Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cooking the Books with K: Little House Cornbread

"Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter, and he ate the crisp golden crust. He demolished a tall heap of pale mashed turnips, and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. Then he sighed, and tucked his napkin deeper into the neckband of his red waist. And he ate plum preserves and strawberry jam, and grape jelly, and spiced watermelon-rind pickles. He felt very comfortable inside. Slowly he ate a large piece of pumpkin pie."  –From Farmer Boy

K loves the Little House books. They were the first series of "big kid" books she read to herself, sometime in kindergarten. I fondly remember sitting in bed with her one night, as she read Farmer Boy and I read a Robert Parker Spenser mystery. I don't have a photograph as it was just the two of us at home with the cat, but it is a moment I can picture clearly in my memory, flannel pajamas and all.

A few thoughts from K on the books: 
"I remember that I liked the first one so much my Grammy got me the whole set." 
"I read them all the time and I even got the Little House Cookbook." 
"I liked that they were actually real life and they were exciting, most of the real life ones are boring."  
I found out that there were other Little House books and I looked for them every time I went 
to a library. I checked out like 50 books when I went to Grammy's and that included the extra Little House books." "Laura when she is younger is my favorite character, because she is a kid she is mischievous and she is kind of like me."

The Little House books are full of food, some of it very appealing as in almost all of Farmer Boy, a book that was my favorite in the series as a child. When I asked K what she should make, her first choice was apple pie. But, as it is Halloween weekend and the pre-sugar rush has already set in,  I suggested she try something a bit more savory. Her instant response "Cornbread, they eat that all the time."

The Little House Cookbook has two cornbread recipes, one with simply fat, cornmeal and salt and a second that includes butter, eggs and buttermilk. The second seemed the one to try, though we skipped the cracklings, as I did not have any on hand. We also added a small amount of sugar. Note that this is a recipe a 9-year-old can do essentially alone, though I'd suggest an adult help with pouring the batter into the warm skillet.

"Farmer Boy" Cornbread

1/4 cup butter, melted, plus more to grease the pan (or be more authentic and use bacon grease)
2 cups stone ground cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 T sugar (optional)
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 425. Grease a cast iron skillet with butter or bacon grease and put it in the pre-heating oven while you make the batter.
In a large bowl mix cornmeal, salt, baking soda and sugar. Stir in buttermilk. Beat eggs in a small bowl and add them to the batter. Finally, stir in the melted butter. Pour batter into the greased cast iron skillet and bake about 30 minutes, until the  brown edges pull away from the pan and the center of the bread bounces back when pressed. Cut and remove from pan before the bread cools. Serve warm.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mystery Box

Almost every other Thursday, K and I pick up a "Mystery Box" from Mariquita Farms. In their words, the box program is:
"What: Guerrilla vegetable deliveries: Not a CSA, we have one of those. More like a taco truck-meets-the farmers market. No prepayment, no credit cards. You give me your cell phone number as collateral that you'll show up, I give you mine so you can find me/contact me that night. We don't abuse each others cell numbers.
Why: Mariquita Customers at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market missed us when we chose to stop attending spring of 2007. Some of our customers begged for a way to still receive our erbette chard, boxes of San Marzanos, sweet peppers, basil, red carrots etc. We still grow it all and we're delighted to find a way bring it to SF, even if you *don't* own a restaurant!"

I love the mystery box for a few reasons. Foremost, living with just K, who hates almost all vegetables, a weekly CSA is simply too much for me. Second, I like, even these weeks when I groan at the site of more celery, being forced to experiment with produce I would not select at the market. Thankfully, they provide a link to recipes. Third, it is simply an incredible deal for some of the best produce available. That said, here is a look at this week's box.

How it comes, or, a bag, not a box.

Cheddar Cauliflower: Halloween vegetable number one.

Broccoli Romanesco: Halloween vegetable number two.

Perhaps we have found a use for all of that celery?
Red Friarelli Peppers: No plan, yet.

