Last Friday we were invited by a dear old friend of ours to a wine tasting in Har Adar, near Abu Gosh. It is a beautiful drive up to the Jerusalem Hills that always reminds me of Provence. Yossi and his lovely wife Dina, who makes lovely biscuits, were our gracious hosts. Yossi, who writes a blog called Yossi’s Wine Page, invites vintners from boutique wineries around the country to do wine tastings about once a month at his home .
This month’s event was a tasting of wines from Ben-Shoshan winery at Kibbutz Bror Hayil in the South. The award-winning winery makes approximately 12,000 bottles a year which are sold mostly in wine boutiques. Yuval Ben-Shoshan and his adorable son Gefen (which means a grape vine) were showing off their delicious wines.Bror Hayil in the Sou
Yuval makes his wine from grapes grown in two completely parts of the country. One is Avdat, in the northern Negev desert, an area that 1500 years ago was the center of the ancient kingdom of the Nabataeans, who also built Petra in Jordan. In spite of the desert climate, the Nabataeans were famous for developing irrigation systems, including underground storage cisterns, that allowed them to farm the land successfully with very little rain water; and modern Israeli farmers have done very much the same thing except using modern technology. The other area is at Kfar Shamai, in the northern Galilee, which is one of the countries grape-producing regions.
The result is an outstanding Shiraz 2007, which won a bronze medal at the Israel Wine Awards this year, Cabernet Sauvignon Avdat, Cabernet Sauvignon Kfar Shamai, and a Cabernet-Merlot blend. We tasted the first three wines and came home with a bottle of Shiraz and Cabernet Avdat. The Shiraz was unusually light and fruity, and just right to drink a little cooler than room temperate, which is how it was served due to the heat of the hot Israeli sun beating down on us.
Mr BT’s birthday was last Sunday and I was lucky to find a whole duck on sale that I snapped up right away. I had never cooked a whole duck before, but I knew that I had to find something special to make for Mr BT’s special day. I found a recipe for duck with an Andalusian sauce where the duck is first marinated in a boiling marinade flavored with star anise and tumeric. It is served with an delicious sauce made of oranges, lemons, honey, and balsamic vinegar. I served the duck with pan-roasted potatoes and sauteed artichoke hearts and mushrooms. If I had served this dish in the winter, I would have served it over creamy polenta.
We toasted his birthday with the Ben-Shoshan Shiraz 2007. It was a perfect match to the sweet and sour Andalusian sauce.
For dessert, I served a light dessert of beautiful fresh figs with a drizzle of Provencal chestnut honey.
1.4 kg (3lb) whole duck
1 quart of water
6 cloves garlic (skin on and bashed)
6 bay leaves
4 star anise
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon tumeric
Juice and zest of 2 large oranges
Juice of 1 medium lemon
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/2 a pint of chicken stock
60g (2oz) sultanas
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch
3-4 teaspoons cold water for slurry
For the boiling marinade: Put all of the ingredients in a tall pot, such as an asparagus steamer, and bring to the boil. Boil for ten minutes and then reduce to a simmer.
Meanwhile, cut the wings tips off the duck and make two cuts into the carcass, parallel to the wing bones. This will allow the duck fat to escape during roasting.
Suspend the duck, using a butcher's hook or similar into the neck over the pot, without letting it fall into the marinade. Using a small soup ladle, pour the marinade all over the duck. Keep doing this until the duck has a nice golden yellow color from the tumeric. Place the duck on a rack in a roasting pan and dry for approximately one hour.
After the duck has dried, preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and roast the duck on a rack over a roasting tin of water for approximately one hour and a half. Check the duck half way through cooking because you may need to put a tent of aluminum foil over it to prevent the duck breast and wings from overcooking.
While the duck is roasting, prepare the sauce. Put all of ingredients in a small saucepan, except for the cornstarch and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the sauce by half. Then, make a slurry of cornstarch and water, and whisk it into the sauce to thicken it. When the sauce is sufficiently thickened, take it off the heat and reheat it before serving.