Brisket, Hagafen Zinfandel 2004, and Hagafen Zinfandel Moskowite Ranch Block 61 Reserve 2004
It was our turn to run the Rosh Hashana seder with all those simanim. Being of North African descent my parents would prepare a different set of symbolic treats than most do, and we prepare them in a classically Tunisian manner. That would be to steep the vegetables into egg, followed by honey, followed by oil, then flour, and finally – for the final step – they dropped it into a pot of boiling oil! You see the Tunisians see life as a combination of oil, oil, and more oil. The recipe for Tunisian meatballs (termed boulettes) is meatballs fried in oil – you have got to love tradition. Well we could not really hack that – sorry to break with tradition here. So we came up with a nice and sweet (pun intended) alternative. The simanim are eaten in this order:
- Dates or Figs – no extra preparation
- Black Eyed Peas or Fava Beans – boiled and served plain
- Note: Black Eyed Peas, Cumin, and Olive Oil mixed together are a classical Middle Eastern food and are really awesome. However, these beans are served plain as we want a sweet year, not a cuminy one!
- Leeks – prepared as described below
- Spinach – prepared by creating a sweet parve spinach casserole and cutting pieces out and serving them to each person.
- Butternut Squash – prepared as described below
- Pomegranate – opened ahead of time and served the seeds
- Sweet Apple – again simple assortment of sweet apples served on plate
- Fish Head – always a big hit on our table (that was stated tongue and cheek). Still the idea is to eat some of the fish head, so we find some edible part from the end of the head. We have known friends of ours that would eat the eyes, but that would always gross out the whole table. I have often wondered if they did it more for affect then actual gastronomical enjoyment.
So to get around the deep fried vegetables, we came up with a new technique. Simply cut the vegetables up, and place them on a cookie sheet. Then pour honey over them and broil them for 15 or so minutes. It needs to be slightly charred and then the food is perfect. This is served cold, so no need to worry about drying them out when reheated. Far healthier I think, and really quite yummy!
After the simanim we served roasted lemon garlic Tilapia. Then we served one of my favorite meals – Sweet and Sour braised brisket. I have described it before and what makes this so good is the fact that I cool it before cutting it over night. This gives the gelatin in the meat time to re-congeal and really get yummy. However, cutting hard gelatin is really HARD work, so be ready to pay for the good stuff. But when reheated the meat is tender and awesome.
To match the brisket I took out two wines that had been sitting in waiting for a couple of years. The wait was worth it. They were just absolutely exquisite and paired fantastically with the sweet and sour meat. Ernie did himself proud with these two Zinfandel wines.
The wine notes follow below:
Hagafen Zinfandel Moskowite Ranch Block 61 Reserve 2004 – Score: A-
Only one word describes this wine – wild! Yep, this is one crazy wine and one that places on a roller coaster and does not let you off till the wine has long left your mouth. The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine is filled with blackberry, dates, currants, and wood. The mouth on this full bodied wine starts with blackberry and continues with raspberry into the mid palate which is where the roller coaster starts its twists and turns. The super extracted flavors of spice, wood, and a hint of tar, hit you along with the now integrated tannins. The finish is super long with pepper, oak, more extraction, and a nice dollop of chocolate, to finish it off. This is a wine that could have sat a bit more, but was super enjoyable and worth getting still.
Hagafen Zinfandel 2004 – Score: B+
This is a bit easier on the palate then its block 61 sibling. The nose on this garnet colored wine has aromas of chocolate, raspberry, black cherry, and figs. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is filled with blackberry and dark cherry. The mid palate has nice integrated tannins and lush with fruit flavors. The finish is long with leather, pepper, and cocoa. This is a real nice wine and it ready to drink now.