T h e   N e w   L e t t e r   i s . . .


for the Menu of the 2nd Faux Laundry.

T h e    F a u x    L a u n d r y

June 14, 2008       —       AHH Winery      —      One O’Clock

First Course

Medjool Magic

2003 & 2004 Brickhill Vineyard Sparkling Syrah, Brut, Sonoma Coast  - Ahh Winery

This was really a wonderful starter.  It is one of those recipes that is easy enough to do, but is
totally driven by the quality of the ingredients.  You start by pitting a Medjool date and stuffing it
with a pre-herbed soft goat cheese.  You will need about 1/3 of a cup of cheese to do 16 dates.
Then wrap the stuffed date in a large basil leaf, and that gets wrapped with a 4 inch wide strip of
prosciutto di Parma (or wide enough to protect the basil leaf when it goes under the broiler).  
Hold all of that together with toothpicks that have been soaked in water so they won't light on
fire under the broiler.  Broil them until the cheese begins to bubble.  Don't take your eyes off of
them after a minute under the broiler.  It turns out that the heated basil leaf expresses an ethereal
mint-like flavor which matched marvelously with the two vintages of Sparkling Syrah.
It's a keeper.

The recipe is from epicurious.com and Kirsten & Rick

Second Course

Suppé Rostí

2004 Bien Nacido Vineyards, Barrel 5 & 6 of 6, Santa Maria Valley  -  Ahh Winery

This very tasty soup was our feature dish for the final decision of what barrel of the 2004 vintage
Bien Nacido Vineyards should go into the Library... Barrel #5 or Barrel #6 of 6.  Barrel 5 showed
very, very well and was closest to what Barrel #1 of 6 is like, very showy, soft with an extra ton of
the Bien Nacido trademark.  Barrel #6 of 6 had the components of what 5 had, but with that extra
shadow of tannin that gave it the temporary nod for the Library Selection.  That was the results of
that tasting, then as Krassimira and I do, we taste the wine in half filled bottles that are now a day
old.  This is another look and a chance to extrapolate what the wine would be like sometime into
the future.  The next day the Barrel 5 of 6 was just the unanimous favorite for just the two of us.
It was just singing Bien Nacido.  So, so be it.  Barrel #5 of 6 is going into the Library,
but you can check it out anytime you like.
I don't have the recipe of the soup from the chef yet, but it would be something like:  Roasting
red bell peppers over the campfire with the BBQ lid on until they are mostly blackened and soft.  
Letting them cool and peeling them, discarding the seeds.  Pureeing the peppers with a vegetable
or chicken stock until there are only little pieces but not totally creamed.  This can be done the
day before.  When ready to serve, put in a little non-fat milk and warm.  Start seasoning the soup
with salt and black pepper and continue with roasted and ground coriander seed and a little
roasted cumin seed.  The way to roast these seeds is to put them in a stainless steel pan and dry
roast them over medium heat until you notice the first color change, at which point remove half
of what you have in the pan and continue roasting until you notice the next color change, remove
half of what remains and continue roasting until the last seeds in the pan are almost dark brown,
once cooled, grind them all together until fairly fine, you strain out the pieces that resist grinding
with a sieve.  This fractional roasting technique gives a depth of flavor you won't get otherwise.  
Don't overheat the soup.  When ready, plate the soup into bowls and finish with a medium dollop
of non-fat sour cream with a little chive confetti.

