Somehow I have convinced my friend Tom that dinner at his home overlooking the Upper Roaring Fork Valley in Aspen has to be an annual thing. He and his flutist wife, Nadine, invited us once, years ago, and I volunteered to make a couple of courses and bring some wine. Now he emails me in April to pick a date in July.
Actually, since many of our mutual friends are busy musicians immersed in the Aspen Music Festival, locking in a date that early had to happen, or we would never get all our calendars together.
This time, since we were fitting in dinner after a 6 PM concert, Tom and Nadine decided we'd do a pot luck. We filled the table of 12 with guests we like. As a bonus, everyone either made a great dish or brought a wonderful wine.
The hosts started us off with boiled shrimp and two different bottles Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne from his extensive cellar to enjoy as apéritifs.
I had the first course, by request a ceviche. I marinated mahi mahi, grouper and halibut in lime juice with red onion, celery and cilantro. To add a Peruvian touch, I folded in diced sweet potato and, because I couldn’t find choclo, the hominy-like Peruvian corn kernels, I used Colorado sweet corn. I joked that it was a Peruv-orado ceviche. I served it with Heath Riesling Clare Valley Southern Sisters Reserve 2005, a dry Australian wine that has had time to develop some mature character. The crispness and acidity worked with the lime juice in the dish. It made an electrifying match. We all loved it.
An array of great bottles, shared with good friends over an excellent pot luck dinner.
Next came a cold tomato soup, more demure and refined than gazpacho, made by Connie, a violinist. We skipped wine with the soup so it could stand on its own.
Mark and Eileen, my kidney doctor friends who split their time between Aspen and Boulder, stuffed eggplants with lamb and tomato, topping them with grated Pecorino cheese. We served that with a salad from Laurie, another violinist. Mark has a fine cellar, and he brought a couple of bottles of Turley Zinfandel Paso Robles Pesenti Vineyard 2006. But before that, we drank my bottle of Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra Vineyard 2001
, which had distinctive cherry and beet flavors on a silky frame. The Zin was bigger and broader, brimming with dried cherry and spice flavors. The eggplant stood up to both of them.
Laura Werlin, who divides her time between Aspen and San Francisco as I do, and writes books on cheese, made a plate with seven unique cheeses. My favorites were Quattro Portoni Quadrello di Bufala, a washed rind cheese made from buffalo milk in Italy, and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Marco Polo Reserve (10-month), a cow’s milk cheese from Washington. Both were fantastic with Jackson-Triggs Vidal Niagara Peninsula Ice Wine Proprietors' Reserve 2007
, which she brought to serve with them. Highly aromatic, the wine balanced richness and tropical fruit flavors with a tang of acidity and lemony notes.
Kait and John, both brass players, made a berry tart and a mocha cake for dessert. I may have to tackle Kait for that mocha cake recipe. It was moist and light, not dense.
Tom had a 1967 TBA from the Nahe ready to open for after-diner, but we ran out of time and Tom promised to open that on another occasion. (Oh good, I thought, another blog.)