Saturday 1 November
We wanted to serve our dear friends something extra special this evening, so a few days ago we went into our wine cellar (aka the basement) and brought up four half-bottles of the precious 1989 Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the case we'd bought back in 1991 (we bought it after the Wine Spectator named it wine of the year; it was $35 a full bottle then, now $140-280). You have to stand it up well in advance, because it throws a sediment, and it takes that long to settle.
We had to serve something worthy of such a historic wine, so Holt and Jon spent the afternoon in a puff-pastry master class, getting ready to construct a beef Wellington out of the giant slab of beef tenderloin we'd bought at Findlay Market this morning.
We'd had a light lunch of fried green tomato caprese, so this was also our chance to use the tapioca starch and make those Brazilian cheese puffs to snack on before the meal.
Unfortunately, though the Wellington looked perfect going into the oven, the sliced mushrooms on top made the pastry slide down the side of the tenderloin as it baked. All the ingredients were delicious, though, served with a quick yogurt and horseradish sauce.
And the wine was luminous - clear sherry-garnet colored from all the settlement, but not too tannic at all, and still with smoky black cherry notes.
We also used our Halloween pie pumpkin to make Ottolenghi-style roasted pumpkin slices, but instead of the parsley and parmesan, we made them sweet with cumin seeds, chopped figs and apricots.
And we did not mind having gingerbread and ice cream - again! - for dessert.