Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cassoulet, the beginning

So I have started the process for putting together a cassoulet that we will be having on Thursday for a duel Birthday/New Years Eve Celebration with some great friends. I can't think of a better way to celebrate then to share the ultimate meat lovers dish, and wash it down with some great wines! Yesterday I starting the confit process with the duck legs, packing them in shallots, garlic, rosemary, thyme and salt/pepper, they will be seared then cooked in duck fat on Thursday morning then placed in the cassoulet to finish in he afternoon. I have the white beans soaking overnight and will slow cook them tomorrow with a couple of smoked ham hocks from The Swinery. I braised a bone-in lamb shoulder today. Browned it in a pan with some pork fat, then sauteed some onions and garlic, added a little tomato paste and flour, then tossed in some thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Then instead of using a beef stock, I used the braising liquid from the pork belly I did on Sunday and a bottle of white wine to finish it off. Placed the shoulder back in and covered the pan with foil and braised it at 320 degrees for about 4-5 hours, until the meat fell off the bone. Stay tuned for the conclusion and photo's!

Monday, December 28, 2009

La Porte Brune Menu is up

Check it out here: La Porte Brune

The After Christmas Friends, Wine and Food Feast

So once again as things go here in the Walla Walla Valley, we gather with close friends and enjoy some great wine, food and conversation. So we put together a wine friendly menu and paired up with some wines out of our cellars that we would want to share with friends.
We started the night with a Bluefin Tuna Poke and Lettuce wrappers and paired it up with some great Champagne, a 2005 Schramsberg Brut Rose, 1999 Schramsberg and a 2002 Pierre Morlet. All 3 drinking great and paired with the poke, that had just a hint of spice. Nice way to start!

We then went Burgundian with some Escargot with Bacon, garlic, parsley, white wine and butter. We paired it up with a 2002 Domaine de la Vougeraie, le Clos Blanc du Vougeot. This by consensus was probably the best food and wine pairing of the night. We also had a Punkt, Sparkling Gruner, which I never have heard of, let alone tried. What a fun and delightful little find! Thanks Corey!

We then moved on to the dinner portion and started with a Porcini Mushroom Veloute, five ingredients, no muddling the earthy flavor of the mushroom here! We paired this with a 1967 Barolo and a 2000 Domaine de Courcel Pommard Les Rugiens, both drinking great, though the Barolo might of been a little tired but still had fresh color and lots of fruit

Next we went back to the meat salad, this time with Braised Pork Belly, Arugula and a Pomegranate Vinaigrette. We paired this up with a couple of wines from Cornas, a 2006 Domaine Clape and a Allemand and I can't remember the vintage, the later was definitely drinking better.

Then we moved on to the dish that was feared to be the artery clogger of the night but the that elicited the most praise for the flavor. Duck Fat Poached Swinery Tenderloin with Bacon Blue Cheese Macaroni and Pickled Mustard Seeds. I gotta say, I liked this dish! Texture, flavors everything worked in great balance. We went Cabernet Style with the dish and had a 2001 Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte from Pessac-Leognan and a 2004 Robert Foley Claret, both drinking great and paired beautifully with the flavors.

Closed out the evening with a Chocolate-Huckleberry Souffle and put another wine and food extravaganza in the books!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Christmas Feast

Christmas dinner is always a time to gather with friends and celebrate, this time was no exception! We have been menu planning and anticipating the week around Christmas and New Years, and it's finally here. Even though you spend the whole day prepping and cooking it all seems worth it, when the moment finally arrives and the partaking begins. We started off the evening with a couple whites, 2005 Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay and a 2003 Rochioli Rachels Vineyard Chardonnay

Then it was time to get busy with the eating! So we started with American Spoonbill Caviar(Paddlefish) with Buckwheat Blini, Egg and Red Onion. Washed down with some great Champagnes including a 2000 Dom and a (99?)Perrier-Jouet Cuvee Fleur de Champagne. What can you say about Champagne and Caviar, one of life's little pleasures, obviously enjoyed by all!

Next we move on to the "salad" course. With our group being a bunch of red wine drinkers, salad gets lost in the shuffle, so I have figured out how to move it to the forefront.... put meat in it! We did a Quail Confit Salad with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Brioche Croutons and a warm Sherry Vinaigrette over Curly Endive. We paired this with a 2000 and 2001 Montiano and a 2002 Barnett Spring Mountain District Merlot, what a pairing this dish was with the merlots, it was harmony in the mouth, the Italians really showed that they were meant to be paired with food.