The recipe is from Ina Garten and Tia & Ritch

Third Course

Pescado Pastor

2002 Laurel Hill Vineyard, Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley  -  The Mayo Family Winery

We headed out to the campfire for this course.  It was out-out-of-this-world Chilean Sea Bass
done over the live fire and flanked with two salsas.  The fish came from Whole Foods, delivered
that day, and was in perfect condition.  The fish can be marinaded in olive oil, parsley or cilantro,
and oregano or marjoram.  Before you grill the fish, make the salsas by grilling the following:  
Start with 2 medium onions that are sort of flat shaped so they grill better, then three peeled small
mangoes, then two tomatoes, then two ears of fresh corn without the husks; if they are staggered
like this then they will all be done at the same time.  Let them just cool enough that you can
handle them.  While someone was grilling someone else was dicing one small yellow, orange, and
red bell pepper, washing and chopping a half of a bunch of cilantro, and peeling 3 cloves of
garlic.  Now everything comes into the kitchen to make the two salsas.  My newest acquisition of
ethnic cookware is a molcajete, which is a mortar and pestle made out of lava rock.  I got it for
$26 at the Mexican market here in Sonoma Valley.  In the molcajete grind one of the onions and
the two peeled tomatoes with the seeds, once ground enough, place all of this in a serving bowl.  
Then place in the molcajete two avocados that have been halved, seed removed, and scraped out
with a spoon to get all the green next to the skin, add the 3 cloves of garlic and season with a little
black pepper and a generous amount of salt as you are grinding.  Once it is well ground, place the
avocado portion in the same serving bowl as the tomato and onion.  Fold the avocado into the
tomato, if you mix rather that fold, the whole thing will turn brown and it may taste good but it
won't look good.  That salsa is ready as is.  The other salsa is the mangoes diced, corn removed
from the cob, the other onion diced, the chopped cilantro added, salt, pepper, and the toasted
ground coriander seed as described above.  That salsa is ready.  Now back to the fish, in one of
those clamper things, place the pieces of marinaded fish.  Grill over the hot live coals until there is
some blackening on the surface, but not so long as it starts to flake.  If the fish isn't perfect, then
cook it longer, but if it's a really exceptional quality of fish, you want it half way between sashimi
and rare, erring on the side of juciy.  Bring the 'cooked' fish into the kitchen, cut it into modest
portions, and plate it by flanking it with a mound of the two salsa on either side of the fish.  Serve
immediately.  The wine was very good having been properly aged, and the fish and salsas were

The sourcing of the fish and preparation were from Cheryl and Fernando.

~ Fourth Course ~

Dandy Quail

1979 Vinco Vineyard, Monterey (Santa Lucia Highlands), Pinot Noir  -  Stony Ridge Winery

There are a few greater pleasures than drinking fully matured Pinot Noir, but I can't remember
them when I'm drinking a wine such as this one.  But, remember the song,
I was country before
country was cool
?  Well, this wine was made from the Santa Lucia Highlands before they were cool.  
I had spotted this vineyard when I was working for Monterey Peninsula Winery, and Mike
Benziger and I made it at Stony Ridge in the Livermore Valley.  The wine was made from 4
'hillside' rows that were on the break of the alluvial fan, it must have been the sweet-spot of the
whole Salinas Valley.  I was amazed when I returned years later to buy them again and found they
had been abandoned because they must have been too hard to farm.  Oh well, so much for
thinking that beautiful resources will just wait for your return.  This is the same wine that Dan
Berger thinks is one of the finest examples of really good Pinot Noir.  When we first opened it, I
thought it was on its last legs, so I did not decant it.  Surprisingly enough it actually rallied in the
glass, rather than fade.  The acid came up and the bottle bouquet took on an even more vital
stance.  The food we had this with was campfire grilled quail on top of zucchini carpacio.
The 'carpacio' is made by thinly slicing various colors of zucchini, I like to do it the long way, but
you do end up with more waste than if you make them into rounds using a mandolin.  Then in a
large flat glass container, lay out the zucchini in layers drizzling them with lemon (Mayer's lemons
ideally) juice and very good olive oil, over that sprinkle a mix of salt, black pepper and fresh, or
dry, herbs such as thyme, marjoram, dill, and oreganos, then a few chopped capers.  Repeat
layering until all the squash is marinating.  Let it sit in the refrigerator at least 3 hours.  It's also
nice to marinate the Quail in a similar mixture.  You can order farm-raised quail from your
butcher and they should be partly de-boned.  They grill quickly and they are very easy to handle in
those clamping devices, or if need be, you can pan fry it.  Have the plates plated and ready for the
quail by distributing the marinated zucchini in an attractive pattern.  The quail sits on top and
does not really need any further garnish, but if you must, a little red bell pepper confetti will do
the job.  Encourage people to use their fingers to get the last little bits of this very tasty bird.  And
try not to get too tense about who gets that last sips of Pinot Noir, there will
not be enough.

