A Lord of the Rings Celebration (2.0) … Sam’s Rabbit Stew … served with Farmer Maggot’s Mushrooms

Note:  A year ago (March 2017) I posted the original “Lord of the Rings Celebration … Sam’s Rabbit Stew”. It proved to be, hands-down, the most widely read posting in the two-year run of PetersPicksBlog.com. Since our family celebrates March 25 every year, we thought we would post a new version of the LOTR meal and paired with a different wine. The changes and additions made to the original version are printed in purple italics.

Pairing:  Samwise Gamgee’s Rabbit Stew served with Farmer Maggot’s Mushrooms paired with a 2014 Albert Boxler Chasselas

Background:  March 25 is a day of very special significance in the history of Middle Earth. It is the day the One Ring is destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom as told by J.R.R. Tolkien in his epic literary masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings (LOTR). This is a special book to our entire family … we’ve each read it multiple times, individually and together as a family.  So, we celebrate the book every year on this most important day in Middle Earth, March 25. We celebrate it by creating a meal composed of foods described in various parts of the story.

Lord of the Rings Books

Food:  This is a meal that Samwise Gamgee made for his master, Frodo Baggins, in Ithilien on the border of the Dark Lord’s fortress lands of Mordor. Their guide (and sympathetic villain), Gollum, has brought Sam a couple of freshly killed “conies” and Sam asks if he might go find him some “taters” for the stew. “What’s taters, Precious?” is Gollum’s response. Sam never gets his taters, but we’ve added them to our stewing rabbit, along with some simple seasoning (salt, pepper, crushed herbs). Sam would be pleased. Sam and Frodo carried dried fruit and elvish honey cakes called “lembas” on their perilous journey to Mordor, so we’ve added them to the meal. Our version of lembas is a recipe for Lebkuchen that we make at Christmastime. We save out some of the cookies, unglazed, then freeze for eating at our LOTR meal.

The mushroom casserole is our invention based on the most welcome gift of a basket of mushrooms Farmer Maggot and his wife gave to Frodo and Sam following their frightening first encounter with the Black Riders, servants of the Dark Lord.

LOTR w: Fire

Wine:  Sam and Frodo did have occasion to drink what was referred to as “the golden wine of Gondor”. In the book, parts of the story take place around the Anduin River. Since the map of Middle Earth looks suspiciously like a map of Europe (I know, it’s a stretch), we’ve imagined that the Anduin might be the Rhone River. And … here’s the connection … Chasselas is a widely grown wine grape throughout the Rhone Valley. Since the Anduin flows through parts of Gondor, the “golden wine of Gondor” must be … drum roll … Chasselas! Ta da!! Clever, eh?

Back to the wine … Chasselas is one of those widely produced wines that few people outside of Middle or Eastern Europe have ever heard of, much less drink. Yet, it’s been grown for at least 500 years in Switzerland, France, Germany, and even parts of North Africa. Today, it is most often used as a blending wine . The wine for this meal comes from Domaine Albert Boxler a highly regarded winery in Niedermorschwihr in the Alsace wine region of eastern France. This family has been making wine here since their ancestors moved here from Switzerland in 1673.

Chasselas

 

Tasting NotesThis pale golden wine is decidedly floral in both its nose and palate. A clean, fresh fragrance of clover, green grass and a bit of honeysuckle. Very delicate, gentle taste of flowers and apricot. This is a simple tasting wine, with the promise of a nutty, more complex flavor as it matures beyond these four years from the 2014 vintage date. The wine goes particularly well with the honey cakes and dried fruit accompanying the meal.

Other Foods That Pair Well with This Chasselas:  Cheese Fondue (with Swiss Cheese), Mushroom Risotto, Mushroom Pastry, Spicy Noodle Soup, Crayfish Laksa

Other Wines That Pair Well with Rabbit Stew and Mushroom Casserole:  Barbaresco, Bandol, Pinot Grig (Alsace) Chateauneuf-du-Pape (white or red), Pinot Noir

Read About Chasselas:  http://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-100-chasselas

A Source:  www.klwines.com

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Roasted Salmon and Winter Vegetables … Lovely with a Pinot Noir

Pairing: Roasted Salmon and Winter Vegetables Paired with a 2012 Greywacke Pinot Noir from New Zealand

Food:  Simple, seasonal and low in calories … what could be better? Oh, yeah … it’s delicious, too. For this dish, fry up a little bacon then remove and chop. Toss some cubed carrots, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cherry tomatoes in the hot bacon fat. Place vegetables in a roasting pan and roast in a 450F oven for ten minutes. Make some room in the pan for the salmon filets, and reduce temp to 400F for 5-10 minutes until done. Plate up and sprinkle generously with chopped bacon and grated Parmesan cheese. To see more details and nutritional values of this meal, go to fastingme.com. A great site.

Salmon Roasted with VegetablesJPG

 

Wine:  Marlborough, located in the northeastern part of the South Island of New Zealand, is by far the country’s largest wine producer. The region is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc which is the grape that put New Zealand on the wine map. Indeed New Zealand has become famous for making among the best SB in the world. But, the country’s Pinot Noir (most notably Marlborough and Central Otago) is rapidly earning a gold star reputation competing favorably with some of the world’s finest wines. Kevin Judd, founder of the Greywacke winery, earned his stripes with his wonderful Sauvignon Blanc, and now is rightfully gaining a loyal following for his Pinot Noir. For those interested, Greywacke is the geological name of the rock type of the river stones that are in abundance in the soils of the vineyards.

