Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dennis's Birthday

Dennis's birthday was on Dec. 22nd. Having it so close to Christmas, he had always ended up celebrating it alone or just with me. I "attempted" throwing him a surprised birthday this year, but it was quite challenging to prepare a meal for 5 people without him getting suspicious. After a week of planning, I started having difficulty explaining away the 5 pound roast and 2 pounds of lamb I was seasoning. Finally, he discovered it by accident when Criag messaged me on my phone when I was driving. Well, it's hard to do anything surprising when we are practically attached by the hips. He appreciated my effort and laughed about how he should have gotten suspicious earlier.

The meal consisted of all of his favorite dishes and food groups and a wine to pair with each dish. The appetizer was the bourbon marinated scallops with Greek styled salad. The scallops recipe was the same as this one. The green
salad consisted of cucumber, tomato, olives, green onion, French parsley, lemon juice, mint, fleur del sal, and olive oil. Every ingredients were chopped very fine and I broke the leaves of the mint and parsley by hand. The green on top of the scallops is baby garlic sprouts. No cheese because Dennis is allergic to dairy. I would have put some red bell pepper in it, but Dennis preferred the salad without. This dish's very delicate flavors was paired with Blue Mountain Pinot Gris 2007. The wine wasn't as delicate as I had wanted, but it was well balanced, moderately complex, and the citrus and the nutty notes went well with the dish. The wine also gave a good texture to the dish.

The second course is Greek Orzo. Peter did a good job photographing this dish. It was usually more delicious than it looks. Orzo is a special kind of pasta not made from wheat, which burn or get soggy very easily if you cook it wrong. I cooked with ground lamb and then added more chopped leg of lamb half way through. The recipe was rather complicated and took me a year to get it right (I am not even sure of the measurement for ingredients). The dish had lots of fresh herbs and cayenne pepper. Ideally, I would pair this dish with an Italian red, such as Barolo, but I didn't have it and I decided to take a gamble and pair it with a white wine. Jackson-Triggs Meritage 2005 was a rather unpleasant wine on its own. It is a white Bordeax, blending Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Sémillon helps the wine age while sustaining the fruity flavor and balancing the often high acid from the Sauvignon Blanc. The wine's honey, toasty, vanilla, herbs, and grapefruit characters complimented the spice, herb, and tomato in the orzo. It's age, full bodiness, and creaminess ensured the wine doesn't clash with the red meat and matched the texture of the orzo. My only regret was that I should have gotten a better quality one from France.

The third dish was the prime rib roast. In order to surprise him, I emailed Meat Market ahead of time and picked up the roast with Dennis. He helped me convince Dennis that 2 people needed a 5 pound roast. The rub is the same one as the one from Joe and Tracy's dinner, but with red peppercorn. Originally, I wanted a red colored roast, but it turned out black anyway. It doesn't affect the flavor though. It was just as good, and Craig said he jizzed in his pants. We forgot to take pictures before we ate it. I wanted to pair the dish with a red Bordeaux, but I did not have any bordeaux that was less than $70, and we were not sober enough at this point too appreciate those, so I decided to cheat with a bottle of Viña Maipo Reserva Carmenère 2008. This grape has a long and wonderful story, but in short, it is an old school Bordeaux variety. The wine was absolutely amazing, mind blowing, and a robbery at $16. It had currant, dark plum, chocolate, coconut,vanilla, and soft medium tannin, full bodied. Super smooth and delicious. I went back to the wine store and bought out all of their remaining bottles.

The dessert is the cake. Dennis is allergic pretty much allergic to cake: gluten, milk, and eggs (not to mention almond, pecan, etc). It took a lot of web searching before I found Karina Hackett, a wonderful woman who makes vegan cakes from her home. She made me a chocolate créme cake that was so good people were surprised to hear that it was vegan. Frosting is a little sweet, but it was delicious and had great texture. Dennis was so happy that he was able to have a birthday cake and eat it too! The cake is paired with Cascinacastlet Moscato D'Asti, a sparkling wine from Italy. D'Asti was sweet and intensely flavored enough to match the take. It might be a little sweet for most wine experts, but I greatly enjoyed it, especially with the cake.

Mostly importantly, the birthday boy was very happy (and drunk), I got him a bottle of Calvados VSOP as a gift. It is a brandy made with distilled, fermented apple and pears. I will post more on it separately.

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