shredded Fresh Spinach
Homemade Peanut Sauce
Satay Spiced Panko Breaded Cubes of Halibut
Pan Roasted Garlic, 14 cloves!
Shredded Cabbage
Julienned Sweet Potatoes
Julienned Peppers
Cleaned and cut squid
Coconut Rice
Everything was prepped and set aside in ramekins so that once my guests arrived, it would take less than 10 minutes to prepare the first course and about the same amount of time for the main course. I turned on the rice cooker once everyone had a glass of Limoux Brut and we relaxed and enjoyed some crusty french bread and the Rouge et Noir Triple Cream Brie. When I was ready to start the first course, I stirred the rice once and turned up the flame on the wok.
The prep for everything took about 1 fairly relaxed hour. The cooking time took mere minutes and the food was delicious. I'm going to make the Halibut
again soon, it was fantastic!

Satay Breaded Halibut on a bed of Carmelized Leeks and Spinach
2 T. butter
2 leeks, cleaned and cut into thin rounds
1 c. edamame
1/2 c. green beans
1/2 c. broccoli
1 T. fish sauce
1 # halibut, cut into 2" cubes
1 13 oz. can coconut milk
1 1/2 c. jasmine rice
1 1/2 c. panko crumbs
1 egg, whisked
1 Hand Brand Satay packet

1. Melt butter in hot wok, add leeks and lower heat. Stir to evenly coat leeks, cover wok and stir occassionally unti carmelized but not limp. Remove leeks from butter and set aside.
2. Mix together spice packet and panko crumbs. Dip cubes of halibut in egg to coat and then dip into crumb mixture to evenly cover. Set aside in fridge.
3. Saute edamame and vegetables in remaining butter, add fish sauce.
4. Mix peanut sauce packet with coconut milk in saucepan and bring to low boil for 15 minutes.
5. Heat heavy cast iron fry pan or large wok. Add 1 T. sesame or peanut oil. Place cubes of halibut in pan, turn when browned to evenly cook.
6. Add leeks back to veggie mixture in wok, toss until evenly heated.
7. Arrange shredded spinach on serving plates. Divide sauteed veggies onto plates, top with 2 cubes of halibut and top with sauce. Garnish edge of plate with Sriracha sauce!

Holy Basil Squid and Coconut Rice (with a nod to Victor)
1 # cleaned and peeled squid, cut bodies in rings
1/2 small head of cabbage, shredded
4 sweet potatoes, julienned
14 cloves garlic, pan roasted to carmelize
2 c. diced peppers
1 c. chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro
1 roasted chile
2-3 T. holy basil chile sauce

Heat the wok, add 1 .t peanut oil and stir fry cabbage and sweet potatoes. When tender, add peppers,chile and cooked garlic and toss to mix thoroughly. Add squid and stir fry for 2 minutes on medium heat. Stir in Holy Basil sauce and parley and serve!
Place large scoop of coconut rice in center of plate, top with Squid and sauce. Serve with Holy Basil Chile and Sriracha.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

enjoyed your blog, the food and wine sound fantastic!