Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dinner with Tom and Ann

On Sunday the 24th, a delightful late winter afternoon, Ann, Carter, and I drove out to Capon Bridge, WV to have dinner with friends Tom and Ann Matthes at their gorgeous new house situated in the Dillon's Run stream valley between two ridge lines just west of Capon Bridge proper. Wow! Do they have a beautiful single-level house on a gorgeous site. We are extremely jealous in that this is very similar to the style of house that we are hoping to build for our next (and hopefully final) home.

Still Life with Wok
Ann and I brought along a couple of bottles of Crémant de Bourgogne to start with. I really like this 100% Chardonnay bottling from Bailly-Lapierre. I keep mentioning it over and over in this blog; maybe it's because it's really nice affordable bubbly. Ann has turned a bit sour on this wine over the last year and I am not sure why. This bottle was delicious.

Carter Drinking Sprite with the Big Dogs
Tom offered Carter, now taller than his mother, a glass of Sprite in a Champagne flute so that he could be one of the gang while he sat on the sofa and surfed subways on the iPad. That's it Tom! Just what we need. Get the kid all sugared up! I do have to say that even if we have our issues at home, Carter is always a gentleman when out in public with us. Good on him! And he's a lucky kid because he gets to feast on (and loves) all this great food. What's he going to do when he gets to college and is faced with that slop?

Cuban Wedding Shrimp
We started at the counter in the kitchen with a dish that Tom called Cuban Wedding Shrimp. Though I have sincere doubts about its Cuban heritage, it is tasty. And I don't have any idea how Tom made it, but if I had to recreate it, I would make a sweet and sour marinade of orange juice, rum, vinegar, and brown sugar. Then I would sweat some peppers and onions (don't forget the garlic) and poach the shrimp and cover the whole thing in the marinade for a while. Then I would strain off the marinade and reduce it for a sauce. These shrimp were monsters too, maybe U-12s.

Pinot, Oh Me, Oh My!
Pinot fanatic that I am, imagine my surprise to see this line up on the counter when we arrived! We drank from right-to-left: Amalie Robert Pinot Meunier Willamette 2010, Buena Vista Pinot Noir Carneros 2009, Torii Mor Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2009, and Campion Pinot Noir Carneros 2006.

Ann and I are certainly no strangers to Amalie Robert Pinot Meunier, it having been on the restaurant wine list for a while. We have tasted the 2008 and 2009 vintages of this super cranberry-colored wine, but not the 2010. I was a little disappointed in the 2010 as it seemed a touch flabbier than I recall in 2008 and 2009.

Nor are we strangers to Buena Vista Pinot, it having been on and off the wine list over the years, and we can recall a delightful afternoon sitting at National Harbor sipping this wine after a Cirque de Soleil show some years ago. It is has big and lush dark fruit with touches of cotton candy, tasting a touch more Santa Barbara to me than Carneros in this vintage. My least favorite wine of the day; Ann's favorite.

Now for my style of wine, the Torii Mor Dundee Hills. I just loved this wine and have tasted it on and off over the years. It manages that delicate balancing act that makes Willamette so special: it manages to combine the crisp acidity of Burgundy with the best new world aromatics. Delicious!

This was my first taste of Campion wines, though I know the label and know that this is the new project of Larry Brooks from Acacia. Very well made wine, though not to my taste. Big, lush dark fruit, with loads of spice.

If I had to rank these in my order of preference: Torii Mor, Amalie Robert, Campion, Buena Vista. If I had to guess about Ann's ranking: Buena Vista, Campion, Torii Mor, Amalie Robert. All wines from Charlie Fish at Murphy Beverage in Winchester.

Duck Confit Quesadillas
After the delicious shrimp, Tom made duck confit quesadillas that he served with a mayo-based sauce and a salsa of corn, tomatoes, and yellow and green squash. This makes me long so much for the grilled vegetable salsas that we do at the restaurant in the summer! I love duck confit so much!

Sometimes it's the little things that catch my eye, such as this saucer of jalapeño slices. Maybe it is the contrast of the organic peppers against the industrial stainless steel. [Did you ever wonder where Jalapa is? It just occurred to me to check it out. Due east of La Ciudad and slightly northwest (and almost a suburb) of Veracruz sits Xalapa. Who knew?] Tom knows I like a little heat in my food, though jalapeños barely register on the Ed scale.

Sam I Am
During the intermezzo between the two appetizer courses in the kitchen and dinner proper in the dining room, we chatted in the living room where Sam, the chocolate lab, occupied one of the two sofas. As we were chatting, I happened to spy a couple of turkeys on the hillside across the creek about 75 yards away. We all gathered to watch them strut and shuffle through the underbrush looking for food and as they made their way north along the creek, I counted 22 of them, 20 hens and 2 toms.

Tom Stir Frying Pea and Cashew Fried Rice
After our interlude with the turkeys, Tom got to making fried rice with peas and cashews to go with his Asian pork shoulder. I *love* fried rice of any kind; I may love it better than pasta, which is saying a lot.

Action Shot

Asian Pork Shoulder with Sauce
Tom braised the pork shoulder in an Asian-inspired marinade that tasted predominantly of soy and star anise, never a bad thing! It tastes a lot like the marinade that we use for lamb and venison at the restaurant. Delicious!

Phenomenal Cheeses
And now for the stars of the show, the cheeses and bread for the final course. There is nothing finer in my book than good cheese and bread for dessert and these were excellent examples of each. Tom got the cheeses from Zingerman's in Ann Arbor. Before restaurant, I used to source a lot of things from them. I love the company, the catalog, the products, and the customer service.

From the triangular wedge on the bottom left going clockwise, the cheeses are: Montgomery's farmhouse Cheddar, L'Amuse Gouda, raw milk Stichelton, Fort St. Antoine Comté, and Detroit Street Brick. The Cheddar is smooth and delicious and is a great example of what Cheddar should be. The Gouda as you can see has a little age to it, but nothing like that of the 5-year old hard Gouda we serve at the restaurant. This one still has a smooth paste in the center and is developing caramel flavors out towards the edge: best of young and old Gouda in a single cheese. The Stichelton, while it looks and tastes like very good Stilton, cannot be so named because to be labeled as Stilton, the cheese must be made from pasteurized milk and this is made from raw milk, all the better. The Comté is a wonderful mountain cheese and is one of the finest of its kind that I have ever tasted, sweet, nutty, and complex.

The star of the cheeseboard, I left for last, the place of honor. This Detroit Street Brick, named for the pavers in the street outside Zingerman's deli, is a cheese I have never tasted before in my life, nor have I tasted anything similar. I just don't have enough superlatives in my vocabulary for this creamy goat milk cheese studded with green peppercorns and enrobed in a hint of a bloomed rind. This cheese stands with the very best goat cheeses I have ever eaten.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Tom served Warre's Otima 20-year old Tawny Port with the cheese. Yum! And I would be even more remiss if I didn't mention the outstanding rosemary and roasted garlic loaf that my Ann baked for the cheese course. Wonderful!

Ann's Awesome Rosemary-Roasted Garlic Bread
So after reading this, you might be jealous. You should be!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Way to go Dad! Sounds like a great night of food and wine.


The Girls Do Oregon

I haven't had much time or will to update the blog for the past few months. Play time has been on hold: we're in a brand new house w...