When I was growing up, a birthday meant having the supper of your dreams. “What do you want for your birthday supper,” Mom would say. Year after year, I would request her creamed chicken. It seemed to me the height of extravagance. I loved its smooth, rich, pale gravy, and the chunks of chicken, carrot rounds, diced celery, onions and bright green peas poured over fluffy mashed potatoes, real spuds, not the mash from a box of potato flakes mixed with powdered milk and boiling water. A can of jellied cranberry sauce and that was it, that and a dark chocolate cake with snow white 7-minute frosting whipped up in a double boiler with the old handheld Mix Master.
Two things accounted for the limits of my supper vision. First, being the oldest by far, I had always been vaguely aware what my parents could afford. Second, I was born during the war and had made a pact with Jesus that if I could have a sister or brother, I would always share the bacon ration coupons. So, my wishes were modest, and the birthday routine stayed the same. When the little sibling finally came along, the birthday promise was extended to them. For my baby brother it was spaghetti and chocolate milk, for my little sister, a pancake supper with bacon.
Then, one day, out the blue, shortly before her tenth, when asked the birthday question, my little sister replied in an annoyingly calm tone, “roast leg of lamb.” I was 16 years old and had had the chicken slop most all my life. LAMB! I was gob smacked. The audacity of it, the childish nonchalance! It was disgusting, thoughtless! It was an outrage! It had never occurred to me that lamb was even a remote possibility! Supermarkets in those days didn’t even carry lamb! I gave Mom a knowing adolescent eye roll, a smug little sign that I knew the way things were and that Kate was being unreasonable, again. Mom ignored me and said, “That sounds good, Katie.” Of course, Mom always liked her best.
Several years later, Sean Connery, as Raisuli the Magnificent in the wonderful film, The Lion and the Wind, summed up my feeling on the subject exactly: “We will all eat lamb in Paradise.” And lamb is just what I am having for my birthday dinner this year, along with my favorite wines!
The Anything is Possible Wine Pairing Birthday Menu
Cold Poached Atlantic Salmon in Green Mayonnaise
Tenuta Santa Maria Soave Classico
* * *
Roasted Garlic and Mustard Encrusted Leg of Lamb*
Flageolets & Lentil Stew
Butter Sautéed French Green Beans with garlic & shallots
Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2014
* * *
Frangipane Pear Tart
Prieuré de l’Arche Sauternes 2014
(Julia Child’s Garlic Mustard Marinade for Roast Leg of Lamb: For a 5 lb boned or bone in leg of lamb. In a mixing bowl, whisk together: 1 C smooth Dijon mustard, ½ C low sodium soy sauce, 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 TBS finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves,1 tsp ground ginger, 2 cloves finely minced or mashed fresh garlic. Then whisk in 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil a few drops at a time, until incorporated. You should have a thick, goppy paste. Smear this over the lamb and allow to rest 2 hours or refrigerated overnight and pulled out for 2 hours before roasting. Roast to desired doneness.)
A Big Girl’s Day After Comfort Food Dinner
Then on the day after my birthday, I will whip up some real comfort food, down to earth, and heart-warming: creamed chicken on doctored mashed potatoes, with carrots and fresh peas, celery and onions and maybe some sautéed chanterelle mushrooms thrown in as a tribute to growing up and to my Mom who made it for me year after year. I’ll add a salad of frisée and watercress and pair my childhood birthday dinner with a killer wine!
(Doctored Mashed Potatoes—peel and dice enough celeriac and potato to have 4 C of each. Cover with water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and continue to cook, covered, until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain. Mash, adding 2 TBS unsalted butter, 1/3 C crème fraîche, 3 heaping TBS Boars Head Horseradish Sauce, 1 tsp ground pink Himalayan salt, generous amounts of freshly ground black pepper.)
To Pair? A splurge. A dreamy delicious, completely self-indulgent White Burgundy (Chardonnay), a Chassagne Montrachet, if I can find one. “We will all sip wine in Paradise!”
What are you having for birthday dinner?
(NOTE: Few of the ingredients for my birthday indulgences would have been available except in the markets of the largest American cities. Now, ALL these ingredients, from Himalayan salt, to celeriac and watercress, to leg of lamb and wines to pair with every course are available at your local grocery store!)
During her distinguished career, Roz has served a term as the Retail Representative on the MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Continues to serve on their Promotion & Education and Competition Committees. In addition, she has served as a judge in various national and international wine competitions.
Working with D&W's wine stewards and SpartanNash's vendor partners, Roz tirelessly explores the vast world of wine, discovering the finest wines for every budget and every taste. And she loves to discuss food and wine with customers and colleagues. As a lifelong foodie, there is nothing else she'd rather be doing.