Happy Early Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! We made a quick getaway over Veterans’ Day weekend to visit my parents in North Carolina. They live along the southeastern coast, north of Myrtle Beach and south of Wilmington. Since we will be traveling over Thanksgiving this year, we decided to celebrate two weeks early.

Ingredients:
Other than the turkey, there was no clear theme to our meal, as is the case for most people’s Thanksgivings. We purchased many of the ingredients from a local farm stand and a local Italian butcher. The collards, peppers, gourds and country ham came from the farm stand. The turkey, charcuterie and bread came from the butcher.

Meyer family thanksgiving: charcuterie and bread

Wine and Prep:
Wine is one of the most important considerations for Thanksgiving, so we made sure to put some thought into it. We purchased the wine from a small beer and wine store in Wilmington, NC. Our first thought was something that would go well with turkey, and that was a 2015 Loire Valley Chenin Blanc (or Vouvray). I later learned that 2015 was a really good year for Vouvray! The medium to full-bodied white can easily stand up to the rich, buttery bird.

We also bought a 2015 dry Riesling from the Mosel Valley of Germany because it is so versatile it can go with anything, which is great since Thanksgiving is a buffet-style meal where you eat a little bit of everything. It also works well as an aperitif before a meal. Same thing can be said about the bottle of rosé that we bought, a 2016 rosé from the Willamette Valley. I picked this bottle in particular because I wanted to show people that not all rosés are that light pink color, some can be almost red due to extended skin contact. Finally, although we did not end up drinking it, we bought a bottle of red wine for those people who enjoy full-bodied reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignons. I wanted to change things up from the typical bottle of red, so I chose a 2016 Nero d’Avola from Sicily, another example of a full-bodied red.

Meyer family thanksgiving: 2015 Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, 2015 dry Riesling from the Mosel Valley of Germany, 2016 rosé from the Willamette Valley and 2016 Nero d’Avola from Sicily wine bottles

Our main contribution to the meal, other than selecting the wines, was roasted brussels sprouts with cranberries and brown butter. This recipe is a Marnay and Paul favorite that we have been cooking at holidays for years now. My Mom picked up the brussels sprouts on the stalk from a farm in New Jersey, so they were nice and fresh. We made a sauce from butter, cranberries (also from the New Jersey farm), maple syrup, ginger, orange zest and few other good things.

Meyer family thanksgiving: Paul cooking roasted brussels sprouts with cranberries and brown butter

Meal:
We kicked things off with a glass of the Riesling and it was bone dry, with only a slight amount of residual sugar. In my opinion, it’s the perfect wine for converting riesling skeptics into riesling fanatics (or at least non-haters). The turkey took a bit longer than expected, but that wasn’t an issue. We helped ourselves to the spread of charcuterie and drank some more wine. The Riesling went fast, which made me happy! Even my grandfather, who only drinks Chardonnays, asked for seconds of the riesling. I truly feel as though it is my mission in life to spread the gospel of riesling.

Meyer family thanksgiving: glass of 2015 dry Riesling from the Mosel Valley of Germany wine

The rosé was a little sweeter than I thought it would be, but it made an excellent aperitif. Interestingly enough, the riesling was the *least* sweet of the wines we drank (take that Riesling haters!)

Once the turkey was done, we poured ourselves some chenin blanc. As promised, it did go well with the turkey. It’s a high-acid wine with a good amount of residual sugar – lots of flavor. The wine’s high-acidity allowed it to stand up to not just the turkey but also the collard greens with hot pepper vinegar and the brussels sprouts. I would be interested in comparing this Loire Valley chenin blanc to a chenin blanc from South Africa, but let’s save that for another post.

Meyer family thanksgiving: turkey cooking in the oven

Time for dessert! We each had a slice of my Mom’s chocolate cream pie and her pumpkin pie, made with a real pumpkin from the farm stand. Our contribution was making bourbon whipped cream for topping the desserts – we did not go light on the bourbon!

It was fun to celebrate Thanksgiving early this year and we enjoyed picking out the selection of wines. When choosing wines for Thanksgiving, make sure that there is variety for those picky wine drinkers and focus on wines that are versatile and will go well with everything. You will also want to choose wines that work well as an aperitif, especially if you have to wait a bit for your meal. Looking forward to preparing for next year!

Meyer family thanksgiving: family meal table

Advertisements

La Fia Market Bistro

I ran my second marathon on Sunday May 8th in Wilmington, DE.  Part of the reason I chose this particular race was because of my schedule.  The other reason was so we could eat at a great restaurant the night before!

Bryan Sikora was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2014 for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic for his work at La Fia and he is quickly taking over the nascent downtown Wilmington dining scene, having recently opened Merchant Bar and Market Street Bread & Bagel. We had previously gone to La Fia in November 2014 and had been looking for an opportunity to return. The marathon seemed like the perfect opportunity.

We ate with my grandparents and parents but I am only going to focus on what Marnay and I ate. The two of us made a meal out of two small plates and one large plate. If you go to La Fia, I recommend getting this amount of food as it was good for two people. The laid back and gracious servers will not pressure you to order a certain amount of food, either.

The server asked if we wanted the small plates first or with everyone’s entrees.  We asked them to come first.  I’m just impressed that he even asked, instead of the dishes coming from the kitchen “as they’re ready.”  We started out with the lightly seared smoked salmon with shaved turnips in a sweet, acidic sauce and a vegetable puree.  The dish also came with “horseradish crackers.”  We had never had such thick pieces of smoked salmon.  It looked a lot like a play on sliced rare tuna.

Along with the salmon, we ordered the grilled smoked merguez with chickpeas, roasted cherry tomatoes, and greek yogurt.  The best part of this dish was the THICK housemade greek yogurt mixed with the slight heat of the merguez and the chickpeas.  The merguez was good, although a little crumbly.

We’re always on the lookout for restaurants that serve gruner veltliner by the glass, and La Fia had one.  Marnay enjoyed a glass while I abstained, since of course, I was running 26 miles in the morning.

The entrée that we shared was grilled hanger steak with sautéed littleneck clams, pancetta, a crispy potato cake, broccoli rabe and a red wine nage. Nage is a type of seafood stock. The hanger steak, one of the most flavorful cuts of meat, was cooked to a perfect medium and had its characteristic chew. The grill imparted just the right amount of char and the nage gave the dish a rich, umami flavor. While the clams were one of the better parts of the dish, the potato cake tasted extraneous.

I ended up having a very enjoyable marathon experience and I think that our meal at La Fia played a role!  This is definitely a restaurant we would go back to.

Best Bite
Marnay: hanger steak
Paul: smoked salmon

Address
La Fia Market Bistro: 421 N. Market Street Wilmington, DE 19801