Prepared by Krassimira and Bruce

~ Fifth Course ~

Blue & Teary Salad

1992 Gewürztraminer, Barrel Fermented, Sonoma Valley  -  Benziger, Imagery Series

Most people would consider it a chance for great embarrassment to open up a 16 year old fruity
white wine at a fancy dinner party.  But you know, when Gewürztraminer has been harvest early
enough that the pH hasn't shot up, and it's cool barrel fermented in neutral barrels, and bottled
completely dry, it yields a stupendous moment a decade and a half later.  The fruit and minerality
of this wine was absolutely racy with the balsamic roasted onions in this red leaf
lettuce salad with a generous sprinkling of Humboldt Fog blue cheese.
I've got to get the details from Tia, and I will pass them on...
Da-Dun, The Details:  Serves 6.  Start with 3 small red onions, sliced in half, and then into 1/4"
slices.  Toss the slices in a bowl with 1/4 cup each of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, add 1 t kosher
salt and half as much black pepper.  Place the onions on non-stick baking sheet and drizzle with
the remaining liquid.  Bake in a 375F oven for 12 to 15 minutes until they are tender but not
limp.  Return them to the bowl and toss with 2 T more or balsamic vinegar and let them cool.
To make the dressing:  whisk 6 T minced shallots (2 large ones), with 2 t Dijon mustard, 1/4 C
red wine vinegar, 1/2 t each of kosher salt and black pepper.  To this mixture, while whisking,
add 3/4 C olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified.  Then with a fork, mash 1/4 # of blue
cheese and blend that into the dressing.
To assemble the salads, take enough lettuce from about 2 heads of red-leaf lettuce for the size of
salads you want.  The lettuce should be washed, spun dry, and torn.   Toss the lettuce with the
dressing and arrange on the plates.  Arrange the onions on top of that, and on top of that,
crumble another 1/2 # or more of the blue cheese.  Don't be bashful with the blue, and present
the salads.  This is a rave-up recipe, not that complicated, but if you want to fuss, fuss over the
quality of each and every ingredient.  Your fussing will not be in vain.

Recipe from Ina Garen, Barefoot Contessa Parties!, prepared by Tia and Ritch

~ Sixth Course ~

The Wonder® Tower

1984 Benziger Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Mountain  -  Benziger Family Winery

Someone at the table asked me, I hope as a complement, "How do you come up with your
recipes?"  Well, I just think backwards.  For instance, you have a great meal, there was a great
amount of food and you have leftovers.  The next day you make a sandwich just the way you like
it, and all of a sudden you realize the 'leftover' is better than the first time you had it.  So I
thought backwards from that point.  It's a tower of cold lamb sandwiches, and because this is the
FAUX Laundry, we put it on wonder bread.  But not just any lamb, and the wonder bread is done
in a very specific way.  Now, I must apologize, this is a very long, slow-food recipe, but it was well
worth it.  So for the sake of historic preservation of a grand tower, I write the following...

