This is the first in a series of postings in which I attempt to track down and recall what transpired Monday evening, during a Memorial Day feast. I got to meet a great chap and his wife that I'd previously known only through a mutual friend and e-mail lists. Tom brought down a bunch of wine for his visit, and I brought a few bottles and cooked dinner. To kick things off, I started out with my favorite sparkler, the Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noirs. The first course consisted of grilled tilapia over blood oranges and bay leaves, fried green tomatoes, and a fire-roasted red pepper cream sauce to go with both, garnished with goat cheese and microgreens. For the wine, I served the 2005 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne, from the great importer Robert Kacher. This is mostly a GSM blend, and has a deep and lovely lavender color. Bright strawberry aromas and flavors with a dry finish. It's also a biodynamic wine, and I think the first one I've knowningly consumed. I don't have anything against the method, I'm just not convinced it does any good. We also opened one of Tom's bottles, the humorously named 2004 Rosenblum California Côte du Bone Roan, Château La Paws. An unusual blend of red grapes, but the Zinfandel gives it some wonderful complexity. Great fruit flavors without heavy tannins. Oddly a great pairing for this first course.
For the second course, I made a deconstructed navarin d'agneau, a traditional lamb stew. But it's too hot here for a stew, and I had a vegetarian present at the meal, so it was more fun to do it in pieces. I slathered the leg of lamb in Dijon mustard, garlic, and fresh mint, and grilled it over hot coals. At the same time, I was roasting a bunch of baby vegetables: potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, and fennel, all coated in olive oil and fresh rosemary. And off to the side, I was reducing down a hearty sauce of red wine and beef broth. For the wine, we had one of Tom's, a Spanish Rioja by the name of Sierra Cantabria. (I'll double check the name and vintage later, but it was from the late nineties.) We decanted it and let it sit for half an hour before consuming, and it was a thing of beauty. Deep, rich black fruit flavors, with mellowed tannins and a velvety finish.
Beyond that, the evening devolved into a procession of Port and whiskey and me slouched in the chair, stuffed and content that all had gone well.