Down Home

It had been a while since Chris and Sirkka visited, between his incessant touring and my own recent travels, so we were all pretty happy to get together for a meal. The kids played really well together, affording us some quality adult chill time during both preparation and eating. To begin, my newly invented shiso mojitos: shiso, agave, lime juice (should really be yuzu, but good luck finding that fresh) rum, and sake. The agave balances the sour lime, and the sake dries the whole thing out so it has none of the cloying taste of so many tropical drinks.

I muddled and stirred them in a beautiful vintage Japanese glass cocktail set (with matching spoon) that I got Christine for her birthday. (For those of you paying disquietingly close attention to this blog, the vintage lamps were the main gift and this was a little extra something I couldn’t resist.) We served them in some of my Grandfather’s cool old rocks glasses; it was a total time warp but for the fact that “shiso mojito” would have been incomprehensible pinko gibberish back during the original cocktailian epoch.

And then there was food. The last of the super-useful smoked duck broth, diluted a bit with water, added wonderful depth to a saffron and pea risotto (I also fried one strip of bacon in there so I could give our guests a little sample; the rendered fat added a little oomph and did elegantly lascivious things with the parmigiano at the end.) There’s just something about rice, bird broth, saffron, and peas. And local organic chicken legs, with a gentler than usual rub followed by bastings of the homemade BBQ sauce on the grill, and frisée mash that Chris expertly churned in the suribachi, and quickly sautéed beet greens and multicolored chard with garlic. And Sirkka’s pie made with their sour cherries and our strawberries. There’s something about those things too.

They brought a 2006 Sheldon Santa Lucia Highlands Chard- Dylan is a friend of the band (I met him years ago backstage in Oakland when they opened for the Dead) and makes a mean wine. We had some of his rosé at their place this Spring, and it’s delightful. We followed it with another Bret Bros. Pouilly-Fuissé, and it was a perfect sequence. On a weekend, I could easily have reached for one of the great white Burgs in the fridge to complete the Chardonnay trifecta. But we all had work to do in the morning, and I suspect the wine at tonight’s shindig will be completely off the hook.

4 comments to Down Home

  • JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

    Sounds like a delicious meal, and I especially like your take on a mojito! Yum!

  • Heather

    Risi e bisi with risotto and choggia beets sounds perfect.

    I’ve got reservations tonight, but this weekend is going to be about purging the fridge and garden, for sure. I have two softball-sized purple kohlrabi that want to be a mash. :)

  • peter

    Jenn: The mojitos didn’t suck.

    Heather: I haven’t grown kohlrabi yet, but I might put in a fall crop. My Mom used to grow a lot of them.

  • cook eat FRET

    if only i could be your friend… and get invited to such dinners. (please interject a pitiful tone of voice.)

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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