An unusual Thanksgiving

A Larson Thanksgiving tradition: Phillip Wade’s rabbit jello molds with carrot and celery sticks. Wouldn’t be turkey day without it!

So, as is usually the case, things don’t quite work as planned. Because we returned from the Larson home too tired to motivate and cook, and Willy was kinda down with a cold so not really into cooking much,  I winged it. The Thanksgiving menu ended up pared down: we ate the caviar, but on toast points instead of eggs; the soup turned into a thyme-infused cream of mushroom at Willy’s request; the quail ended up simply stuffed with an onion slice and sprigs of lemon thyme, pan seared to golden.

Pan seared quails with pan juice, potato-rutabaga mash.

Made pan sauce with some of the turkey drippings I brought back from the Larson house, and served them with a root mash of potatoes and rutabagas made from Larson house leftovers too, adding a bit more milk and butter to stretch them out.Also made a salad of julienne celery root, apples, radish, and pomegranate seeds, tossed with key lime-parsley vinaigrette, a refreshing counterpart and one of my new favorite fall salads. Will be on heavy rotation this season. Makes me with we could grow celery root in Austin. This January, I will definitely plant the long planned apple tree at last.

Julienne celery root, apples, radish and parsley from the garden, with pomegranate seeds, key lime juice, olive oil and Hawaiian volcanic salt.

With this dinner we drank two excellent wines. First the 2009 Tolosa Pinot Gris, which I mainly enjoyed as I was prepping and cooking. Tolosa’s wines are sustainably made, and winemaker Larry Brooks is a genius when it comes to balancing quality and value in a wine.

I often prefer Oregon Pinot Gris, but Tolosa’s blew me away with its lovely minerality balanced with zesty citrus and hints of peach. This is the kind of white wine I can drink all day, everyday.We also enjoyed the outstanding Pinot Noir from Elk Cove, another organic, sustainable winery that rates amongst my favorites. The 2008 vintage is supposed to be the best in Willamette, so get a bottle now and save it for next year, if you can. I will be getting another for Christmas for sure.

The pork in mole verde turned out insanely delicious, unfortunately there is no photographic evidence of it. This is one of the things I love about going home. I usually bring back all kinds of foodstuffs to store and use as needed, and they usually last me until I am able to go back again. In this case, the mole verde powder saved me hours of work. It contains all the toasted and ground nuts and spices that are needed, and all I needed to add was the fresh veggies. Cooked tomatillos with onion, garlic and chiles from the garden, blended and fried with the powder. The greens pretty much all came from the garden: hoja santa leaves, cilantro, radish leaves and lettuce, blended in with a bit of pork stock. Simmered the pork in the sauce until it was falling apart. We ate it on Saturday with hot tortillas. With this we drank a beautiful Nero d’Avola rose from Cantine Barbera, La Bambina. Juicy, yet assertive, it was perfect for the fresh green and spicy flavors in the mole. It has firm tannins for a rose but it is so well balanced. Ah, what a lovely find. If you manage to find it anywhere in Austin, get some. I think Vino Vino carries it.

Delicious La Bambina from Sicily’s Cantine Barbera. Find it, drink it!

Last but not least, a serendipitous dessert arrived a couple of days ago, when my friends from Crave Communications asked me to pick up a chocolate pie from Monument Cafe. I had heard the Georgetown eatery makes legendary pies but I had never tried them myself. Oh boy…the chocolate pie is insane. The “crust” is just a layer of roasted, caramelized pecans and walnuts, upon it sits a dense dark chocolate mousse topped with barely sweet real whipped cream. I swear it is one of the best chocolate pies I have ever had. Will, who never wants dessert, ate two pieces last night:

Monument Cafe’s chocolate pie. Really.

Worth the drive to Georgetown? Oh yeah. I hear they also have coconut cream and key lime, plus classic holiday favorites. Check ’em out if you don’t feel like baking or if you really want to impress at the company pot luck.

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