Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What Do The Wine Country Girls Do On Their Day Off?

We eat and drink of course. No days off silly heads, we have “research” to do! I found out last month that Amy had never been to Dim Sum, I couldn’t believe it! Amy is a flavor freak, she loves great food and she is HUGE on sharing, she likes to taste everything on the table and is one of those people I love eating with, how could I have waited so long to suggest Dim Sum? I hadn’t been in over a year, it was Merritt’s birthday and all three of us had Sunday off…..Monterey Park here we come.
Picking the wine was a no-brainer in my book, the wine for Dim Sum for me is…

That’s right Champagne!

It is what I always bring and being one of the most versatile wines on the planet, (and who are we kidding, I love it more than just about any other wine) it is a perfect match for the wide array of flavors you encounter eating Dim Sum, washing down those little shrimp dumplings with a glass of Champagne is just about as perfect as it gets. As always Amy and Merritt were on board with the bubble drinking so now we just needed to choose which ones to bring. I would never recommend pulling out your best bottle of Champagne for a meal like this, for this what is needed is freshness, elegance and a pretty clean style wine without too much oak or yeasty flavors. I went with an old standby, N.V. Agrapart Blanc de Blancs ($33.99) and N.V. Agrapart 1er Cru Rose, ($49.99). Amy brought N.V. Agrapart Blanc de Blancs…(so funny we would both grab the same wine) and N.V. Vilmart Cuvee Rubis 1er Cru Rose ($68.99). Merritt, (who should not have had to bring anything seeing that it was her birthday and all) brought the 1996 Duval-Leroy Brut ($47.99).

We met at Amy’s house at 9:30am and popped the first bottle of Agrapart Blanc de Blancs to give a toast to the “birthday girl” and get our taste buds fired up. The wine was so full of fresh green apple, a little pie crust and butter, all with tiny bubbles and a shamefully gulpable quality…bottle opened bottle gone! The five of us piled in my car and away we went to Ocean Star for Amy’s first Dim Sum. We met my sister Tessa and her husband Wayne there and I have to tell you that seven is a perfect number of people for Dim Sum, everyone gets little tastes and the more people there are the more things you get to try!

First cart that rolls by is loaded with my beloved dumplings and my husband’s steamed pork buns…um, yeah we are gonna need a few of those! The second Amy popped a dumpling in her mouth she was a goner, “I’m going to come here all the time” she announced. Cart after cart, plate after plate and before we knew it we had been there for almost three hours and polished off four bottles of bubbly.

We all agreed that we loved the Agrapart Blanc de Blancs with the dumplings and little fried shrimp half moon thingies, (you dip them in broth, they are perfectly fried and perfectly delicious… (Tessa spotted those, Thanks Tessa!)
But the Roses were stunning with the duck and BBQ pork dishes that we devoured. That Agrapart Rose with its bright tart cherry flavors seemed to just explode with the duck…wickedly delicious. The 1996 Duval-Leroy really came alive when we paired it with the fried shrimp that is breaded and fried on a stick of sugarcane.

Now with full bellies and full Champagne glow about us we crammed back into my car and drove up the street to one of the many Asian markets in the area. We perused the isles stopping to look at all the seafood, live frogs, all the foods that had been cooked and formed into little balls, (Amy bought a few of those) found ground pork, (the good fatty kind) a bag of frozen Mangosteens, (something that I have always wanted to try) a Durian fruit (the fruit they say smells of rotting human flesh), some kind of spicy jerky, copious amounts of veggies and tea….well, there’s a party right?!

Back in the car and off to The Wine Country for more supplies. We picked up a bottle of N.V. H. Billiot Rose ($59.99), 2007 Zaca Mesa Z Gris ($15.99), 2007 Domaine de la Fouquette Rose ($14.99) and a bottle of Bluecoat American Dry Gin ($28.99)…..my hubby does love him some Gin & Tonics! Back at Amy’s we unloaded the car of groceries and slow moving, Champagne and full bellied party goers. Got everything put away, popped the bottle of H. Billiot Rose and sunned ourselves in the backyard. The Billiot was fantastic, full of rich, round, red fruit with a fair amount of yeast and a mouth filling finish.

We had laid the Durian and Mangosteens out on the patio table to defrost for a couple hours while we relaxed, shared some bubbles and watched the Angles game….also gave us time to make some room in our tummies! A couple hours later Merritt and I could wait no longer, armed with a clever and a towel we got to work cracking them open.

They were beautiful to look at and the flavor was fresh and reminded us a bit of lychee, the texture was not unlike a grape and they were really juicy. I was glad I tried them but don’t think I would drive all the way to Monterey Park for them. Now the Durian?? Nother story!

Did it smell bad…yeah it stinks to high heaven but we all loved it! The flavor was like an eggy, cheesy, slightly garlic tasting custard. Really delicious albeit a touch strange.
My husband, armed with a Gin & Tonic decided to make Pork Pies for the group with the fatty ground pork we got at the market so he borrowed a bike and went off to the store to pick up a box of hot roll mix. Before he left he went on and on about the Bluecoat Gin, he loved it! He said, “It’s really clean. It tastes like Gin but it is not too Ginny” I’m guessing he is referring to the juniper taste. “It is really smooth and I could easily drink this straight” He has a new favorite Gin. Next up…Pork Pies

Pork Pies are from my husband’s family, his Grandfather made them, his Mother makes them, he makes them and before our son went off to college he was taught how to make them. They are so craveable it is almost ridiculous, oh man and the smell….too good.

No exact recipe needed and sometimes we will use sausage, (un-cased) in place of ground pork…also very good but we still love the classic.

1 box Hot Roll Mix (prepared as it says on the box and cut in half makes 2 pork pies)
Ground Pork (the fattier the better)
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Ground Pepper
Preheat oven to 375
Roll dough into a rectangle about 12 inches
Cover the dough with ground pork
Top that with grated cheese
Sprinkle with pepper
Roll into a log, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 40 minutes. Let cool for aprox 10 minutes, slice and enjoy!
Makes a killer dinner with a green salad but man on man in the morning with a cup of coffee….dude!

We drank Rose, stuffed ourselves with porky cheesy pies, cranked the music, danced with Pork Pies in hand and finished the evening with cocktails and ice cream cake…..yeah that is what we do on our days off….Amy thinks we need a TV show.

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