Monday, October 12, 2015

Post-season dining

Eastside Road, October 11, 2015—
THE THING IS, playoff season is here. We're much consumed with baseball. The games begin a little after three in the afternoon, and that plays hell with meals. And, the distraction of baseball added to this curious non-writing mood I've suffered from since turning eighty, it interferes as well with blogging.

But let me recapitulate the week, and hope things return to normal next week. Tuesday night we dined on sausage — Franco Dunn's incomparable sausage, needless to say — grilled, cut lengthwise, and eaten on a hamburger bun, because there were no hot dog buns. We like these buns, from the Downtown Bakery and Creamery in Healdsburg, not only because the bakery is a good and old friend, but because they are truly delicious, soft yet flavorful, not trying to be "brioche buns," content with milk-dough simplicity. With them, sliced tomatoes and I'm afraid I can no longer recall what else; green salad afterward, wine comments to follow.

The next night we watched the Cubs game at a friend's house. She boiled some truly ordinary baseball-type New York style hot dogs, and they were delicious on DBC buns again, appropriate ones this time, with sliced dill pickle and sauerkraut and mustard, green salad to follow, and delicous butternut crunch-and-pecan ice cream again from DBC.

sausage on bun.jpgThursday night was special for three reasons: there was no ball game; it was Chris's birthday; we had fabulous steaks grilled down at the neighbor's. These steaks, a birthday gift to Chris, came from a local farmer and were grass-fed, beautifully aged, and skilfully cut. The consensus was that they were New York type, not greatly marbled but with a bit of fat left at the margins. Eric grilled them perfectly over wood and charcoal, and we had them with mixed vegetales, and a green salad, wine notes to follow.

Friday and yesterday we were back to baseball (lost the first, won the second), and back to sausage-on-a-bun. Peruvian sausage the first time, sweet and spicy and flavorful; last night bratwurst, sliced crosswise this time and taken with raw onion, dill pickle, and mustard. With them, lima beans and tomatoes, and afterward, green salad.

We do not always or even usually have dessert at home, but last night Cook couldn't resist serving Lou Preston's magnificent strawberries, with Straus vanilla ice cream. Baseball is beautiful; so are meals like this.

bean ragout.jpgTonight, a peasant dish: Bean Ragout. The recipe is from Alice Waters's book The Art of Simple Food , involving shell beans and string beans, cooked separately; a soffrito of onion and garlic in olive oil, flavored with savory, parsley, or marjoram; sliced almonds; and lemon juice. This made a very substantial dish, served with garlic toast made with sourdough bread.

Oh, yes: the wines. We've been making do, very nicely, with that Spanish red that we laid in for a big party last month — Garnacha/Monastrell, Laya (Almansa), Old Vines, 2013. It's fairly big, quite dark, has a pleasant aroma, lots of Grenache flavor, and finishes well. Last night, for the first time, I thought it was going a bit dull; it's time to switch to something else to re-awaken the palate.

Gaye served a Pinot noir made by an acquaintance of hers, a lawyer apparently attentive to detail because it was a very good wine, almost professional and indeed better than some I've had from a number of small wineries hereabouts. From 2009, it had good varietal aroma and flavor and nice color. We had half the bottle the next night with those delicious steaks, but the main wines that night were the Spanish Garnacha again and, very interesting to me, a Shiraz from TaraWarra Estate, 2009 I think, that I brought Eric a year ago from Australia — not as impressive as I'd thought it on its own soil, but still quite nice; thanks, Eric. Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants

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