So now we moved on to the true meat course, we wanted to drink a bunch of older California Cult Cabs, so we needed a dish that would stand up to those. Well, Steak au Poivre with Foie Gras Sauce and Roasted Fingerlings was just what the doctor ordered. The Swinery Ribeye's were amazing, great flavor and the pepper just brought out all the great "beef" qualities, the Hudson Valley Foie Gras sauce, paired great with the meat and wine, how can shallots, cream, chicken stock and Foie not work, delicious! So for the wine line-up; 2003 Insignia, 1995 Araujo Eisele Vineyard, 1995 Dalla Valle, 1999 Blankiet Estate Paradise Hills Vineyard( a Helen Turley Wine) and a 1996 Opus One. Not a slouch in the bunch, each one brought something different to the mouth in the pairing. This was an unbelievable course and pairing.

Dessert brought time for reflection on the meal and pairings, and a little Pecan Pie with Chocolate Ganache and a Salted Caramel Ice Cream. What a great dinner to share with friends. Memorable for sure!

Christmas Eve Dinner

And so it begins, the 4 nights of friends, food and wine! Christmas Eve was a great informal gathering, the food was fantastic, Renee's Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce, King Crab Legs, the obligatory Swinery Meat Sampler, and a little Paella, dessert was a Praline Cake, from the home of pecans, Georgia. As usual lots of wine opened, including a vertical of Merryvale Profile, 99-02, Cayuse Impulsivo and Camaspelo, 02 Hewitson Old Garden Mouvedre(corked) and some other miscellaneous reds, whites and bubbles, more of a tune up for the nights to come.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bloody Mary Nirvana

So I have had and made some good Bloody Mary's in my time, but I got to let you know about the best I have ever had. Last weekend we went over to our friends Kent and Renee's house, for a little brunch. Kent who has already demonstrated his proficiency in Bloody Mary's decided to up the ante with something near and dear to my hart.... BACON VODKA! So I could give you the recipe, problem is, I don't know it. Its like a magician telling you how he does a trick. Needless to say the Bacon Vodka, definitely ups the ante considerably. Add in a little of my apple wood smoked bacon for the "bacon salt" on the rim and for garnish and you have the nirvana of Bloody Mary's!!

Blending Trials Part 2

So today we wrapped up for 2009 our blending trials of our 2008 wines. One word:WOW. They are going to be good. We got our Walla Walla Valley Syrah, Columbia Valley Syrah, Wallatage, Cab Franc and the BFM done. These wines are gong to rock, we were all impressed with the structure , body and tannin of these wines, some of which will see the better part of another year in barrel. We had some guests "blenders" today and they understood that when we say its hard work that we are not lying! We go at least 15 rounds on each wine to explore the combinations, so that what goes in the bottle, rocks!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Upcoming Underground Dinner

La Porte Brune's upcoming 1st Underground Dinner is coming up on January 23rd, 2010. Seats are filling fast, if we fill up we will see what the response is and possibly add another dinner on the 24th. Check out the website: La Porte Brune

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Menus

So coming up we have got a lot of food to make and eat with friends and family, thought I would share these, most of these dishes will be a team effort:

Christmas Eve
Dungeness Crab Cakes
Misc Christmas Sweets

Christmas Day
American Paddlefish Caviar with Blini, Egg and Red Onion
Quail Confit Salad with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Brioche Croutons and Sherry Vinaigrette
Steak au Poivre with Roasted Fingerlings and Foie Gras Sauce
Pecan Pie with Chocolate Sauce and Salted Caramel Ice Cream

After Christmas Wine Dinner
Tuna Poke
Escargot with Bacon, Butter and Garlic
Crispy Pork Belly with Arugula and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Wild Mushroom Veloute
Duck Fat Poached Tenderloin with Bacon/Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese
Souffle du Jour

New Years Eve/Kent's Birthday
Lobster Leo's
White Wine Poached Pears with Almond Creme Chantilly

There will be plenty of pics and probably some step by step on the cassoulet. For the wine dinner each couple is digging deep in their respective cellar and there should be some real gems. Stay tuned for the updates on these!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blending Trials, Inside the War Room

Thursday we started are tasting through our 2008 barrels in order to force rank our lots for our blending trials on Monday and Tuesday. We started with our Merlot lots, then moved into the Cab Franc and Malbec lots and finished the day with Cabernet Sauvignon. All of these wines come from Birch Creek, Minnick Hills, Sconni in the Walla Walla Valley, Stone Tree( Wahluke Slope), and Kestrel(Yakima Valley) vineyards. On a whole these wines are tasting great and look to be some of the best wines that DV has put in bottle when that day comes. Friday we will taste through our Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Sangiovese and Tempranillo lots. Though this might seem like a fun day at the office, it requires your palate to be on and a lot of focus on the wine. Everyone present puts their input in as to likes, dislikes, nose, palate, body and finish etc. which open things up to a lively debate. Our goal is to put the best lots in our best bottles and that takes some work deciphering at this point in the barrel. So then on Monday and Tuesday we start taking our favorites and seeing where they will fit into our program. Fun stuff!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Birch Creek Late Harvest Syrah, Part Two

Yesterday we pressed of the Birch Creek Late Harvest Syrah. We had brought it in on the 16th of November, at around 38 brix. We got about 1 ton of fruit and split it into 2 different fermenters. It was done as a whole cluster fermentation. We combined the lots for the press and got about 1 barrel of free run juice, or about 60 gallons. We then pressed it off in .2 increments until it wouldn't give up any more juice, keeping each press separate. We probably got another 40 gallons of press if I combined all the yields. It is still finishing primary fermentation. The photo's are of the free run juice. It is a little cloudy as all of the solids are suspended and have not settled out after dumping it into the press.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wine, Food and Cocktails this Weekend!

