I’m listening to Cannonball Adderley’s rendition of “Autumn Leaves” (with Miles helping out on trumpet) with the window open–the air is fresh, the sky is blue and flecked with fast-moving clouds, and the temperature is a lovely 64 degrees.
Needless to say, I am pretty content right now. Washington, DC is a great town, and I find myself enjoying law school much more than college. One of the reasons for that is there are some good people here, and fun things to do. Like drink. And cook. And drink and cook I did for three consecutive days.
My friend Adrian invited a few people over (all guys, regrettably) on Sunday for beef stew and poetry. I brought over my “house red”–a bottle of Nero d’Avila from Trader Joe’s (retail: $4.99)–and we discussed Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” over steaming bowls of stew and sips of wine. To repay the favor, I invited Adrian and two of our friends to my place on Wednesday for a meal of roast lamb, honey-rosemary potatoes, and roasted garlic asparagus.
The meal turned out okay–I don’t have a meat thermometer, and I think the recipe short-changed the time required to cook the lamb. It was pretty rare when I started carving it, but the problem was solved by quickly pan-frying the slices over high heat.
With the lamb I served a 2005 Cahors Chateau du Cèdre Héritage ($12.99); afterwards, for dessert (along with Alisa’s wonderful little vanilla pudding tarts) we had a 2006 Baron K’ riesling kabinett from the Rhine ($19.99).
I am in love with the “black wine” of Cahors. They must contain at least 70% malbec, which is very unusual given that malbec is a minor grape in the rest of France (see: Bordeaux). This varietal has been transplanted to the New World with HUGE success, so much so that many people immediately associate malbec with Argentina, for instance. The Old World and New World styles are very different, however: New World malbecs tend to be denser, bolder, smoother, with more dramatic notes of chocolate and earth. Old World styles are more refined, more restrained–in my opinion a bit more “leather-dampness-earth” than “sunny-earth”; definitely a rainy-weather red. The Cèdre Héritage did not disappoint. It went extremely well with the lamb.
The riesling had a bit of sweetness to it and a high level of acidity. It wasn’t the best I’ve had, however, because it was a bit too insubstantial for my taste. Pairing the riesling with the tarts wasn’t the best idea, either, as the sweetness of the pudding clashed a bit with the riesling. Oh well. Writing more of the first legal memorandum of my law school career afterwards was fun.
I got it in my mind to cook Hungarian paprika chicken for dinner for a certain lady. Hungarian paprika chicken’s three main components are chicken, LOTS of paprika, and sour cream. I didn’t know exactly which wine to pair with this dish–I first thought of Jean-Luc Matha’s marcillac, which is made from a little-known local varietal called mansois. The marcillac had very pronounced notes of paprika and pepper, which would have made it an excellent match. I DID manage to find a marcillac from the Wine Specialist, but I decided to go with a South African pinotage (a cross between pinot noir and cinsault) from Indaba.
The Indaba… well, was very acidic at first, very spicy. It later opened up and mellowed out and became a pretty enjoyable wine… but it’s definitely a food wine in my book. It also got me really, really hungover for some reason!
Bell Liquor and Wine Shoppe was having a FREE champagne tasting. Six of us decided to make reservations and go to the event. We all dressed up fancy and walked en masse to the store, where we went to the upstairs tasting room. They were serving eight champagnes–four from Piper Heidsieck and four from Charles Heidsieck.
The first four were an extra-dry, brut, rosé, and “cuvee supreme.” All were mostly chardonnay, with smaller parts of pinot noir and pinot meunier. The rosé had some reserve pinot noir wine blended in later during the fermentation process. Of the four, the consensus favorite was the extra-dry, which, despite being extra-dry had a pleasant sensation of sweetness, probably from the citrus fruit on the palate. It had an aroma of nuts and vanilla, and had nice body and a crisp, clean finish.
The last four were the expensive bottles. The 1999 Charles Heidsieck rosé was MUCH more enjoyable than the previous one, probably because it was aged much longer and was fermented directly from whole pinot noir grapes with their skins. It was also like… $80.
We got the chance to drink the “Champagne Charlie” brut from 1985… What a fantastic champagne! Members of my party described its nose as rubber or cheese–normally pejorative terms, I know, but fitting and perfectly appropriate in this context. It had that nutty, slightly-oxidized character of old white wines. Interesting and delicious–though, at about $180 I won’t be buying it anytime soon!
A few of us got bottles of the extra-dry ($33.99) to save for special occasions. End of the semester, maybe?