April 6, 2013

A doughy and jammy afternoon

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My friend Susan the Great hosted a "cooking party" at her residence today, and there was a small gathering of those who of us who are perennially hungry.  Fortunately for our hostess, she didn't do all the cooking this time as it was shared by several chefs.  As I am widely known to be "not a very good cook", I volunteered to bring wine as well as some of the ingredients…

The theme today was pizza and jam.  I had missed out on the pizza party a couple of weeks ago, and I was pretty glad to be able to try them out today.  There were 3 batches of dough prepared by 3 different chefs, so it was interesting to see how they would turn out…

My first nibble was a piece with margherita with cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil and mozzarella.  Yummy.

The pizzas came in individual portions so what came next were all made-to-order with custom toppings.  My first pizza was made with Susan's dough, topped with béchamel sauce and thin slices of guanciale.  I just loooove how slices of cured pork fat curl up under heat and release all the oil…

When my next turn came up, I wanted something a little more complex than the last one.  This one was made with dough from Legolas Jr. and topped with very fatty pancetta, shallots, white button mushrooms, garlic, black pepper…etc.  VERY yummy.

For the next round, I asked for "everything", and the chefs joked that this was the Super Supreme

Very nice bubbles… so the nerd does know what he's doing…

With the mention of Super Supreme, the conversation turned to Pizza Hut, and Susan brought out the bottle of Eau de Pizza Hut that she received in advance of White Day…  I like Pizza Hut as much as the next guy, but why the hell do I want to smell like oregano?!

I brought a couple of bottles of wine, but since a couple of the chefs were driving, very little ended up getting drunk.  Oh well…

2004 Hugel Riesling "Jubilee" - lots of plastic and polyurethane in the nose, with minerals and a little honey.

1996 Les Pagodes de Cos - nose was pretty intense, very much like a St. Estephe, with smoke, brett, black pepper, leather, mint, and earthy.

A couple of more nibbles, later, and it was time to take a break from pizza… My sleep deprivation over the last few days caught up with me, and after a few glasses of wine I finally surrendered and hit the carpet.

When I woke up, the others had already started on the jam tasting portion of the day.  The leftover pizza dough was baked into bread, and was meant to be consumed with our selection of jam.  I was pretty full and was heading off to an early dinner, so I told myself (and everyone else) that I wasn't gonna touch the bread.  In the end, though, I still couldn't resist…  There was a huge selection of jams which a few of us had put together, from Christine Ferber to homemade ones.

Passion fruit, strawberry and rhubarb (by Susan the Great, in the style of Pierre Hermé's Céleste) - sooooo delicious.  I could pick out all three distinct fruits.  It's been a while since I was last in Paris to pick up some jams from Pierre Hermé made by Christine Ferber…

Red plum (by Wilson the Jam) - classic red plum flavors.

Grapefruit and cranberry (by Wilson the Jam) - wow!  This was really yummy!  I normally wouldn't pick up grapefruit jam, but in this version the cranberry softened the bitter flavors of the grapefruit sufficiently, and I loved the end result.

Mandarin orange (by Wilson the Jam) - again, this was just wonderful.  The intensity of the citrus flavors… yum!

Apricot, 2 years' old (by Susan the Great) - aging the jam for 2 years definitely gave the flavor profile a lot more depth.

Abricots bergeron au thé Oriental black beauty (par Christine Ferber) - this is one of two limited edition jams by Christine Ferber made for Pekoe in Taiwan.  Pekoe selected the tea leaves from Taiwan (Oriental black beauty 東方美人 in this case) and sent them to Alsace to be infused into the jam.  Lovely flavors like the other Bergeron apricot jam she makes, and I could definitely taste the tea here, although the tea flavors were pretty subtle.

Mangues au thé Wen-Shan Paschong (par Christine Ferber) - the second limited edition for Pekoe, which has now sadly sold out.  The mango flavors were incredibly intense, which meant that the flavors from Wenshan Paochong tea (文山包種茶) were almost undetectable.

Framboises d'Alsace et violette (par Christine Ferber) - yummy and intense as always, and the violet was definitely there.

It was now less than 1½ hours to dinner, and I wasn't the least bit hungry.  I am so screwed…

P.S. This phone obviously looks like it had a rough time today in the kitchen… as did I!  Let it be known that today was the day that I got my ass kicked (quite literally) by a 6-year-old with a green belt in taekwondo.  Ouch!

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