Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The First Real Meal I Cooked in the New Apartment, with Help from Daughters

There are still boxes and bags cluttering the new apartment, I haven't really unpacked yet. I worked until it reached a livable state, and then I paused, settled in a little. I went to the farmer's market, I cooked dinner.

I love the vegetables at the market this time of year. Lettuces, some bitter greens like escarole, garlic scapes, asparagus, now there are shell peas. My daughters have become quite proficient at shelling peas, even the 2 and a half year old. Problem is, and it's not really a problem because it's timeless and adorable, they immediately eat everything that they shell.

The daughters helped me pick out the vegetables, and my older daughter chose flounder at the fish stand. The younger one stood and stared at the whole sea bass. I made a completely simple and delicious dinner that night, something that the kids happily ate and although a bit simple, I loved it too.

Fresh local flounder, salt and pepper, dredge in just the suggestion of flour, cook in butter that is almost-brown at pretty high heat. What's not to like? Served atop a variety of spring vegetables - shell peas, fennel, asparagus, carrots, and garlic scapes, all cut into pieces that a 2 and a half year old can handle. Again, cooked in nothing but butter, salt, and pepper.

This meal is not something that you will ever see at Le Bernadin because it's just too simple, among other reasons. I remember reading a quote from some or other celebrity NYC chef, discussing the menu at his new restaurant: "I don't want to go down in history as the guy who cooks fish with salt and pepper." I understand that completely. If you want Mushroom Froth-Pistou Sauce (and I do because it sounds delicious), go to Le Bernadin. But flounder cooked in almost-brown butter with spring vegetables is good too, a different kind of good, and we can all make it at home.

It's not hard to pick a wine to go with this dish, most anything will be good, as long as it's not too heavy. I hadn't had a bottle of 2007 Domaine de la Pépière Granite de Clisson, $22, Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, in a year and I wanted it. It seemed as though it would be fitting for this, the first real meal I cooked in my new apartment. Muscadet is humble, but this wine is not really so humble. Marc Olliver made this special wine from very old vines on Clisson granite terroir by leaving it on the lees for two years. It shows the freshness and lemony aromas and flavors that we expect from Muscadet, a more ample body from the extended lees aging, and as it unfolds it reveals great depth and complexity, and the weightless intensity that you find in wines made from very old vines. I found vivid anise and mineral aromas this time around, and I was especially impressed with the great clarity and elegance of the flavors. Granite de Clisson is great wine, I think the 2007 is fantastic, and for reasons that continue to baffle me in this age of $50 mediocre Villages-level white Burgundy, you can still find Granite de Clisson on the shelves here and there. You should give it a try if you haven't already.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a very nice meal. The fish looks wonderful and love the 07 Granite de Clisson...hope you are starting to feel at home in you apartment.

Clotpoll said...

Nothing better on the planet than some kind of fish a la meuniere.

keithlevenberg said...

I have yet to successfully sautée a flounder without having the damn thing disintegrate in two minutes. What's your secret?

Brooklynguy said...

Keith - I honestly don't know. High heat, let it do most of the cooking on one side, turn it with two spatulas, finish for only a little over a minute on the other side? Not much of a secret, sorry. Split the fillet into two pieces, as in the photo - never works for me when I try to keep it whole.

adam said...

Nice mention in The Pour!