it seems Barry couldn’t wait to start, but it had been some time since lunch
It was the 25th of December, and so it was an almost perfect excuse for a feast.
- 3 ounces of smoked wild Alaskan black cod (sable) from Blue Hill Bay Smoked Seafood, via The Lobster Place, brought to room temperature and served with a sauce of créme Fraîche from Ronnybrook Farms stirred with zest and juice from an unidentified small citrus fruit from Fantastic Gardens (it looked and tasted a bit like a ripe, small yellow lime), 5 whole tiny chive plants from Rogowski Farm, scissored from the bottom all the way into the green tops, and a little chopped tarragon from Stokes Farm, with cress from Max Creek Hatchery, dressed with good olive oil and more lemon/line juice, and some Grand Daisy Pugliese toasts on the side
- the wine was a German (Pfalz) white, Becker Family Pinot Blanc, 2013, which Appellation Wines was kind enough to special order for us when we asked them to
Pigeon. These weren’t wood pigeons, which are smaller, leaner, tastier, but wild, and therefore cannot be sold inside the U.S., but these domestic squab were almost as delicious, and at least there were no worries about biting into shot.
- 2 air-chilled California squab from D’Artagnan, via O. Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market, seasoned with salt and pepper inside and out, cooked, breast side down, in rendered goose fat (gifted from our hosts the night before), turning a few times, until richly browned all over (about 12 minutes), before being transferred to a tin-lined copper au gratin pan, the cavities rubbed with 2 tablespoons of softened butter which had been mixed with 2 teaspoons of crushed juniper berries, each bird covered with a round of sliced guanciale (also from O. Ottomanelli & Sons), then surrounded in the pan by nearly a cup of seedless California white grapes from Whole Foods, placed in the upper third of a 450º oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the thickest part of the thighs had been cooked to medium-rare, removed and let rest for about 5 minutes
- Japanese sweet potatoes from Lani’s Farm, unpeeled, but washed thoroughly, cut as french fries, tossed in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper, than roasted above 400º in my trusty well-seasoned Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan for about 35-40 minutes
- red collard greens from Tamarack Hollow Farm, cut in a rough chiffonade, then braised in a heavy pot in which one halved rocambole garlic head from Keith’s Farm had been allowed to sweat in some olive oil, the dish finished with salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of juice from the same lemon/lime described above
- the wine was an Italian (Sicily) white, Benanti Etna Rosso, Rosso di Verzella 2013, from Flatiron Wines & Spirits
If I retain any Christmas traditions from any of my past lives, struffoli is one of them, and it can always make me smile.