Xmas Eve dinners are a big deal in worst-writer’s house. A few people are invited and some of them actually come. Since the kids are all growed-up this is mostly an adult evening. Either that or the kids are with divorcee parents. Nomatter. To begin the occasion, a bottle of champagne is opened and most drink from it. A few snacks are made available along with conversation about a year ending and perhaps, dear worst-reader, you can imagine how things go from there. Then the cooking begins. In a five-course meal, worst-moi is responsible for the first two. The starter was a worst-writer (aka Tom) carpaccio with baked and shaved gold beets, shaved parmesan, a dressing made of sour cream, vinegar and horseradish and all topped with watercress leaves and fresh broken black pepper. Of course, just before Guten Apetit is wished upon all, über olive oil from our Croatia trip this year was dabbled atop. Even though this meal has been prepared for everyone before, as it is our guests most requested worst-writer dish, this time it was a bit different. We actually opened our last bottle of what worst-writer considers to be one of the finest Chianti he’s ever consumed. It is a 2004 Selvapiana Chianti. Not a very expensive wine, it is special because it is also the last of about three cases–among thirty or so cases–that we brought back with us after a week of wine tasting in Tuscany in 2007. Nervous if the wine had aged well–on account we lost probably two bottles to “cork”–the first whiff following cork removal proved all was well. In fact, the scent that immediately emerged from the cork and the bottle did more than jostle the memory of that 2007 trip. It was indeed a grand piece of travel, not to mention it being one of the last where I was able to make love to my wife multiple times a day–every glorious day. Yeah, something about Tuscany, the air, the wine… and not being over fifty yet. A little more than a decade later, and many wine-o days behind me–not to mention the waning physical love drive–which is in-and-of-itself a relief–I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think my wife was especially tickled, too, as I didn’t need to remind her of its meaning.
“Shall we return to Tuscany in 2019 to get more,” I asked her while wishing her a merry Xmas.
“As you like, my love,” she said as we savoured wine wet lips.
PS The beef for the carpaccio is prepared thus: at about 2pm while first guests arrive and first bottle of Champagne is served, for show effect, the filet mignon is slightly salted (with flaky, pink, Himalayan salt), peppered and then seared all around in a glowing hot pan on the secondary burner of my Weber über-grill. The idear is to caramelise the outside of the meat without cooking any of the inside. After that rest it for about an hour in the winter climate. Then put the meat in a freezer bag and in the freezer. At about 6pm, after prepping all the other parts, the meat is removed and sliced as thin as possible. The freezing of the meat helps to slice thinly where it then thaws on the plate just prior to serving and if cut properly is almost translucent.
PSS The second course worst-writer prepared was homemade noodles with a butter-wine sauce, melted parmesan, and then topped with black truffle shavings–that we also got on our last Croatia trip. Croatian wine tasting combined with truffles almost competes with Tuscany. Anywho. It was served with a French Cabernet that was pretty decent and more expensive than the Chianti, but couldn’t hold up to the memory.