Sometimes, you get up on Sunday, have your coffee, some yoghurt, maybe a pastry, and move about your day. Sometimes, you invite over a gang of friends and stuff them full of good food and wine. Since you’re not interested in me yawning in front of the coffee maker, I’ll tell you about the latter.
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that we’ve made friends of some of the folks at our favorite restaurant, Mise en Place. The problem has been our favorite nights for having folks over, Friday and Saturday, are their work nights. We resolved to invite them over on one of their off days, and we love doing Sunday Brunch (although historically “brunch” commonly lasts until halftime of the late games), so it came together. We put together a list of some of our favorites:
- Vegetable Gouda Cheesecake
- Tomato Goat Cheese Tarts
- Roasted Asparagus and Pepper Salad
- Cranberry/Orange Scones
- Walnut-Craisin Chicken Salad in Phyllo Cups
- Fruit plate of grapes, cantaloupe, and pineapple
- Dark Chocolate Drunken Strawberry Trifle
The only ones we haven’t talked about here are the Tomato Goat Cheese Tarts and the scones. The tarts were straight from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics book, and the scones were riffed right from an Alton Brown recipe. The only did two different things. First, we got little phyllo cups in the freezer section at the grocery store and put the chicken salad in them. It was a fine platform to serve them in—bite-sized and convenient. Second, we made the tarts half the size the recipe calls for. We figured that making them more easily-handled would be a plus. On the downside, they were more difficult to assemble. Making the larger tarts and cutting them into pieces would have been better.
We did a lion’s share of the prep on Saturday afternoon/evening while we were also making a pot of Potato Cheese Soup for the Monday Night Gamers. It made assembling things on Sunday much easier.
I didn’t have a serious wine plan going in. I knew we’d pour a little NV Veuve Clicquot, but knowing this crowd, I guess (correctly) that they’d bring something (when the guest list includes an experience server, two bartenders, and the GM/Wine Program Manager, it’s not really a stretch to suspect that they’d be carrying booze).
Dave, the GM, came in the door carrying a bottle of 2009 Peter Michael Sauvignon Blanc and a 2008 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Meix Sous la Château. I knew it was, as the kids say “on.”
2009 Peter Michael Sauvignon Blanc L’Apres-Midi
It was just barely après-midi when we cracked this open. I had to adjust my palate a little since we had had a bottle of Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc the night before. I knew that this wasn’t going to be all crackling with citrus, but a little softer. Still, I was surprised. It had a delightful nose of butterscotch custard. On the palate, the significant percentage of Semillon mixed in showing through in the thick, honeyed mouthfeel. Nicely balanced acidity (again, nowhere near as bright as the Mulderbosch) made it a better food pairing than simply a ‘cocktail wine.’ 91 points.
2008 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Meix Sous la Château
The majority of the Chardonnay that I drink comes in the form of Champagne. I’m really not a fan of what we do with it in the US, although I’ve enjoyed a few from Kistler and Martinelli, and I’m generally not willing to pay the $50 or more for White Burgundy—which is why it’s nice to have friends like Dave. JP Fichet shows us just what a deft hand can do with the grape. Subtle stone-fruit nose, creamy texture, balance, and finish. 91 points.
2009 Martinelli Zinfandel Giuseppe & Luisa
By the time we had done away with the first four bottles (and a few cocktails that Nate made—I’m hoping to get him to shoot recipes my way to share), most of the non-dessert had been eaten. Since we were getting into the dark chocolate, I suggested Zinfandel and no one objected. The first bottle threw a fair amount of sediment, so I decanted it and the second one. It delivered the Martinelli Zin experience we’ve come to expect. Deep color, raspberry and blackberry flavors mixing perfectly with sweetness of the trifle. A giant of a wine, mouth-coating, jammy, great fruit without distracting with its high alcohol content. There may have been a touch of heat on the end, but the richness of the whipped cream/cream cheese sucked that right in. A great wine for dark chocolate desserts. 93 points.
2008 Martinelli Pinot Noir Moonshine Ranch
Generally, I wouldn’t serve a Pinot, even a Russian River Valley one, after a Zinfandel, but it felt like what we needed was something a little gentler, a little more refined, to finish with. Staying in the Martinelli family gave a consistency to the feel and style of the wines. Classic Pinot nose, strawberry and cherry cola, berries and plum on the palate to a medium-long finish. Quite sleek in style. 92 points.
The afternoon wearing on, and some of the gang having an evening commitment (it was Dave’s birthday, and they were headed to Bern’s), we wrapped up a pleasurable afternoon having had fine food, quality booze, and great company. The Just Because It’s Sunday Brunch will become a regular part of our repertoire.