Wine and Feasting

The plan was to stop posting until i’d figured out how to continue posting photos, but two events just begged for coverage.

The first is that i received in the mail a bottle of Caprock Winery‘s Roussanne with no clue as to who the gift was from, only a cryptic note saying that i’d receive an explanation. It’s already pretty complicated, as minimal research reveals that the package was shipped from Canyon, TX while the winery is in Lubbock and the Roussanne grapes were grown in Meadow. Well, and that i don’t know anyone who lives in any of those three places.

The other major happening is that i finally pulled it together to cook a dinner, the first since i broke my leg in August. My friends Ian and Andrew from Vancouver were visiting the city, and there was a window during which i could cook dinner for them. Since i’m notorious for eating things that give many people the creeps, i specified in the invitation that i’d be serving mole, but the invitees are all sophisticated diners and saw right through my subterfuge, at least possibly because i’d served some of them a mole poblano in the past. They brought splendid wine.

Tony and Stephen brought wine and jars for canning, which are appreciated as much as wine.

Mark and Steve brought a delicious salad from Steve’s garden, and to put my stamp on it, they used my Blackberry Pasilla Jalapeño Vinegar in the vinaigrette dressing. They also brought a bottle of good wine and for an appetizer a selection of delicious cheeses from a new cheese store in Dogpatch called La Fromagerie.

For the dinner courses i served a mole poblano based on the mole crumble from the Tierra Vegetables stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market. All i did to it was add a tablespoon of chile powder from New Mexico that Charmazel brought me last year as part of her ongoing mission to keep me supplied with New Mexican delicacies, four tablespoons of roasted sesame oil to cook the dry ingredients in, a couple of ounces of Tcho extra dark chocolate, a couple or three tablespoons of almond butter, six cups of chicken stock, and three tablespoons of masa harina to thicken it. That mole crumble saves hours of tedious work. Try it. If you can’t get to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, you can order it from Tierra’s website.

I got my stewing hen from Casa Guadalupe on Mission Street at 25th, where they call them gallinas. I poached her for an hour and a half, let her cool in her own stock and tore the meat off the bones. Threw the bones and fat back into the stock and simmered them for three hours, then strained the stock out, using some for the mole poblano above, into which i threw the chunks of chicken for a final simmering. I used the rest of the stock for the balsamic rice, atop which the chicken in mole poblano was served.

To accompany the chicken dish i served cranberry beans that i’d bought fresh in October, shelled, blanched, and froze. I cooked the beans with a chopped carrot and about ten stalks of chopped fresh green garlic. A couple of our blessed vendors somehow manage to get an early crop of fresh green garlic out at Christmastime, when it is deeply appreciated.

The other accompaniment was a Brussels Sprouts Piccata with tiny whole sprouts from Iacopi at the Ferry Placa Farmers’ Market. And to be in keeping with the Mexican theme, instead of lemons i used those little Mexican limes (usually marketed in upscale groceries as “Key Limes” for five times the price you pay at Casa Guadalupe and other Mexican markets).

For a bread, i made Grandmother’s Cornbread, tweaking the recipe slightly in a mostly successful attempt to duplicate the Cornbread Skillet at West of Pecos. I was very pleased with the result, as were the guests. Alas, i didn’t write down my tweaks and now can’t recall what i did. Well, see, it’s complicated because i increased the recipe by 50% and am now thinking that i somehow miscalculated the amount of either the cornmeal or the flour.

The dessert was a fallback, the New York Cheesecake from Sweet Inspirations, because when i went to Noe Valley Bakery in the morning to pick up one of their legendary pecan pies, i was informed that they’d not be available until the weekend. Oh well, the cheesecake was delicious.

But the most delicious aspect of the evening was the conversation. The others all knew each other, but Mark and Steven were fresh new intellects who hit it off splendidly, and the conversation was electric.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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