Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jackpot! Thackrey's Pleiades and Jura's Vacherin!

Oh, Frabjous day!
Calloo! Callay!
She chortled in her joy!

So we have in our hot little hands four more bottles of Sean Thackrey's Pleiades XIV. Hee-hee, ho-ho --they're coming to take us away!

We were rather worried because this "kitchen sink" wine of Sean's was among the ones in the warehouse fire a few months ago and there were concerns that Sean had lost pretty much his whole stock. A couple of cases turned up at San Francisco Wine Trading Company and they kindly gave us a call. How fast was Eric down there? Fast enough to secure this...

Then, as we shopped at an undisclosed location for tomorrow's feast, we came across some... could it be? Is it....? Vacherin? French Vacherin?

We stood there sniffing at the plastic wrap and examining the spruce band like CSIs on a crime scene.

"Look," said Eric, "There's orange rind on this one..."

"But, this one," quoth I, "has a really gross looking rind."

After stopping one of the helpful cheese purveyors, we asked his opinion on the um... Vacherin.

He was a bit taciturn at first. As if he were trying not to give too much away. Were we from the Department of Homeland Security? Would we bust the store on possession of illegal French raw milk cheese.

"Well, do you like this one?"

"Well, we carry the Vacherin Fribourgeois --" he began.

"Yes, yes," we waved our hands dismissively, "We know, the Swiss one. But what about," a diabolical glint in the eye, "THIS one?"

He gets it. We're Cheese Outlaws. "Oh. This one is unbelievable. So much better."

He explains it is from the French side. Say no more. We're ready. Pass me a spoon.

Between the Pleiades and the Vacherin it's like we won the lottery. Look at that trail of Vacherin! It smells like fabulous old gym socks on a forest floor and it tastest like creamy heaven. Heeheeheehee. [Wild cackling.]

So in other news, you might wonder what we're doing for T-Day. Especially if you could see how much traffic seems to be coming to this blog via searches on the words "sausage stuffing" and "brined smoked turkey."

But we are avoiding turkey this year. We're bucking the trend. We're making Crown Roast of Pork with oven roasted onions and yams. It's a...hmmm... noble undertaking , though not so much less trouble than the --as it were -- five day-brined turkey. Well, okay, so it's only taking two days. Setting up that crown is an undertaking though. I'll keep you posted on whether we like this recipe. So far Sarastro approves.

Also on the menu is my favorite simple Cranberry Sauce out of Bon Appetit years ago and Braeburn Apple Sauce.

It was the yams though that really took it out of me. Apparently "tourne" means not to make little 2 inch football shaped yam-lets, but to cover your hands in sticky yucky as you suffer an emotional meltdown. Now what to do with the leftovers...

APPLESAUCE (from Cuisine)
(Makes 4 - 1/2 cups)
Work Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Core and Cut:
5 Braeburn apples, unpeeled

Cover and Cook Apples in Large Saucepan with:
3 T. apple cider or apple brandy

Stir into Cooked Apples:
1/2 cup apricot preserves

Process Apples in Food Mill.
Place Puree in Bowl and Blend in:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 T. unsalted butter, sliced
1/4 t. ground allspice

Core the apples and cut each apple into eight pieces. To prevent browning, put the apples in a bowl filled with cold water and lemon juice.

Place the apples and cider in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes. Keep covered.

Stir in the preserves and pour (with juice) into a food mill. Use disk with largest holes and process the apples. The mill separates the skins.

Place the applesauce in a bowl. Stir sugars, butter, and allspice into the warm applesauce. Serve applesauce warm or cold. (It’s best warm!)

1 cup water
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 12-ounce package cranberries
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt

Combine 1 cup water and brown sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries. Simmer until berries burst, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in thyme, mustard and salt. Cool completely.

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