Sunday, March 8, 2015

Elzee's New Dirty Apron

The great thing about giving a cookbook for Christmas is that there's always the potential of being invited for dinner so that the recipient can try out a new recipe on you. Not that there was any nefarious intent in Boo's and my giving The Dirty Apron Cookbook to Elzee last December. Her proposal to use us as guinea pigs as she tried out some intriguing dishes was both welcome and easy to accept. Girl knows how to cook - with or without a cook book.

The dinner was also a perfect opportunity to pop the cork on some exciting wines.

1874.  N.V. Giusti - Asola Dry Prosecco (Prosecco D.O.C.G. - Italy)

I'd met up with Elzee and her brother, Hockey Cop, for some of the Friday night grand tasting at the recent Vancouver International Wine Festival and one of the definite treats of that night was our visit to the Giusti table. Not only were all the wines as tasty as all get go but Elzee and Hockey Cop struck up an entertaining conversation with winery principal, Joe Giusti. It turns out that Elzee and Hockey Cop's dad is pretty much from the same village as Joe was from. The conversation morphed into an extra special opening of a Giusti icon - their Acquavite Riserva Grappa (much to Joe's agent's dismay).

The Grappa wasn't available for sale but I did pick up some of the winery's Prosecco and I figured there'd be no better occasion to open a bottle than at tonight's dinner.

This is not, however, a simple Prosecco to make Aperol Spritzers or Mimosas with. No. No. No. Being a D.O.C.G. wine, it is made from the traditional Glera grape but Giusti strives for an intensity that captures classic tree fruit and citrus notes but lifts it to a more pronounced level of sophistication. Our bottle didn't last longer than our hors d'oeuvres but I could easily see drinking this through an entire meal.

We definitely sipped away while trying to figure out a way to take Joe up on his offer for us to all visit him if we ever make our way to the Veneto. Travelling to Italy with Elzee has long been a bucket list item for Boo and I. I think Giusti just upped the ante.

1875.  2012 Burrowing Owl Chardonnay (Okanagan Valley VQA)

Elzee just happened to have a bottle of Burrowing Owl Chard in the fridge. So, it didn't take much arm twisting to pour it along with her Kale Caesar salad. I don't tend to buy as many Burrowing Owl wines as I used to. There's just so much choice for Okanagan wines nowadays - and Burrowing Owl is now one of many excellent producers instead of being one of a few that was head and shoulders above the others.

It was nice to try the Chardonnay though since I can't say that I buy Burrowing Owl's whites as much as I go for their reds. Regular readers will know that I'm not all that partial to Chardonnay - especially the big, oak-driven versions that can be prevalent in the market. Wines like this are simply evidence that it doesn't pay to be ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) wine drinkers. This was a full bodied Chard (being from a warmer vintage for the Okanagan) but the oak, while noticeable, wasn't overbearing and was well integrated. I'll admit I refilled my glass.

The main course of braised short ribs was paired with a bottle that I'd been holding onto for awhile. It was a bottle that Elzee had given Boo and I for Christmas a few years back. Just like our giving cookbooks can result in dinners, Elzee's gift of wine might just see us open it to share with her. What goes around, comes around - or so they say.

1876.  2007 Tawse - Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc (Lincoln Lakeshore VQA - Niagra - Ontario)

Unfortunately, I can count, on the fingers of one hand, the number of Tawse wines that I've had - and they've been largely white wines. I just don't see many Tawse wines available for sale in Vancouver. As I've previously lamented, that fact will hopefully change in the times to come. It was a welcome discovery, therefore, to find the Tawse Cab Franc in our cellar. Neither Elzee nor I knew of the wine or the winery's provenance when she picked up the bottle during a visit to Toronto.

Glad she did though. All three of us thought it was a standout. Full of body and vibrant fruit, every bite of short rib was simply elevated by another sip of the Cab Franc.

The Tawse website says that the Laundry Vineyard Cab Franc vines are among the oldest in the Niagra region of Ontario. Sustainably-farmed, the fruit was clearly evident in the glass and a nice touch of spice on the finish just enhanced our enjoyment.

Now to find some more Tawse Cab.

Having said that, you know there was no Tawse left by the time Elzee brought out the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Not that we need any more libation but, in honour of our Giusti tales, Elzee brought out some of her dad's own grappa preserved cherries as a nightcap to beat all others.

All told, this was one helluva a dinner: delicious food and ever-so-tasty wines. I think I'm going to have to start looking for another cookbook to give to Elzee this Christmas. No agenda of course. Just a little something to help her fill a little adventure time in the kitchen. I will bring the wine, however, if she needs another guinea pig.

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