Monday, March 22, 2010

Chez Moi, a la Lyon

There's a certain culinary satisfaction in researching the cuisine of a specific region. Even if it merely means whipping up 1 or 2 typical dishes and serving the appropriate, corresponding regional wine. I did just that today for a few core members of my wine tasting group, which convened tonight to discuss how we might meet monthly throughout the year.

Over cervelles de canut (recipe at bottom), carrots and celery, bread and housemade paté and paté de campagne from Bi-Rite market, we caught up with each other, listened to some records, and eventually got down to the business of wine tasting group stuff in 2010.

The wines we drank:

2007 Domaine Fery Bourgone Aligote

Sharply acidic (in a good way) and lightly marked by oak. This is as good an aligoté I have had since a glass of Lignier Aligoté I drank this past October. Great for drinking, and wonderful for Lyonnaise whipped cheese aka cervelles de canut.

2005 Trenel Macon Village

Perfectly pleasant, waxy, ripe orchard fruit. Not very compelling though admittedly put in a tough spot following the high acid, younger, aligoté,

2007 Daniel Bouland Morgon Vieilles Vignes

Delicious wine! From the courcelette vineyard (see: Foillard cuvee courcelette), this is all pure tangy cherry fruit with a slight mineral stamp. More about approachability and fun, though, than minerality and firmness.

2008 Coudert "Clos de la Roillette" Fleurie

My favorite wine of the night. This is unsually approachable at its young age, but still a wine with a strong personality. It has a definite mineral/soil imprint on the nose, which carries over to the palate as well. Soil, I'm saying, quite literally. If you ever go to the gardening supplies section of a hardware store, then this wine will smell familiar. Equally memorable on the palate, with the intense minerality combining with pungent red fruits, more cranberry than the usual raspberry/cherry Beaujo combination. The wine has a thick, palate coating texture (despite the relatively light hue in the glass) though it finishes lightly and elegantly. Wonderful stuff. I need to buy some.

2001 Domaine Joël Rochette Pisse-Vieille Brouilly

This bottle was something our group tasted a few years ago. It was controversial at that tasting, as it was much older than the other wines we were tasting (which were primarily from the 2005 vintage) but still held much appeal for many of us. Tonight it showed well. Dark cherry fruit, ripe and just short of stewed, with a more deeply pitched and mature quality, although still mineral and not heavy on the palate. Lovely and surprsingly tasty given its vintage and cru.

2007 Edmunds St. John "Porphyry" Gamy Noir El Dorado

From a single vineyard in the Sierra foothills, this was the ringer of the night. Though tasting it, even before the other wines, it struck me as good but not Beaujolais, which of course makes sense as it hails from a vineyard far away from Beajolais (though apparently there is a concentration of granite beneath these vines). With focused fruit, and 13% alcohol, this is a tasty California wine, albeit without much of a mineral or specific regional stamp to it.

Cervelles de Canut (Silk worker's brains)

Don't worry, no brains involved here. In fact, the dish is vegetarian. The dish received its name because it is what silk workers in Lyon used to eat daily. Combine 8 oz good quality fromage blanc (or young goat cheese), 1/4 c white wine, 2 tbs olive oil and a minced large shallot either in your Cuisinart or with a hand blender (I opt for the latter; we are still sans Cuisinart here for anyone who wants to send us one). Some recipes call for a bit of creme fraiche and white wine vinegar instead of wine; I prefer high acid white wine (aligote works great) and a dollop of good dijon mustard. Mix in 1 tbs chopped chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with celery and carrots, or for the purists place on top of good quality toasted bread.

Chicken Lyonnaise

I adapted my version from The Escoffiere Cookbook. Basically, I used a 50-50 mix of butter and oil (a substitue for clarified butter) and added a bunch of destemmed, chopped Swiss chard during the last 5 minutes of cooking. The "veal gravy" referenced below is actually chicken stock thickened with corn starch. Here is the Master's version, in his own words:

1563-Poulet Sauté Lyonnaise

Sauté the chicken in butter and, when it is half-cooked, add three fair sized onions, thinly sliced, tossed in butter and slightly browned. Complete the cooking of the chicken and the onions together, and put it on a dish. Swirl with one-sith pint of veal gravy; reduce; pour this liquor and the onions over the chicken, and sprinkle the whole with a pinch of chopped parsley. (Escoffier, The Escoffier Cookbook)