Monday, August 17, 2009

Plank Salmon

So I bought a new grill today. That should have been reason to rejoice.... new, clean, grill ready for cooking up wondrous comestibles for the family. No such luck! The assembly instructions were so poor that, if in WWII, we were trying to keep grill assembly a secret, the enemy would never have figured it out even with paper in hand.

Somehow I got the grill together and I knew I had to because Amy planned to make something new today: Plank Grilled Salmon! The grill was assembled in time to prepare the Monday evening masterpiece.

It went something like this... gotta cook the salmon on top of a wooden plank inside the closed grill. So, to keep the plank from bursting into flames, we soaked it in water for hours before cooking. good plan, solid plan, sounds like it should work,,,,

The salmon was seasoned in a rub of brown sugar, coarse salt and pepper, tarragon, basil and hungarian paprika.... stuck the fish on the water-logged piece of wood and we were good to go. The idea is to sort of smoke the fish while you are grilling it... the cedar wood lends its aromatic to the fish. I put the fish on the grill, closed it and was admonished by the wife not to open it for twenty minutes.

Ten minutes later I was peeking at the fish. Come on!! You would too! I wanted to see what was going on under there... me and the dog TRIED to be patient but we both knew I would peek... the dog is such a smart ass.

We found the plank on fire... so I called Amy and she handed me a squirt bottle. I put out what I could and let the salmon cook for the rest of the twenty minutes.

We pulled out the cooked fish, plank burned to a crisp. It smelled heavenly... the cedar wood did, in fact lend its aroma..lend hell,, it gave it up in a burnt offering, and the fish was made better for it.

Inside the house, Amy and I managed to get the salmon from plank to plate without damaging it and plated it. We served it with a blend of long grain and wild rice and a salad. To top the fish, Amy made a blueberry wine reduction with onions. A bottle of La crema Pinoit Noir completed the meal.

The first thing the family commented on was the color of the salmon meat... It was that wonderful orange one sees in food shows... but this was on our plates!! Topped with a blueberry wine reduction, it was sweet and savory at the same time..and that smokey taste was something that left us wanting more!

An amazing Monday night if ever I had one!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2008

We get along very well with our next door neighbors. The fact that we popped over last evening bearing wine and dessert is proof of that. I had picked up a bottle of Kung Fu Girl Riesling a couple of days before and thought it would be fun to try with our friends. Our neighbor was in the middle of brewing his summer ale…see why I like this guy?

You read that right...Kung Fu Girl is the name of the wine. I saw the black and white label with the stylized Asian woman in a "kick-yer-ass" Kung Fu pose and, after standing in the aisle laughing, decided to buy a couple of bottles. As it turns out, the Riesling is produced by Charles Smith Winery. I heard that they make good wines with strange names...

Anyway, we arrived with fresh strawberries, cherries and some fresh fig
s topped with goat cheese as well as our bottle of Kung Fu Girl. The bottle itself had a screwtop, which I don't like as much as a cork but that's just because I like to work the easily amused.

We opened it and poured into small, aperitif glasses. I was expecting a very sweet wine... I had tried German Rieslings in the past and didn't know there was another style. This wine, from Washington state was the color of pale straw and there were small bubbles making their way to the top of the glass.

The smell re
minded me of citrus and apple and the wife explained I was pretty much describing Asian pears. It was a fruity smell in any event. The taste was a crisp dry sensation which surprised me since I didn't know about dry Rieslings. I sure do now! The four of us scoffed down the fruit and cheese as they perfectly complimented the wine.

There will be more Kung Fu Girl Riesling at my table though in a bigger glass next tiime...this is more than a dessert wine as far as I'm concerned.

It truly kicks ass!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Brooklyn Brewery: Black Ops

It began innocently enough in the beer section of my local discount liquor store. The wife and I were approached by a guy named "Joe" who asked the question all employees of such establishments ask: "Can I help you with anything?" Usually I brush off such advances with a grunt of the the proper timber to convey "get lost and let me find something in this labyrinth of microbrews". This time it was different.
I decided to ask a question certain to blow off the uninitiated... I picked up a six pack of Brooklyn Brewery's "Monster Ale 2008" and asked: Do you have any of the 2006 in stock... His response was a whistful "I wish" and we instantly hit it off. This guy knew beer.
We started talking about Brooklyn Brewery's microbrews as well as Belgians we both enjoyed when he interjected "You've Tried Black Ops...of course."
I was stopped in my tracks. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about...I kept my cool...

"Black Ops?" I asked sounding like a stranger in a strange land

"Brooklyn Brewery...Black Ops... its a one-off. Only 1000 cases in the world."

"Really?" I asked, in a clever attempt to get Joe to elaborate...

"The last batch of the Black Chocolate stout...they ferment it with champagne yeast in bourbon casks..."

I don't remember saying anything but I must have been standing there, salivating with my tongue dragging on the floor as he confided that the store had exactly seven bottles left.

I waited as he went to retrieve one of the precious bottles and I resolved to place this bottle in storage and wait for the fermentation to continue for at least three more years before I would consider drinking it....

....three hours later, My wife and I were in our backyard, opening the bottle.

The bottle itself is one of those 750 ml jobs... the kind with a champagne cork and the neat metal cover over the cork. We decided to open it in the backyard and pour it into cognac glasses... make the whole thing an experience.
As the bottle is opened with a satisfying pOp, the mist escapes and it practically begs to be sniffed...I was not one to let the bottle go sniffless. The scent of deep chocolate, oak and alcohol mix and work their magic on tastebuds and salvary glands,,,

"Smells like Willy Wonka's ass" I quipped, causing the wife to giggle and then smack me sharply.

The pour into the glass was gorgeous. Black as something VERY black and foaming up into a chocolate brown head in the glass, it was a thing of beauty. Since I managed such an exceptional pour, twice, I imagine anyone could replicate this in their own backyard...or wherever one drinks this amazing stuff.

Once in the glass and brought to the lips, the aroma grows ever deeper...chocolate and alcohol and oak and...wonderfulness. The beer, as it is sipped is smooth and dark and swallowed easily... a chocolate river..shades of Willy Wonka once again.
At this point, the perfect pairing was conceived...cherries! We had some in the fridge and soon on a plate before us. Something this magnificent was made moreso as we tore into the cherries and enjoyed our second glass of the delightful brew.
It brings a tear to the eye that we are unlikely to see this brew again as we know there were only one thousand cases made.... now only nine hundred ninety nine full ones..Maybe if we rush back to the store we can get a few bottles to lay away for a few years... But hey...who are we fooling?