November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving fun! Fried Turkey Mishaps, Purple Sweet Potatoes, and Stir-Fried Miso Collard Greens. Oh yeah … and Wine!

Okay, so this may be more about food and holiday than about wine, but it’s all related. Really. Trust me!

First, I’ll talk about the wines. Get that out of the way before I knit everything else together.

For an aperitif, Zach (of 2BC fame) brought a Zinfandel that he had purchased from Trader Joe’s. It’s made up of 81% Zinfandel, 17% Petite Sirah, with dashes of Syrah and Carignan. It has aromas of spice, raspberry, and smoke laced with a hint of clove and black pepper. It’s jammy and fruity with not a lot of complexity or finish, but at $5.99, surprisingly good and very, very drinkable. My mom, who “hates” red wines, drank down a glass with gusto. And for those of you who wondered, yes, she swirls quite nicely, thank you. After all, she's the mom of Vegas Wineaux!!

At dinner, we had a white wine, the 2005 Cuevas de Castilla ConClass Rueda, from Spain. This is a blend of 80% verdejo, 10% viura and 10% sauvignon blanc, and pairs beautifully with nicely roasted turkey breast. In fact, it is almost a perfect pairing, with the fruitiness and acidity making a great foil for the sweetness and juiciness of the white meat.

The two Pinot Noirs were also served. One was the 2005 Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir. Man. What a nice wine … especially for $10.99!! First of all, it smells like Pinot is *supposed* to smell! On the nose, you get ripe black cherries, smoke, and a hint of spice. Core flavors of cherry coke, smoke, and plum along with notes of berries along with rounded tannins and crisp, balanced acidity stay with the wine’s surprisingly long finish. This fruitiness and acidity made it a perfect mate to my Cranberries in Port Reduction Sauce and the dark meat of the turkey.

The other Pinot was firmer, darker, and more “grown up.” The 2005 Magnet Pinot Noir has smooth dark fruit flavors and a nice balance of oak influence. The silky mouthfeel (always important to me) showcases flavors of cherries, dark berries, smoke, and earth. Firm tannins and tart acidity cut through the fat of the Thanksgiving meal (even through fried turkey!), and is a definite food wine! Delicious!

The ConClass was purchased at Valley Cheese and Wine and the two Pinots were purchased at Khoury’s. Thanks guys!

And now for the fun. Fortunately, my mother doesn’t own a computer, so I can talk freely here. What a story! She decided about three years ago that we were going to start a new tradition of fried turkey. I hated the idea because I’m trying to cut fried foods (except for stir fried, of course) out of my diet as much as possible. So now we were going to have fried turkey (and the subsequent WEEKS of leftovers!) on a regular basis?!? Now, although my mother is now 86, my female bloodline tends to go well into the mid/upper 90s, so I felt stuck. Fried turkey every year for the next ten or more years? Yikes!

The last two years have been, um, *eventful* to say the least. I won’t talk about her frying the turkey in her apartment. It was truly scary. Or the grease that I finally got scrubbed out of my patio concrete. Once again, a long story.

This year, everything changed!! Aunt Joyce (Mom’s younger sister) bought a turkey that was too big to fit into the fryer, which meant that it had to be fried in two parts. We were looking at eating Thanksgiving dinner late at night! This year, however, having had enough of fried turkey, I had surreptitiously roasted a small, free-range bird. It was properly brined for several hours (sea salt, evaporated cane juice, allspice, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic), rinsed, and slowly roasted. I just happened to mention in passing that I had this bird available, and it was a hit. We were enjoying dinner, wine, and each other’s company while the big bird was frying (and frying and frying and frying) outside. At that time my mother declared that this is the LAST time we’ll ever consider fried turkey. I did the happy dance on my butt!

I did “The” Brisket. It was from Costco, therefore a “company sized” cut, right? Well, I have a piece about 2x5 inches left. Lucky me.

I surprised everyone by baking a purple yam. A staple of Okinawa, it has a beige papery skin and a PURPLE interior! It is creamier than a “regular” garnet yam but still packs plenty of sweetness, and the color is arresting. Aunt Joyce didn’t partake because it wasn’t “normal,” but everyone else dug in with gusto.

The collard greens that I cooked departed (sucked down various gullets and shamelessly stolen from my home, LOL), so I had just enough to “do” something with. Well, I made a Soul Food Asian stir fry starring the collards, Vietnamese tofu, garlic, shallots, choy sum (a variety of bok choy), and Miso. YUMMY! Talk about a melding of cultures!

As you can see, my holiday was fun, and it’s always great to have loved ones around during these special times!

Next entry will be updating you on upcoming classes for 2008, including a wine class with no wine. Huh???? Stay tuned!!

By the way, the fried turkey eventually *did* finish cooking!

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