Rien, Friesland, December 25, 2015—
WE DROVE UP to Friesland today to visit our Dutch son, or nephew, or very good friend Kees, who is a chef (Amsterdam: Marius; Worst) and a formidable cook.
As a chef of course he is interested in sources and methods, and today's dinner shows it. He'd found a capon somewhere — a delicious bird I haven't had in years; I'm not sure you can find them these days in the US. And he thought he'd try a simple way of cooking it in the admirable kitchen he's installed in his historical monument of a Frisian brick cottage.
He simply salted it and set it in a deep enamelled iron pot just big enough to hold it, and set that on the warming plate of his range. No liquids, no aromatics, just the bird and a ltitle salt. Before too long we heard the welcome sizzling, and then it was simply a matter of turning it every half-hour or so and waiting about four or five hours.
He'd also rustled up some Tarbais flageolets, those delicious white beans that seem to me to mediate between cannelini and Coronas. These gained a sprinkle of Moroccan spice and a very little tomato sauce.
Then there was a vegetable sauté: mushrooms, onions and garlic, turnips, and some kind of little cole sprout — a bit like kale, a bit like Brussels sprout or broccoli, but tiny, hardly bigger than a small caper.
The meal was marvelous. The capon was tender, clean, pure of flavor, not at all dry. The vegetables complemented it perfectly, and the beans, well, they were remarkable.
Dessert, yes, also rather improvised. A store-bought commercial pannetone, some pears Anneke had put up in syrup, a pile of whipped cream, a sugar wafer. I suppose it's a variation of zuppa inglese. Whatever: I'd gladly have had more…
Champagne, Barnaut, Grand Cru Grande Réserve, nv; Chassagne-Montrachet, Domaine Bachey-Legros, Vielles vignes, 2012; Fixin, La Place, Gérard Seguin, 2012; Barbaresco, Produttori di Barbaresco, 2010: a truly magnificent wine ending a parade of sound, rewarding, memorable bottles.
☛Restaurants visited in 2015 are listed at Eatingday's Restaurants