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by Sandra Lewis    Fri, Mar 2, 2007, 11:23 AM






I stood in my kitchen last Saturday afternoon taking inventory of everything I needed for my “Open The Bottle Night” with friends where we would share a meal and open a special bottle of wine.
My food contribution to the evening was "Garlic and Thyme Roasted Pork Loin with a Brandy Cream Sauce" for which I gathered everything needed and headed out the door.

Yes I was out the door and merged into traffic on I-635 when the startling thought struck me.

My most important offering to the celebratory meal – the reason for the evening – the wine – my Arista Pinot Noir 2003 – was still resting in my wine rack.

I had to laugh.

I had been holding on to this bottle for a year, hesitant to open it, waiting for the perfect moment. Now that the moment was here my pork roast was top of mind.

Nevertheless, I backtracked to fetch the phantom bottle. Tonight was the night.

Claudine, Mark, and I gathered in Mark’s kitchen, and with a clink of our champagne glasses the cooking began.

Eventually an amazing meal emerged, pork tenderloin, roasted vegetable salad, and homemade tiramisu.

In the kitchen we raised a toast to the expectation of a great meal with Claudine’s Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay followed by my Arista Pinot Noir with the meal.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous about the Pinot. The bottle was special to me whether or not it was good, but I wanted it to be good. And it was delightfully confirmed as so by my dining partners - rich, leathery, and blackberryish.

Joined by Jennifer, Ariel, and Emily at the table we enjoyed the mingling of the flavors and the energy of the conversation.

I learned that both Mark and Claudine know how to play the accordion. This was something neither knew about the other until this evening.
I also learned that Jennifer knows how to play the piano, but can only play Christmas carols, that the life of an SMU music student is busier than it needs to be, and that Emily’s family is so embarrassed by their lack of musical talent that one year they considered playing the kazoo at their very musically talented family’s holiday gathering then chickened out.
I had nothing to add to this conversation. The only talent I've shown with music is producing a daughter who is a classically-trained violinist.

We finished the meal with the tiramisu and Mark’s 1970 Taylor’s Fladgate Port. Divine.

Where were you in 1970? Half the people at the table weren’t around in 1970. I will politely decline to say which half  were.

Just like the pork tenderloin I had gathered up all the ingredients for, our evening together had the right mix – fantastic food, warm friendship, and fun conversation.

I need more evenings like this.

February 23, 2008, next year’s “Open The Bottle Night”, is already on my calendar.

Garlic and Thyme Roasted Pork Loin with a Brandy Cream Sauce

1 (3 1/2 pound) boneless pork loin
6 large cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup brandy
4 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/4 cup olive oi
1 cup dry white wine

Brandy Cream Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup brandy
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Remove roast from refrigerator 30 minutes before preparing rub for meat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a blender or food processor, combine garlic cloves with salt, pepper, brandy, and thyme. Add olive oil slowly in a thin stream though hole in the top of the blender or feeding tube of processor. Process to thicken slightly. Place pork roast in roasting pan; coat with the garlic and thyme mixture. Bake in oven with meat thermometer inserted, uncovered. Baste with a quarter cup of wine every 15 minutes for one hour. Roast approximately 1 1/2 hours or until internal termperature reaches 160 degrees. Make sauce while pork is cooking.

For sauce, melt butter and sauté onion 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add wine and simmer 15 minutes. Gradually stir in cream. Add brandy, salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring to reduce liquid by 1/3, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix together cold water and cornstarch. Add half of cornstarch mixture to sauce. Continue to simmer until slightly thickened. Use the remainder of thickening mixture if desired. Once meat is removed from the oven, let rest 10 minutes. Slice in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices and serve. Pass sauce separately.

Serves 8.

Sandra's Cooking Notes:
- This ranks high on my all-time favorite recipe list, It's elegant yet simple. You can find the recipe in "Good Friends, Great Tastes." Author Debbie Meyer is a local girl and her book is self-published. My book is filled with liquid-splatters, dog-eared pages, and I've had to tape the cover. You can find it here.
- I am going to twist Mark and Claudine's arm for the tiramisu and roasted vegetable salad recipes and post them as well.
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