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A Hedonistic Weekend – Saturday Meals

2009/09/26

The Wine Guys Weekend (WGW) continues! Earlier this week I posted entries on Friday’s dinner and the wine we drank with it. After consuming so much food and wine the night before, the faint of heart (or those without Lipitor prescriptions) would likely eat sparsely for a few days. Not us. We got right back on the horse and went at it again.

Eggs, Tamshire bacon, smoked salmon and whitefish

Eggs, Tamshire bacon, smoked salmon and whitefish

Breakfast started with bacon, eggs, and smoked fish. Not just any bacon though. My buddy Manny has been curing and smoking his bacon for some time now using Michael Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie a guide. Due to the special nature of the weekend he sourced some Tamshire (a cross-breed between Tamworth and Berkshire pigs) pork bellies, used a cure that included maple syrup and then smoked over apple wood. Simply awesome! L. has started smoking his own fish as well and we served up some smoked salmon, rainbow trout, and whitefish alongside everything else. The whitefish was a little dry this time and smoked salmon very good but the star was the smoked rainbow. Man that stuff is awesome!

Vitello tonnato, roasted peppers, bagna cauda with sardines

Vitello tonnato, roasted peppers, bagna cauda with sardines

Barbera dAlba for lunch

Barbera d'Alba for lunch

A couple hours after breakfast we needed to focus on lunch. F. hails from Piedmont originally and prepared a couple dishes from the region. Vitello tonnato is braised loin of veal thinly sliced and topped with a tuna sauce. I realize that sounds like a really odd combination but it’s awesome! I was really looking forward to the preparation as I had not eaten the dish since I was last in Alba. It’s important to note that this dish is served at room temperature. Poach the veal, let cool (and refrigerate overnight if desired), then slice and serve. The tuna sauce consists of hard boiled egg yolks, tuna packed in oil, capers, anchovies, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil and some of the braising liquid along with some seasoning. I like the fact that everything can be prepared in advance save for plating when guests arrive.

We also had roasted peppers and a variation on bagna cauda in which the anchovy filets were left whole and was sensational spread on some nice, crusty Calabrese bread.

When eating Piemontese inspired food, what does one drink? Piemontese wine, naturally! Barbera d’Alba in particular. The acidity of Barbera cut through the richness of the dishes we were eating and evoked emotions of my last trip to the region. The 2005 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Cascina Francia was outstanding and in a class well out of the reach of an otherwise good 2005 Aldo Conterno Barbera d’Alba Conca Tre Pile. While Barbera isn’t a varietal for everyone, F. and I really enjoyed the wines. The other guys, not so much!

Hand-chopped pastrami

Hand-chopped pastrami

For sane people, that would have been more than sufficient for lunch. Apparently we don’t fall into that category. What’s the best way to chase a trio of lunch dishes? By eating a pastrami sandwich, naturally! Once again, this wasn’t any old pastrami. Manny was back at it and cured and smoked the pastrami himself, preparing a whole brisket that included the flat and deckle well in advance. He posted an entry on his blog about a Wagyu version a little while ago. Check it out – Cafe del Manolo – Waygu Pastrami. The pastrami was finished off by steaming for three hours and then hand-chopped and served on Silverstein’s rye with Moishes sauerkraut and Kozlik’s Double Crunch mustard. You can’t have deli without a pickle, so guess who busted out a jar of the homemade goods? You got it. Manny (and K.) have been doing a serious amount of canning this year and we’ve all benefitted from the tasty results!

Pastrami sandwich on Silverstein rye, Kozliks double crunch mustard

Pastrami sandwich on Silverstein rye, Kozlik's double crunch mustard

Check out that sandwich! Absolutely ridiculous! Some of the guys had to call it quits after a half, but a couple gluttons trudged on. I may or may not have been one of those people.

Plating foie gras torchon with onion confit

Plating foie gras torchon with onion confit

After the quantity of food at lunch, we decided to push dinner back to a more European inspired 9 or 9:30pm. That left plenty of time for a nap and a few bottles of wine as aperitivos and some cheese to snack on. We started with a 1994 Chateau Haut-Brion before looping back to bottles of 2006 Delas Condrieu Clos Boucher and 1985 Krug.

A first course of foie gras torchon with onion confit and warm brioche from Jules Patisserie was sublime. The torchon was sourced in Montreal from a restaurant called Le P’tit Plateau.

Fois gras torchon, onion confit, warm brioche from Jules Patisserie

Fois gras torchon, onion confit, warm brioche from Jules Patisserie

Five slices of torchon (sprinkled with just a touch of fleur de sel) was so beyond excessive that we needed to rethink the plate after it hit the table. Some of the extra slices were wrapped back up and used for other purposes in the coming days. Grilled burger topped with foie gras torchon anyone? Oh yes!

The torchon was top notch and paired with a duo of sweet wines – 2001 Chateau Rieussec Sauternes and 2001 Kracher TBA #6 from Austria. The Rieussec was the most disappointing showing of the weekend as the lack of acidity made it quite cloying on the palate and difficult to drink as a result. The Kracher was significantly better and complimented the texture of the foie nicely.

1912 Chateau Lafite

1912 Chateau Lafite

During each edition of the WGW, L. opens a ridiculously old bottle as a treat. Last year it was a bottle of 1897 Chateau Lafite that was surprisingly not just drinkable but somewhat enjoyable. This time around he opened a bottle of the 1912. We weren’t as lucky with this bottle. I couldn’t work past an offputting note of cabbage/rotting vegetables on the nose and the palate was shot. That said, it was still an interesting experience. Not many people can say they’ve had wines 97 years old (or older as in the case of the 1897). If you think of all that has happened in the world since these wines were made, it’s pretty special treat to have a friend open these bottles to share. The Lafite was followed by a 1966 Chateau Latour that was well past its prime and fell apart after 15-20 minutes in the glass. It showed much better than the Lafite and was at least drinkable before it went to bits. The nose was better than the palate.

Grilled veal chop, red wine-veal demi glace sauce

Grilled veal chop, red wine-veal demi glace sauce

Grilled zucchini and peppers were served alongside a grilled veal chop with red wine and veal demi-glace sauce. For good measure I also prepared Yukon Gold potatoes with fresh thyme roasted in duck fat. This is where everyone started to hit the wall. I started with all the veggies before moving on to the veal, but could only eat half the chop. A flight of Barbaresco followed by a flight of Chateauneuf-du-Pape accompanied our main course on the evening. A bottle of 1986 Gaja Barbaresco Sori Tilden was sublime and to no surprise severely outclassed an average bottle of 1996 Dante Rivetti Barbaresco Riserva Bricco de Neueis. The bottle of 2004 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape was very, very disappointing in its high alcohol presence and excessive kirsch and cassis notes. The 2001 Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf-du-Pape Les Origines showed better on the evening.

At this point we were wined out and had little room for more food save for a bit of plum-almond cake and a scoop of Ed’s Tahitian Vanilla Bean ice cream. Dessert goes in a separate stomach so this was not an issue. There was leftover Clos des Papes and Gaja Sori Tilden. As an interesting aside, Manny took the leftover Clos des Papes home and apparently two days later it showed significantly better (although still a little hot) with more balance and classical notes of garrigue emerging and the kirsch notes falling a little to the background. I was pleased to hear that as I have a few bottles in the cellar and unimpressed with its Saturday performance.

The sad thing? We pared back the menu! I don’t even want to know what would have happened had we left the menu in its original state.

Weeks (months?) of planning and it was over in the blink of an eye! Once again, it was a fantastic weekend spent with great friends and ultimately that’s what it’s about.

Tasting notes from Saturday to come!

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