Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Dinner

Our plan for Christmas Dinner did not go nearly as planned. I closed the restaurant for lack of business on Christmas Eve and Ann and I were going to get in the kitchen together and make osso buco while relaxing with a bottle of wine. And then we were going to take a hike on Christmas Day and finish off the day with a nice pasta, as a reward for good behavior this past year. We haven't eaten any pasta in months and our waistlines show it.

Osso Buco, Risotto Milanese, Oregon Black Truffles
That was the plan, but the reality was much different. Ann spent a few days at her mother's and ended up following the ambulance to the ER on Christmas Eve because her mom was having more heart problems. Late afternoon on Christmas Eve after they admitted her mom for observation, Ann was able to get away and come home about dark. So much for getting in the kitchen and cooking. And as frazzled as she was, I just opened a bottle of wine and after some by-the-glass therapy, we cooked some pasta, and watched Love Actually for the umpteenth time. This was definitely not how we scripted Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day, we hung around the house without taking a hike, waiting for the call to come get Ann's mother and take her home. About 11:30 in the morning, it was clear that the hospital was taking its time in cutting her loose, so we decided to hurry up the osso buco into the crockpot so that it would be waiting for us when we got home.

Osso Buco Bubbling Away

We got the call about 2pm to come into Fairfax and as luck would have it, Mary had just got to the front door as we pulled up, so we didn't have to wait on her. After visiting her mom and me making a quick pot of stracciatella for her to eat, we headed west on the drive across the mountains to Winchester. Once again, it was about dark when we got home, but this time we arrived to the awesome smells of osso buco.

We collected our wits for a few minutes and then Ann went on an explore in the cellar for wine (because we drank our osso buco Barolo the night before) while I pulled together the mise for risotto milanese. I also happened to grab a few truffles from work for our risotto, an indulgence that we partake of only once a year.

Risotto Mise: Leeks, Shallots, Oregon Black Truffles

Just Starting the Risotto: Adding the Saffron

Risotto Milanese Ready for Service
Ann surprised me with two bottles from the cellar that I was supposed to guess blind. Unknown to me, she pulled a couple of 2011s from our friend Maggie Malick. I couldn't place the first wine, the Cabernet Franc. It was bricking from age, the color was fading, but the fruit was bright sappy raspberry with a darker cherry undertone and some bottle funk. I couldn't place the wine at all and was shocked when she showed me the bottle: Virginia Cabernet Franc.

Outstanding Aged Virginia Cab Franc
The second bottle, I could place. It was a dead ringer for 2009 vintage Pinot Noir from Ribbon Ridge AVA in Oregon. Only one problem: we don't have any in our cellar. I was dumbfounded to find that it was Virginia Merlot. Merlot makes sense in that it has this juicy blueberry streak that you also find in Ribbon Ridge Pinot. Damned delicious and better than the Cabernet Franc. Age has a way of making certain wines really graceful. Time was excellent to these two and I know they taste far better now than when they were bottled.

Even More Outstanding Virginia Merlot


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