Julia to Melissa

The holiday week flew by…

Marian and I wined and dined our way through the holiday week and had a great time. The menu bookends were Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon that we enjoyed on Christmas Eve, and Melissa Clark’s Vietnamese Marinated Flank Steak, along with some hickory-smoked sausages, a la Steve Raichlen, for New Year’s Eve. Here is what we cooked, ate, drank, and saw.

Good Stuff

Here you can find the recipes for Julia’s marvel and Melissa’s crowd-pleasing steak. Melissa Clark ranch-1suggests that the flank steak is a summer thing, but we can tell you that it is great any time. Marinate in leisure, grill in minutes, and please a crowd. For the Beef Bourguignon, we used organic, grass fed beef chuck, sourced from McCall’s Vineyard ranch, right here on the North Fork. The beef was fabulous, full of rich flavor yet minus the grease and fat normally associated with chuck. When you are visiting McCall’s and tasting their excellent wines, be sure to ask about the beef, and take some home. You will be glad you did.

Cooking with Wine

beef bourguignonBeef Bourguignon is beef stew cooked predominately in red wine. Which did we use? No, not one of McCall’s creations, but the inexpensive and very drinkable 2012 Cote Mas. Imported from the south of France, Cote Mas is a blend of Grenache Noir, Carignan, Cinsualt,Merlot, and Syrah. It is sold in liter bottles. At Hampton Bays Wines and Liquors, a case will set you back about $120.00. Enjoy it.

First Things First

We had decided our Christmas Eve menu would include some oysters on the half-shell. Blog readers know we enjoy Chateau La Berrierethese little guys. When we ate oysters at Sherwood House Vineyards and later at Taste of the North Fork, experts were busy shucking oysters, so it was pay-and-slurp. This time we took our oysters out from Stuart’s Seafood Market, where they did the shucking. These oysters were delish too, but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get the tools of the shucking trade and learn to shuck. Of course, I like my thumbs, so I will be very careful. To accompany the oysters we drank a 2012 Muscadet, Chateau La Berriere , which we first enjoyed at the Martin Scott table during the recent Mega-tasting. It’s spare minerality was perfect with the oysters. At $12.00/bottle, this is a wine you can enjoy any time the raw bar calls to you.

PinotJulia’s beef stew recipe takes a bit work but the results are well worth the effort. We served it on buttered egg noodles with roasted root vegetables on the side. It was great. The McCall’s beef was rich and delicious. Unlike many stews we’ve cooked in the past, this one did not cry out for a fat separator.

Now, what we drank with the delicious beef stew was something fab. Several years ago, Marian and I did some wine touring in northern California. One of our favorite finds was the Pinot Noir from Papapietro Perry. We enjoyed a 2007 Elsbree Vineyard Pinot with our stew, and it was fabulous. The vineyard’s tasting notes suggested drinking by 2011, but this one rested in our cellar since it came home in 2008. It was in perfect, lush condition. OK, so it isn’t a Long Island wine. It was great anyway.


Despite what the cardiologists say, I’m voting with the French. So long as you drink plenty of red Lieb Cellars Oregon Rd.wine with it, that beef can’t hurt you (we hope). So, we enjoyed our beef stew as left-overs, several times during the holiday week. On the weekend before Christmas, we had visited the Lieb Cellars tasting room located on Oregon Rd. This is a well-organized tasting room that would make a great picnic site in warm weather. We tasted a flight of reds and gave the 2011 Bridge Lane Merlot two corks up, taking a few bottles home with us. This wine is 100% Merlot, full of dark fruit and a peppery finish. Berries and plums came right to mind. We thought it would show promise with our left-over stew, and it did. At $15.00/bottle, this is another wine you can enjoy all the time. It should be great with pizza and grilled meats too.

Drive-by Culture

On the Sunday after Christmas, we zipped into NYC for a day in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a side trip to the Neue Galerie. At the Met, we focused on seeing the exhibitions, which included:

  1. Interwoven textiles exhibition,Balthus
  2. Treasures of Silla (ancient Korean civilization),
  3. Balthus’ “girls and cats” paintings and sketches,
  4. Photography of Julia Margaret Cameron,
  5. Medieval Treasures of Hildesheim,
  6. Italian Renaissance and Baroque Bronze of the Robert Lehman collection,
  7. Christmas tree and Neapolitan crèche,
  8. Fifty years of collecting Islamic Art,
  9. Masterpieces of Tibetan and Nepalese art, and
  10. Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa

Not a bad morning. We then hoofed it over to the Neue Galerie to see the fabulous Kandinsky exhibition and another on the poster art of Germany from the late 19th century to the 1930s. The next day, we were tired from all that walking. The takeaway is, a day in the city makes a great trip around town, so let yourself go!

New Year’s Eve

smoked sausagesYes, the evening that my father liked to call “Amateur Night” arrived. It was just Marian, our friend Kenny, and me, ready for a mixed grill of sausages and steak.

I smoked a rack of sausages, including fresh chorizo, broccoli rape, and hot Italian. Between Citarella and the Villa Italian Specialties shop in East Hampton, we are well served with charcuterie. This was the maiden flight of the beautiful new Weber grill that Marian got me for my recent birthday, and it worked wonderfully.

Smoking sausages means using indirect heat (coals on the sides of the grill and food in the center) and placing some well soaked wood chips (I used hickory this time) on the live coals to create the smoke. No peeking, no turning, no nothing, and in 30 minutes you have some mahogany beauties ready for chowing down.

Along with smoked sausages, marinated flank steak is an ever-popular grill choice at our house. The meat is lean, takes the marinade very well, and on our very hot gas grill, it cooked to perfection in about six minutes. Along with some oven-roasted steakhouse fries and platters of roasted veggies, our meal was delicious

While waiting for the charcoal to get glowing hot for cooking, we enjoyed some Veuve Clicquot and a selection of cheeses Kenny sourced at Fairway, in NYC. With cheese, sausages, and steak, you know we would need a red wine antidote. We went with a Pinot, selecting The Pinot Project’s 2012 offering. This is bright, full of delicious red fruit that tamed spicy sausages and spicy marinated steak. At $15.00/bottle this wine is affordable, delicious, and great with grilled meats.

“Wake up, it’s time to say Happy New Year”

The great challenge for us is staying awake until midnight. Generally we crash on the couch watching the scene in Times Square, sipping bubbly and waiting for the ball to drop. Not the most exciting evening? Well, at least we stay safe, sound, and warm. This year, Kenny was on the ball and woke us a few minutes before midnight. We called some friends and found that we’d woken them from a sound sleep. Hmm… maybe those folks had something there.

During our after-dinner relaxation, a friend from Russia, nine hours ahead of us, Skyped, saying that he was “calling from the future, waiting eagerly for us to join him there.” Well, looks like we’ve made it. As I finish this post on January 2nd, 2014, we are waiting for a blizzard to hit. This is the future, folks!

Next Time

We want to visit Palmer Vineyards to meet with Miguel the winemaker, in his element. First and South is still on our list, and who knows what else. Meanwhile, stay warm, and enjoy your trip around town!

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