As is usually the case, trips to Seattle involve lots of hard work, in my case eating and drinking. I feel like when I am there that I need to try everything, so my graze mentality is in full effect. We started the weekend off at our good friends, Kent and Renee's, where we drank two Sangiovese's from Andrew Will, a 2004 Cuvee Lucia Ciel du Cheval and a 2007 Annie Camarda Ciel du Cheval. The Annie Camarda has about 20% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. The Cuvee Lucia, does not state the blend but seemed lighter in body, but still full of fruit as well as a little lighter in color. The Annie Camarda was the fav with nice balance of acid and tannin and a little more depth on the palate, with lots of ripe cherry notes.
The evenings dinner festivities started with some killer cocktails at Tavern Law, very cool bar in Capital Hill where we started off with a couple orders of the Foie Gras Terrine with angostura bitters gelee and Cod Fritters with a Remoulade Sauce. The Foie was a hit as we thought we could stay there most the night and just eat that! Wish I could fill you in the cocktails we all had, needless to say they were delicious. Then off to Harvest Vine, a Spanish Basque influenced restaurant. Lots of share plates, this was a killer meal, I could write a whole post on the food and wine. One of the top meals I have had in Seattle! The next day started off with the trip to the Swinery, see the previous blog, then into the city for a little grazing/shopping, Crab cocktail and Bouillabaisse from Jacks Seafood in the Market, BBQ Pork Humbow from Mee Sum Pastry, Flagship Reserve Cheese from Beechers, baguette from La Panier. The evening started back at our friends house with some vintage 96 Shramsberg Blanc de Noir, then off to Wild Ginger Seattle for some some great food and wine. We started off with a 2008 Robert Foley Napa Valley Pinot Gris and a 2007 JA Frey Vineyards Trisaetum Willamette Valley Riesling, both drinking exceptional and pairing good with the Pan-Asian foods, then our buddy Jake Kosseff, dug into the awesome list and found us couple gems! First a 2004 Zind Humbrecht Vieilles Vigne Pinot Gris, this wine was golden in color and had the acid and body that I love, it was screaming for the Indonesian style Satay's. Then to the consensus winner a 1999 Rosemount Balmoral McLaren Vale Shiraz, this wine had a nose the blended with the food that we were eating; Chinese 5 spice, black pepper, hoisin, soy and plum notes with a great dark fruit palate and light tannin, low alcohol to mesh with the lightly spice food. Thanks again Jake for that gem, loved it! Then back to the house for a desert wine from Walla Walla, the 2004 Beresan Just Candy, Late Harvest Syrah. This got me thinking about the Late Harvest Syrah we have going at Dusted Valley and excited to get it in the bottle! The next day brought a little lunch action at Artisnal in The Bravern in Bellevue, a little Kronnenberg and Fruits de Mer were in order. Dinner found us heading down to Tom Douglas' Serious Pie, we had a Fresh Chantrelle and Truffle Cheese pie as well as a Cherry Bomb Pepper and Sweet Fennel Sausage Pie, then couldn't help ourselves and ordered the Venison Sausage, Walla Walla Sweet Onion and sole de sardegna pie! All 3 were amazing, we washed it down with a great 2004 Prunotto Barbaresco and a 2006 Campodelsole Sangiovese. With are bellies full and satiated we hoped in our truck, braved the pass and headed back to Walla Walla.

Pilgrimage to the Swinery in Seattle

After reading and hearing about the Swinery in West Seattle, we finally made it! It is a small little meat shop for those who enjoy artisan/craft meat. These guys source all of the meat products within a 300 mile radius from small family farms and try to keep it all organic. They are buying whole animals and utilizing everything in the course of breaking them down. Damiana the store manager, helped us pick out some great items. The cases were stuffed with cured and smoked products, and they had a fresh meat case as well. We had arrived a little to early for the selection of sandwiches and rolls. I had heard the Bacon Cinnamon Rolls had showed up later after we left. We did end up leaving there with a bag of goodies, including, Pate de Campagne, Dry Chorizo, Genovese Salami, Spicy Coppa and some Bacon Hot Dogs, which we will be having for dinner tonight. We are going to be doing a traditional Cassoulet for New Years and I will post the steps and pics from the process. We will utilize these guys for all of the sausage, lamb, pork and duck products. The photos don't do justice, you need the smell. So take the drive over the West Seattle Bridge and get you some Pig Love!