 

Greywacke Pinot Noir

Tasting Notes:  Lovely garnet color. The nose evokes earth and leather, but most apparent is the aroma of hedgerow jam heating on the stove. Wonderful wild cherry and vibrant, sweet tannins are most present on the palate. The sweet char on the roasted vegetables bring out the full flavor profile of the wine. The crumbled bacon and grated cheese on the salmon do their magic to complement the wine. A great pairing.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Roasted Salmon:  Chardonnay (California), Savenniéres (Loire Valley), Pinot Grig (Oregon), Chenin Blanc (South Africa)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Pinot Noir:  Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, Roast Duck, Mushrooms, Grilled Tuna, Rabbit   … and many, MANY other foods

View the Stunning Marlborough NZ Region:  marlborough new zealand

A Source:  www.wine.com

 

 

 

 

Roast Leg of Lamb … Perfection with a Saint Julien

Pairing: Roast Leg of Lamb Paired with a 2000 Château Lagrange Saint Julien Bordeaux

Food:  We don’t eat that much meat. Seafood and chicken are the more common  proteins we consume. However, when we do eat meat, lamb is our absolute favorite. And we are most fortunate to be able to buy our lamb from a farmer with a small flock just down the road from us.  The flavor and texture of grass-fed lamb can’t be beat. We remove the meat from the bone in one piece, flatten it out, generously spread a  mixture of olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, and roll and tie up the meat. Then rub more of the oil and herb mixture onto the outside of the trussed meat. Brown the rolled meat thoroughly on all sides in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat on the cooktop. Place on a rack in a pan and roast in the oven at 325° F until the interior temperature reaches about 135° F for medium rare meat (about 45 minutes for a 3 lb roast). Baste every 15 minutes. Let stand for about 15 more minutes while you finish the vegetables (roast potatoes and beans) and gravy. Serve. My … that is extraordinary.

Roast Lamb with Saint Julien.

Wine:  Even though  a number of wines pair nicely with roast lamb (see suggestions below), one could make the case that red Bordeaux was created with lamb in mind. Saint-Julien is one of four renowned wine villages that comprise the Medoc wine region of Bordeaux. It is located on the “left bank” of the Gironde River Estuary where the soils and proximity to both the estuary and the cool Atlantic breezes combine to create almost ideal conditions to produce the perfect wine. At least that’s what winemakers there would say, but given the price some of these wines command, others might share that same view. Château Lagrange is made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, but also contains Merlot and Petite Verdot.

This wine was a generous present a while back from my oenophile brother. He gave careful instructions to leave it in our cellar for several years to let it mature properly. Well, we drank it this weekend. What a gift! Thanks, Bro!

Saint Julien Bordeaux

Tasting Notes:  Medium purple hue (lighter and browner due its age -18 years old). Fragrant aroma of blueberry and leather. A very complex and layered flavor of black currant, blueberry and hedgerow (service berry, lingonberry, and cranberry), all structured with leather, smoke, and some tannin. Note: this wine benefited from decanting it 1 and 1/2 hours before dining. This allowed the strong tannins inherent to this wine to dissipate a bit and allow the complex fruits to be more present. We were still sipping it hours after the meal was over and the flavor was even better. An amazing wine and perfectly matched to the flavor of the lamb, garlic and rosemary.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Roast Lamb: Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile), Rioja (Spain), Hermitage (France), Zinfandel (California)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Red Bordeaux:  Roast Chicken or Duck, Steak, Pheasant, Venison, Blue Cheese

More About:  Guide to Saint Julien

A Source:  www.wine.com

 

 

 

 

Chicken Spaghetti … Paired with a Croatian Red

Pairing: Chicken Spaghetti Paired with a 2010 Bibich Riserva 6 Red (from North Dalmatia in Croatia)

Food:  Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Cookbook, published in 1975 was a must-have resource to many of us cutting our culinary teeth during that time period. Not only is it filled with fabulous recipes, but also with wonderful stories and anecdotes. The recipe for Chicken Spaghetti comes from childhood memories growing up in rural Mississippi where his Dad raised chickens which they ate at most every dinner. This recipe for a non-turkey Thanksgiving dinner, simply called My Mother’s Chicken Spaghetti, which we adapted for this meal. You can see his recipe if you click on the link. A bit complex, but well worth the time. We shortened the time considerably using previously cooked stock, meat and mushrooms, but still important to have it sit 4 hours. Heavenly.

Chicken Spaghetti

Wine:  It’s so much fun and rewarding to sample wines from lesser known regions of the world … in this case from Croatia. The Bibich Winery is located in Skradin in the Northern Dalmatia region of the country. It is made from equal amounts of three grape varieties all indigenous to this part of Croatia, namely Babíc, Lasin, and Plavina. All of these grapes are genetically related to Zinfandel (Crljenak Kastelanski) which explains the familiarity in the flavor of the Riserva 6 being quite comparable to a California Zinfandel.

 

Dalmatian R6 Red

Tasting Notes:   A deep maroon color. Enticing nose of sweet black cherry and blackberry with fragrant whiffs of cinnamon in the background. A wonderful flavor of dark fruit jam (mostly cherry and blackberry, but hints of other dark berries) with lovely cinnamon and black pepper lingering on the finish. Goes beautifully with the chicken, pork, beef, and mushrooms in the dish. A splendid pairing wine in all respects, but also nice as a sipping wine.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Chicken Spaghetti:  Zinfandel (California), Pinot Noir (New Zealand), Côte du Rhône (France), Garnacha (Spain)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Croatian Red Wine: Roast Chicken, Roast Pork, Seared Tuna, Braised Rabbit

Views and Maps of the North Dalmatian Region:  north dalmatian wine region

A Source:   https://www.bluedanubewine.com