Sweet Potatoes: Roast or perhaps a pie?
End of the season heirloom tomatoes: salad, eaten out of hand and blts.

French breakfast radishes: Braised? Or simply with salt and butter?

Turnip Greens and Red Oak Leaf Lettuce  One to saute, one to make a salad.

Braeburn Apples: Pie? Apple Sauce? Sauteed and served with pork?

Galeux D’Eysines Pumpkin and Willow, the cat who likes to pose. Note Secret Garden Cookbook in the background.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fall Garden Update

Lots and lots of lavender.
My garden is not beautiful. But I am grateful to have it. Especially with the addition of many half wine barrels from Kevin Hamel to replace the decaying containers I had had used for many years. 
Perhaps more for myself, a record of our successes and failures.
A great year for berries, again. A mediocre year for tomatoes, again. Though, if you look carefully, you can see that the plants have at long last filled with tomatoes. Will they ripen before the rains come? Uncertain. It was also a good year for pumpkin blossoms, but no pumpkins, again. K's strawberry popcorn thrived, so I take back everything I said to her about corn not growing in San Francisco. The apple tree is very much in need of pruning, but we had a large enough harvest to both snack and make an apple pie. For year two, that is exciting. The peach tree that K insisted we buy at Whole Foods is still alive. For $10, why not experiment? 

End of season blackberries

Will they ripen pre-rain?

Another great year for strawberries and raspberries. Average for the blueberries.

The cats are allowed out when we are there. Violet is hoping I won't remember to bring her back in.

Strawberry popcorn, curing

From above:lavender planted by the landlord, blackberries, my container crops, and more

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2012 Tour de France Route Announced (Officially)

Speaking of planning ahead, now official is this year's Tour de France Route. Much like with the Giro, wine suggestions very welcome.

2012 Tour de France stages:
P Prologue Sat 30 June Liège > Liège 6.1 km  Belgium
1 Road stage Sun 1 July Liège > Seraing 198 km  Belgium
2 Road stage Mon 2 July Visé > Tournai 207 km Belgium 
3 Road stage Tues 3 July Orchies > Boulogne-sur-Mer 197 km  
4 Road stage Weds 4 July Abbeville > Rouen 214 km  
5 Road stage Thurs 5 July Rouen > Saint-Quentin 197 km 
6 Road stage Fri 6 July Épernay > Metz 210 km
7 Road stage Sat 7 July Tomblaine > La Planche des Belles Filles 199 km 
8 Road stage Sun 8 July Belfort > Porrentruy 154 km 
9 Time trial Mon 9 July Arc-et-Senans > Besançon 38 km  
10 Road stage Weds 11 July Mâcon > Bellegarde-sur-Valserine 194 km
11 Mountains Thurs 12 July Albertville > La Toussuire - Les Sybelles 140 km  
12 Mountains Fri 13 July Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne > Annonay 220 km  
13 Road stage Sat 14 July Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux > Le Cap d’Agde 215 km 
14 Road stage Sun 15 July Limoux > Foix 192 km
15 Road stage Mon 16 July Samatan > Pau 160 km
16 Mountains Weds 18 July Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon 197 km
17 Mountains Thurs 19 July Bagnères-de-Luchon > Peyragudes 144 km
18 Road stage Fri 20 July Blagnac > Brive-la-Gaillarde 215 km
19 Time trial Sat 21 July Bonneval > Chartres 52 km
20 Road stage Sun 22 July Rambouillet > Paris Champs-Élysées 130 km

Sunday, October 16, 2011

2012 Giro Route Announced

That time again? No, not quite. The race is not until May. But today was the route announcement. I've listed regions as well as google could identify them. Perhaps this will be the year I plan ahead, rather than scramble at the last minute? Stage list below, suggestions very welcome:

