Curious about the odd red fruits on the plate? Those are hachiya persimmons, picked up at Wild Oats this weekend. I was a bit apprehensive in trying them, as I'd heard that the unripe versions were almost painfully tart. The local native persimmons tend to have smaller fruit, and my one experience with that on a childhood camping trip was rough. It taught me why folks refer to someone with a puckered face as looking like "a possum eating a persimmon".
But these were amazing. Soft and lightly sweet, texturally like an overripe peach or plum but with a milder flavor. It's soft and creamy and amazingly delicious. Tiny edible seeds, no real pith, and the skin is easily removed. I'm surprised it's taken thirty years to see these in the grocery store.
Out of concern for my palate, I tried the wine first and the fruit later. This is the 2004 Hogue Genesis Merlot from the Columbia Valley of Washington State. 85% Merlot, 12% Syrah, and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Hogue remains a beloved producer that I got to know back before I could legally purchase wine. In fact, I don't remember the first bottle of wine I purchased as a legal adult (in the U.S., that is), but money may have changed hands to pick up a 1994 Hogue Johannisberg Riesling when I was 19 and cooking dinner for my fellow resident advisors at the dorm. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
It's got a big currant aroma with hints of leather, tobacco, and green bell pepper--much like a good right bank Bordeaux. It's nowhere near that refined, but with some age it could possibly be amazing. It's got a rich, concentrated flavor, with strong tannins that soften with breathing. I sipped it along with a winter dinner of ham steak and cellentani con formaggio, or some fancy mac & cheese made with tubular corkscrew pasta and a rich Mornay sauce. The persimmons were dessert, and nothing makes me happier than some simple ripe fruit to top off a meal.