When I Was 21… That Was A Very Good Year

Sunday and Monday I did a heap o’ cookin’ for the November article, and Jen the photographer was scheduled to come Monday evening to shoot the results. The article will be a Thanksgiving thing, showing some ways to make the preparation easier and flavor richer than the normal version without going completely off the reservation (as it were). And John was around. Like waterboarding Dick Cheney, it was a no-brainer.

Jen came early, and shot four dishes (on the homemade plates) from a million angles, including a bunch of Milo with the plum-pear tart with blue cheese crust. If they don’t run them, I may post one here later on. John showed up a little later, toting some serious juice, and we decided to go with an all-1990 evening. We began with the squash soup paired with his Boyer-Martenot Meursault-Perrières, which didn’t suck. I love old white Burgundy with food.

Next up were his Chapoutier Côte-Rôtie “La Mordorée” drunk alongside my Vieux Donjon. A Nice North-South comparison, showcasing the amazing structure of the North against the riper, silkier South. Both worked very well with the turkey and various accompaniments (which you can read about on November first). We moved on to my Lynch-Bages (the first great wine I ever had- a 1985 drunk in Provence in 1992- first lit up the Great Wine centers of my brain, and it’s one of the best bargains in Bordeaux) which was a leathery, luscious treat and eased us seamlessly into the desserts. That’s right, two. Seckel pears poached in red wine and then the tart. The tart was particularly great (and this is where we left the 1990 theme) with a 2001 Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes, but the wine was best of all with our homemade sourdough and Old Chatham’s Ewe Blue (inoculated with Roquefort bacillus) A half-bottle was just the right amount.

By this time, Jen had left and Christine had gone to bed, so we were off the leash. We killed the two Rhônes, and since I had thrown the latest piece of bacon on the smoker while I had the turkey breasts going, we developed a powerful, industrial-strength hankering for some of that there belly. So sometime around 2 AM I made some quick bacon and kimchi sandwiches on the bread with a little cultured butter. Trust me, it was necessary. And then we popped a 1998 Gaja Barbaresco, which was really something. His wines are so beautifully made; it was an astonishing thesis on the entire range of flavors and textures of the region but without the precision and depth of a single-vineyard wine.

Tuesday was pretty ugly, but I’d do it again in a second. Life is too short not to get stupid at this high level once in a while.

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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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