Eastside Road, December 27, 2014—THAT'S COOK'S MENU, written down on the back of an envelope. But let me tell you about this Christmas goose. A week ago I went into town to have some tires installed. As I left the house I told Cook I'd stop off at the farmers market and pick up a goose, as we'd recently had an e-mail announcing the limited availability of same — nice fresh organic goose, raised locally.
Check the freezer, Cook said, and make sure we don't already have one. We don't, I said, I'm sure we don't. Check it anyway, Cook said.
And at that moment came a telephone call from the neighbor down the hill, whose big upright freezer we share. Guess what I found in your freezer, she said, a goose.
See, Cook said, I thought there'd be a goose in there, don't you buy another one.
We'll see, I said.
Don't you buy another one, she repeated, as I stepped out the door. I stopped at the neighbor's house down the hill, and she saw me through the kitchen window. I knew, just as I was hanging up, that I shouldn't have made that call, she said. Well, I said, you really messed things up; we'd have had two geese; now we have only the one.
To tell the truth one was enough, but I like to have spare parts, and plenty of rendered goose-fat, and a nice supply of goose stock, in order to make a cassoulet down the line a month or so. But there it was: one goose.
And that, curiously, with no wings — they'd been surgically removed at the breast, not the elbow, the armpit, or wingpit, or whatever you call it. This was apparently a wild goose someone had shot, and had found it easier to remove the wings than to pluck them. I don't know exactly where it came from.
In any case Cook roasted it today, and we had eight guests to Christmas Three. Canapés: liver mousse from the neighbor down the hill, and sliced fennel, and some very nice burrata. Then dinner: Roast goose, roast potatoes, roast Hubbard squash brought by another of the guests. The sauerkraut was tender and delicate, cooked in Pinot grigio. Wild rice with button mushrooms, and a green salad with shallot vinaigrette.
Cook makes the Nocino, but so do various culinary friends. It's made of green walnuts, gathered on St. John's Day in June, chopped, macerated in alcohol, and combined with a sugar syrup, then aged — I believe it's not ready until Christmas. It's splendid on vanilla ice cream.
Pinot grigio, Barefoot Bynum, nv; "Rubicon" (Cabernet sauvignon-Merlot blend), Niebaum-Coppola, 1995 (thanks, Mia and Ron); Cabernet sauvignon, Simi (Alexander Valley), 2000; and Kenwood, Sonoma county, 2002 (thanks, Kendall)