Friday, March 27, 2009

And Bring me some "New" Wine

There is a moment in Steve Martin's first feature as a star, the memorable 1979 release The Jerk, where the newly rich Navan Johnson is dining out and asks the waiter for wine followed by "and bring me some "new" wine none of that old stuff - the newest you've got". That line, along with "that's all I need", has stuck with me for 30 years.

Last night was a day off, so one of three "family dinners" we enjoy weekly. I stuffed Pork Loin chops with bacon, onion, apple and sage and roasted them. The Chops were served with roasted potatoes, roasted beets and steamed broccoli and a simple mid-week red wine. The wine in question is a Carmenere from Chile Estacion, available in private stores for around $12 and good value. I popped the cork and poured, placing the bottle back down near daughter's seat.

Before I. or wife, could have a sip daughter exclaimed:

Don't drink that wine !

"Why not ?" says wife.

Daughter immediately replied:"It's gonna be awful, it's already 2 years old", the wine label clearly showed a vintage of 2007.

Wife and I explained that unlike milk, or fruit juice, wine can often improve with age and that it was OK to drink this bottle.

Maybe so, but I think daughter is still a bit skeptical. Just wait until she spots me pouring out a glass of 15 year old Glenfarclas.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More Information than She Needed to Know

It's spring break, which is a notoriously slow week in the restaurant business in Vancouver, so I wasn't entirely shocked to get the mid-afternoon phone call offering me the night off yesterday. I cheerfully accepted as I don't like working slow weekend nights, or busy ones for that matter either but that's another story, but then was left with a bit of a problem as to what to do about dinner.

We are a "one cell phone" family and wife and daughter had headed downtown for a movie "sans" cellphone. As they would be expecting me to be leaving the house around 4pm I had no way of knowing whether they would return home for dinner, taco fixins for two in the fridge, or stop for pizza/WhiteSpot/Earl's whatever. I decided to shop for dinner and then see how things played out.

As luck would have it we all arrived home at the same time, 5:15ish so dinner at home was a go, however plans were delayed by a visit with the neighbours and I didn't get started on dinner until around 6:30. My initial plan to roast a chicken were nixed by my time frame so I de-boned the breast to make cutlets.

The boneless chicken cutlets were dredged in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme and oregano then the cutlets were sauteed in olive oil and butter while broccoli and saffron rice were prepared. While the chicken rested I made a pan sauce and the whole thing hit the table around 7 o'clock.

Daughter was thoroughly enjoying dinner and asked what the sauce was, I said I'd "just deglazed the pan and mounted the reduction" then realized that she had no idea what that meant.

I explained that after removing the chicken from the pan I'd added white wine and scraped the pan to incorporate the carmelized goodness into the liquid, this was then heated to reduce by half and then a knob of butter was added, monte au beurre, to add richness. Once the butter was melted I strained the sauce, adding any juice from the resting chicken et voila.

At this point daughter looked at me as if to say: "so this is burnt bits off the bottom of the pan with boiling wine and fat added to it ?" but actually just said "Gee, thanks daddy, I really didn't need to know that." Sometimes I talk too much, I should've just said it was gravy and left it at that.

On a more sombre note Hammy passed away on St. Patrick's day. Daughter is inconsolable, but getting a bit better every day, seeing her in such true emotional pain is very hard on wife and I but things will eventually return to normal. Already we've come down from "I'll never have another pet again" to "well I don't think I could deal with another hamster".

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Bad, Probably

So it snowed in Vancouver on Sunday, and Monday. While not the exact equivalent of Hell freezing over or the Canucks winning the Stanley Cup it is fairly unprecedented.

Many people were left wondering : "Why would it snow in Vancouver in March ?".

Well actually it was probably my fault.

You see we celebrated Christmas, again, on Sunday so the white stuff may very well be my responsibility.If you recall Vancouver was really covered in snow on and around December 25th so we made the decision that The Grands should not travel down to the coast from the Okanagan. We determined that we'd just wait and celebrate Christmas a little later, well one thing lead to another and a little later ended up being this past Sunday.

It was a great Christmas, no jumping out of bed at 7 am, no myriad of long distance calls, no turkey basting (we had prime rib instead). Grandma and Granddad dropped in around 4pm, we opened gifts, we had dinner, we played Pictureeka, we drank a large whisky and all ended happily.

All in all I really like the Second Christmas concept, but in future we'll try and do Saturday, and not go past Valentine's day so as not to screw up Monday morning commutes too badly.