Stages of the 2012 Giro d’Italia

Stage 1, May 5: Herning (Denmark), Herning (8.7km, time trial)
Stage 2, May 6: Herning, Herning (206km)
Stage 3, May 7: Horsens (Denmark), Horsens (190km)
Rest day, May 8
Stage 4, May 9: Verona, Verona (32.2km team time trial) Veneto
Stage 5, May 10: Modena, Fano (199km) Emilia-Romagna to Marche
Stage 6, May 11: Urbino, Porto Sant’Elpidio (207km) Marche
Stage 7, May 12: Recanati, Rocca di Cambio (202km) Marche to Abruzzo
Stage 8, May 13: Sulmona, Lago Laceno (229km) Abruzzo to Campania
Stage 9, May 14: San Giorgio del Sannio, Frosinone (171km) Campania  to Lazio
Stage 10, May 15: Civitavecchia, Assisi (187km) Lazio to Umbria
Stage 11, May 16: Assisi, Montecatini Terme (243km) Umbria to Tuscany
Stage 12, May 17: Seravezza, Sestri Levante (157km) Tuscany to Liguria
Stage 13, May 18: Savona, Cervere (121km) Liguria to Piedmont
Stage 14, May 19: Cherasco, Cervinia (205km) Piedmont to Valle d’Aosta
Stage 15, May 20: Busto Arsizio, Lecco/Pian dei Resinelli (172km) Lombardy 
Rest day, May 21
Stage 16, May 22: Limone sul Garda, Falzes (174km) Lombardy to Trentino-Alto Adige
Stage 17, May 23: Falzes, Cortina d’Ampezzo (187km) Trentino-Alto Adige to Veneto
Stage 18, May 24: San Vito di Cadore, Vedelago (139km) Veneto
Stage 19, May 25: Treviso, Alpe di Pampeago (197km) Veneto to Trentino-Alto Adige
Stage 20, May 26: Caldes/Val di Sole, Passo dello Stelvio (218km) Trentino-Alto Adige
Stage 21, May 27: Milan, Milan (31.5km time trial) Lombardy

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cooking the Books with K: Secret Garden Currant-Peach Buns

“The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the world in some fairy place. The few books she had read and liked had been fairy-story books, and she had read of secret gardens in some of the stories. Sometimes people went to sleep in them for a hundred years, which she had thought must be rather stupid. She had no intention of going to sleep, and, in fact, she was becoming wider awake every day which passed at Misselthwaite."

Sitting in the bookstore window with my Mom and a giant Curious George
I've always had a theory that all of us have one thing we are really great at. A super power so to say. My super power is reading. I read a lot as a child. My parents originally met when they both worked for the Brooklyn Public Library system. They moved to Connecticut before I was born for my dad to become the director of a public library. When I was three, they opened a bookstore. At one point in my childhood they had three, but post-divorce, ended up with a store each. On sick days or holidays, I would sit in the backroom of my mother's store and read. Later, as a pre-teen, I packed boxes of books to go to school bookfairs in the dingy basement of my dad's store. By the time I had my driver's license and could drive myself there, I was working two nights a week and Saturdays at my Dad's store. 
It would not be an exaggeration to say that because of this background, I read more children's books than many kids. When I came up with the idea of this Cooking the Books with K series, I realized it would be a chance both to revisit some old favorites and to read some newer books that K adores. I did not have a firm list of books, rather, I figured we would come up with them along the way. 
There was one book though, that I knew we had to include: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. My original paperback copy has traveled with me from my childhood home, to college, and into every apartment I have rented. I can list a lot of books that I adored as a child, but it would be fair to say that The Secret Garden was my favorite at K's age. Rereading it last week, I was delighted to still love it. The story is that of the orphaned Mary Lennox who comes to live with her uncle in a large house on the Yorkshire moors. She is described as "the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. It was true too . . . she was as tyrannical and selfish a little pig as ever lived." The house is full of secrets including a locked garden, which Mary becomes intensely curious about.  She sets out to find the garden, along the way meeting the magical Dickon, a boy who charms animals, and Colin, a hidden cousin who may be even more disagreeable than Mary herself. I'll stop there to avoid spoilers for anyone who may not have read the book. If you haven't, do so. If you have, read it again. 

