Food and Beverages, vaguely sman.
- From: "TOliver" <toliverjrFIX@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2006 04:13:11 GMT
Last evening, passing through on his way to another shipmate's place in the
Hill Country where we'll gather to plan the October Biennial reincarnation
of the Wardroom Mess(Sporadic), USS SHANGRI-LA (CVA-38) , an old friend and
his spouse joined us for the evening. At the same time, my elderly uncle,
81ish, widower of my mothers youngest sister, bon vivant, gourmet and
gourmand and able to afford it, passed through on his way to visit relatives
in the Metroplex.
Dinner and the pre-prandial cocktail hour took some precedence, and I am
proud to report to the readers here that a high standard was achieved with
some smn content beyond old shipmates dining together.
A cold spell was coming, so I chose a simple single dish, a Francophobic
adaptation of one of my favorites, cassoulet (first encountered in the South
of France as a young ensign).
First came a very meaty bone , sawn in segments, from Christams's "Country"
ham roasted a while to bring out the flavor and release the marrow, added to
sauteed onions and draconian amounts of garlic and soalked canneli beans in
a large earthen pot to begin cooking at about 8AM. Midday called for herbs
and especially bay leaves. Late in the day came the addition of smoked
breast of wild goose (replacing the French choice, preserved duck legs) and
links of smoked venison sausage. Then came the repeated (and very French)
toppings, brownings and stirring in of bread crumbs, binding the dish and
leaving it with a brown crust ready for piercing to release grand aromatics.
The sides were simple, a little bitter escarole in a dressing of olive oil,
Dijon mustard and lemon juice and a staple of the South, "White" cornbread
made in a large cast iron skillet served with butter, wild plum and mayhaw
jellies, a salute to our humble origins and good stuff for soaking up bean
After dinner, we had some nice Chilean pears with a bit of Gorgonzola, and
some homemade "Gingersnaps" with coffee.
While we stuck with Pinot Noir with dinner, before hand we hand celebrated
my first vist with my Uncle in New York, 1962, keystoned by Martinis at the
old Warwick Hotel and the Chemical Club. My old shipmate saw my bitters
bottle and asked for a "pink", easy to do with a rocks glass from the
freezer, a couple of shakes of Anagostura, swirled then cast from the glass,
to be filled with cold gin, my last bottle of Tanqueray "Moluuca", no longer
The Martinis were a new appoach, Privet Russian Vodka, Noilly Pratt, shaken
not stirred, but with the addition of hefty pieces of lemon and orange peel
to the shaker, where the bruising about imparts a noticeable citrus aroma to
the drink. A new bottle of cocktail onions from my daughter in LA proved
perfect, preserved in rice vinegar, mild and without sweetness or too much
salt. The Martini glasses, round balls bottoms, no stem, but classic
conical tops had spent an hour in the freezer after being rubbed with lemon
This was a new Martini recipe for me. My uncle has always been an
inveterate Martinian, ever in search of better, but never willing to stray
far from the purist's approach. He seemed to greatly appreciate this
version of a Vodla Gibson.
I did too. If you like Martinis, I suspect that you would also.
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