We both agreed that this simple entree was the best quail either of us had ever had, and the red cabbage/chestnut braise was an inspired accompaniment, even if the nuts were actually a serendipitous greenmarket find and the crucifer a refrigerator survivor, what remained of a head after some of it had been used in an earlier meal.
- mixed olives from Eataly, with grissini (Roberto)
- partially-boned Georgia quail from O. Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market on Bleecker Street, salted, sprinkled with crushed chilies, pan-grilled with sprigs of fresh thyme, finished with oil and lemon; accompanied by red cabbage from an unrecorded Greenmarket purveyor, wilted with duck fat and cooked with a sweet white wine, then combined with “pullet” (the adjective my invention for the smallish fruit of a young tree) chestnuts from Red Jacket Orchards, also at the Greenmarket, which had been cooked briefly in bit more duck fat and then softened some in a a rich chicken stock, the two braised ingredients cooked together until the cabbage was very soft, and finished with a bit of cognac
- wine: California, David Bruce Pinot Noir 2002 Santa Cruz Mountains, the generous gift of a friend
- black cherry goat’s milk ice cream from Patches of Star Dairy
The red cabbage and chestnut recipe is from Alice Waters’ “Chez Panisse Vegetables“, and that for the quail from “Italian Two Easy“.
Barry and I don’t really celebrate Christmas, or any other god-based holiday, but we can’t help cherishing some of the trappings of the ancient Christian feast days kept by our families while we were growing up. Holiday meals are probably the most important survivors of his and my early conversions to irreligion, and those associated with December 24 and 25 are among those most worthy of our attentions.
So two nights ago I once again cleared off (six) two-foot high stacks of books from the top of the dining table in the large gallery, unfolded the top, pulled out the legs and set it for the fresh, light dinner described below. It was designed to anticipate a slightly more ambitious, warmer and heavier spread the following day:
- smoked trout which I had picked out at the Union Square Greenmarket just the day before (Max Creek Hatchery in East Meredith New York), arranged on the plate with endive leaves which cradled a shredded apple and horseradish sauce/salad, along with slices from a Portuguese Saloio roll (hand-formed, peasant bread) from Garden of Eden (baked by Elio’s Bakery, in Jersey City)
- red cabbage salad: two beautiful small heads of red (actually, pretty purple) cabbage from the Queens County Farm Museum stand at the Greenmarket, thinly-shredded and mixed with lingonberry preserves, walnut oil, sherry vinegar, roasted and roughly-chopped walnuts, served garnished with julienne strips of the same Greenmarket-purchased New York-native Newtown Pippin apple included in the previous course, along with slices of a round loaf of dark flax-seed bread from Garden of Eden (Kara Bakery in Brooklyn), fresh butter and Manchego and Roncal cheeses (from Murray’s Cheese); the recipe for the entree was one adapted from Kurt Gutenbrunner and printed in the Times December 9.