Friday, December 12, 2008
What better place to hone your wine food pairing skills than at a big 70th birthday celebration?
Here is the Birthday Boy himself, our good friend Hans!
Keeping the Austrian tradition alive even in the USA, the birthday boy plans and pays for all the celebrations that go on, so if you get an invitation to a birthday it really is something special.
Of course, Champagne was in order for the opening ceremonies and we all toasted to 70 more happy years for Hans with an iced down Cook's California Champagne. Not really champagne, but a sparkling wine, it has a wonderful pale, straw yellow color. It is quite bubbly, with presence of some large bubble and a constant, regular stream of small bubbles that tickle your nose long after the first sip!
His wife, Elisabeth, was on hand and did all the meal preparation of his most favorite food items.
We began the meal with steamed asparagus topped with a dollop of Hollandaise ... decadent!
' Kalbsgulasch ' or Viennese Veal Cream Goulash was the entree.
Kalbsgulasch is prepared with equal amounts of cubed veal and
chopped onion along with sour cream
and sweet Hungarian paprika. This gives
the goulash a rich smokey flavor, but is quite mild compared to the "9 alarm" goulash made with Hungarian hot paprika ...lol!
Traditionally, this can be served with rice, noodles, potatoes or spaetzle. Spaetzle is a dish of tiny noodles or dumplings made with flour, eggs, water or milk, salt and sometimes nutmeg. The spaetzle dough is then forced through a sieve, colander or spaetzle-maker with large holes. The small pieces of dough are usually boiled (poached) before being served.
Elisabeth made her spaetzle with whole wheat flour to make it a bit healthier and then a crusty bread was served alongside to help sop up the gravy .... totally delish! We drank a crisp Italian Pinot Grigio with this course.
Now, things get a bit fuzzy in my American mind ... I believe we had a plum schnapps about this time called Slivovitz. Slivovitz, I believe comes from Croatia and is used to toast everything from births, deaths and everything in between including as a digestive aid. All I can say is that is seemed like a good idea at the time ... hehehehe!
As you can see here ... birthday boy Hans is just now getting to the cake. We switched to California Merlot now ... these Austrians sure know how to party ! This chocolate cake, as you can see, was anything but low calorie. The fresh sweet strawberries were the only the beginning of the goodness. OH MY! The complex Merlot brought out all the flavors of the dark chocolate cake and I thought I would go into diabetic shock just licking my fork ......
Believe it or not there was more! Yes, my friends, there was terrific cheese and fruit plate that came our after the cake. It had all the wonderful "stinky" and unusual cheeses that you see in all the cool deli displays. By this time I was ready to lay down on the couch ... no kidding!
Wine food pairing, what an adventure. CHEERS, or as the Austrians say, MAHLZEIT!
Posted by Denise Clarke at 1:58 PM