Monday, November 12, 2007

Your Liver is a Muscle

This weekend made me think of the skit on Saturday Night Live years ago (when John Belushi was still part of the cast). Long story short, they were discussing how your liver is actually a "muscle" and it can only get stronger with use. If that is the case, then my liver got a three day interval work-out that should put it in finely tuned condition for the upcoming holidays.
Starting on Friday evening and a Birthday dinner celebration for Andria Shirk at Navarre. We had a group of 10 with as many bottles of wine that night.
Standouts for the evening were:

2000 Robert Mondavi-Reserve-
2003 Pride Petite Syrah
2004 Grgich Caneros Chardonnay
2004 Sineann-Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir

On Saturday I had dinner with my buddy Sam Sundeleaf at Cafe Mingo on NW 21st.
We started with a nice antipasti tray that included proscuitto, salami, and an array of figs. The whole table felt they had been transported back to grade school, as these figs were entirely reminiscent of Fig Newton Wafers. We shared a spaghetti dish that included clams and Italians sausage as well as an order of sausage & ricotta ravioli and a upscale mac & cheese dish that with the addition of crab elevated that comfort dish to a new level.
The wines we poured were:

1999 La Tour Haut Brion-Spicy nose, maybe even a bit of tobacco, nice balance, good currant fruit and a long finish.
1995 Chase-Spleen-This was the old school, bottle of the night....of course being the longest cellared it did show more polish than either of the other two wines. Nice black currant fruit with a whiff of leather, a great balance of acid and tannin and a long finish.

2003 Karl Lawrence-Napa Cabernet-This is a serious Cab that showed great purple fruit with a nicely wrapped tannic core. Just a hint of oak....this wine will do well with some cellar time and the two "old world" wines complemented this "new world" cousin.

After dinner we grabbed a drink at neighboring Serratto and then finally we shared a bottle of:
2003 Domaine Bois de Boursan Chateauneuf du Pape. That wine had a pale, brick-tinged red color. Floral nose hints at dried rose, lavender, and wild strawberry. Understated dusty red berry and floral flavors framed by very fine tannins that did not dry the palate. Finishes supple and long, showing an old-school blend of dried fruits and wild herbs.

Finally, last but not least, I had the opportunity to go the the Southern Oregon wine festival at the Gerding Theater and I actually opted to stay home and cook dinner.
As is pretty standard on Sunday's I invited my friend Sam to join us for dinner.
Sam, for you who don't know him is a lively dinner companion and he has a stellar wine collection that he is very generous with.

Sunday dinner:



House cured olives
Assorted Cheese Tray


Apple wood roasted Pork Loin, stuffed w/
Prunes, Apricots & Cranberries

served with

Shaved Brussel Sprouts & Shallot Saute
(See recipe below)

Heirloom Potatoes roasted in duck fat

The wine pairings were:

2000 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape-Bold, fruit forward, nice structure with a hint of herb (garrigue).
2003 Sineann-The Pines-Zinfandel- Big wine with dusty/racey raspberry fruit. This wine is always in the 16% alcohol range, though you would never know it by how balanced it drank.

Shaved Brussel Sprouts with Shallot Saute
Courtesy of

1 3/4 pounds brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Working in small batches, place brussels sprouts in feed tube of processor fitted with thin slicing disk; slice.

Melt butter with olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté until almost translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add brussels sprouts; increase heat to medium-high and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons pine nuts and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon pine nuts and serve.