Sunday, February 28, 2010

Birthday Dinner

Yesterday, my fabulous husband and daughter sent me out for a few hours of cross-country skiing, so they could bake me a birthday cake and prepare a gourmet meal. As you can see, the cake turned out beautifully! I'm not sure if I'm excited or bummed that my husband can make a better cake than I can. I consider myself a baker, but cakes have always been my nemesis. I can bake a killer loaf of bread, even at 10,500 feet, but a moist and beautiful cake eludes me. Well, I had no complaints (except extreme fullness), while eating Brian's chocolate cake with lemon curd filling and chocolate butter cream frosting!

Dinner was wonderful, as well. Although my husband is a classically-trained French chef, he doesn't often have the time or opportunity to go all-out with a meal these days. Last night, he outdid himself. We started with steamed artichokes, a family favorite. The main course was lamb T-bones, coated with Dijon mustard and an herbs-de-Provence infused breading. He seared the lamb first before breading, and then again after. The result was a crispy breading over rare lamb. He served it over a shallot cream sauce. Roasted red potatoes and cauliflower on the side. Fantastic.

For wine, we had a California Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 vintage, which will remain nameless. When starting this blog, I emphasized the fact that I am not a wine critic, and I would not make any negative comments about specific wines. And to be fair, there was nothing wrong with this wine. I think my palate is just changing. This wine would sell for over $100 on a restaurant wine list. It was exactly what it should be, fruit-forward, with firm, but softening tannins, but that was pretty much it. Kind of one-dimensional, I thought. Am I just off California Cabs? I have had the great fortune to be tasting some phenomenal old-world wines recently, and I'm digging them. I recently had the Vina Sastre Crianza, Ribera del Duero 2006. It's a big, juicy Tempranillo, with structure and depth, and a fabulous pairing for grilled meat. Then there's the Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Corbieres, 2006, a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault from southern France, with all of it's old-world, funky, wet-horse aromas. And the COS Cerasula di Vittoria, 2007, a deep and complex blend of Nero d'Avola and Frappato, from Sicily. I am enamored with all of these wines. Am I just developing an old-world palate? I think I am. There are some that believe that you cannot have both an old-world and a new-world palate. I am not one of them. I may be in the honeymoon phase with old-world wines, but I am certainly not giving up my love of California. So, to all my friends who grow, make and sell California wines - I'm still with you! Just loving my wine journey through Europe right now...Join me?

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