To my delight there exists a Secret Garden Cookbook. As we usually do, K and I took turns marking the recipes we liked before deciding upon Currant Buns. The buns are yeast-risen, with spice and some sweetness. Because we like to experiment, we made a few changes. We added whole wheat flour, upped the spices, and because K wanted to, added chopped dried white peaches to the currants and upped the fruit amount a bit. We also added vanilla to the glaze, also because K wanted to. Luckily, we have a garden of our own to eat them in.

"The morning that Dickon--after they had been enjoying themselves in the garden for about two hours--went behind a big rosebush and brought forth two tin pails and revealed that one was full of rich new milk with cream on the top of it, and that the other held cottage-made currant buns folded in a clean blue and white napkin, buns so carefully tucked in that they were still hot, there was a riot of surprised joyfulness. What a wonderful thing for Mrs. Sowerby to think of! What a kind, clever woman she must be! How good the buns were! And what delicious fresh milk!
"Magic is in her just as it is in Dickon," said Colin. "It makes her think of ways to do things--nice things. She is a Magic person. . . ."

More kneading practice for K.

Currant-Peach Buns

1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing the baking pan
3 cups white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 package yeast
1 large egg
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 cup dried peaches chopped

Optional glaze (You will have extra. K had the leftovers with her bun.)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
Sugar (We used pearl sugar leftover from Blue Bottle recipe testing.)

Warm the milk, sugar and butter in a small pan until the butter is melted and the mixture is the temperature of warm bathwater. Do not let boil.
Meanwhile, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. 
Put the yeast in a small bowl.
When the milk mixture is heated, add 1/4 cup to the yeast and stir well to combine. Let sit to dissolve the yeast, about 3-5 minutes and then add to the flour. 
Break the egg into the remaining milk mixture and stir well. Immediately pour into the flour bowl. Add the dried fruit and mix well. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is rubbery, about 5 minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap  and let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1.5 to 3 hours.
Cut the dough in half, then quarters, and then into quarters again. Shape into 16 rounds. Place on one or two greased baking sheets, buns almost touching. Let rise again until doubled in size, 30-60 minutes. 
Preheat the oven to 400.
Combine milk and vanilla and brush over the tops of each bun. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until browned and cooked all the way through, 15-25 minutes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lemon Meringue Pie With K

K has been asking for a lemon meringue pie for a while now. I think it started with her love of the lemon tart at Piccino. After reading about it in Harry Potter, she began asking more frequently. Like, oh, daily, saying "I have never had lemon meringue pie." Which is true. I resisted baking one. Because, to be honest, I am not a huge fan. Last week though, I went to a preview showing of the new movie Toast. The movie is based on a memoir by British food writer Nigel Slater, and if you can see it without developing a desire for lemon meringue pie, you are less suggestible than I am. I even found the food stylists's recipe from the movie here.

The only question became which recipe. Asking on twitter led me to one suggestion for the classic Betty Crocker recipe and one for a rather intriguing Plum Meringue Pie. I also found one online from Alton Brown that looked doable, especially as his meringue technique looked much simpler than many others I found. Clearly, I wanted to combine recipes. The only question was whether or not I could convince K that plum meringue held the appeal of lemon.

While waiting for her decision, I made a pie crust from the Easy Pie Dough recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt, on Serious Eats. I've been enjoying the site for years and am very happy with their expanded drinks coverage, including a Summer of Riesling series. 

Crust made and chilling in the fridge, it was time to wait for K's verdict. Plum or lemon? I even arranged the plums on the table to form a K. Alas, the the answer, lemon. Why?  "Because I love lemon tart and I really want to try meringue." Sensible enough I suppose.

