We finally had a chance to get together with Chris & Sirkka after much too long; between his touring schedule and both our kids getting colds, it has been a while since we got to have dinner together. I had already roasted beets and made blue potato gnocchi, and there was kabocha purée, so I defrosted our last venison steaks that our neighbor Kenny had given us last fall after he and his brother killed a couple of deer. To begin, I pulled up a big turnip from the garden and made soup with it and its greens, adding only water and a little onion and parsley. Once soft, I stick-blended it to a nice purée and served it in teacups as a first course to keep everyone happy while I dealt with the rest.
The venison got a simple salt-pepper-chilli-herb rub and seared up in the iron pan, then rested. I gave the gnocchi a sauté in smoked duck fat, and made a reduction of wine, chocolate, pomegranate, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. I finished the plates with claytonia leaves and our just-finished horseradish and shredded root (daikon, carrot, turnip, fennel) pickle. It all came together as I had hoped; the colors were vibrant, and the flavors meshed and yet remained distinctive. We started with a 1998 Gros Noré Bandol, which is a big, elegant, super well-made wine that still packs some serious tannin, then moved on to a Martinetti Barolo “Marasco” which blew the Bandol out of the water. Not due to any fault of the Bandol; the Barolo just has so many more layers of subtle detail and sexy sensuality (which one would hope for, given the price difference.)
To finish, a salad from the garden and then some Roquefort and taleggio with baguette and strawberries. Big, fat, sweet, organic strawberries from far away. Along with all this we sipped some Chambers Rutherglen Muscat, then rinsed our glasses and returned to the Barolo like sensible folk.