It was the day of the Vertical Wine Tasting Dinner and we were as prepared as we were going to be. The house was clean and orderly, the dishes were all set and so were the glasses. We decided to have appetizers in the living room and I even though I was almost conked on the head with a frying pan, I was not threatened with divorce, though I kept adding ideas to the list for the appetizers. We finally decided on two classic Armenian appetizers and we did not make them in house. I have to admit that my Grandmother made some of the greatest dishes known to man, especially if you like your meals savory and spicy. She was also an accomplished baker, and many a time, I can remember my Mother and the lady next door coming over to start rolling the sheets of paper-thin dough to make Paklavah using broom sticks, and they would start at about five in the morning. Thank God that there is an Armenian caterer in the Detroit area, and I could swear that he learned from my Grandmother, but I know that is not the case, but I will no longer buy these dishes from the Church Bazaar anymore, because they are poor relatives to what I went and bought.
Thankfully this caterer, who is located out in the boondocks, far from any major Armenian enclaves that I know about, has survived what so many other food-oriented businesses have not, in our state. It was rather unique, in that I had to call ahead of time and order the dishes, and they would give me a pick-up time. I could not enter the shop, and I had to tell them what type of car I would be driving. It was a unique experience, as it was the first time I had been out in that community, and I did get there early, but since there was no other customers slated at the time, I was allowed to pick up my order earlier. The first was Cheese Beoreg and the best way to describe it in laymen’s terms is that it is a Phyllo half-round pastry filled with White Brick Cheese, that you bake for ten minutes on the high rack of the oven, and then ten minutes on the lower rack of the oven, and the trick that was not included in the instructions is to give them an egg wash before baking. The other dish is Lahmajoon, which is best described as Armenian personalized pizzas, to make the vision easy. Part of the secret of making this dish, is the dough, and so many cooks cheat on this crucial step, then I remember my Grandmother using triple ground lamb sauteed with finely chopped onions, garlic and parsley mixed with a tomato paste which is smeared on the dough circles and then they are baked two at a time laying topping to topping. Afterwards all they need is a little sprinkle of Cayenne and some crushed red pepper flakes. There was enough for a fast nosh for me the next day, so I guess they were a big hit.
Now what to serve during the appetizers? I thought that I would let them try an older white Burgundy, the stuff I have been writing about for awhile as I am reorganizing the wine cellar. I had a bottle of Domaine Larue Saint-Aubin En Remilly Premier Cru 1997 and I can’t believe it slipped through the cracks. The Larue family domain is forty-two acres, based in Saint-Aubin but extending into Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Aloxe-Corton. They actually offer nine different bottlings from Saint-Aubin. Saint-Aubin is located in a valley that cuts through the Cote d’Or and En Remilly is just above the valley floor on the south-facing slope, directly across from the Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru vineyards. The wines of Saint-Aubin are made from Chardonnay, but are noted for their floral and mineral notes. Alas, this twenty-three-year-old had lost the floral nose and the mineral terroir finish and was drinkable, but with no sparkle or excitement. The second wine during the appetizers was Cave de Genouilly Bourgogne Aligoté 2018, the almost forgotten white wine of Burgundy, but it has its own appellation. The Cave Des Vignerons de Genouilly was founded in 1932 as a co-operative of family growers in the Cote Chalonnaise region of Southern Burgundy. Today it includes ninety growers with one-hundred-eighty acres based around Genouilly, Fley, Bissy-sur-Fley, Saint-Martin-du-Tatre and Saint-Clement-sur-Guye. Bourgogne Aligoté is an appellation in Burgundy for white wines made from the Aligoté grape and the appellation was awarded in 1937. The grape has been in Burgundy since the 17th Century, but only represent about six percent of the vineyards there, but is grown in about three hundred parishes in Burgundy, basically for the vignerons themselves. The wines are generally made in Stainless Steel to allow the freshness and the crispness of the grape, if anything, some people are surprised at the high acidity and the resulting tartness that can occur, but that is part of the charm that I just recently discovered about this grape. This charming wine saved the early part of the meal, as it is just a wonderful drinking wine and very refreshing. If you can find this grape, by all means it is worth the purchase price and it is not that dear, because no one knows about it.