Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 02-01-21: Taxes Filed, A Superb Jambalaya Dinner, The Public and the Private in Tokyo

1. In the mail today, the last tax documents I was looking for arrived. So, I buckled right down and got to work on filing our tax returns. I just like having that done and, as I write this, I'm done!

2. Christy, Carol, Paul, and I got together at the Roberts' house around 4:30 this afternoon to enjoy our family dinner, postponed by just one day.

I had the jambalaya ready to go -- I prepared it on Sunday -- and so, today, I slowly heated it in a crock pot, hoping the rice didn't absorb to much of the liquid and that the shrimp didn't get tough from overcooking. 

My concerns did not materialize. The jambalaya heated up beautifully and was moist and the shrimp were tender.

Our dinner had an informal New Orleans theme. 

In keeping with this theme, I offered to mix us each a Sazerac. 

I decided to use rye whiskey in today's Sazerac and that I'd stop off at the liquor store and purchase a fifth of Basil Hayden. I walked straight to the rye shelf and saw that the store carried Dark Basil Hayden. I'm not sure, but I think Shawn had enthusiastically recommended Dark Basil Hayden to me once, but whether he did or didn't, I bought it.

Let me digress for a second: when it comes to beer, wine, and liquor, my tastes are very broad and flexible. I like trying out different things -- like scotch whiskey aged in rum barrels, sour beers, botanical gins, etc.

So, when I got home tonight, after dinner, I read up a little bit on the Dark Basil Hayden and learned that it is a blend of rye whiskey, Candian whiskey, and a touch of port wine. I also learned that for many whiskey purists, this blend is off-putting.

I didn't know this about the Dark Basil Hayden when I mixed tonight's Sezeracs, but I can report that all four of us thought that tonight's Sezeracs were the best we've had so far and we all thought it was because of the Dark Basil Hayden. I'm thinking, but I'm not certain, that that touch of port wine mellows this whiskey a bit. Ryes can be pretty spicy. The Dark Basil Hayden hasn't lost its spiciness, but it doesn't have quite as much burn as some other rye whiskeys I've tasted. I'm wondering if we liked that smoothness and the ever so subtle touch of sweetness the port wine gives the Dark Basil Hayden.

End of digression.

So, I did a tiny bit of reading about what might go well with jambalaya and assigned Christy to bake a batch of cornbread and Carol to make a tomato cucumber salad with feta cheese and olives.

The pairings were perfect. My jambalaya wasn't spicy, but, had it been, Carol's salad would have been  perfect for cooling our mouths.The salad was crisp, flavorful, and refreshing. Christy's cornbread added a most welcome sweetness to our dinner. I loved how it tasted, especially alongside the shrimp and sausage in the jambalaya. 

Carol and Paul just happened to have the perfect wine on hand for our dinner. The slightly spicy, subtly fruity Gewurtztraminer lent hints of pepper and soothing tones of pear and apricot to our meal. I was gaga over this wine. 

I wanted to bring pralines for dessert, but didn't find any at the store, so I simply purchased a bag of one of my favorite cookies, Pepperidge Farm's Dark Chocolate Milano -- and these cookies topped off our meal splendidly.

3. I returned home feeling comforted by our dinner and by spending time with Carol, Paul, and Christy. For the heck of it, I rewatched the second episode of Pretend It's a City, mostly to reassure myself that, unlike the way he was portrayed on Saturday Night Live, that Martin Scorsese was not, in fact, a howling hyena when he enjoyed Fran Lebowitz, but laughed with warmth and appreciation, the way good friends do when talking to each other.

As is my habit these days, I watched the next episode of Midnight Diner, a remarkably subtle and tender look at the private dimensions of what, in this story, was a salacious public scandal. It also made me hungry for pickled Napa cabbage! 

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