eunice and i have had rabbit only a few times. the first, at the kitchen in sacramento (amazing!) and again in mendocino. both times, we were pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was. i feel it could easily replace chicken as my white meat of choice. (pork not included, oh my god, bacon!!!)
that being said, i have never even dared to attempt cooking rabbit at home, for many reasons, #1 being the fact that i never really came across a vendor of delicious, organic, humanely raised rabbit. this all changed several months ago when the organic chicken lady at the Sunday farmer’s market had whole rabbit scrawled across her blackboard. i inquired, but no luck, rabbits were already gone, and it was a once a month occurrence, if that, so good luck. with my schedule, making the market one time every four weeks, if that even, i felt destined to a life of petting rabbits, and not eating them.
blessed with a clinic month this june and three entire weekends off (whoa), i managed to make it to the market for the first time in ages. primarily excited for my first pretzel croissant in months and the first ranier cherries of the season, i was pleasantly surprised to find rabbit again scrawled across the chicken vendor’s blackboard. needless to say, nervous at first, i went for it, and purchased one whole rabbit.
there are many preparations out there, from classic french to buttermilk fried. i evaluated several and eventually settled on a mexican recipe from one of our recent cookbook purcahes, the essential cuisines of mexico by diana kennedy. the recipe was conejo en chile. simple and perfect for my first experience. it involved frying the rabbit with onions, combining with a garlic and chile sauce, and serving with hot tortillas.
the only really daunting step was butchering the rabbit. i haven’t really butchered much of anything, but am eager to improve my skills. i’ll spare you instructions, as those are all over the web. i used a little help from one my favorite blogs, hunter angler gardener cook.
the process was relatively easy, and the recipe was as well. the chiles, guajillos and anchos, were toasted and had a great smokey thing going on. it inspired me to head to the wine cellar (ok, drawer). the perfect pair would be an Indian Creek 2008 pinot purchased last fall. this is a second label from Navarro vineyards in Anderson valley that has a number of 2008 wines under the Indian Creek label, all of which were greatly affected by the forest fires of that year. smoke sat in the anderson valley for months, and the grapes really let you know. really pleased with the combination that resulted.
great meal, great wine, another great night.
i worked late and we weren’t off until 9pm, resulting in a dark and windy drive and late arrival into camp. not to worry, only a bit of dog vomit in the back and minimally shredded sleeping bag. that’s ok, nothing was going to faze our mini-break.
waking underneath a redwood grove was a pleasant escape. morning french press coffee in the campsite was a great way to spending the morning of our last day on earth. after multiple cups and little exploring, we motored up highway 128 to Navarro vineyards and winery. eunice and i had by chance come across this winery during our trip to mendocino last october. not only are they awesome: dog park on the premises, dogs welcome in the tasting room, complimentary tastings, llamas, but there wines are a great representation of the diversity in climates along the anderson valley appellation. needless to say, we walked away with several bottles. (i’ll let you decide for yourself, but their pinot noir is what caught my attention in the first place, not to mention the sauvignon blanc and late-harvest muscat, and even check out their second label “indian creek” for great wines affected by the 2008 wildfires).
as rapture rapidly approached, we all felt the need to get in a few good beers during our final afternoon. back on 128, we headed to anderson valley brewing in the town of boonville. the brewery isn’t much, but they have a tasting room, with pleasant prices and pleasant outdoor seating that we took full advantage of. again, the cream ale seemed to really peak my interest. i have had it many times in the past, and have been overwhelmed and underwhelmed on varying instances. maybe it was the heat or coming straight from the source, but it tasted really good this afternoon. pretty stoked about my next homebrew being a cream ale.
after the libations we motored back into town and for lunch at lauren’s, a local spot that i had read about in numerous magazines, touted for there local fare and simple delicious recipes. i had the egg salad sandwich, eunice a grilled avocado sandwich with asparagus soup, and matt the tuna melt. it was all great, highly recommend it, pickle agrees.
on the way home we stopped at breggo cellars for some tasting. had a great visit and discussion concerning wine making in the anderson valley and surrounding hills. we tasted our way through all of their whites and reds, and even got into the cellar and some barrel tastings. good wine, good people, and a great experience for me to learn more about wine making and the anderson valley appellation.
tired from wine, beer, and sun, we headed back to camp. dinner was simple. i had some left over pork loins that i had been brining the day before. those went on the grill with some corn we had bought from town. great flavors for a camp dinner. more beer was consumed, including some of my american wheat homebrew of which there is only a single 12oz bottle left.
we awoke next morning unsure if the rapture had occurred or not, had we been left behind? if hell was a redwood grove, coffee in hand, no worries or plans for the afternoon, then we were content to settle into our fiery eternities. we packed the gear and headed to a local apple farm, explored the gardens and sampled the apple juice. then to drew cellars for some final tasting. we may have been slightly out of place in our smoke stained clothes that wore the dirt from several days, but that’s whats so great about the anderson valley, we weren’t! made it out with another purchase, and a few hours later (after a stop in yountville for pretzel brioche and macarons, not macaroons, at buchon bakery) we were back to the grind in sacramento. i am already looking at property on the ridgeline above anderson valley, i think our garden could do well there.
to give the blossoming cellar a boost, i decided to make a purchase from one of my favorite vineyards, Navarro, in the Anderson Valley. A few reasons you should buy their wines:
1. they let me take pickle and dwight into the tasting room
2. their vineyard has a dog park
3. i ordered wines on monday, they arrived on tuesday
4. they mistakenly sent me two 375mL bottles when i had ordered 750’s, and are sending me the full 750’s and allowing me to keep the half bottles
5. the wines are delicious
here is a list of what i procured to get things rolling:
– 2009 Gewurztraminer Late Harvest
– 2010 Muscat Cluster Select Late Harvest (a sufferer of the noble rot, according to the winery, the wasps get to these grapes after the fungus sets in almost every year, and this is only the 3rd time in 25 years they have gotten to make this vintage)
– 2007 Pinot Noir, 2 bottles, (the wine that made me love this vineyard in the first place, eunice and i first tried this on our trip to Mendocino in Oct, bought a few bottles on our way home through Anderson Valley, but they of course, are long gone)
– 2008 Pinot Noir Planters Reserve (a vintage the year the Valley had a number of wildfires, and the smoke has reportedly affected these grapes greatly)
– 2009 Sauvignon Blanc
i am super excited to get a collection going, but slightly bummed cause my goal is to save these for future dates. gotta love problems with shipping, the gewurztraminer and the muscat were the mistakenly shipped 375 mL bottles, so i will get a chance to try those here soon enough.
feel free to comment if you think there are some wines i need to add to my collection