Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wine, beer, comfort food, friends and a fallen comrade.

A proper troglodyte has but one plate, one fork, and one glass, so if by some miracle there is the desire to interact with the general population that moment happens at their place.

It's been awhile since I did dinner, but I was inspired by this:

What is this sludge, you ask? Yellow split peas, organic of course, cooked to within an inch of their lives, or until they're the consistency of mashed potatoes. Water, dried peas, takes about three hours. A nice, subtle, earthy, blank canvas, these things, and that was the inspiration. It turns out if you use this as a base, depending on what you combine with them, you get a whole different flavor profile. So the challenge was to offer a series of combinations that would each produce a different result, but that would all still work together regardless of the combination. Awesome, I know.

So this past week I looked at these two piles and thought, okay, now get that on your bike. Which, it turns out took only about five minutes. My panniers are very roomy, it turns out.

I went over to Scott's house two hours early just do I could open this wine and give it a chance to calm down, 1998 Nuits Saint Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots, a very generous donation to the cause. Then for two hours I stared into space because Scott is of the next generation and I couldn't figure out how to turn on any of his media, which I think was hooked up to his computer. Or maybe I just couldn't find the button. Either way it was a very quiet two hours. The wine was the first course and served with the standard bread, nuts, and soft white cheeses. Also it was very yummy. It was plums.

While this was being consumed I was in the kitchen finishing the split peas. Sauteed in olive oil: onion, lots of jalapeno, garlic, a little red basil, thyme, and curry, and then adding/re-heating the cooked peas.

The second wine was a last minute addition. My crazy customers, I mean they really are just nuts: the week prior M. came in to make a deposit and on the way out put this in my hands. Like for no reason. I was like, oh, okay, wow. Thank you! Earth just kills me sometimes. 2008 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc. Something made me think this perfectly timed craziness could go well with the curry and heat of things. The meal was now underway and from the kitchen I heard, "Wow, this wine is perfect with this food!" So, thank you, M.

I never remember to take the picture when there's actual food involved, so here's the end of the meal. The point was to start with a small portion of the curried peas and then add other things, and do it over and over with a different combination each time until you couldn't eat any more. It worked really well and for the first time in my three years here I got the food and wine right. Hopefully it'll never happen again.

Not photographed was the plate with the figs and almonds and feta, which also doubled as dessert. But the main dessert was this stuff. DON'T DRINK THIS BEER, IT'LL RUIN YOU! espresso, chocolate syrup, thick as molasses, with a beautiful, subtle bourbon finish.

The ride home that night was beautiful. It was dark and quiet and very still, and this is a very nice time to ride, so I took the long way home, adding a few turns and miles, to make it last.

Friday, I was back at Scott's cooking again, for the same people, different meal, different reason. One of our cyclists was killed by a car the previous evening while on his bike and Scott was at the hospital tending to that and all logistics therein. This would be a night of comfort food, curried tomatoes and eggs with toast and cheese, and of course Old Rasputin Imperiel Stout to toast our fallen comrade.

Another beautiful night, another ride home, and a few added turns and miles to make it last.