Friday, November 28, 2008

Inkberry Shiraz Cabernet 2006

This blend of 60% Shiraz 40% Cabernet Sauvignon is exactly as advertised. Intense dark color? Yes. Deep rich flavors? Yes.

Like most reds, the wine needs to sit in the glass at least a few minutes to breathe. The aroma remains full and fruity with overtones of leather. The flavor improves, the tannins soften, the fruit comes forward and the spicy notes envelop your tongue. The blend carries the best characteristics of both grapes. Definitely a Drink Again selection, especially at less than $10.

We drank this with massive slices of rare rib roast. There is no easier thing to roast. I coated the 2-bone, 4 pound roast in olive oil mixed with kosher salt, black pepper, thyme and Herbes de Provence. The wee adorable Butterball potatoes sharing the pan were coated in more of the same. 20 minutes at 450, 50 minutes at 400, 15 minutes resting. Carve. I made sides of boiled and buttered brussels sprouts, and some pan-fried white mushrooms. We also had the leftover green beans, turnips and stuffing from yesterday's wonderful meal at Spouse's cousins.

The delicious sweet potatoes with candied pecan-praline topping that another cousin made is, however, dessert instead. Warmed a bit in the microwave, eaten with whipped cream. Nom.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Cheery Ditty and a Chess Game

I just felt like seeing this again. It always makes me smile.

And thanks to my chess playing spouse, we have this too.

And now we shall eat fresh-baked pumpkin muffins. mmmm. I needed new breakfast treats. Banana muffins with coconut & chocolate chips are still nommy but a change is good.

This week is going to be rough...errands, orchid meeting, fridge defrosting, spousal board meeting, spousal chess game, friend's concert, friend coming in from out of town, and my BFF having babies on Friday. Two babies! Two baby boys! Aieee!! We put together the cribs yesterday. I guess it's really happening...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pondering the Election Map...

...McCain won 21 states and Obama 29 plus DC...of the 21 Red states, only 5 have double-digit Electoral Votes. Texas has 34, Georgia 15, Tennessee and Missouri each have 11, Arizona 10.

Is the Republican base becoming confined to mostly low-population states with low numbers of both college grads and minorities?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Denial is Just a River in Egypt

I forgot to blog about the Rhinebeck 2008 Sheep and Wool festival. Well, I didn't so much forget as put it off. Cos I've been knitting like a madwoman ever since I got back.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this. I knew there were sheep and alpacas and other cuddy smelly fiber-bearing critters, I knew there were autumn leaves and crafts and probably some yarn for sale. I thought of it as a state fair lite.
For the record, I became utterly overwhelmed in just the first building of yarn vendors. By the time I got to the seventh or eighth WALL OF YARN, in the fourth building, I was dragging two bags and my credit card was smoldering. I stood and stared at the wall of yarn, at the shimmering colors of the handpaint wool/mohair blends, stroked the soft soft yarn, and I felt paralyzed. I wanted desperately to buy armloads of this yarn, but I couldn't decide. I couldn't decide what to buy. I stood and stared, and took pictures of it. The autumn sunlight played on the fiber rainbow...and finally two more skeins went into the bags.

I made a hat already, and started two scarves. I wound up a few skeins into balls for inspiration. The enormous skein of bright orangy handpaint is destined to be a hat and scarf souvenir of a perfect autumn day; the rest shall be shawls, scarves, hats and cardigans. Perhaps by 2010 I will have made a dent in this year's supply, so that by 2011 I can make a dent in next year's purchases...

A Foodie Experience

I'm not big on the celebrity chef thing, I don't own a lot of "chef" cookbooks or make efforts to eat at the latest "chef" restaurant. I wouldn't turn down a free meal at any Thomas Keller establishment, mind you; I enjoyed Charlie Palmer's Aureole, Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill does a lovely lunch, I went to a taping of Emeril Live when opportunity knocked, I think Mario Batali's food is pretty good, and if someone offered me a table at Red Cat, Grayz, Le Bernadin or BLT Prime and picked up the tab I'd dimple with glee. But effort? I'd just as soon hit our neighborhood French bistro for steak frites, with a morning-of reservation, and be happy.

So when our friends in Montreal suggested Au Pied De Cochon for a special dinner together during our recent visit, we looked at the pdf menu and I said YES! HELL YES! MAKE A RESERVATION! The unhealthiest restaurant in the Western Hemisphere? AWESOME!

See, I grew up with Northern European peasant food: pork shoulder stewed in onions and sauerkraut, pig trotters cooked in their own aspic, lamb shanks, smoked tongue, oxtails, blutwurst, liverwurst...I happily eat calf liver, chicken liver, calf brains, veal kidneys, pork intestine, beef heart, pig jowls, chicken's tails...I learned early on not to be all skeered of the quivery bits inside an animal. If I'm willing to eat the steak, I'll eat the tripe too. It's less wasteful overall. Delicate sensibilities need not apply at my dinner table.

PDC is everything advertised and more. On a chilly Saturday night, the atmosphere is warm and relaxed, the noise level far less obnoxious than most restaurants its size. The chef was spotted in the open kitchen, looking just as muss-haired and unshaven as in his "album" and DVD. The aroma, the deeply delicious smell of many pots bubbling, made us eager as we waited for our seats and sipped St-Ambroise beers. Our waiter's close resemblance to a 20-years younger Neil Gaiman, including being dressed all in black, added greatly to the joys of the female members of our party...elegant technique handling the wine bottles, monsieur! *sigh*

We HAD to order the Foie-Gras Poutine. We did. It came...we stared...we dove in...I sliced the slab of foie-gras into four quarters...we ate...we wiped the plate clean with bread. It might have been the most delicious gravy I've ever eaten. I swear I detected porcini mushroom notes. It made this humble dish of french fries, cheese curds and gravy an Experience far beyond the usual Canadian bar food.

The rest of the meal was nearly overwhelming. The dishes ordered were Cassoulet (superb, rich, perfectly tender meat and beans), Duck in a Can (more foie gras, also lovely red cabbage and rare chewy maigret), Boudin Tart (slices of blood sausage and sauteed onions strewn over delicate buttery puff pastry OMG I'm drooling again), and, of course, my own choice, the Pied de Cochon! Which was enormous. I was actually expecting trotter, but I got an enormous pork shank/hock, the delicious stewed meat nestled in a lake of melted onions, cabbage and pork fat lapping against a firm shoreline of mashed potatoes. A square deep-fried "crouton" of pork fat, marrow and knuckle topped things off. The potatoes were the only disappointment: they were heavy and gluey as if made in a food processor, and resisted soaking up the juices. Boo. But the pork was delicious, reminding me of my mom's cooking as I chewed shreds of meat and fat together...pork fat rules. Yes it does.

We ate, and ate, and ate, and drank beer, and ate. We stared at each other in the glow of contentment and camaraderie. We sighed and ate more. And more. Our eyes began to bulge. We ate some more. At last we could not eat more, or else plates were empty. And then two of us split a dessert, an almond-cranberry tart, because we desperately wanted something tart and refreshing but non-alcoholic to help our groaning stomachs, and everything else on the dessert menu looked just as rich as the entrees. So that would be my only suggestion for change...add some fruitier desserts please! Cranberry sorbet, something like that!

I look forward to return trips next year, to try the bison & venison and other pork offerings, to have the boudin tart again, to perhaps have a green salad with the lot...and yeah, that foie-gras poutine. Maybe each of us our own helping.