Monday, July 22, 2013

Mid-Summer Laundry List

I've been meaning to write more, I really have. It's not as though there's been a shortage of interesting food and wine to discuss - it's been an embarrassment of riches. But I am trying to write when I have a story to tell, not simply to blabber on when I eat or drink something interesting. That said, the other day I was in Washington DC and had dinner with my pal Keith Levenberg, and he gently chastised me for not writing so much. He said that I shouldn't worry about writing the occasional "here is what I ate or drank" post.

I still disagree - I want to write when I have a story to tell. But sometimes one needs to get the proverbial juices flowing, and a laundry list post is a fun (for the writer, anyway) way to do that. So, patient reader, here is a mid-summer laundry list for you. Here are some things that I've been doing:

It's been over two years now, but I finally got my grill up and running again. Wow, I love to grill. With hardwood charcoal. The slow way, but the dee-licious and lighter-fluid-free way.

My pizza dough is beginning to be more consistent now too. It turns out that the small details are crucial - punching down, but not kneading the dough after it rises, for example.

I spent some time (and way too much money) with my daughters planting on our deck. For a while, things really looked great. Then it rained everyday for over a week. Then the heatwave came. Plants that like super hot weather are doing okay, like the poppies above. Many other things have simply wilted. Next year I will choose plants more wisely - things that like intense sun and heat. Because NYC in the summer is now essentially the same as Dubai. But there is no climate change, people!

There's been a lot of great wine.

Some of it fabulous and now very expensive wine from iconic vineyards, wines that achieved great heights.

Some of it more humble in terroir and aspiration, but capable of giving a different and also very valuable type of pleasure.

I drank a few wines that are beloved by many wine folk, but that are completely new to me. This one was utterly compelling.

I drank wine by producers I know and love, but wine that is new to me. This one is intensely sweet - a style that is hard for me to appreciate. But the quality here is simply impossible to miss and the wine was delicious and entirely expressive of place, even as a dessert wine. This is not an easy trick.

I am lucky to have generous friends who take pleasure in sharing their treasures.

And I try to do the same. This was my last bottle, and let me tell you - with 3 years of bottle age this wine is a finely tuned symphony of Manzanilla greatness.

It's been a great summer and summer is only a month old. The outlook for the net two months is quite positive. More soon.

1 comment:

Timothy Lock said...

On your pizza dough, allow me to give you a couple of recommendations:

- you don't need to kneed it at all, like ever. combine ingredients (if you are using a more new york style versus Neapolitan that has oil in it, do this in a Cuisinart - if no oil, just combine by hand in a bowl) then sit it in the fridge to ferment for three to five days.
- the fridge time is so key - slow rise, almost no yeast, 00 flour = super tasty plus rapid oven spring, just make sure to take it out a few hours before to bring it up to temperature - some people re-ball it at that time, but i haven't experienced much difference in re-balling it or not.
- water to flour ratio should be around 65% - the dough should be super light almost gooey to work with - stretch it carefully
- on the baking side, there are numerous blogs about trying to get the most out of a home oven - i had a steel fabricator cut me a sheet of thick A36 steel to bake on for maximum heat transfer at lower temperatures - i think this works best, you don't see the benefits of the baking stone's thermal mass until you get up to like 700 degrees which is beyond the range of a common oven - set it at the top of the oven, get it up to temp for a while, then blast the broiler when you launch the pie.

As far as the wines? I'm mostly just jealous there! hah!