Saturday, January 18, 2014

2008 Sonoma Cutrer chardonnay, and things

tiniest hint of fresh sweet grassiness -- very pale, almost colorless --
high acidity -- finishing with that "kiss of oak" (vanilla, banana, toast) 
subtle? or just dull?

I ask the question -- almost a sacrilege, Sonoma-Cutrer being the legendary producer of chardonnays that it is -- partly because I have enjoyed other chardonnays more, and partly because this one did not turn out to be the best seller we hoped it would, almost a year ago. We are still sitting on our last few cases of cute little (357 ml) half-bottles. Alas, in this economy a retail price of $12.99, or even $9.99, for a mere half-portion is exorbitant enough to scare off practically everybody. Legend or no legend, sacrilege or not.  

Image from Sonoma-Cutrer Wines.

So shall we discuss other topics, just for a moment? You know, dear things, I have a number of recipes in draft to offer you as usual, but they are all now as it were from a previous life. That brief vacation turned out to be not very much fun at all. Post-vacances, I suddenly cook for one less person than I used to, and photos and news of dinners from what seems the distant, verdant, sun-dappled side of a piece of scorched earth don't fascinate as they used to do. Not Antoinette Pope's "Southern hash with rice," nor Marshall Field's Walnut Room restaurant's meat loaf, nor Gourmet's cider-braised pork shoulder with caramelized apples. All of it remains such good food, of course. Perhaps if I use the recipes, I should add an asterisk to them, in a sort of hint-y "*this was when" style. In any case brief notes on drink seem, for the moment, quite enough to engage my attention. Is there a good, human reason why harassed and busy people use the foodie metaphor of the full plate to describe, um, overstimulus? Who ever says "I have a full glass" when they want to express "quite enough"? The cup runneth-ing over indicates joy. The crammed plate does not. 

Still. We do have to eat. I may as well "share" (what a dopey word) a little dinner we had a few nights ago. It's called Chicken Divan, and it has a very respectable retro pedigree involving a white sauce flavored with sherry and thickened with egg yolks and I don't know what all. We'll explore that some other time.

To make it, you will take up your leftover roast chicken and its leftover gravy, and you will proceed to simplify matters. Slice off the best of the meat, layering it in a buttered baking dish with three cups of  freshly cooked broccoli. Then, bring the gravy to a boil on your stovetop. Add a cup or so of milk to it, to make about 2 cups of sauce, then add a half cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stir it in until it melts and thickens. Ladle the sauce over the chicken and broccoli, sprinkle more grated Parmesan on top, and put the dish in the oven at 375 F for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is all hot and bubbling. Serve it over hot buttered toast and you will have something delicious, if un-sherried and un-egged, on your un-crammed plate. A chardonnay in the (half-full) glass beside would also be good.

Serves four.


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