January 03, 2011

New Year's Eve and waffles

What a lovely New Year's Eve we had the other night. We were invited back to a celebration hosted by the owners of a local wine shop, who were most gracious to have us over last year for the first time. I was entranced then by one guest arriving with a pyramid of glazed profiteroles, or what I now know is a croquembouche. I was determined to bring a pyramid of my own, though made of something closer to my stomach. Why not Liege waffles, perhaps my favorite treat of all? These are Belgian sugar waffles made with yeast, eggs and chunks of pearl sugar, among the usual waffle ingredients, that make me dream of college days as a student in Europe. This is the ultimate street food for me, and though there's a "window" locally that makes a good version of these waffles, they're a little too American for my tastes.

I spent all afternoon making several batches of waffles, in part to bring to friends kindly looking after our kids for the evening, in part to have enough to make a real pyramid. Wish the picture showed the height of the waffle platter. To me, these irregular waffles look as good as they taste. Sure enough, people audibly remarked when I brought in the plate. Unfortunately, most people didn't touch them until late in the evening, one person remarking that he thought maybe there was a sauce or something to go with them. No. The chunks of sugar melt during cooking, making the waffles essentially glazed from the inside. Toppings really just gild the lily here. If you're at all interested, I recommend this link for a good, authentic recipe. You're welcome.

Of course, there were incredible wines to try at the party. NV Clouet Champagne Grande Reserve, full and rich, especially decadent from a 3L bottle. 1999 Cameron Chardonnay Abbey Ridge from the Dundee Hills of Oregon, showing a little wool and funk around the edges. I preferred the fresher, more clear but rich 2000 Cameron Clos Electrique Blanc, gorgeous Oregon white wine. Stunning really. There were Zind Humbrecht whites from the 1990s that I didn't get to, a magnum of 1999 Sauzet Puligny Montrachet from one premier cru vineyard or another that was typically austere and young for its age.

Then a ton of reds, again many I never got to. Just had fun talking with old friends and new, eating a variety of delicious food and enjoying the fire on a cold Portland night. The 2008 Crowley Pinot Noir Entre Nous was excellent, as are all of Tyson's wines in 2008. He's a friend, but really, you should try these wines if you haven't. He's making some of the best stuff locally that I know of. I'm happy for him and his delightful wife Emily. I brought my two 2009s, the Vincent Eola-Amity Hills and the Zenith Vineyard. People seemed to like them, or at least not visibly look ill upon trying them. A win, no? I tried other things, the 1990 Produttori di Barbaresco Montefico Riserva, still young and not as giving as I would have guessed. The highlight had to be the 1978 Bouchard Musigny, more evolved than I expected and very good but not great. Still, Musigny on New Year's Eve. Hard to complain.

In all, a nearly perfect night, one of those evenings where time slips away and you lose yourself in the moment, enjoying the atmosphere and the company, and just genuinely enjoy yourself. And by the end of the night, the waffle tray was nearly empty, meaning I had one last chance to take another for myself. Yeasty, rich, slightly crunchy from the sugar. Yes, nearly perfect.


Portland Charcuterie Project said...

Hey.. I didn't see these waffles of gold at Casa Hubatch... what gives?

ps.. I like the way you describe peoples reactions to your wine.. I see that all that time when I pour it for friends... that "not ill " look :-)

pps.. I couldn't find the link in there.. care to trade waffles for meat? I'm mixing up a batch of chicken liver bourbon mousse this week.

Vincent Fritzsche said...

Fixed. Hate when I miss things like that.

Meant to bring some to Casa Hubatch but with a small waffle iron, I just didn't have time to make enough. Figured there would be another time. And there will.

Sounds like you're pouring plenty of my wine. Let me know if you need to reload.