Saturday, September 18, 2010

Harvest Heaven

I was invited by LouInda and Budd Churchward to join their annual wine bottling at Birch Bay, which involved an ingenious tank and valve setup assembled by Budd, which allows one to fill three bottles at a time and (mostly) shuts off automatically when each bottle reaches the right corking level, a tank of argon gas (to blanket the exposed wine and keep it from oxidizing), a $1000 Hungarian oak barrel, and several old friends who have done this many times before. My main contributions were to set one of the bottles in the corking contraption at the wrong angle so it slipped out and broke, and to mislabel several cases so that “08 Merlot Reserve” will appear upside down in storage. So it’s not surprising that before long I found myself over at the picnic table, sampling a glass of last year’s bottling and eating LouInda’s divine crab pizza while the more experienced crew members finished up.

We chatted about gardens—LouInda’s friend Laurel’s challenges include one I’d never heard before—her chocolate lab is a green bean fanatic, knocking down the vines to eat them.

On the way home—already provided with a bottle of the new wine and two Dungeness crabs from the Churchward pots—I treated myself to a drive down Kickerville Road where I got some sweet corn and $1 a pound bags of cherry tomatoes and new potatoes from a no-name farm stand, and then some blue potatoes and a half-round of Mutschli cheese from Pleasant Valley Dairy. The potatoes were fresh-dug. The cheese is four years old, crumbly, and so sharp it makes your tongue tingle. By then I was in a food trance, so I doubled back and stopped at Twisted S Ranch for a package of bison osso bucco and a chat with Jim Sanford. He told me about the butcher he admires at Silvana Meats, who after some trial and error has figured out the proportions for the perfect bison/pork bratwurst.

I got home in time to mow the grass, pull some weeds, and stir a couple bags of coffee grounds into the compost. In the evening I took Hailey to the Urban Barn Dance, to raise funds for a village water project in Ethiopia. Hailey and I polished off a late dinner of injera, potatoes, lentils and cabbage.

Tomorrow I’m thinking corn fritters and roasted blue and white potatoes. The crab already is gone—one shared with friends and one given to my son-in-law, who is as besotted with good fresh food as I am, and the wine is set aside for Thanksgiving. Life is good!

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