Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving in Florida

The pre-Thanksgiving lunch

Well, another holiday has passed us by. I hope everyone had a lovely time with friends, family, and the Big Bird.

But I have to admit something: I hate turkey. I really do. Luckily, since I am the one who cooks on Thanksgiving, I get to choose what we're eating. One year it was leg of lamb, but the family complained that it wasn't "Thanksgiving-y" enough, whatever that means. So I relented the following year and made Cornish Game Hens. However, it's nearly impossible to get good quality ingredients where my family is in Florida, so we ended up with Tyson birds. While they were moist and juicy, their flavor was, to put it mildly, vile. Every single bird had a nasty metallic taste to it. This alone should be proof that you must avoid industrially-produced foods at all costs.

So this year, in keeping with the holiday's avian theme, I wandered to the Whole Foods near my mother's place. I was looking for a bird, any bird, beside chicken, turkey, or Cornish Game Hens. To my delight, I found some whole organic ducks, which would satisfy my blood-lust for fatty meat and my family's desire for a bird of some kind.

The Beast awaits its fate

Following a recipe I'd had for a while, I rubbed it with salt, pepper and some herbs, then into the oven it went.

My mother made a lovely ratatouille with the few fresh vegetables she could find in the area. Which meant not too many but just enough for it to taste delicious and look great.

Flipping the bird

After 45 minutes, I turned Daffy over onto his back to let his sinfully delicious fat drain through the whole body, bathing the meat in it.

The duck is done!

Lunch rolled around while we cooked, so I grabbed a bottle of the 2005 A&P De Villaine Côte Chalonnaise La Digoine. I had stashed a few bottles here on my last visit, and good thing too: the store I bought it from had gone out of business! This wine was lovely, with crisp dark cherries balanced by earthy notes on a really silken frame. Just delicious. Happily I have one left for my next trip.

The next day, I grabbed the left-over duck meat, tossed it with some salad and olive oil, and popped a special bottle I'd been saving for our last day: a NV Feuillate Rose Champagne. Gorgeous, creamy cherries and toasty notes filled your mouth, dancing around the little bubbles, with some beautiful acidity to firm things up.

The last lunch

This went quite nicely while sitting on the terrace, overlooking swaying palms, with a soft breeze playing over us. You know, Florida's not that bad after all.

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