Monday, July 19, 2010

It was like being in the Mediterranean...

Though I have never been in that area known as the Mediterranean, I do have thoughts about it, what it would be like.... what it would feel like to be in Provence, or southern Italy, or Greece, or Lebanon, or Spain, or any of these warm to hot weather places where produce flourishes, where the fat of choice is always olive oil and the red meat of choice is always lamb, where the breeze smells of lavendar and the salty sea, and the sun brings out the bounty of ripe melons, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and wine grapes.

The people spend their time outside; they walk, they farm, they tend to their animals and their homes; they know each other and they live in a town that doesn't think about the stock market or the big corporations, but instead are interested in the goings on in the local area.

On Friday, when I took out my leg of lamb that I scored earlier in the week, and marinated it a paste of minced garlic, olive oil, fresh oregano and basil and rosemary, sea salt, black pepper, and Dijon mustard, I felt like I was doing what was done in the mediterranean - preparing a leg of beast so that it would not dry up and become tasteless on a hot outdoor grill.

Saturday came, and the weather turned up even hotter than Friday, and the idea to cook this piece of meat outdoors made even more logical sense. Who would heat up an already hot house by turning on the oven? We fired up the barbecue, then turned off the left burners and put the marinated leg on the "cool" side of the barbecue.

The barbecue lit up in flames (don't think it was supposed to do that). Perhaps I had been a bit liberal on the olive oil in my marinade - fat dripping onto even a turned off grill can fire up. We took the meat off, let the grill cool down a tad.

Finally, it was figured out, and the meat thermometer went into the meat, with the goal of taking it out when the temp hit 140 degrees for rare. Three hours later, the 8 pound leg looked completely awesome, but since I was hosting the dinner party and had other things to tend to (opening rose wines 2009 Chateau La Canorge from Luberon and 2009 Domaine Dragon from Provence, and the less glamorous but necessary task of getting people parking spaces), I neglected to take a picture of the whole leg when it was done.

Here was my dinner plate though:

On the upper left corner we have the bright yellow aioli, made and brought by our friends; going clockwise, the delicious beans, also brought by friends, then we have the luscious lamb; followed by purple potato & some tiny golden potatoes (done in foil also on the barbecue); grilled qucchini and yellow squash, brought by same friends who brought aioli, and some fresh salsa. Yum, and a great community meal, if I ever saw one!

Wines were also brought by above friends:

The always rare and super-special 2009 Domaine Tempier Rose, the amazing older wines of the southern and northern Rhone, cellared for just about 25 years: 1985 Vieux Telegraph Chateauneuf du Pape and 1985 Chave Hermitage. All terrific wines, especially the Chave Hermitage.... yum yum..... what other tasting notes do you really need? Prestige wines, all meeting & exceeding expectations.

A great evening of socializing was had by all. And that was the best part, getting people together, enjoying good food and wine. This is why I think the Mediterranean so-call "diet" works. Not omega-3 fatty acids or lycopenes in a pill, but the human's natural desire for socializing and destressing among fellow humans fulfilling the soul and the heart. And we achieved that one blistering Saturday evening in Southern California.


Hampers said...

What a wonderful post, beautifully written. It captures these wines so well.

Samantha Dugan said...

Think I can guess which guests brought those wines! Lucky. Looks like a lovely night made for wines like those and to be shared among people you adore.

Sara Louise said...

The lamb looks like it turned out wonderfully.
And your description of mediterranean villages is pretty much spot on... everything here is chillaxed. Last night (in Provence) my brother in law grilled a whole salmon and dorado on the barbecue and we had it with fresh green beans from the garden. The only thing missing was a bottle of good wine... next time you and Samantha should stop by and bring it :-)

モテる度チェッカー said...