Angela and Mick came over for dinner Sunday night. I decided that a mix of fussy and comfort was in order. We hadn't seen them in 3 years so I thought that something special was just right. I began by making a paste of fresh thyme, fresh garlic, olive oil, Au Bon Climat Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir, salt & pepper. I took this paste and rubbed it all over 2 beautiful NY Strip Steaks, letting them sit for over 2 hours. With the steaks, I prepared a dutch oven full of fresh cauliflower, onion, garlic, thyme, cream, white wine and stock. This casserole roasted away for roughly an hour. Next was the salad, simple one of fresh baby spinach and a balsamic-pomegranate vinaigrette.
Kelly had just purchased a new tv and rug for the living room, so we obviously were waiting to show that off.
They arrived, finally. We quickly realized that it had been almost 3 years since we had seen each other last. Instantly we vowed never to let that much time pass before getting together again. I had a small cheese and olive plate prepared to snack on while dinner was being prepared. Two of my favorite cheeses, Croutin du Chavignol (an aged mold ripened french goat cheese) and young Manchego ( a Spanish sheep's milk cheese) and mixed Italian olives were the snack. Both the cheeses and the olives paired wonderfully with the Alfred Gratien NV Epernay Champagne that we popped open. The creamy mousse of the Champagne and its crispness paired beautifully with the cheeses. The salty olives elevated the fruit in the bubbly.
After pulling the steaks off the grill and slicing them up, beautifully rare, it was time for dinner. The cauliflower was tender and rich, a perfect contrast to the earthiness of the beef. With it we drank a bottle of 1999 Selvamaggio Cabernet Sauvignon from Tuscany. Seek this bottle out, Neil Empson Selections.
Dessert was a puff pastry tartlet filled with roasted pears, Bleu d'Auvergne cheese, toasted walnuts and honey. My theory was that it would pair perfectly with a late Harvest Muscat from Foris. My theory proved correct, the honeyed nectar-like sweetness was a perfect match for the pairs and contrasted the saltiness of the cheese. The acidity in the wine cut right through the richness of the cheese as well. Even Kelly liked it and he despises dessert wines. All the more for me.
All in all it was a lovely evening. I can't wait to see Angela and Mick again. I missed how Angela can laugh so hard that she makes herself cry. The food and wine was a catalyst for the laughter.
What to Cook This Week - Pan-roasted chicken in cream sauce, Indian-spiced tomato and egg casserole, a swordfish piccata: Make foods to comfort against the cold.
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