Mon 23 Mar 2009
I mean the country of France.
LL spent most of yesterday putting together a pot au feu — which means basically that the pot is on the fire and you throw things into the simmering broth — under the guidance of a recipe in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook (W.W. Norton & Co., 2002), derived from Judy Rodgers’ great restaurant in San Francisco. Her pot au feu calls for four pounds of beef short ribs, yellow onions, carrots, leeks, celery root, white turnips and rutabaga, all of this cooked in stock for two and a half hours or so. I’m truly sorry that I don’t have a picture of the result, because it looked glorious, but we took the dish to the house of some shut-in friends and I didn’t think about taking the camera until too late. It also tasted glorious: deep, rich, hearty, complex in pungency and flavor. One serves this pot au fer with a powerful mustard vinaigrette (made with a tablespoon of the broth) and cornichons, those tiny pickles. Chunks of crusty bread are a necessity for sopping up the broth left in the plate. Wow, what a Sunday night supper!
For wine, I took the Renaissance Vineyard & Winery Syrah 2005, Sierra Foothills, North Yuba, a superb example of the grape and of the individual style of winemaking from this producer. The bouquet is dusky and bosky, an entrancing wreathing of dust and leather, flint and granite, macerated, spiced and stewed black currants and plums and a hint of violets. In the mouth, flavors of mulberry and blueberry are brought in, along with touches of fruit cake, briers and brambles and a slightly mossy, earthy strain of dried porcini. The wine is dense and chewy, warm and enveloping, luscious and juicy yet with a pervasive tannic element that provides depths of gravity and foundation. The oak regimen here is fascinating. The wine ages two years in one-to-six-year-old barrels, and then nine months in neutral — that is long-used — large casks; the result is a wine of tremendous presence and power and tone yet one in which wood itself feels almost invisible. This should drink beautifully — and was wonderful with the pot au feu — through 2014 or ’15. As is always the rub with products from Renaissance, availability is an issue; production of this wine amounted to a whopping 356 cases, so put out feelers, send telegrams and email messages, make those phone calls. Excellent. About $35.