Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dinner with good friends

Talent, Oregon, December 22, 2013—

THIS IS THE SOUP that continued our dinner with friends who own one of our favorite restaurants. The photo doesn't do it justice, of course. We'd started with a perfectly delicious little piroshki, ground lamb in pastry, with beautifully flavored crisp grated beets, and then came this marvelous soup, Sibley Squasy with smoky bacom and pork belly, with sage and a few other intelligently chosen flavors.

That's the thing about Charlene's cooking: she has this deep knowledge and memory of flavors, not only the tops of the flavors but their depths as well: she can valibrate their interplays, always keeping an integrated, balanced end result in mind while she adds this, then that.

Then came the main course: sliced beefsteak duck breast, with a fine setting of vegetables — leeks, potatoes, carrot, kale, onion. And, interestingly, duck gizzards. A resourceful dish, drawing on the pantry and the garden; a sort of fast braise, a solid soup.

Dessert was an experiment in an Indian direction, involving milk, saffron, ginger, nuts, sugar, pineapple, and paneer. I liked it: it was a little exotic but nicely flavored , a counterpart to the soup that had opened the meal. We know how lucky we are to have friends like this, full of stories from interesting lives, connected to us through mutual friends and enthusiasms reaching back forty years. Everyday eating connects us all.

Vouvray pétillante, Huet, brut 2009; Moulin à Vent, vielles vignes, Hubert Lapierre, 2012

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