It’s hard to imagine it, but Empanada Boy and I have officially been married for more than a year now. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary yesterday with a collaboratively prepared dinner designed to pair well a bottle of 1982 Domaine de la GaffeliÃ¨re Bordeaux from Saint-Emilion. We got the wine as a wedding present from Mango Mama’s cousin and his wife who have a fantastic cellar in their house in Portland. Last year, a few days before our wedding, Daddy Salmon, on the phone, called to me from the next room: “What year were you born ?” (You would think that a father would remember his own daughter’s birthday, but Daddy Salmon is a bit of an absent-minded professor.) Not knowing who he was talking to, but having a hunch that it might be wedding-gift-related (working in a wine store, as I did, you get a sense for these things), I called back: “1982: a great year for Bordeaux.”
Indeed, 1982 is still one of the greatest vintages ever recorded in that region. Wines made that year are said to age well and still be drinking nicely. Empanada Boy and I had been eagerly looking forward to opening this bottle since the moment we got it. I decanted the wine to let it air out its 26 years of captivity while we prepared our dinner: hand ground skirt steak burgers, salad and pommes frites cut and fried by Empanda Boy himself. I was responsible for grinding the meat, which gave me a chance to use my new grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I cut the meat into cubes and pushed it through the grinder with the plastic plunging tool. I then formed the patties and cooked them until medium-rare on the stovetop.
Meanwhile, EB was hard at work thinly slicing potatoes and frying them, not once, but two times, in hot vegetable oil. It’s only appropriate in this post about our anniversary meal that I digress momentarily to point out an outstanding (and endearing) feature of EB’s personality. Anyone else who had never made French fries might think, “oh that would be nice” and then proceed to roast some potatoes in the oven or order takeout. Not EB. Once he gets an idea into his head, he cannot be prevented from executing it, usually to great effect. As I glanced over at his elaborate frying operation, I was surprised to see his fries come out of the pot golden and crisp-looking, without a hint of char. He also made a delicious curry dipping mayonnaise with onions and ketchup mixed in for added flavor. Who knew that EB was such a chef?
When we were finished preparing we went up onto the roof of Auntie Pasti and Corn-y Uncle’s building where we were staying as cat-sitters. As we watched the sun go down, we took a sip of the wine. It was smoky and mellow with raspberry flavors and only the slightest hint of tannin left in the finish. Our burgers made an excellent match, although the skirt steak gave them a distinctive funk that you don’t expect in a burger. It wasn’t bad, just different. Anyone who saw our decked out table might have thought we were at a French bistro after one glance at EB’s pommes frites, wrapped in paper cones and tucked into stout glasses. The fries came out crispy with a nice crackling exterior and a soft interior. Some had cooled off a bit too much, but they were about as good as could be accomplished without the use of a deep-fryer.
It was a feast to be remembered. Food and wine have been at the center of our relationship since we first met. It was only fitting that we celebrated our one-year-old marriage with a home-cooked meal.