Starting with the lamb: you go to the butcher and pick out lamb, not old lamb, and you get him to
cut it into steaks that are at least an inch thick.  Don't let him trim off the fat.  Tell him upfront to
keep the pieces in order because then you want him to bind it back up with string, not using a net,
cotton string.  Have him put the shank and the irregular piece at the top of the leg on each end of
the steaks before binding it up.  The next morning I got up at about 6 and studded the lamb with
cloves of garlic.  Cut the garlic cloves in half or smaller so there is a sharp point on one end of it.  
With a paring knife, make a cut into a steak deep enough that you can make the garlic disappear.  
With your little finger poke that portion of the clove in and smooth over the cut.  Repeat this at
least 3 times per steak on one side and twice on the other side.  It does not produce the same
effect if you just slip the garlic in between the steaks, so don't get tempted by that shortcut.  Get
out your trusty meat thermometer and put it in one of the center steaks, not close to a bone.  Put
a little olive oil in a roasting pan just big enough to hold the lamb and put all of that into a 275 F
degree oven.  You go by the temperature, not the time here, so when the thermometer reads 130
degrees (10 degrees less than rare beef) you are done with that phase.  About an hour after you
put it in the oven, go start your campfire and eventually position the grill so it is quite close to the
coals.  Once you take the lamb out of the oven, let it rest for 20 minutes, but keep it bound
together.  Make sure your campfire is fairly hot with the grill clean and ready to go.  Now take off
the strings and put the steaks on the grill.  We do not want to cook the meat on the grill, we just
want to get a fat fire going and get those wonderful refluxing flavors of dripping-fat-burning-on-
coals onto the meat with a slight browning.  For God's sake, and the lambs, don't over cook it
now.  Once grilled, let it cool down as quickly as possible and put it into the refrigerator to
become 'leftovers'.  Reserve the fat drippings from the original pan and put them into the fridge
too so you can scrape off the solidified fat.

Now onto the wonder bread.  For eight people, we needed two classic loaves.  With cookie
cutters, cut the bread into different shapes like circles, squares, and triangles such that you have
four pieces per person and the shapes get progressively smaller.  Mist the bread slightly with water
and put it into a plastic bag to keep fresh until the grilling of it later.  Now the condiments: by
now the au jus is chilled and you can scrape off the fat.  Put all of it into a blender and add a little
dried mint, thyme, salt and pepper and about 1/4 of the volume of reduced fat mayonnaise, and
blend well.  Put that into little bowls, one per couple.  The other condiment is burned butter.  
Take a cube of salted butter and put it in a stainless steel pan over medium heat.  When it starts to
bubble, froth, and turn slightly brown, it's done.  Put that into small little adorable serving pieces
and let it set up in the fridge.  

We are getting close to serving time:  Once the lamb has chilled through, you can cut the steaks
into very thin strips and get them ready for tower erection.  Now the bread: just before serving
you want to grill the bread over the campfire.  But first, very lightly spread it with Best Foods
reduced fat mayonnaise on both sides, the lighter the better, and you can leave a few gaps.  Go
ahead and grill it until it just browns and the mayo sets-up.  Bring the bread back into the kitchen
for tower erection.  The plan is the largest piece of bread on the bottom and the smallest on top
with strips of lamb in between.  On the very top put a nice looking strip and pierce it with a
pairing knife, in that slit put in a long, showy sprig of mint with a few of the bottom leaves
stripped off the stem so it will stand high and adorn the top of the tower.  Serve the plates and the
two little bowls of condiments per couple of people.  Let the folks use the condiments as they see
fit.  Explain to them that the design is to de-erect the tower into little sandwiches, spreading the
bread with the condiment of their choice.  But nothing beats the burned butter.

The wine was from Clark's birth year, my youngest son.  And as he is, the wine was just great.  
Full of spirit and vitality, a perfect match with lamb, and a testament that
great grapes makes for the best kind of winemaking.

~ Seventh Course ~

Too Radish Granité

Sparkling Water

This one is in the cookbook click and check out this rave-up recipe.

~ Eight Course ~

Fruit & Nuts &...

1986 Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling, Sonoma County  -  Pedroncelli Winery

The big hit here were the dried wafers of dragon fruit from Trader Joe's

~ Ninth Course ~


Noble Companion, “10 year old” Tawny Port, Napa Valley  -  Prager Winery & Port Works
(Cabernet Sauvignon)   c.1988

The big hit here was the aged gouda and the fabulous assortment of blue cheeses.

~ Tenth Course ~

Strawberry Panachée

Sparkling Water

This is Krassi's creation that she got from one of our favorite cookbooks from
Jacques Pépin,
Fast Food My Way

~ Eleventh Course ~

( High )  Tea

Kirsten & Rick  -  Cheryl & Fernando  -  Tia & Ritch  -  Krassimira & Bruce

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