A few notes:
I'll paste the recipe below. We reduced the sugar and upped the zest, but beyond that made it is written.
1 Zesting and juicing lemons is an excellent job for a 9-year-old. As is stirring, but you may find yourself saying, repeatedly, that "stirring is not just dragging a spoon along the surface of a pan."
2 The same 9-year-old will probably also be fascinated by cornstarch and the stiff peaks formed by beating egg whites. "It is really cool to see what the cornstarch looks like when it gets all jiggly. And the egg whites look like a pile of snow when I put them on the pie."
3 Although you may have a need to make the pie look pretty, it is a far better thing to let the 9-year-old arrange the meringue. Really. 
4 When the pie comes out of the oven, your 9-year-old may say "It smells like heaven."
5 Pie for breakfast is a fine day to celebrate a day off from school.

Alton Brown's Lemon Meringue Pie


Lemon Filling:

  • 4 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell
  • 1 recipe Meringue, recipe follows


Preheat oven to 375. 

Whisk egg yolks in medium size mixing bowl and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Turn heat on medium and, stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually, 1 whisk-full at a time, add hot mixture to egg yolks and stir until you have added at least half of the mixture.

Return egg mixture to saucepan, turn heat down to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in butter, lemon juice, and zest until well combined. Pour mixture into pie shell and top with meringue while filling is still hot. Make sure meringue completely covers filling and that it goes right up to the edge of the crust. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until meringue is golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Make sure pie is cooled completely before slicing.

Meringue Topping:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Use to top lemon filling.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cooking the Books with K: Harry Potter Pumpkin Pasties

A tea cup out to good use.
It could be said that K overfilled the pasties.

When we first discussed our Cook from the Books project, one of K's requests was something from Harry Potter. Despite being resistant to the books for several years, at some point they became favorites. She will tell anyone interested that "Harry Potter is awesome." To be honest, she will talk about Harry Potter whether or not one is interested. Her Halloween costume this year is Ginny Weasley. The current plan is that I will also be a Harry Potter character, so if anyone has a loaner robe, please let me know. K even owns a copy of The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, as well as the highly recommended Harry Potter Uno.

Last night, we sat down to decide on our recipe. After some debate between lemon meringue pie and pumpkin pasties, the pumpkin won out. In Harry Potter, Pumpkin Pasties are a wizarding food sold on the Hogwarts Express food trolley, and were enjoyed by Harry and Ron on their first trip to school. Essentially pie crust with a pumpkin filling, they seem just the thing to comfort nervous students on the way to adventure.

What are pasties? Well, I remember eating and enjoying the beef filled version as a child. Epicurious tells me that: "Named after Cornwall, England, these savory TURNOVERS consist of a short-crust pastry enfolding a chopped meat-and-potato filling. Other vegetables and sometimes fish are also used. In the 18th and 19th centuries, pasties were the standard lunch of Cornwall's tin miners. It was common to place a savory mixture in one end and an apple mixture in the other so both meat and dessert could be enjoyed in the same pasty."
--© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst

Pumpkin Pasties

Adapted from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
Cooking with K is all about changing recipes, mainly to simplify, but also to better suit her taste. The original recipe called for shortening in addition to butter, but we opted for all butter. We adjusted the spices and substituted the last of our roasted squash/pumpkin mixture from last fall's Mariquita Mystery boxes. We used a mixer rather than a food processor, because, well, it was already out. We also ended up using a bit extra pumpkin, as someone got a bit overexcited with the grating of the nutmeg.

Pastry Crust
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 T granulated sugar
1/4 t salt
8 T cold butter, cut into chunks
4 to 6 T ice water

1 cup pumpkin
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 T ground nutmeg
1/4 T ground cinnamon

Plus 1 T sugar for sprinkling

Place the flour sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Mix until combined. Add the butter to the bowl and mix until it resembles "coarse yellow meal." Add 4 T ice water and mix on low until it clumps. If it is too dry, add more water. We ended up with 6 T. Pat the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour.

