Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving recap

We pulled it off. 14 people, a first time heritage turkey cooking experience, Spanish vs French wines. Somehow it all worked. We started with 2004 Francois Pinon Vouvray Brut (1.5l), progressed to some whites, worked our way through cru beaujolais and Rioja, and finished with a 1990 Gordon & McPhail Glen Grant bottling. Some things I learned:

- Truffled may not be the only way to do Thanksgiving mashed potatoes, but it's surely the only way I plan on doing it in the future. Here's a recipe for 15 (with some leftover): peel, cut and boil 8 lb of russets for 20 minutes, drain, mash with a pint of half-and-half, a stick of butter, 2 tbsp white truffle oil, salt, pepper. Transfer into a baking dish, grate some parmeggiano on top, throw under the broiler to make a crust, take out of oven and douse with more truffle oil. A crowd pleaser, and incredibly easy.

- Thanksgiving is a white wine affair. The right cru beaujolais may do the trick, but not as well as the right whites.

- Spanish wines can work great. True, I'm a fan and write them up fairly often here, but the right Spanish wines work every bit as well as anything else for Thanksgiving. In fact, the '07 Carballal Sete Cepas Rias Baixas, with its terrific phenolic ripeness, moderate alcohol and bright acidity, was the best wine with dinner. Rich enough for the meatier than usual heritage bird, very receptive to the earthy savor of mushroom stuffing, and somehow equipped to even handle the sweet-tangy cranberry sauce. As far as reds, I wish I had had another bottle of 1999 Campillo Rioja Reserva. Why drink CA pinot (or moderately priced Burgundy, for that matter) when you could have this? It's a perfect compromise between softer, plumper new world fruit, and more old world acidity, terroir and savor. Perfectly balanced, traditionally styled Rioja with a bit of bottle age.

- Just about everyone loves the Beach Boys. As is usually the case, Dad was happy to be the itunes DJ, striking a chord with our Swiss guests when he played California Girls ("Udo, that's what was playing when we first met in Paris in 1968!") A few of us then reminisced about the video for the version of this tune which my generation perhaps knows a bit better: