First, a story. Then, wine.

Let me tell you a story.  It’s short, don’t worry.  N wanted to try out Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread method after being given My Bread a while ago.  But it requires 12-18 hours on the first rise, in a warm, draft-free place (optimal temp: 72F/22C).  In Oregon, that’s impossible 354 days of the year.  And we don’t have a light in our oven, nor a ‘warm’ setting (which would probably be too warm anyways).

So the fix?  N is brilliant: a lamp in the oven!  So he grabbed my reading lamp from the office, clipped it in the oven, and set about testing the temperature.  It seemed to be just about right, maybe even a little on the warm side.  Then, a few days later, I was making a baked shrimp with feta and olives.  I was on the phone with N’s father, on Bluetooth, stirring the sauce while chatting away about school while the oven preheated.  (You can see where this is going…)  All of a sudden, smoke began billowing out of the oven.  I open the door and started screaming, “FIRE! FIRE!”  The lamp is completely aflame, giving me the middle finger from the oven.  I grab our fire extinguisher (thank you, Landlord!), and aim it at the fire (the source, not the flames), but nothing comes out.  “It doesn’t WORK! AAAAAH!!”  Mind you, I’m screaming, but also laughing, and N’s dad is completely, frantically confused on the other end of the line.  I toss the fire extinguisher at N to deal with, while I start evacuating the dogs, and uncovered foods (as there were little pieces of burnt plastic ash floating through the air).  I finally, curtly tell N’s father that I will call him back soon.

That was months ago.  Today, we finally scraped out the last of the molten plastic.  And we did it all over again– sans le feu (minus the fire).  N covered a 40 W lightbulb with foil, and plugged it into an automatic timer set for 30/40 intervals (30 minutes on, 40 minutes off).  A 20 W bulb would work better, but we haven’t found one yet.  It runs across our dials, so we can’t turn on the oven without dealing with the lamp in the oven.  And there, he let the first loaf of bread rise for 16 hours.*  Delicious!  The crust is deep and dark and crusty, and the inside is super moist, almost sticky, with deep air holes and pockets.  The flavor is mildly sweet, and slightly milky.  It’s fantastic.

And then there is the Cooper Mountain Reserve 2008.  I’m not sure how this ended up in our wine collection.  Did N buy it?  Did I buy it?  Was it a gift at my recent graduation party?  Regardless, we popped it open and tried it with the fresh baked bread.  Cooper Mountain is an organic and bio-dynamic vineyard, so you’ve got that to begin with.  Secondly, 2008 is legendary for being a great pinot noir year in Oregon.  Combined?  Cooper Mountain produced a classic Oregon pinot noir.  Aged in French and American oak (I’m guessing), it has the typical vanilla flavors of an Oregon PN, with the ripe front berry and mellow finish.  I think the oak (more French than American?)is almost overpowering, but N disagreed (my tongue has been a little skittish lately), but I also think it’s an excellent introduction to Oregon PNs.  I just mailed a friend of mine in West Virginia two Oregon bottles, and almost wish I had included this one as a third– it would make a great lesson on Oregon pinot noir methods.  3 1/2 stars out of four.

*Another note about Jim Lahey’s method: he suggests baking the bread in a Le Creuset dutch oven or cast iron or enamel pot.  We happen to have the right size Le Creuset (5 1/2 – 6 1/2 qt.).  But mental note: remove the plastic knob on the lid before putting it in the 425F oven.  Stuff it with foil, and it works just fine.  Mark Bittman did an article on Jim Lahey and his method, check it out here.

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Rabbits and burgers, oh my!

I am not a huge burger person.  I don’t eat them very often, and I never eat fast food burgers (fast food dairy is another issue altogether, see also Blizzard).  But there is One Burger that I will Always eat.  It is So Good it requires Semi-Random capitalized Words.  It is The Rabbit‘s burger.

Haven called before hand to make sure they had 2 burgers left, we were only a little disappointed that, by the time we ordered, there was only One Burger left.  Obviously, we got it.  And ate it before I could even take a photo.  I don’t know what it is, but The Rabbit’s burgers are So Good they had to take them off the dinner menu.  I’m not joking.  Corey was telling us that so many people ordered the burger, that they were contemplating firing their chef, hiring 2 twelve-year olds to flip burgers, and calling it a day.  So they took it off the dinner menu, reserving it only for the lunch time (and any leftovers for hardcore burger club members like ourselves).

I’m not sure what it is about the burger… it is always perfectly cooked, perfectly juicy, and comes with house-made mayonaise.  (I hate mayo.  But once again, The Rabbit is amazing…)  We also split an incredible skirt steak with spinach and morels.  Served up with a “Dreaming is Free” (gin + bittersweet vermouth + orange bitters).

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We both cheated…

We cheated.  I admit it.  Usually we’re so good, but today… we cheated.  It wasn’t the yoga this evening (soo good!  Because law/grad school was so crazy, I hadn’t been able to go to my favorite class, Bob at Lifeforce Fitness, for too long! My arms are like Jello now…).  And it wasn’t my work, I’m still chugging through it…

It was the salmon.  Usually we’re so good about making our own marinades and sauces.  But with N gone in China for nearly 2 months, I succumbed to the inner culinary sloth and bought Trader Joe’s chimichurri salmon.  A first for me.  I never even ate it, and so N and I baked it up today.  It was actually excellent!  The salmon wasn’t fresh, of course, and it tasted a little flat (as in defrosted), but it was certainly good.  On a bed of wilted spinach with Spanish olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.

And to drink?  I wanted something light and chilled, and all I had in the fridge was the other day’s half-bottle of Pinot Noir and a bottle of Beltoure Rosé.  So the sparkling Rosé it was!  And I have to say, it is a bargain of a sparkler! Crispy, with light bubbles, and a little bit of a cranberry touch to it.  Easy, drinkable, and quite cheap.  I would have liked a little more mineral and citrus, but for what it is, I shouldn’t complain.  Great with the salmon (would also be good with a creamy fish or cheese risotto on a hot summer day).

I feel like maybe I should rename this blog “Drinking French wines in Eugene.”

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Rhône Valley

Jour Duex

Repas vallée du Rhône.  Amuse bouche… soupe…tartare, poisson, et plus… tous les délicieux!  Et le vin vin vin! Exceptionnel!

Day Two

Dinner from the Rhone Valley of France at Marché– delicious!  Starters, soup, salad, fish, and so much more… and the wine!  Exceptional!

We tried five wines in total

  1. Mas Carlot Rosé Costiéres de Nimes 2010 — a bright, wonderful rosé with strawberry notes; medium-dry; a great summer drinker (3 stars out of 4)
  2. Abel Clement Blanc Côtes du Rhone 2009– a mild, white wine that perfectly cuts a creamy soup (like our soupe de moules au safran) (2 stars out of 4)
  3. J. Vidal Fleury Côtes du Rhone Blanc 2009– I really liked this viognier, it was almost smoky and oily in its surprising complexity (3 stars out of 4)
  4. Domaine de la Guicharde Côtes du Rhone 2009 — what my partner calls a “very jammy” red with intense fruit and lots of plum. (2 stars out of 4)
  5. Domaine Rouge-Bleu Mistral Côtes du Rhone 2008 — hands down my favorite of the evening; velvety with vanilla toast notes and a chocolate-cherry finish (4 stars out of 4)
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Summer has begun…

It’s official.  One J.D., one M.S., and $86,000 later, summer has begun.  The parents have left, the family is gone, and the only thing between me and boundless gluttony is my fledgling constitution, my partner, and my research gig.

Un jour: français leçon

Aujourd’hui nous avons eu notre première leçon français et appris sur la famille. J’ai également préparé de la soupe de melon vanillée, la menthe du jardin.  Delicious!  Recette disponible ici.   

Day One: French Lesson

Today we had our first French lesson; it was about the family.  I also made a (French!) recipe for Vanilla Melon Soup, recipe available here.

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