For the filling:
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Roll out the dough an 1/8 inch thick. Use a tea cup to cut out 6 circles. Put 2-3 T in the filling in the center of each circle of dough. Moisten the edges with water and pull the dough over the filling and crimp with a fork to seal the edges. Note that we had a bit of filling leftover. It made a lovely snack. Cut slits (in our case Ks) to make vents. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake on an ungreased cookies sheet for 30 minutes or until browned.

Makes seven pasties. (The recipe claims six.)

Lytton Springs Tasting

There are some invitations that come arrive in my inbox that sit for a few days before I decide whether or not I can attend. It happens to all of us. And then there are the emails that Christopher Watkins sends about his quarterly Ridge Bloggers Tastings. For those, I check my calendar right away and attempt to reschedule if I have a conflict. In June, my conflict was a trip to Germany. This time, it was a canning project. The German trip I could not reschedule, but, I was able to move my canning project--40 pounds of tomatoes this time- clearing September 25th for a trip to Lytton Springs.

More than a bit exhausted from my jam-judging stint at the Eat Real Festival, followed by the tomato project, I drove to Healdsburg, delighted that unlike last year's tasting, when temperatures were over 90, it was a beautiful day. As always, the tasting had a theme, this time: small-production, winery-only library wines from the Lytton Springs Estate Vineyards. But before we could get truly started, it was time for a trip outside to witness the arrival of some zinfandel grapes.

Grapes that had come in earlier.

On our way back inside, we were lucky enough to stop by a "Carignane Fountain" for a taste of some amazing juice. I found myself wishing that I could take a bottle or two home.

Back at our tables, it was time to start tasting. I'll list all the wines below, but a few general thoughts first. One, as always, it is a lot of fun to see what Christopher will pull out of the cellars for these tastings. All too often, when tasting young wines, especially ones that I do not know well, it is a bit of a guessing game as to how they will evolve. Tastings like this provide a valuable education that most of us can not duplicate at home. I am also always impressed with the consistency shown. Although I can pick favorites, I would quite happily drink any of these wines. That is something one can rarely say at most tastings. But what did we drink?

The first two wines were: 
2002 Ridge Grenache Lytton Estate  78% Grenache/13% Petite Sirah/9% Zinfandel As I have had many times, 02 is K's birthyear and I wish I had a lot more in my cellar. Alas. Medium bodied with blackberry, spice and good acidity.
2003 Ridge Syrah/Grenache Lytton Estate  50% Syrah/50% Grenache  Dark fruit, cocoa, more tannins. 

Next up was a special treat: A mystery wine brought by Richard Jennings of RJonWine, served to us blind. We were told that it was a Ridge wine, no longer produced, and were asked to guess the vintage and grape. Although I failed miserably at the grape portion of the challenge, I was closest on vintage, guessing 89. Apparently there will be a prize.  
The wine? A 1990 Ridge Barbera Rancho Pequeno 

To follow, three flights of syrah:
2003 Ridge Syrah Lytton West Vineyard Co-fermented with 9% Viognier. Rich, jammy with a dusty nose. Although this tasted to me like it came from a very warm year, I was told that in fact, 03 was cold and wet.
2005 Ridge Syrah Lytton West Vineyard  6% Viognier Very pretty, with black pepper and a very grapey, fruity nose.

2002 Ridge Syrah II Lytton Estate 76% Syrah/22% Grenache/2% Viognier This had an almost rubbery nose when first poured, but opened up  to show black cherry and pepper.
2001 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate  1% Viognier  My favorite of this flight. Dark color, vibrant and spicy.
2000 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate  1% Viognier  This was originally poured to me in a smaller glass and I found it edgy and a bit closed. Switching to a different glass, it showed leather and cocoa.
1999 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate 92% Syrah/7% Grenache/1% Viognier Minerals, Cherries and cocoa.
1997 Ridge Syrah Lytton Estate  88% Syrah/12% Viognier My wine of the day. Smooth with black fruit and spice, really, just about perfect. 

Thanks as also to Christopher and Brandye and everyone at Ridge and my fellow attendees: